The Journal of the American Planning Association is looking for a new editor, y’all!

A dose of your daily trolling, this came out last week. Nominate yourself or somebody you think would be good!

Dr. Sandra Rosenbloom soon will complete her term as editor of JAPA, the official journal of the American Planning Association. Dr. Rosenbloom has guided JAPA since 2013 with great dedication and expertise (editor’s note: yay Sandi!)

JAPA was founded in 1935 and publishes peer-reviewed, original research and analysis useful to scholars, practicing planners, planning students, and others with an interest in the planning profession. JAPA aspires to bring insight to the future of planning, to air a variety of perspectives, to publish the highest quality work, and to engage readers.

Responsibility for the content of JAPA will rest entirely with Editor, Associate Editors, and Editorial Board. To serve as JAPA’s next Editor, APA seeks an individual who will ensure that the highest quality and most relevant research is published in JAPA, for the benefit of scholars and planning in all practice settings.

The applicant must be a respected and accomplished thought leader who maintains an awareness of emerging areas of research and planning practice; is energetic, with excellent organization and interpersonal skills; dedicated to building JAPA as an innovative and valuable resource for the broad planning community, bridging scholarship and practice. Successful applications will be a faculty member or researcher at a university or will have significant past experience in such a role. They will also have experience as an editor, associate editor, editorial board member, or productive reviewer for a peer-reviewed journal; have a record of published articles in scholarly journals; and be skilled at helping authors communicate their work in clear and readable prose.

The Editor will also work collaboratively to ensure the JAPA meets the strategic goals of APA, reporting regularly to the APA Board of Directors on the performance of the journal, participating APA Board meetings at least once annually as a non-voting ex officio member, and working with the APA staff, officers and the journal publisher to remove any issues related to the publication of JAPA. The applicant must be comfortable working with electronic technology and will be supported by a professional Managing Editor employed by APA.

The successful candidate will assume the position of Editor officially beginning January 1, 2019, after an orientation and transition period in late 2018. The term of the editorship is five years. (2019-2023).

APA INVITES NOMINATIONS AND APPLICATIONS

Interested individuals should submit an application no later than June 22, 2018, to include the following:

  • A curriculum vitae; and
  • A succinct letter of interest and qualifications, addressing how the candidate will accommodate the time demands of editing JAPA, and where necessary, a description of any approval/support expected from the candidate’s institution to engage in an employment contract with APA.

Candidates whom the Search Committee wishes to interview will be asked to provide the following:

  • Names and contact information for three references; and
  • A vision statement of 700 words or less for the next five years of publication of JAPA.

Items of specific interest to the Search Committee include applicants’ thoughts on:

  • Increasing the number, quality, and relevance of submissions
  • Proposed approach for addressing the mission of the journal to reflect diverse audiences within the profession, including scholars, practicing planners, students, and others with an interest in planning
  • Communication and outreach to the broad planning community

Applications and/or questions for the Search Committee should be submitted by email to Harriet M. Bogdanowicz, MBA, CAE, Chief Communications Officer (hbogdanowicz@planning.org). Applications must be received by June 22, 2018. lf you would like to nominate someone for consideration, please provide that person’s name and contact information, plus a brief statement of your reasons for the nomination, no later than May 31, 2018.

APA has established a JAPA Editor Search Committee, comprised of the following members:

  • Cynthia Bowen, FAICP, Chair, APA President
  • Dr. Asha W. Agrawal, San Jose State University
  • Dr. Karen D. Chapple, University of California, Berkeley
  • Kurt E. Christiansen, FAICP, APA President-Elect
  • Glenn E. Larson, AICP, AICP President
  • Rodger H. Lentz, AICP, APA Treasurer
  • Dr. Rachel Weber, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Search Committee is using the services of a leading publishing consultancy to review applications for telephone interviews. A small number of finalists will be selected for final interviews, which will occur with the Search Committee in late July. The Search Committee will then make its recommendation to the APA Board of Directors. Once the Board of Directors has voted, the successful candidate will be offered the position. All candidates will be notified within 10 days of the Board’s decision.

