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October 19, 2005


Urban planners vs. FEMA

The New York Times reports today on the results of a hardcore 6 days that a group of 200 urban planners and architects just spent to create plans and designs for rebuilding the entire coast of Mississippi that was destroyed by Katrina. In 6 days, they came up with some great-sounding new designs for cities, a "retrofitting of suburbia," that include more walkable streets, a denser layout of residential and downtown areas, and less sprawl. They want to redesign port areas of Gulfport and Biloxi with better use of harbors, and the team has detailed new plans for waterfront, historic areas, casinos, and low-income neighborhoods. They also designed these cool submersible houses for Biloxi that will be able to withstand floods.

FEMA plans to release guidelines for redevelopment projects that planners will need to make sure their designs can receive government funding. But clear guidelines don't yet exist. The leader of the planning project, Andres Duany, called the current FEMA rules ambiguous, complicated and tentative. FEMA is unsure when final rules for rebuilding will be available. "They say the rules will not be ready for 18 months," Duany said. "That's half of World War II. Forget it - you can't wait that long."

A representative of FEMA's Atlanta regional office said about the promised but non-existent guidelines, "We didn't know there was this urgent need to produce these things. They said, 'Can you pull a rabbit out of your hat?' We did the best we could."

Yeah, FEMA is doing its best! How were they supposed to know that city planners would need them to come up with some rules for rebuilding the Gulf coast? This is not the time to play the blame game, people.

categories: Business, Politics
posted by amy at 11:37 AM | #

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