L[i/o]ving cities

Archive for the ‘planning’ Category

EQUITY AND EFFICIENCY IN PLANNING CRITERIA

In a broad sense, city planning is composed by a lot of professional disciplines. This is not a secret, but something that is ignored too many times. What we know well is the speech about the need to coordinate all these disciplines and all the professionals that work around city planning.

Moreover, below the technical speeches lies an economical logic that must be considered too. This economical logic is supported by two main foundations: equity and efficiency. As one professor explained to me one day, efficiency is related to the size of the cake and equity is related to the pieces that you cut from the cake. So, if we focus on every discipline that takes part on city planning, in each of their economic criteria they should talk about equity and efficiency. But, what is really happening?

I have taken two examples to illustrate what I think that is really happening. Firstly, on the one hand, we have some disciplines like Spatial Planning, that is focused on some criteria as to provide life quality and sustainability to the citizens and to the territories. These are equity criteria and usually are not well measured because of their complexity.

On the other hand, we have some disciplines like transport planning that is pointing out to some criteria as the minimization of the trip time or the search for a greater use of public transport. And these are mainly efficiency criteria that can be calculated because transport planners have developed more technical tools to manage some of the main transport parameters.

Obviously, this is a simplification of reality, but sometimes it is not as far from what happens in some planners’ studios. We cannot be satisfied handing out the same little crumbs to everyone or delivering the cake to just a few people, so we have to improve the coordination of efficiency and equity in the social, economic and environmental criteria.

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