Urbanist, urbanism, urban planning

BTW: Forgive bad proofing. I’m off to commencement today and should probably not look like an unmade bed when I get there.*

I recently had a friend from my old Masters’ program in planning (UIowa; Go Hawks) ask on my Facebook page: what’s an urbanist? I was going to answer on Facebook, but then I realized I developed a vocabulary around this strategically because of the way I teach my intro class on cities.

Urbanism for me is an analog to humanism; it’s an interest in human affairs and activities in cities. It covers a big tent in scholarship. Academic urbanists, too, come from big group from scientists, social scientists, and humanists theorists thinking about cities and space. There are plenty of urbanists out there who aren’t are academics, just like I am interested in the classics but not a professional classicist. I tuck “urban studies” here into “urbanism” the way I’d put gender studies into humanism.

One of the big influences on me was Louis Wirth’s “Urbanism as a Way of Life.” (In fact–yes, I’m going to say it out loud; I find this short piece much more profound about the nature of cities than Life and Death. There, I said it. Here the comments come: “Have you ever read Jane Jacobs? Actualleh”….blargh. Look at them both. Wirth manages to get at large portion of what takes her 100 pages, without taking cheap shots at anybody or romanticizing self-organization. Relax. Life and Death is a wonderful book. It’s just overly long and I swear people revere it more than they read it anymore, and that bugs me.)

Anyhoodily, urbanism is a way of life, to some degree, but it’s so many modes and ways of life I don’t find that definition terribly useful beyond introducing the idea that city life is generally a life lived among many strangers. That is a profound change in the human condition, but it doesn’t help students understand the wide range of academic thought that has gone into trying to suss out those changes in the human condition and what those mean for individuals and groups in cities.

Defined in this way, we have a lot of wonderful urbanists at USC, for example, in addition to the planning faculty: urban economists like Richard Green, Jorge de la Roca, and Christian Redfearn all fall readily into the category.

I prefer to treat urban planning as a subset of the big category, as an activity and as a profession focussed on intervening in the material form and (thus) social life of cities. Plenty of urban anthropologists are out there doing work that can inform planning, but they don’t necessarily get up in the morning with the specific purpose of trying to make neighborhoods and places nicer. Some might, and in the sense that they advocate for their preferences and interests on the subject, they engage in urban planning even if they are not urban planners per se.

So that’s how I use the terms.

*Who am I kidding? I always look like an unmade bed no matter how hard I try.

Unsolicited (by most of you) advice to young scholars starting in the academy

I got a very kind email from a young scholar who is going to start in the fall. I wrote a response, and I decided it was pretty good advice, so I’m sharing here because I am too brain dead from my trip to think of urban-y things to post so here.

My advice to young scholars starting on the tenure track:

1. Take care of your health. I always, always put work before myself, my friends/family, and I regret it. The first few years of being a faculty member are a grind—and that’s unavoidable, but think carefully about when the marginal benefit of grinding away is less than the marginal benefit of exercising or relaxing or being with people who are important to you.

This advice is easy to discount if you, like me, were coming from a situation where there was no back-up.

Jobs will kill you if you let them, and this one is no different.

2. Some senior faculty members are jerks, and some are jerks without even trying. They can’t help it. Avoid them. Seriously. If there is one benefit in the academy, it’s that you have lots and lots of reasons to not be near people you can’t stand. Archives! Field work! Private writing time! Have office hours early in the morning. Work in a coffee shop instead of your office. Close your door. Filter their emails into a special folder and read them only when you’ve have a glass of wine and don’t care about nonsense.

It’s not worth getting into power struggles early on—I did—as you don’t have much power. I found over the years that people will respect you if you speak out for students or people who have less power than you, but it’s best to keep your powder dry over most things. Do your best to think about what matters and what doesn’t.

Some people use this as an excuse only to show up and advocate to feather their own nest. This works immensely well, in fact. I haven’t done that, and I have probably paid a professional price for it. But I still have my integrity, and that matters to me more than being able to flounce around over titles or the other fripperies that universities hand out to their cherished show ponies who only show up for themselves.

