I am nor really competent to comment on the other aspects of your
discussion. But my submissions are simple.

   1. Laws are expected to be equal and for the welfare of all.
   2. In any situation, you can never please everyone. Like the thief and
   the police(in our case only theoretically speaking).
   3. All demands cannot/must not be fulfilled in civilised society. Eg. if
   you wish to defacate in public, and indeed if *majority* were to do it,
   we could easily abandon toilets. Would that be
   democratic/elitist/....what???
   4. Likewise, if majority students in a class wanted to shout, disturb,
   dirty their premises, not wish to study, climb on desks, throw chalk, write
   obscene graffiti on the black board, is the Teacher/ School/ Board of
   Education to abandon teaching in school but continue to have the school,
   collect the fees, and enroll students, anyway, to earn money (like our
   government)? What would you term it, being as it is in 'popular
   demand', DEMANDED by the MAJORITY?
   5. Indeed, before we began to take this MAJORITY quite so seriously,
   would it not have been wiser, more honest to have *educated this MAJORITY
   *honestly? If MAJORITY is uneducated, and I daresay *uncivilised, *then
   isn't it is a reflection on our society? What will the Planners plan? Let
   the mobs do as they please and the Planners can go home---as indeed they
   *HAVE. *What have they* planned *anyway, shops and offices in every room?
   A hundred cars at every doorstep? Thanks, but no thanks. We don't
need *them
   *to do this for us. The politicians are doing a good job of redefining
   (un-)civilised living.
   6. When five youngsters with bad throats demand ice cream, or with
   dysentry demand open dust and fly ridden papri chaat from the roadside
   vendor and parents, only *two *in number, resist this MAJORITY demand,
   what is right and what is wrong---the demand or the denial?
   7. That law, order, cleanliness, environment and health consciousness,
   neatness and visual presentability are 'elitist' values, is a horrifying
   thought!

If majority demand is the order of the day then close schools, finish
education, ABOLISH GOVERNMENT, abolish all institutions, [because both are
EXPENSIVE affairs]. Let the crowds run amuck-- spitting, urinating,
defacating, engine revving and horning, opening commerial places everywhere.
For, *THAT* IS THE MAJORITY DEMAND. Elitist or not, THESE are the people
getting from their scooters and Mruti 800s to BMWs and Honda CRVs within the
year.
We, with our humble homes, small cars, small *planned* families, fixed
incomes, and educated thinking are the alleged 'elitists' of today! Fine. If
asking for organised and lawful living is being 'elitist' then we are proud
to be that way, and thanks to our parents and the then 'system' that reared
us to be this way.
THANK GOD, we are NOT the BMW SPORTING *TRASH *that constitutes your
MAJORITY today, nor indeed the rerhiwallah from eastern uttarpradesh or the
republic of bihar. We are sad for this country, but very *proud *of
ourselves, and will die in your hands in dignity and pride, till of course *
nature*  itself rebels and finishes this money making MAJORITY with their
rerhis and their BMWs.
In your concluding para you mention 'country', but that "help to people to
have two square meals a day, and afford everything that the rich afford",
can be done (a) away from only the metro cities, and (b) also with *
education.* not as is the wont today by acquiring everything thru sale and
purchase--generating money=power=abuse and misuse.
These are very basic thoughts and I'm sure abandoned/questioned not without
a deep and vested cause, by aspiring 'elitists', condemning, but
*aspiring*nonetheless! While
* we* just wish to remain ourselves, the alleged 'non-elitist' scratches to
become us. But they never will. For *we* have come up the hard way, with *
honesty* and *integrity* as our backbone.
So go ahead, de-plan the city, country, and dont forget to *notify *it,
albeit in the most unprocedural of ways!
Thanking you,
Mrs A Bhowmick.

 

 

 

On 7/31/08, [email protected] <[email protected]> wrote:

Hello

Intoducing myself- I am Jayaraj- subscribed to this list for sometime now.
Currently a research student on Cities, Architecture and planning.

Thanks to Vinay for forwarding the BRA story- and for Aruna for the
response- I very much appreciate the anxities and concerns. I am trying hard
to understand  better the nature of discussion and clear lines of arguments
presented.

From the critique of BRA- I could see the anxities from people's
voice/public criticising the authority- for disempowering the citizens-for
not taking their voice into consideration, and how this is affecting their
lives. Here the (bureaucratic/technocratic- i dont know if it is- i am not
aware of the constitution of BRA) instrument of democratic state is
disempowering the citizens through top-down policies, by alligning with
developers.

Vinays comment on authorities violating zoning norms : Arent the planning
authorities who decided the zoning norms in India in the first place? So who
is violating it? They themselves? Are zoning laws and masterplanning then
good-and desirable in Indian cities? I remember the other email group I
subscribe to -(Urbanstudy)-the discussion and consensus say otherwise. some
thinglike - ' How disempowering are zoning and masterplanning for
communities and particular social groups etc... and we are better without
them, leaving the emergent urbanism to be decided by the people themselves-
not to step into their realm with public interest arguments which are
elitist.  May be some kind of advocacy planning is better in that context'.

