Dan Bertolet has an interesting post up about the “fourth wave of planning”.
I have thought for a while that each generation of environmentalists is shaped in response to the differing environmental challenges of their time. While older generations of environmentalists were shaped by the back-to-the-land movement, one that believed in an essentially rural solution to environmental problems, young environmentalists are exactly the opposite, believing that dense cities are the primary solution to the problems we face.
Call it Vashion Island environmentalism vs Capitol Hill environmentalism. I find these underlying beliefs to be a helpful organizing structure when talking about density, tree preservation, parking requirements or other issues facing infill development. Dan’s post is a perfect example of these two ideas playing out.
Last year in Seattle, the Bullitt Foundation’s proposed Living Building was subjected to a costly legal challenge based on Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Opponents argued that an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be required because the building would block views. Given that it’s on track to being one of the greenest commercial buildings ever constructed in the United States, and is also located in a dense, walkable, transit-rich neighborhood, the fact that environmental regulations could be exploited to oppose the project suggests something is amiss, to put it mildly.
Following on the heels of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Washington’s SEPA was created during an era in which the planning culture was dominated by concerns over ecological degradation and responded with strict limits on growth -– planning’s so-called first wave. In the mid-1970s planning entered its second wave, focused on comprehensive planning and infrastructure, followed by a third wave defined by “smart growth” that began around the turn of the century and is still the prevailing approach today.
And now a fourth wave of planning is emerging, with a perspective that will hopefully put an end to perverse contradictions such as what happened with the Bullitt Foundation Living Building. The formative influences on planning’s fourth wave are the “new normal” economy, climate change, energy, food systems, and regional sustainable development.
Full post here.