Planning January 2011


Not a good fix

I found the before-and-after renderings on the opening spread of "Fixing the Mess We Made" (November) to be a very subpar solution to the sprawl problem. The "after" view shows more concrete and more rooftops replacing a landscaped area. How will the new development manage stormwater? And where are the green roofs? The "repair" suggested by the illustration would inevitably lead to negative environmental impacts.

As planners we should make sure that our recommendations for making urban areas more livable don't sacrifice valuable green infrastructure.

— Will Allen
Director of Strategic Conservation
The Conservation Fund
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Author's response
Mr. Allen misses the larger point that walkable, mixed use urbanism is intrinsically a "green" strategy. Providing a more compact human habitat means more walking, lower VMT and carbon, and less need for parking lots. Most important for the Conservation Fund, it minimizes the need to further disperse the population and consume more land. The value of sprawl repair should be measured on a per capita basis for a region as a whole, not by the number of green buffers built in places that would be better designed as main streets.

— Emily Talen
Tempe, Arizona


Problems with ports

Your graphic comparing port sizes (By the Numbers, November) offers an odd selection of ports. It omits Seattle/Tacoma along with some large East Coast ports, instead highlighting some very small ports. It also refers to the port of Los Angeles alone, without Long Beach, which is much larger.

— Linda M. Jackson
Principal Planner
San Rafael, California

APA researchers Timothy Mennel and David Morley, AICP, respond that their sampling was not intended to be exhaustive but rather to show a regional variation in growth. — Eds.


Seconds sludging comments

I agree with Larry Mugler's comments about the "sludging" article in the August/September Planning (Letters, October). The views expressed in the article contradict USGS research findings regarding the effects of land application of biosolids at Denver's Metro Wastewater Reclamation District farm near Deer Trail. Those findings are available at:

  — Gary Rapp, AICP
Wastewater Leader
Recycling Coalition of Colorado Springs


Correction, additions
"Repurposing Detroit" (November) refers to the state's restrictions on the use of eminent domain and cites Wayne State University law professor John Mogk as saying, "An alternative might be a legislative act that would exempt distressed communities from the eminent domain restrictions." In an e-mail to the author, Professor Mogk wrote, "The constitution itself would have to be amended to exempt distressed cities from the prohibition against using eminent domain for economic development. ... [This] would be a hard sell in today's political world."

In the preceding paragraph, "small-scale economic development projects" became "mall-scale." Also, Mogk's name was misspelled near the end of the article.

For space reasons, the names of two groups of University of Michigan planning students were omitted from the same article. The students who prepared the plan for the Brightmoor area are: Kimiko Doherty, Lisa Morris, Tim Parham, Sarah Powers, Erin Schumacher, and Bonnie Wessler. The student contributors to Vacant to Viable are: Lee Adams, Anne Choike, Erin Evenhouse, Xiqing Lin, Benjamin Newman, Maeva Silveira, Zachary Smitt, and Max Vera.

Letters may be edited before publication. Address them to Sylvia Lewis, Editor, Planning, 205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200, Chicago, IL 60601; e-mail: Include your name, title, affiliation, address, and daytime phone.