Embedded Planning Is Worth The Struggle

Infographic by Columbia GSAPP students

Honored to close out the 2022 Lectures in Planning Series at Columbia GSAPP with:

“Embedded Planning Is Worth The Struggle”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 @ 1:15pm NY / 4:15pm LA. We will be live streaming. For details, check out the event page: https://www.arch.columbia.edu/events/2735-jonathan-pacheco-bell

Session description:

Planning is political. Decisions about the built environment inherently impact people’s lives. Everything planners do involves a struggle over “who gets what, when, where, how, and why?” Planners respond to this debate but many of our practices have resulted in unjust planning. In this time of increasing interrogation of planning’s legacies of inequity, planners are moving with intention to be better partners. And as part of repair and healing, planners are seeking more ways to build meaningful community partnerships. No longer is technocratic rational planning the default. But while the pivot to participatory methods helped democratize the planning process, professional practice still prefers project-based, one-off, transactional engagement.

Orthodox planning must evolve.

A better way is possible.

Los Angeles-based urban planner Jonathan Pacheco Bell urges practitioners to consider Embedded Planning praxis. Developed by Bell on the ground in South Central LA, Embedded Planning is a way to fundamentally restructure community engagement and practice. Embedded Planning means planning from the street, not from a desk. Embedded Planners work in the spaces and places of community members, building bridges with marginalized communities harmed by inequitable planning. Embedded Planning is a praxis that puts theory into action to better this world. Since Bell declared Embedded Planning exists in 2018, it has grown into an international movement among emerging planners. In this talk, Bell will show how Embedded Planning is being used to transform engagement into lasting community partnerships rooted in trust.

Community members have embraced Embedded Planning because they feel seen and included. Yet despite this praxis bringing ignored voices to the table, Bell encountered blatant hostility from planning figureheads who judged Embedded Planning as “too political.” Through storytelling and personal reflection, Bell will illustrate the struggle to carry out Embedded Planning in the face of power. Attendees will learn the challenges and benefits of this unorthodox approach and understand why this praxis is the future of planning.

Embedded Planning at Columbia University

Mark Your Calendars, 11-29-22

“Embedded Planning is Worth The Struggle”

Columbia University, Lectures in Planning Series, in-person & online

By: Jonathan Pacheco Bell, MAUP+MLIS @c1typlann3r

Session excerpt:

In this time of increasing interrogation of planning’s legacies of inequity, planners are moving with intention to be better partners. And as part of repair and healing, planners are seeking more ways to build meaningful community #partnerships. No longer is technocratic rational planning the default.

But while the pivot to participatory methods helped democratize the planning process, professional practice still prefers project-based, one-off, transactional engagement.

Orthodox planning must evolve.

A better way is possible.

Los Angeles-based urban planner Jonathan Pacheco Bell urges practitioners to consider Embedded Planning praxis. Developed by Bell on the ground in South Central LA, Embedded Planning is a way to fundamentally restructure community engagement and practice. Embedded Planning means planning from the street, not from a desk. Embedded Planners work in the spaces and places of community members, building bridges with marginalized communities harmed by inequitable planning. Embedded Planning is a #praxis that puts theory into action to better this world.

Since Bell declared Embedded Planning exists in 2018, it has grown into an international movement among emerging planners. In this talk, Bell will show how #EmbeddedPlanning is being used to transform engagement into lasting community partnerships rooted in trust.

Community members have embraced Embedded Planning because they feel seen and included. Yet despite this praxis bringing ignored voices to the table, Bell encountered blatant #hostility from planning figureheads who judged Embedded Planning as “too political.” Through storytelling and personal reflection, Bell will illustrate the struggle to carry out Embedded Planning in the face of power. Attendees will learn the challenges and benefits of this unorthodox approach and understand why this praxis is the future of planning.

[… is that Kenny Uong on the cover?!]

Thank you, Mike Davis

When I abruptly quit architecture school in 1998 and was depressed and lost but found my way to critical planning practice, the book that got me there was City of Quartz.

Thank you and rest easy, Mike Davis.

We will keep up the fight.

Embedded Planning Keynote at APA Iowa Conference 2022

Image by APA Iowa Chapter

Honored to deliver the Friday, Oct 14 keynote at the APA Iowa Chapter Conference

Building Community Partnerships Through Embedded Planning

Community engagement must evolve. We planners engage the public when we need feedback. People are consulted; input is gathered; and plans, for the most part, incorporate public input — then the relationship concludes, only to restart with the next project. Such transactional planning does little to build long-term stakeholder relationships.

