Saturday, April 21, 2007

APA's 2007 National Conference Highlights!


For Latinos in planning, the APA conference was a great success. A large number of Latinos from all over the country were in attendance, and this was the first conference that held a session on Latino Communities and Urban Spaces. The session brought together scholars and planning practitioners from across the country to discuss how Latino communities use urban space. Cecilia H. Guisti, from Texas A&M University, examined the development of "colonias" on the south border of Texas. Michael Rios, from Penn State University, examined the community participation process for the BART station in San Francisco's Mission District. I spoke about how Latinos are transforming the streets of Los Angeles by their use of urban space, and how we need to develop policies that promote, protrect, and enhance these communities. Leonardo E. Vazquez, and Irayda M. Ruiz, updated us on the new Latinos in Planning APA Division. The session was very well attended, especially by young Latino planners and students, and demonstrates the growth of Latinos in the urban planning profession.

Philadelphia has a rich history, historic architexture, and an intimate urban scale which creates a walkable city. The historic lots' sizes, and street widths, create a unique urban scale reminiscent of a European city. Some streets are as narrow as 8 feet, and most are not more than 40 feet, including sidewalks. Narrow roads reduce traffic speeds, making streets safe and comfortable for pedestrians to cross at any point. As a human being, I like to walk in places that allow me total flexibility, and to not have to cross a street only at intersections is a great advantage to human impulses. The historic lot sizes create very intimate, narrow buildings, much like the pencil buildings in Tokyo. These narrow buildings create a nice pedestrian rhythm for walking.

Philadelphia is a large city that has been in decline since it lost its manufacturing base in the 1950's. Much of the city has been preserved with even some street car lines still intact. Large sections of the city feel isolated, however, with a number of buildings presently abandoned, and reminded me of Manhattan in the 1980's or Downtown L.A. up until recently. We went to some great bars and clubs next to these abandoned buildings, though. It was a nice change from congested Los Angeles, and crowded Manhattan.

I would like to especially thank the students from Cal Poly Pomona, and to some extent San Luis Obispo, who showed up in great numbers at the conference. I spent time with the student from Cal Poly Pomona in exploring Philly, and unlike students at other major universities in L.A., most of these students are local, and are committed to staying and improving the built environment in L.A!

3 comments:

Nate said...

Any response? you UCLA and USC folks? :)

Cowboy Galactico said...

Props to James for giving Props to Cal Poly Pomona's College of Enviro. Design.

Nate: Your LUF gallery is up on the gallery links of the sie, I can't get the code going on the side bar of blogger.com

MannythePlanner said...

As a fellow Cal Poly Pomona undergrad student. I had a wonderful time in Philly!!!