3. Pick and choose among the shit jobs that will come your way; i.e., don’t say no to everything. Yes, everybody tells you to learn to say no. Sometimes, that results in junior faculty acting like divas who are too good to do the things that the rest of the senior faculty has been sucking up and doing for years and years, and they will be resentful if you don’t pick up some of the team work. If you are SUCH a research star that you need nobody’s goodwill at tenure time, fine, say no. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to pick a few things that don’t seem awful to you, do a good job on them without complaining, and then use those as a rationale for why you have to say no to some other things. “I wouldn’t mind teaching “intro to introness” to the undergraduates, but I already said I would teach the graduate stats class and I don’t want to get overloaded.” Or “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do a good job on the PhD committee since I am already on the undergrad committee. Ask me again when I cycle off the undergrad committee. Sorry I couldn’t say yes this time!”

Your first year, just say you don’t want to get overcommitted, and that you are learning the job, but ask again later when you’ve got a little more time under your belt.

IOW,be strategic AND generous about service to both yourself and other people.

4. Set and keep your own deadlines. I suck at this. My friend Sonia Hirt at VT (who is now a dean at Maryland) mapped out what she wanted to have done and published over two years at a time. I don’t know what I am going to do most days when I get up in the morning. Seriously. I have vague ideas, but I am sooooo capricious I can’t help it. I suspect that Sonia’s approach is better, even if you have to rework the schedule. I would be different if I could be, but alas.

5. Pay yourself first. Research in the morning, prep for teaching in the afternoon and evenings. I find that teaching prep expands to take up as much time as you let it. The morning work time to do your stuff is very important. Your research will define you, just like the songs define a musician, not the record label.mIn fact, universities are a bit like record labels. They are great and everything, but they benefit when you stand out as a scholar and the way to do that is make sure you are doing your research, first and foremost. That way, if you don’t get tenure, you still have a package of work to define what you have do and how you do it.

6. It takes a long time to learn how to teach as yourself. Many of the things you loved about your favorite proffies and their teaching style are things you can adopt. Others are things that just won’t work for you. You have to experiment, find out what fits you as a person and what fits the content and the context.

Sometimes, things go badly. Do the best you can, and be patient with yourself and students. They are young (some are not, but most are), and you are learning your job, and all that is a messy and difficult process that takes time.

Good luck to you. I’ve had so much fun, and I hope you do, too.

Nikos Kazantnakis on slow writing, slow creation, and war of art

There was a nice discussion on Twitter  about how “slow professors” are privileged professors.  Absolutely, we should never lose sight of power and privilege in the academy. And yet, I am bothered by, and very much saddened, by the idea that only the very privileged are allowed to create silence around themselves, savor the work and the ideas, and make space for themselves in the world. We can’t allow that to happen to ourselves, even as the institutions around us try to become even more extractive and viscous.  The way US higher treats adjuncts is unconscionable, and I hope USC’s model catches on. I love our long-term contracts and promotions for NTT faculty.  I deplore our use of contracts for security and hospitality staff. (No benefits). The institution still demands far too much work from everybody, but all workers should hold out and support each other in retaining a human pace. 


I learned this pretty young from Zorba the Greek. (I still too often fell into overwork and overworry, and in turn made myself very ill at various points, and neglected my health entirely. I regret this very much.) 


I remembered something Zorba once said: “I always act as though I were immortal.” This is God’s method, but we mortals should follow it too, not from megalomania and impudence, but from the soul’s invincible yearning for what is above. The attempt to imitate God is our only means to surpass human boundaries, be it only by a hair, be it only for an instant (remember the flying fish). As long as we are imprisoned in our bodies, as long as we are chrysalises, the most precious orders given us by God are: Be patient, meditate, trust.


Every person, whether they are a university president or serving food on a lunch line, has honorable work to do. But both of them deserve to know themselves in whatever quiet they can steal from the demands of the world. 


When I told people I was going to Crete for a vacation with my husband, I got a lot of questions about why Crete. For one,  Crete is a fascinating place: it doesn’t really matter what era of history you are interested in, it’s interesting: from the Minoans to WWII to today, Cretans are a fascinating group.  Second, Nikos Kazantnakis.  I remember when Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ came out, to massive pearl-clutching from all my super-religious fellow Iowans.  The movie didn’t show up in any theaters near where I grew up (none did) and I had no money for movies anyway, so I didn’t get to see the movie. But I did manage to check the book out of the University of Iowa library when I got to college. 