In a time of increasing interrogation of planning and its legacies of inequity, planners today are seeking better ways to build and sustain meaningful partnerships. Urban planner Jonathan Pacheco Bell (@c1typlann3r) proposes Embedded Planning as a way to fundamentally restructure community engagement and practice. Embedded Planning means planning from the street, not from a desk. Embedded Planners work in the spaces and places of community members. Embedded Planners build bridges with marginalized communities harmed by past planning practices. Embedded Planning is a praxis that puts theory into action to better this world. Since Bell declared Embedded Planning exists in 2018, it has grown into an international movement embraced by emerging planners.

Through storytelling and personal reflection, Bell will illustrate how #EmbeddedPlanning is being used to build lasting community partnerships that center engagement as an ongoing process. Attendees will learn the benefits and challenges of Embedded Planning, including takeaways for implementation, and understand why this #praxis is the future of planning.

South Central YLEAD

Infographic by South Central YLEAD at CDTech

This week I joined Youth Leaders Empowered Active & Diverse (YLEAD) at CDTech for a conversation on urban planning and gentrification in South Central LA. I shared my story of working on the ground supporting the community with tools and knowledge to preserve South Central history. We shed light on the importance of urban planning for a South Central future without displacement.

Modernism vs Postmodernism

I’m revising an early essay I wrote interrogating planning theory in practice. It’ll be the first entry in my Student Papers Archive. I needed to do some background research on the two theories under scrutiny: Rational Planning and Postmodern Planning. In addition to peer reviewed journals from the planning realm, I found this exceptionally helpful chart comparing Modernism and Postmodernism.

From the URL cited on page 2, I noted the author is Professor Martin Irvine at Georgetown. But a copy-paste of the URL didn’t take me to the chart; instead it forwarded me to the professor’s homepage. And I couldn’t find the chart there. The last revision is dated 2012, but this side-by-side certainly is relevant 10 years later — and will remain so.

I want this chart to live on. I don’t know if the host site’s future update(s) will retain it. So much web ephemera is lost without us knowing. So, I’m doing my part by sharing Professor Irvine’s Modernism vs Postmodernism resource here. Researchers, check it out and please be sure to cite the original author if using the chart.

Keep the Flame Lit

The office of Edward W. Soja at UCLA Urban Planning after the 2015 In Memoriam celebration of Ed’s life. Before going home, I posted my “Epitaph for Edward W. Soja” to say goodbye, and to promise Ed that I would keep the flame lit. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Congratulations to my fellow UCLA Bruin planners graduating today 👏🏽 You’re the next generation of planning. We’re in good hands.

Draw on our past to inform (y)our future. See the work of Edward W. Soja, Jackie Leavitt, Leo Estrada, VC Powe, Marty Wachs, John Friedmann and many others who rest in power.

Keep the flame lit.

In solidarity,
JPB @c1typlann3r

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project: ADUs in the City of La Habra

Senior Project poster by Victor Rosales. Image credit: Victor

I’m celebrating the graduates in my Senior Projects class at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban & Regional Planning! Today we big up this researcher:

Will ADU Resources Expedite Implementation?

By: Victor Rosales

Abstract: In the City of La Habra, California, there was not enough Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) being built to address the housing crisis. One of the main obstacles was a lack of ADU resources and materials available to the public. While the city’s municipal code is accessible for public review, a large portion of the community does not understand how to interpret zoning codes or how codes apply to individual projects.

With this understanding of the problem, I worked with city staff on creating supplemental ADU materials, with the intended goal of increasing the amount of ADUs built within city limits. In 2021, the city’s Senior Building Official created an ADU Summary handout with basic outlines of development standards and simple graphic aides. This newly introduced resource, along with the assistance and communication from staff to the community, resulted in an upsurge in ADU plan check submittals and new construction. City staff tracked the progression of these newly built ADUs though paid plan checks, Certificate of Occupancy, surveys, and California Department of Housing credit logs. The data showed an increased number of ADUs constructed in the last 6 months of 2021, which correlated with the timing of the implementation of the ADU Summary. By providing supplemental materials for ADUs, the City of La Habra was able to increase the amount of ADUs built in their community in 2021. Additionally, staff revised and enhanced these readily available resources to support ADU development. As a result, the amount of plan check submissions has nearly tripled in the first six months of 2022.

Upon studying the City of La Habra’s approach to ADUs, I offer several policy recommendations for resources and information that support expediting ADU implementation in cities.

Victor Rosales at CPP Senior Projects Poster Session 2022. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project: Wildfire Mitigation and Resilience in SoCal

Senior Project poster by Stacy Lee and Eric Ji. Image credit: Stacy and Eric

I’m celebrating the graduates in my Senior Projects class at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban & Regional Planning! Today we big up this team:

Wildfire Mitigation & Resilience Strategies: Best Planning Practices across Local Jurisdictions in Southern California

By: Stacy Lee & Eric Ji

Abstract: Increasing forecasts of prolonged and more severe fire seasons can be attributed to several factors: urban density growth; fire suppression and fuel buildup; and climate change. Many of these issues are amplified in Southern California, especially in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). Land-use policies must begin to proactively strategize around the immutable outbreaks of future wildfires as expanding boundaries of development and very high fire severity zones cross onto each other.

