Planning Los Angeles Book, edited by David Sloane, now available

The annual conference of the American Planning Association is coming to Los Angeles, and in tandem, they have decided to do books on planning in the cities they are visiting. Planning Los Angeles is the first effort, and it’s quite nice. I’m impressed by a bunch of things, but one thing in particular: for a book that cost members $25, it has full color photos. The chapters came from writers around the region. I have a selection looking at the development of Measure R and what ballot box financing and politics means for transit.

Here is a nice interview with David Sloane via Planetizen, discussing the book.

APA has just put up a podcast here (also available through iTunes), along with a slideshow of some of the images.

The book is available right now, and it will be shipping through Amazon and other vendors later this month. It will also be on sale at the APA conference, April 13-17, and on display at the Organization of American Historians conference in Milwaukee, April 19-22. There will be an event at the Huntington Library in San Marino on April 28.

Here is a list of contributors–impressive!:

Elisa Barbour
Amanda Berman
Ken Bernstein, AICP
Vinayak Bharne
Marlon G. Boarnet
Janis Breidenbach
Margaret Crawford
Elizabeth Currid-Halkett
William Deverell
Meredith Drake Reitan
William Fulton, AICP
Lark Galloway-Gilliam
Sam Gennawey
Todd Gish
Gilda Haas
Greg Hise
Anna Jacobsen
Martin Krieger
Robert A. Leiter, FAICP
Travis Longcore
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris
Doug McCulloh
Sarah Mawhorter
Vinit Mukhija
Juliet Musso
Dowell Myers
Aaron Paley
Simon Pastucha
Steven A. Preston, FAICP
Christian L. Redfearn
Lisa Schweitzer
Josh Sides
Kenneth C. Topping, FAICP
Joshua Wheeler
Andrew H. Whittemore
John Wilson
Jennifer Wolch
Goetz Wolff
David Yamamoto

PLANNINGLA finalfrontcover

Privatized Planners, Approvals, San Diego, and the Future of City Planning

Just yesterday, I believe, San Diego announced that it is, once again, merging/disbanding its planning department.

I doubt anybody will notice, except for the people to who change offices.

No, I am not saying planning is irrelevant. I’m saying that so many of the long-term planning functions of many cities are outsourced or handled by consultants, you might as well do that and have the contracts managed by contract managers.

That is, planning is probably changing, and more of the future jobs in the profession will go into the private and nonprofit sector, that’s all. Hardly a death–just a changeover. Whether for the better or worse is hard to tell at this point.

There is also a nice discussion in this piece about what the role of long-term planning should be versus the role of the day-to-day management functions of the city, such as development approvals and so on.

Planning Journals, Rankings, and Internationality

My former advisor, Randy Crane, opened up a can of worms when he sent out what he must have thought was an innocent note to the planning academics’ listserv on ideas for what we’d like to see happen with the Journal of the American Planning Association. It evolved from a request to be open to international scholarship into a nice long discussion of US hegemony in publishing and an old-school discussion on what constitutes rigor and what doesn’t. As usual, quite a bit of defensiveness and a lot of victimy language on both sides of the issue.

I responded this morning to the following effect:

What would a low publication count in JAPA for international scholars really mean?

It could mean A) US scholars are biased if we are getting submissions from scholars outside the US and turning them down disproportionately to domestic submissions (assuming that international scholars are sending their best stuff, which they may not be if they don’t think JAPA is an important outlet for them). The lower publication rate could also indicate that B) international scholars have their own supply of publication outlets that matter to them more than US outlets (At least four people, both international and domestic, have said as much in this discussion).

A is evidence of hegemony and bias and B is the opposite of hegemony and in that case, US scholar bias, however odious, would not have the power to constrain the publication trajectories of international scholars.

One question I had was whether JAPA was indeed publishing fewer papers by international authors than anybody else.

This information proved hard to find, but there is a metric out there on journals that contain international collaborations. Not the same thing, I admit, but it strikes me as a related, if admittedly imperfect, proxy for what we are discussing; whether US journals are insular, and JAPA in particular.

As usual, planners get lumped in with geography and development, so we get apples and oranges. You can also look at the urban studies journals separately. Undoubtedly there is a western bias to what journals are included here.

The international collaboration, percentages, since 2004 generally:

JAPA–has gone up since 2006: ranges from 6 percent to 21.6 percent
Canadian Journal of Urban Research ranges from 4 to 9 percent
Acta Journal Sinica (Chinese journal) ranges from 6 to 18 percent
Forum for Development Studies (Norway) ranges from 8 to 20 percent
Chinese Geographical Science ranges from 8 to 10 percent–higher in earlier years
Geografiska Annaler, Series B, ranges from 8 to 20 percent
Town Planning Review ranges from 20 to 40 percent; it also has gone up over time
Environment and Planning A runs from 10 to 20 percent
Geography Research Forum (Israel) 13 to 25 percent
Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing (couldn’t find anything listed that directly related to planning) ranges from 3 to 8 percent

So JAPA runs with everybody else in terms of international collaborations: some of the German geography journals have lots of international collaborations. Town Planning Review, too.

Looking at different English-language journals (biased towards what I read):

American Economic Review (17 to 30 percent)
Econometrica ( 30 to 45 percent) UK journal
Science (pretty consistently 20 percent)
Epidemiology (25 to 37 percent)

A better indicator would be whether these collaborations include authors from places outside the traditional seats of academic power, but I don’t have that. Also keep in mind that single-authored papers are not counted here, so that single-authored manuscripts don’t get counted one way or another, no matter where from. I don’t know why Scopus is more interested in the collaboration issue than these others.

But in looking at the numbers (not just the ones I’ve listed here), in disciplines where there is an established hierarchy of journals (like economics), the percentages are far higher than in any of the geography and planning journals I can find.

What does that suggest to you? That US economists are less insular/biased than US planners? That because it’s a bigger field, it has more international collaborations published even though co-authoring is a arguably a bigger no-no in economics than it is planning?

Or have economists, by structuring the field around journal hierarchies more rigidly, created an environment where international scholars HAVE to send their stuff to particular journals (most of them US and UK journals) to be reviewed favorably at promotion time? If so, is this concentration in a few journals better for the global cross-pollination of ideas than a multiplicity of outlets, where JAPA matters a lot to Americans but other journals matter more to international scholars and not everybody is reading and writing for the same journals?

Or is it that if you want to get published in the most competitive economics journals, you need to have access to to new and different data sources made possible only through international collaborations?

Is increasing the percentage a sign of increased inclusion or a sign of increased control?

I can’t figure it out.

SPPD Students In China and Peru

I may be biased, but I honestly think USC has the best MPL program I’ve ever been associated with, due in large part to visionary leadership of David Sloane, Dowell Myers and now Tridib Banerjee. Here are two news stories to show what some of our students are up to–and it’s amazing.


Some very good job advice for my students

Charlie Hoehn writes:

And therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don’t. No one does. You shouldn’t be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren’t real and they were created by other people, not you. There is no explicit path I’m following, and I’m not walking in anyone else’s footsteps. I’m making it up as I go.

Go read the whole thing here.

Dan McMillen on the difference between urban economics and regional science

Elsevier has sponsored a series of YouTube interviews with its journal editors. Here is Dan McMillen, explaining the difference between regional science and urban economics. These are short, so you might as want to take a look at the some of the others, including Stuart Rosenthal with one of my favorite journals, the Journal of Urban Economics.