The Guide to Urban Planning Cliches

(In no particular order)

1) Placemaking

Thanks to skillful lobbying on my part, we don’t need five acres of parking. Instead, those same five acres are will be paved over with granite bricks, we’ll add an abstract sculpture that will put us waaaaaaay overbudget, keep the 50 foot setbacks and call it a “town square.”

2) “Mixed use”

There’s a Starbucks and an ATM on the corner.

3) “Authentic”

The corner Starbucks is staffed by people who don’t speak English.

4) “Gritty”

No matter how careful you are, you will have rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, even though you’re paying more for a room in a badly maintained, poorly equipped four bed with six Armenians you met on Craigslist than your buddy working finance pays for his brand-new one bed.

5) “Urban Village”

The walls are so thin you can’t help but overhear everything that’s said.

6) “Dynamic Urban Neighborhood”

Computer programers live there, but homeless people haven’t showed up yet.

7) “Context”

I’m the one with the degree in this subject and the membership in the American Institute of City Planners, so you must do what I say.

8) “Goes against the neighborhood’s character”

Your proposal’s fine, we just don’t like you.

9) “Goes against the neighborhood’s historic character”

There’s not enough parking.

10) “Arts scene”

The white people here wear denim and flannel year-round and the men all have facial hair. They all claim it’s not because of the problem with the HVAC system.

11) “Music scene”

The pothead who hangs out on the stoop across the street has an accoustic guitar.

12) “Transit-oriented development”

The apartment building is right next to the train station. You just have to cross 150 feet of parking and a four-lane, one way road with no crosswalk.

13) “Walkable neighborhood”

The only transit is a bus that runs once every 45 minutes and the closest “grocery store” is a convenience store that stocks Ramen a mile and a half away.

14) “Affordable”

If you make $50,000 a year.

15) “Lively”

That strange “thump-thump” sound you’ve been hearing since you moved in turns out to be the bass beats of the house techno from the club four blocks away.

16) “Revitalized”

A place that isn’t cool anymore, now that the mayor has photo-ops there.

I will add more as I think of them.


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