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Panel 1: Planning Reconstruction: By Whom, For Whom, and According to Whose Priorities
Friday, October 23rd, 5 pm 8 pm

A public reception will follow Friday evening’s panel in the 1834 Club of Tulane’s Lavin-Bernick Center (Room 215).

Commentators
Latoya Cantrell
Michael Sorkin

William E. Borah, “At Last—a Master Plan for New Orleans that has the Force of Law”—Land-use planning in New Orleans has traditionally been described as “Planning by surprise.” Citizens read the daily Times-Picayune and see what is planned for their community. The city has never had a comprehensive plan to direct future growth that anyone was required to follow. The only major piece of legislation that has separated New Orleans from total land-use anarchy is a patchwork zoning ordinance, dating from the 1970s, which has been amended thousands of times. All of that changed on November 4, 2008, when citizens went to the polls in a general election and approved amendments to the Home Rule Charter. Because of this voter approval and the resulting amendments to the Charter, the manner in which the city plans for the use of its land will dramatically change, as the city is now required to prepare a Master Plan to direct its future development that will have the force of law—that is a plan that public officials as well as private citizens will be required to follow. Moreover, all land-use regulations—including the zoning ordinance—will have to be consistent with the plan. Capital improvements, as well as the capital budget, will also be required to consistent with the plan. And citizens and neighborhoods will be structured into the planning process in a more comprehensive and inclusive manner.

Toni L. Griffin, “Hurricanes, Civil Unrest, and the Ruin of the American City: Planning after Ecological and Global Disasters”Whether devastation has occurred as a result of a natural event or civil disobedience, the planning responses to healing the wounds left by these disasters on the urban landscape have seldom addressed the deeply embedded economic, social, and civic conditions that have ordered urban environments over the last several decades. Public officials, developers, planners, and designers have been quick to remedy the physical context with grand plans for rebuilding the city, inclusive of promises to secure greater economic benefit to the city and its citizens. Rarely does the planning process candidly ask the questions, “Who is the city for?” and “How can the rebuilding process address the city’s most urgent and long-standing challenges?”  Perhaps “rebuilding” is the wrong word, as it so vividly implies repairs to the built environment. Instead, should we not be seeking to also “repair” our civic culture, our shared regional reliance and responsibility, and our pledges to provide equitable access and opportunity? This paper will explore how cities such as New Orleans and Newark, which have suffered from ecological and economic disasters, should examine new approaches to urban planning that propose sustainable solutions to elevating our cities, including their marginalized communities, to greater levels of economic wealth and civic inclusion.

William M. Harris, Sr. and Melissa Harris-Lacewell, “Ethical and Ethnical Considerations in Crisis Planning in the “New” New Orleans”—Urging that urban planning is not a value-neutral process, professors William Harris and Melissa Harris-Lacewell will offer an inter-generational dialogue that investigates not only ethical but also ethnical frameworks for planning choices. The urban outcomes of the design professions are heavily influenced by the political environment. City planning, in particular, is deeply involved in the political milieu. Within the context of political interactions, planners are obligated to exercise ethical principles and actions that ensure the best returns to the public. William Harris’s presentation explores the basic ethical issues that must govern planning for the “New” New Orleans. Technical practice guidelines and appropriate roles of actors will be discussed employing the American Institute of Certified Planners’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as a template. The presentation will offer recommendations focused to guide professional designers to right behaviors in the reconstruction of New Orleans. Building on the template for ethical behaviors iterated by her father, Melissa Harris-Lacewell will explore ethnical frameworks for planning post-Katrina New Orleans by emphasizing concerns specific to the achievement of racial and class justice. Planning involves trade-offs among priorities, allocations of resources, and choices among stakeholders. Because these represent inherent value choices, planners explicitly grapple with their ethnical implications.

Wm. Raymond Manning, “The City of New Orleans’ Master Plan”—This presentation will focus on the manner in which the many planning processes since 29 August 2005 have revealed subtle, and not so subtle, ways in which race, class, and professional competitiveness have played out. The discussion will focus primarily on the way in which the professional class could have played a more significant role in advancing the progress of recovery had their efforts been seen as providing civic solutions rather than as ways in which differing individuals and groups could gain control of implementation processes or professional assignments.

William Morrish, “Outside Building In”—The city today is a highly fluid environment where economics, sociability, and ecology are interconnected and interdependent; this produces an urban context in which indeterminate processes loop between inside and outside. The “central city,” as the locus of government, economic activity, and entertainment, may symbolize the wealth of a community, but it is actually the neighborhoods that define an urban settlement’s common wealth and resilience through service transactions and support networks from outside to inside the urban landscape. Center city, utility infrastructure, and neighborhoods build towards each other along shared boundaries. Planning becomes integrated design. Governance becomes more than a public meeting; it becomes an inclusive day-to-day operation. Management becomes an exciting civic activity of regenerative practice. Come the next storm, those who used to live “outside of the inside” will hold the many switches to “turn on the lights” of recovery and rebuilding. These are the lights that are built everyday along the lines that connect inside to out, and outside to in. This two-way street is the backbone of a sustainable and equitable city.

Amy Murphy, “Media Matters”—The temporal is one of the most important and complex aspects of any urban experience. Yet ‘time,’ as an essential idea, is often considerably under-conceptualize or over-simplified in most master planning proposals, leaving those future visions as static as those we might produce of our past. I will examine several media representations of New Orleans produced since Katrina seeking to understand how certain temporal-tropes frequently used to describe New Orleans might relate (both positively and negatively) to the current planning strategies as proposed for the city. The very notion of ‘re-construction’ is in itself a strategy with temporal implications. It is simultaneously charged with both diminishing limits and expansive potentials. For New Orleans’ future planning to succeed, it will be important to tease out such distinctions further and to appreciate their consequences. 
The temporal is one of the most important and complex aspects of any urban experience. Yet ‘time,’ as an essential idea, is often considerably under-conceptualize or over-simplified in most master planning proposals, leaving those future visions as static as those we might produce of our past. I will examine several media representations of New Orleans produced since Katrina seeking to understand how certain temporal-tropes frequently used to describe New Orleans might relate (both positively and negatively) to the current planning strategies as proposed for the city. The very notion of ‘re-construction’ is in itself a strategy with temporal implications. It is simultaneously charged with both diminishing limits and expansive potentials. For New Orleans’ future planning to succeed, it will be important to tease out such distinctions further and to appreciate their consequences. 

Beverly Wright, “Environmental Ethics for All”—As New Orleans struggles to recover and rebuild, issues related to health and place must be viewed as an integral part of the rebuilding process. Assuring environmental justice means establishing opportunities for healthy living. The differential effects of the disaster created by Hurricane Katrina were consistent with a pervasive continuum in which low-income and minority communities suffer from both higher socioeconomic stress and greater exposure to air toxins, hazardous wastes, and other environmental dangers. Establishing fairness as a guidepost for environmental planning is not just the right or ethical thing to do; it just may be the best protection for all of us.