Episode 17 – Embracing the "messy" city, with Kevin Klinkenberg
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In this episode we speak with Kevin Klinkenberg, an urban designer, planner, architect, and writer on all things cities. We discuss what city leaders can learn from the messiness of cities past, why small scale development is better for our communities (and why these days it's so hard to actually do), how to balance top-down and bottom-up action, zoning recommendations for cities that want to become walkable, and more.
[2:00] Kevin’s background and involvement with Congress for the New Urbanism
[5:00] Why he got into writing, where it’s taken him, and his focus on practical advice for cities
[9:15] Why he chose to relocate to a walkable city
[10:15] Involvement in the Savannah (GA) Downtown Master Plan, and what other cities can learn from Savannah
[14:30] What is a "Messy City”? And what is the value of embracing messiness as opposed to order?
[22:00] If the benefits of walkable cities are so clear, why is it so hard to change the way cities are getting built?
[29:30] The importance of fiscal analysis in showing cities the (current & long-term) value that walkable neighborhoods and small-scale development present – and the fragility inherent in large-scale development
[32:05] Challenging city leaders to not be the ones who put their city’s future in jeopardy
[33:00] What Kevin K would do if put in charge of a suburban city? The need to balance a “messy” approach with vision-setting and planning
[39:50] The “can-do” spirit that he sees in much of the country, and why some places draw that out into action more than others
[42:10] Kevin’s top three zoning code recommendations for cities who want to built walkable neighborhoods
[44:00] What is “missing middle” commercial development—and why should you care?
[49:30] The financing challenges with building small spaces, despite their greater long term resiliency
[51:45] What advice would Kevin give to a planning director who wants to communicate the need for a smaller-scale, messier city-building approach
[54:00] The need to "know your own community” and which ways of framing the issues will get the best response
[57:00] Kevin’s reading recommendations (see below for links)
Links to things discussed in the podcast
Kevin’s favorite blogs to read:
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(The music in this episode is from Custodian of Records and Tours.)
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