And Kazantnakis, probably Greece’s most famous novelist internationally,  is fully and proudly Cretan. In preparation for this trip, I re-read the book everybody has heard of, Zorba the Greek (done well as a movie, really) and his memoir and reflections, Report to El Greco.  The latter has quite a bit of lovely prose, as we would expect, and some wonderful insights on the creative struggle. 


I am carrying just my iPad, and I miss reading from a real book so much! Anyway, here are some of the gems for my fellow academics and writers who are wrestling away: 

THE ENTIRE TIME a person creates, he has the morning sickness of the woman nourishing a son with her vitals. I found it impossible to see anyone. The slightest noise made my entire body quake; it was as though Apollo had flayed me and my exposed nerves were being wounded by mere contact with the air.


For some of us, this work is very hard at times. Don’t beat yourself up, please, as sometimes it feels yucky. It is like this for many of us. Worse, though, is not creating. That, too, is agony.


Had nothing gone to waste, then? Considered separately, each of my intellectual ramblings and sidewise tacks seemed wasted time, the product of an unjelled, disordered mind. But now I saw that considered all together they constituted a straight and unerring line which knew full well that only by sidewise tacks could it advance over this uneven earth. And my infidelities toward the great ideas—I had abandoned them after being successively fascinated and disillusioned—taken all together these infidelities constituted an unshakable faith in the essence. It seemed that luck (how shall we call it? not luck, but destiny) had eyes and compassion; it had taken me by the hand and guided me. Only now did I understand where it had guided me and what it expected me to do. It expected me to hear the Cry of the future, to exert every effort to divine what that Cry wanted, why it was calling, and where it invited us to go.

It takes a long time to find what you are trying to say, and what you mean to say.  I think students the first few years of PhD programs feel this especially acutely as the scatter, reading things.  In interdisciplinary things like planning, there just isn’t one reading list you must master to be an expert on the existing research. So there are many false starts, many dead ends. All of them are parts of you becoming you, and you are an important part of your research, even though social scientists like to fib to themselves that they are doing objective work. 


A rabbi of ancient times, Rabbi Nahman, had taught me years before how to know when the hour had come for me to open my mouth and speak, take up my pen and write. He was a simple, cheerful, sainted man who used to advise his disciples
How they too could become simple, cheerful, and sainted. But one day they fell at his feet and complained: “Dear Rabbi, why don’t you talk like Rabbi Zadig, why don’t you sort out great ideas and construct great theories, so that people will listen to you in a transport, their mouths agape? Can’t you do anything but speak with simple words like an old grandmother, and tell tales?” The good rabbi smiled. It was quite some time before he replied. Finally he opened his mouth. “One day the nettles asked the rosebush, ‘Madam Rosebush, won’t you teach us your secret? How do you make the rose?’ And the rosebush answered, ‘My secret is extremely simple, Sister Nettles. All winter long I work the soil patiently, trustfully, lovingly, and have one thing in mind: the rose. The rains lash me, the winds strip off my leaves, the snows crush me, but I have only one thing in mind: the rose. That, Sister Nettles, is my secret!” “We don’t understand, Master,” said the disciples. The rabbi laughed. “I don’t understand very well myself.” “Well then, Master?” “I think I wanted to say something like this: When I have an idea, I work it for a long time, silently, patiently, trustfully, lovingly. And when I open my mouth (what a mystery this is, my children!), when I open my mouth, the idea comes out as a tale.” He laughed once more. “We humans call it a tale,” he said, “the rosebush calls it a rose.”


Any discussion of this one blunts its meaning. 


Once realism begins to reign, civilization declines. Thus we arrive at the realistic, magniloquent, and faithless Helleuistic era, which was devoid of suprapersonal ideals. From chaos to the Parthenon, then from the Parthenon back to chaos—the great merciless rhythm.The great artist looks beneath the flux of everyday reality and sees eternal, unchanging symbols. Behind the spasmodic, frequently inconsistent activities of living men, he plainly distinguishes the great currents which sweep away the human soul.

In the US, what have we done with ourselves in terms of art, education, and ideas? It doesn’t feel promising to me. 

Every man has a cry, his cry, to sling into the air before he dies; let us waste no time, therefore, lest we be caught short. It is true that this cry may scatter ineffectually in the air, that there may be no ear either below on earth or above in heaven to hear it. No matter. You are not a sheep, you are a man, and that means a thing which is unsettled and shouts. Well then—shout!


