“Bay Area Plan Politics”
The transformation of an urban from idea through a green way into reality is not an easy concept to comprehend. While the availability of funding plays an essential role in this transformation process, it is important to note that this may not be the only desirable factor in urban planning. Development of an urban plan is a function of several factors. Factors such as legislation, regulations and the context of plan creation all play an instrumental function in determining whether a plan finally becomes reality or not (Chyi-yun 1). Another important factor that immensely affects this transformation is the role of politics in the process. While all the other factors may support development of a greenway into reality, politics makes the final determinant of the process, particularly whether it succeeds or not. As such, every potential urban development that has been created into a greenway is faced with the challenge of overcoming the political challenges that are wrought to exist prior to its development. It is on this basis that the development of Bay area also had to face immense challenges that resulted in public protests.
The Bay area Metropolitan Planning Organization developed a greenway that would be used for enhancing and controlling the Bay area section. The main objective of the organization was to create a development plan that would be effective towards the control and subsequent reduction in the amount of carbon emissions into the environment. However, the progression of this proposed development stalled due to conflicts between various stake holders (Dawid 4). The major controversy was the resistance offered by the public sector towards the transformation of the created blue print into reality. The support offered by the government at both the state and the federal levels was due to the potential benefits that the proposed developments would cause on the environment. It is also on the basis of these benefits that the proposal got the support of various non-governmental organizations, especially those with an environmentally conscious mandate. Non- governmental organizations such as the Green Belt Alliance and TransForm, were in support of the plans due to various reasons. According to TransForm, the project would result in a reduction of housing costs across the area hence was beneficial to the public as well. On the other hand, the Green Belt Alliance was more pleased about proceeds that would be used for environmental protection advocacies (Ciardelli 5). The public opposed the proposal because of various reasons, which could even be said to have been misguided.
According to the Bay area citizens, the plans were going to impact future housing developments in a way they did not consider favorable. The arguments by the citizens were based on various assertions, with the objective of preventing the approval of the proposed plans. First, the citizens claimed that the plans were an act of social engineering rather than actual environmental conservation efforts. This was based on the explanation that once the plans were approved, housing development had to take a certain direction which was bound to force wealthy communities into low cost housing. They therefore demanded a vote on this issue to determine whether the plans should be implemented or not. From the outcome of the voting process which was eventually carried out, it was confirmed that more people were in support of the plans than those who were against it.
While the unity of the metropolitan planning organization, the Green Belt Movement, Transform and the government gave them more power over the public in deciding whether to go on with the plans or not, it was democratic that the groups considered the possibility of giving the public an opportunity to voice their opinions through voting. Besides the unity, these groups also had greater power due to their access to funds as well as their collaboration with other bodies on urban development. The public on the other hand, had diverse opinions seen through the ballot outcome, but the voices of the opponents of the plans were loudest making the impression that most people were not in support of the plans.
The case of Bay area is only one in a myriad other cases of similar nature. The availability of the green way, sufficient funds and government support are not always the only factors that may prevent the implementation of an urban plan. Compliance with regulations also forms a basis for confirmation of a development objective. However, the role of politics in the transformation process is one great mountain that may hinder progress despite all other factors being in support of the proposed progress. The lessons from this case are many, and are all directed towards conflict areas and the possibility of resolution.
First, the case provides the lesson that sometimes resistance to a planned development course may not be due to visible and acceptable reasons. For instance, in the presented case, while the objective of the plan was to reduce emissions, the public found other reasons why this plan should not be accepted on grounds that it would impact on the housing plans of the area. It is thus essential to look beyond the expected refusal reasons while preparing a plan and a report. Without sufficient information regarding a project and potential risks, it would be difficult to convince the public to look beyond the identified negative issues. Moreover, the issue of social engineering as explained by the public was skewed since the complaint of forcing the wealthy to live in low cost housing did not take the consideration of the financially unstable who actually need the low cost housing. This brings about an essential observation to mind.
Contrary to the image given by the public that the plans were unacceptable, the roles of unified stakeholders in the transformation of the plan to reality cannot be ignored. It is without doubt a fact that had the environmental organizations rejected the plans, the argument for it would have been tougher to handle. It is thus imperative that any proposal should consider the input of various stakeholders to prevent overwhelming resistance from various quarters. This can be achieved through an understanding of the proposed development’s context since there is need for effective planning and duty assignment (Dewey and Davis 532).
As a conclusion, while it may be important for any panned urban development to succeed through incorporation of diverse ideals and placing in mind the fact that not everyone will be pleased with the plans, it is also essential that a singular power direction be assigned to urban development projects. In the case plan, had there been other conflicts between the state and local development authorities due to power divergence, the plans could not have been approved (Tironi 4). The lessons in the present case are therefore numerous, but the greatest generalization is that politics overrides all other factors in urban development planning.
Chyi-yun, Huang. “Greenway Controversies: Land Use and Implementation Issues in Urban Greenways Planning”. Columbia University Academic Commons. 2006.
Ciardelli, Dolores. Bay area leaders adopt regional plan to accommodate future population growth. Pleasanton Weekly. Pleasanton Weekly 19 July 2013. Web. Accessed 21 March 2016
Dawid, Irwin. Bay area’s controversial growth plan approved. Pleasanton Weekly. Pleasanton Weekly 19 July 2013. Web. Accessed 21 March 2016
Dewey, Onesimo. Planning, politics and urban mega projects in developmental context: lesson from Mexico City’s airport controversy. Journal of Urban affairs. 2013.
Tironi, Manuel. Modes of Technification: Expertise, urban controversies and the radicalness of radical planning. Journal of Planning Theory. 2013