Friday, 4 December 2015

Will the gig economy kill planning?


From California Planning and Development Report:

But how can you possibly plan for and control land uses when every bedroom is a hotel room, and every dining room is a restaurant, and every coffee shop is an office, and conversely every office is a potential living room or dining room or bedroom?

Well exactly. That is if your planning system depends on rigorous and strongly enforced zoning of land use (which is the case in California). And we're not just talking here about planning for housing, employment or physical infrastructure but a whole load of other things where we use control of land use as the starting point - health, education, recreation and waste management for example.

Even the need for road improvements – maybe the biggest driver of planning in California – is based on assumptions about different land uses. Road improvements are based on traffic estimates, which in turn are based on formulas about how much traffic is created by different land uses – single-family homes, apartments, office buildings, restaurants, and so on.

The basis on which much of local government is founded has been undermined by the way in which technology is disrupting service businesses, work patterns and social activity. We really have no idea whether our carefully defined models for estimating employment land demand, housing need or the need for public transport will actually meet the needs for those things. When people commute by Skype and conduct business from the pub on the corner, the assumptions about needs change in a way that the planning system - dependent on spatial determinism - simply can't accommodate.


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