Everybody deserves to shout, whether it’s by crocheting nice things or writing poems or dancing or tidying or cooking or writing. Art is in us, and we are entitled to do it at the pace at which it comes to us, snatching back whatever we can from the powers that demand more and more and more of us, lest we have nothing left. Fight that, both on your behalf and on the behalf of others who don’t have your privilege. 





Rent harmonization upzoning

I dunno if any place has ever done this, but I was toddling around Athens today thinking about land use (as one does) and the idea that with a general upzone, wealthy areas will develop first. I’ve seen this claimed along with the “learn how the market works, stupid” riders, and in response, my heart says “learn how politics works, pumpkin. In nearly 30 years as an urban planner and policy analyst, I’ve never—not once—seen a wealthy neighborhood have to suck up anything they didn’t like, with the possible exception of Beverly Hills and the Purple Line, and even then those people did an unbelievable amount of harm to the rest of the region’s transit investment fighting. 

IOW, there are good market reasons to develop in both high and low-cost areas, and very good political reasons to develop in lower cost areas.  Regular readers of the blog, the ones not yelling at me, understand that I hold two positions that make policy hard in California: 
1) We desperately need more housing units; 
2) Building on low-income communities and communities of color at this point is going to be hard on them, and potentially disastrous to renters there. 
It’s one thing to put lower-cost housing near high-cost housing (hard politically, see above, and hard market wise because of land costs), but that’s where you’d like to be able to do so because of amenity and service-sharing. So it bring downs local rents—goodie.  It’s another to put higher income people on top of lower-income people; that gives landlords an additional reason to get to thinking they are sitting on goldmines, etc. 
I’ve generally always maintained that regional average rents are pretty useless. It’s no consolation to know that overall regional rents went down overall if rents in your nabe went up (yes, both those things can happen at the same time.)
So what about if you do look at the various districts in cities (I have no idea how to divide this up, but let’s just play with the concepts for a bit before we firehose it)…..and you find a distribution of regional rents. You find a median. And when you hit locations that are 1 or 2 standard deviations above the mean, there is an automatic upzone, and places 1 deviation and lower get a pass for upzoning, and everybody in that middle interval takes development as it happens? 
Just mucking with ideas here, with jet lag and heat stroke. (Too much sun in Athens today).

“Kill all the live women” is free speech, but criticizing the dead, rich white lady is hate speech

I am on vacation, but something is bugging me, and the way I deal with what’s in my head is to write about it, so I thought I’d write about it here instead of cluttering up my travel journal with it. 


The topic of male privilege comes up here quite often, but we see around us unfolding a rather super example of it.  Kevin Williamson, conservative writer/troll #8,321,992 who has come in to cash in the frustrated entitlement of US conservatives, 

was fired from his new appointment at The Atlantic when he tweeted out that he thought that women who had abortions should be subjected to the death penalty.  

Sane people reacted to this tweet with WTF, and then in true troll style he tried to claim it was a heat-of-the-moment thing, only then people found evidence of him saying the same damn thing on a podcast, only more emphatically. 
Oh, and the method of execution? Hanging. 
IOW, in Williamson’s mind, it should be highly public and painful. 
Of course, he then whined about losing his job and because he is a dude and a conservative, other major publishing outlets immediately rushed to give him airtime, interviews, and lotsa lotsa attention, including this long, self-important  pity party in the Wall Street Journal. 

long, self-important  pity party in the Wall Street Journal. 

