Over the past decade, discussions about urban planning have become more about solutions and challenging historical notions of how cities should develop and for whom. Here were some of the common themes during the 2010’s:
Reframing Smart Growth
The 2010’s was characterized by talking about urban planning from the perspective of sustainability and long term impacts. But it wasn’t the usual smart growth this and new urbanism that, instead, it was from a long-term fiscal and land productivity focus. Strong Towns grew its following and found a voice in challenging the common understanding of land development, transportation, and fiscal sustainability. This “moneyball” way of looking at cities and development generated a following of urban planners who began talking about doing away with minimum parking requirements, single-family/low density development, cul-de-sacs, and the general notion that the current form of development does not pay for itself, and that it should at the very least be cost neutral over the infrastructure’s life cycle. The Smart Growth principles of the 2000’s found avenues for their practical application in the 2010’s and will continue to have momentum in the 2020’s.
Age of the Urban Planning Meme
The 2010’s experienced the rise of the urban planning meme as another form of expression to share urbanism, professional collective conscience, and to simplify concepts. It started with the “this is what I really do” meme circulated circa 2012. Then it developed into Planning Peeps which quickly became the go-to for urban planning humor and concepts. Other urbanist meme communities popped up including New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens (NUMTOTs) which is a community of thousands of train fan boys and girls and urbanism enthusiasts. NUMTOTs are primarily generation Z’ers/post-millennials who may very well be the next generation of urban planners and urbanist thought leaders. In the 2010’s, urban planning as a profession and field of study rallied around dank urban planning memes, a trend likely to continue in newer and exciting forms.
Housing affordability, supply, and diversity was one of the hottest topics during the 2010’s. Naturally, the discussion became about solutions and how those solutions meet staunch opposition from NIMBYs out of fears of property values, demographic diversity, and other reasons that are not derived from findings of fact but instead fear and privilege. The counter to NIMBYism came in the form of YIMBYism (Yes In My Back Yard). This movement was intended to provide support for higher density housing, accessory dwelling units, and the end of exclusionary single-family zones. Cities began looking at ways to simplify their zoning ordinances to catch up with the times. Large cities finally realized that they can no longer have exclusive single-family zones if they are to be in fact, large cities. It remains to be seen if YIMBYism will survive the 2020s, but some form of YIMBYism will be needed to help provide affordable housing options in cities.
Who to follow in the 2020’s:
urban planning blog