Saturday, April 17, 2021
News + Politics Bad urbanism: Tech and planning forum misses the point

Bad urbanism: Tech and planning forum misses the point


By Zelda Bronstein

On Jan. 7, I went to an evening panel discussion at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association entitled “What Urban Planning Can Learn from Tech and Vice Versa.” It was one of the most disconcerting forums I have ever attended.

Perhaps that was only to be expected, since what drew me there was an equally disconcerting experience: last December I read an article on The New York Times Opinionator blog called “What Tech Hasn’t Learned from Urban Planning.” The author was the moderator of Tuesday’s panel, Allison Arieff, SPUR’s editor and “content strategist.”

Arieff’s point of departure in the Times piece was a seeming contradiction:

The tech sector is, increasingly, embracing the language of urban planning—town hall, public square, civic hackathon, community engagement. So why are tech companies such bad urbanists? (More after the jump)


  1. […] Techie has become a term of derision, but not because we hate nerds. Here in San Francisco and in other cities like it, people are fucking pissed at techies in part because they’re not nerds. They are fundamentally business people, but they happen to be in the tech industry. Across the Bay, in Oakland, protesters waylaid Google buses to express their discontent with the techie class; and right now people in San Francisco are gearing up to protest the lavish, techie-centric Crunchies award gala. Here in the city, techie-related gentrification is the focus of intense political debate. […]

  2. “[The] ballet of the good sidewalk is always replete with new observations.”
    The present techie San Francisco sidewalk is the ballet of avoiding someone walking oblivious to surroundings while totally focused at some handheld electronic object.
    Something similar even happens on MUNI when they board, block the rear exit and continue their cloud existance above the mundane, which is the rest of us.

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