All this will undoubtedly lead Williamson to bigger and better gigs, depending on whether the FoxNews continues to kiss POTUS’s backside or not (Williamson has been critical of DT because of the latter’s bad family conduct.)  He’s got himself a conservative brand now, way more famous than when he was writing for the National Review. 
Contrast this with the conservative furor engendered by Professor Randa Jarr of Fresno State University being quoted as calling late First Lady Barbara Bush “a crazy racist” and “taunting” (according to the WashPo) her critics that she can “never be fired.”  As it turns out, Fresno State says they aren’t going to discipline her (as they shouldn’t). 
The frothing on social media from conservatives was entirely too predictable, about how Jarr  is “brainwashing our kids” and should be fired and the whole university system is corrupt (thanks a pant load for throwing tenure under the bus, lady, like it’s not going extinction fast enough without your loudmouth.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t support Jarr’s saying awful things. But Barbara Bush is dead. Jarr is  not wishing the woman a sado-machocistic death, as Williamson does. All Jarr basically said was “miss me with grieving for this one particular woman.”  We could have a nice, long argument about how much blood the Bush family has on its hands. Nonetheless, Barbara Bush wasn’t an elected official, her family hardly needs to hear her badmouthed, and whatever her sins and failures were as a living person, she’s not getting any more second chances.  (I had one idiot tell me after my father died that she hated him because he was a Democrat. Stay classy!)  But—and this is big one—Barbara Bush lived an enormously privileged, long life. She had quite a bit of what this good old world had to offer,  and while it isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead, Bush and Co will be fine. 
Williamson essentially wishes for mass executions of living women whereby I suspect Handmaid’s Tale is his utopian future.  Jarr is a villain of free speech and Williamson a hero of free speech in today’s conservative mind. 

After what just happened in Canada, shouldn’t we be a little more worried about death fantasies about live women en masse than disrespectful comments towards one, now dead after very, very, very long life woman? 



What should SB827 v. 2 look like?

One of the sad things about the SB827 debate is that while YIMBY folks tried to keep the emphasis on housing, by the end I heard more general policy people describe the bill in terms of “Local control.” That became a problem. As I pointed out in a prior post, lots of people seem to equate local control with land use, and it is an important local government power. But I tried to point out there are other things that localities can still control, from public finance to amenity and service offerings, that don’t involve zoning.

I’m not sure how well I did it, as lots of people seemed to think I was lamenting loss of local control with SB827. No. I don’t think local control should mean “the ability to exclude other people from a city.” Cities are not yours. But I do think people should have the capability to have some control over their local environments, and I also think that oppressed peoples should have civil protections, spatial ones, from socially dominant majorities who oppress them.

Anyhoodily, regular readers of the blog know that value capture is one of my hobbyhorses. I get it, Prop 13 is a big deal, I shouldn’t even talk about things that aren’t feasible (Crimony would you people go read Thucydides, Nietzsche, and Walzer on political realism and power-rationality relations before you scream about what is feasible and what’s not? I don’t have time to educate y’all on errrrthing.)

But I think the key to passing something SB827-esque is to shift the cities and their financial incentives with regard to new residents. Some of the criticism of the “growth machine” hypothesis and regime theory in development is simply that it doesn’t explain California very well. Regimes supposedly don’t form. I think they do; for one, Molotch and Logan do talk about the possibility of anti-growth homeowners becoming a political force. It’s just they didn’t consider the possibility that one of the elite players might join anti-growth coalitions, and that’s what I think Prop 13 did. It fiscalized land use in such a way that cities didn’t want new residents any more than existing residents did. Growth without people to have to serve would be ideal.

Thus cities in California have had much less reticence about things like stadia or even going after the Olympics or having big box stores that get us sales tax revenue than they have in dealing with housing proposals. We would like to tax foreigners living abroad, but colonialism is now frowned upon and thus we settle for seeking shoppers living in a neighboring jurisdiction. (So much of Black LA’s money has flowed to places like Culver City, and thus plenty of LA County cities could care less about whether any development goes south of the 10).

Mixed use is a somewhat of a compromise: there’s sales tax money getting generated on the bottom floors, and lots of people still assume that the condos or apartments or lofts will go to affluent singletons rather than families with those children who need investing in.

I have long argued that the feds and the states should tie their transit funding to specific joint development proposals that require upzoning with development approvals in place. So one possibility, even though the cities wouldn’t like it, is for the the next SB827-esque bill to require upzoning around new transit projects if they want state money for them. It’s not a huge pot of money, but most big projects have federal/state support.

This isn’t ideal. Places like Beverly Hills, which are divided with regard to transit, are just as likely to say “keep your transit money and your up zone” as they are to comply because they don’t see transit as an amenity but rather, a mechanism for rampaging poor people to come steal their TV sets.

Value capture distributed between cities, transit agencies, landowners, and renter protection programs give a straight financial benefit. I know, that’s a lot of splits. But I suspect there is quite a lot of money waiting to be split.