This qualitative research empirically analyzes the survey response consisting of a list of 19 planning strategies for wildfire mitigation on a Likert scale on compatibility, feasibility, and necessity of each local jurisdiction across four counties. The Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino with areas of very high fire severity zones identified by CAL FIRE were contacted with the survey request. The 18 responding jurisdiction responses scored each strategy to display the compatibility, feasibility, and necessity on a scale from 0 to 4, and cross analyzed by any implemented strategies in the corresponding jurisdictions or alternative policies in lieu of the strategies presented in the survey.

These findings are used to develop a scale of adoptable strategies based on the context of each jurisdiction as well as possible alternatives and narratives to adopting feasible strategies.

Stacy and Eric at CPP Senior Projects Poster Session 2022. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project: Youth Homelessness in East Riverside County

Senior Project poster by Thuy Le Xuan Cao and Alejandro De Loera. Image credit: Thuy and Alejandro

I’m celebrating the graduates in my Senior Projects class at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban & Regional Planning! Today we big up this team:

Youth Homelessness in Eastern Riverside County: A Mental Health Approach Towards Achieving Social Integration

By: Thuy Le Xuan Cao & Alejandro De Loera

Abstract: Youth homelessness is an ongoing crisis. Transitional-aged youth need support when exiting institutional systems. Without access to stable living environments, youth are exposed to trauma. Without coping strategies for stress, they’re vulnerable to chronic or cyclical homelessness. Hostile environments and poor living conditions create struggles for street survival. To combat this crisis, youth-centered housing and transitional programs target their unique needs. Youth mental healthcare influences this development as preexisting conditions including housing insecurity, mental health issues, substance use and family dysfunction have psychosocial consequences exacerbating barriers to housing stability. This project examines access to services for wellness and removal of hidden access barriers so unhoused youth can integrate into society.

Youth homelessness is prevalent in rural and nonrural areas and correlates to mental health issues magnified by rural conditions. Supportive services must be tailored to rural homeless youth needs. Beyond skill building, homeless youth require tailored interventions including non-housing case management, mentorship, counseling and mental health treatment. The creation of safe communal spaces promotes social cohesion where youth may interact and gain social capital from peer mentorship. Notably, planning itself creates a barrier to collective action due to formalities required for programs to exist legally.

We’ve created recommendations for 3 stages of intervention: Primary interventions include successful outreach focusing on preventative services for at-risk youth. Secondary programming offers local and short-term supportive programs with flexible hours for youth in crisis. Tertiary support prioritizes community partnerships to offer continuous, long-term services where homelessness occurs.
*Abbreviated from original

Thuy and Alejandro at CPP Senior Projects Poster Session 2022. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Cal Poly Pomona Seeks Dean of College of Environmental Design

Cal Poly Pomona seeks a Dean of the College of Environmental Design

The new Dean must be an innovative, strategic, and collegial academic leader who embraces the mission of Cal Poly Pomona, is committed to student success, and will be a champion for CPPENV. Ideally, the new Dean of ENV will take office in the spring but is expected to do so no later than June 2022. Review of applications will begin December 6, 2021.

Academic Search is assisting Cal Poly Pomona in this search. Please see the profile for the position here:

To ensure full consideration, inquiries, nominations, and applications (PDF preferred) should be submitted electronically, in confidence, to: CPPENVDEAN@academicsearch.org

Nominations are encouraged. If you have a nomination for the position, please send the name, position, and institution along with an email address if you have it, to: CPPENVDEAN@academicsearch.org

Nominators and prospective candidates may also arrange a confidential conversation about this opportunity with the senior consultant leading this search, Cynthia M. Patterson, at: Cynthia.Patterson@academicsearch.org

Boyz N The Hood Turns 30

The Boyz N The Hood film and years of street reporting on NWA albums helped me become an urban planner in/for South Central LA.

I learned the word “gentrification” from Furious Styles’s speech on the street corner in Compton.

Voices of Equity and Embedded Planning

Recorded January 18, 2019 at American Planning Association HQ amidst our work on the national Social Equity Task Force. Since then, #EmbeddedPlanning has exploded onto the scene. And as my mentees will attest, I continue to big up Mike Davis’s City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990). Start with the Fortress LA chapter. It’s a groundbreaking critique of #HostileArchitecture ⚔️