While in Aruna' s anxieties on Delhi- it is about populist politics
disempowering the citizens- but how can this happen? populist politics can
only be beneficial to majority citizens -isnt it? because populist is about
acting on the behalf of majority -to get votes.  I also see a distinction of
thinking public / law abiding public in the writing. So does this actally
mean political democracy is disempowering the authority that is entrusted to
save public interest that is not really majority public's concern? I think
here there is a deeper question on what is the nature of the authority we
are discussing about and also on the nature of public interest. Many times
the majority public is  seen to be more concerend with private interest
!  Ofcourse I understand that there are no easy answers to public interest.
As a practising planner to me this infact is an aspect of practice than of
academic interest alone.

However I was trying to find out the similarity and difference etc in these
three discussion. Is Aruna in this case then supporting a public interest
that only a minority public is interested in- merited to be adopted as
general-based on 'knowledge' about how the city works? Should we be sticking
to zoning then?. The write seem to be sugegsting that populist politics is
disempowering the authority by colluding with the developers-- supporting
commercial interests-and planning authorities are helpless. Or is there a
consensus-between them-and the people now want planning authroty to be
reinstated for public interest- but isnt the same planning authority aiding
the notification of hundreds of SEZ's? So is there another level of anxiety
on the nature of planning practices that are acceptable and unacceptable?

I was getting confused about who is against what-and what shall we want.

I think the basic question is what kind of relationship we want between
planning authorities, institutions of political democracy, politicians,
different people (obviously we dont have  one group-so what happens to the
idea of one kind of public interest)-and developers and entreprenuers. How
do we prioritise when there is rapid  change. Whose rights are more suppored
than others? How do we think about local, regional, national and global.
Whose rights and interest should prevail where? How should authorities work
. I remember David Harveys article on 'from managerialism to
entreprenuerialism' in IJURR about the nature of urban governance in the
world today. -quite an old article though.

Or are we all thinking hard about corruption-within planning authorities,
government etc.. or are we all observing our helplesness with the interests
of capitalism and developers influence on our cities? But without these
capitalists how do we provide the activities that help many people today to
eat twice a day in our country, and many to enjoy the privileges that once
only the powerful and rich could enjoy?  or is the concern about managing
that growth-keeping that pace?  Are we becoming ideologists or pragmatists?

some thoughts ... any critiques, comments and clarifications would be much
useful.

Thanks

Jayaraj


Jayaraj Sundaresan :http://personal.lse.ac.uk/SUNDARES

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PhD Research  Room no: S 504    London School of
Economics    London    WC2A 2AE    UK    Ph:  +44 7862219546


________________________________

From: [email protected] on behalf of aruna bhowmick
Sent: Wed 30/07/2008 10:14
To: Master plan issues in media
Subject: Re: [mpisgmedia] The BRA shapes our city without us

 

Dear Vinay Baindur,
I dont know why this mail, or what good it is to us after virtually all of
Delhi has just got notified as 'Commercial' by the powersthat be, with all
of SC, thinking public, law abiding public, et al totally defeated by the
note and vote bankers. And all of Plannerdom just waxing eloquent about
what
is happening in Timbaktooo! With 'RWAs' assigned to take major
decisions!!!!!
We can only rue our fate. So please just spare us the academics.
Sincerely,
Aruna Bhowmick.


On 7/26/08, Vinay Baindur <[email protected]> wrote:


*The development authorities have violated our zoning and public spaces
laws
for long and now with NURM in the picture there is ongoing massive forced
urban renewal for the benefit of the "Global Investor"

the city and its citizens are being entered into a Great Competition
and the Competitive city has arrived here  ---- conditions apply

 


The BRA shapes our city without us*
by Shirley Kressel
contributing writer
Thursday Jul 17, 2008
http://www.mysouthend.com/index.php?ch=columns&sc=city_streets&id=77590

In my last column, I reviewed some of the ways the *Boston Redevelopment
Authority* takes money from all of us. Now, let's turn to some of the

BRA's

impacts on development, planning and public policy.

The BRA, created in 1957, used stealth legislation to eliminate our
Planning
Board in 1960, elbowing the City Council, our legislative branch, out of
its
rightful role in planning and land use regulation. It has since taken

over

many other Council roles, depriving us of essential checks and balances.

The BRA uses its planning/zoning role and its urban renewal powers to

make

what is illegal, legal. The BRA confers enormous wealth on favored
developers with its loophole-laden zoning code, shielding them from
lawsuits
for violating laws meant to protect the community. Politicians can make
private deals with developers, drawing campaign contributions that keep
them
in office. The BRA conducts the "public process" of review and approval

and

absorbs the helpless wrath of citizens, while the officials remain
insulated
from public retribution.

The BRA's "four finagles," as I call them, are:

- Planned Development Areas (PDA), projects of an acre or more;

- Chapter 121A agreements granting tax breaks, zoning relief, and eminent
domain power, for sites the BRA declares "blighted" *(in Boston, City
Council is cut out of 121A review);*

- U-Districts, within the BRA's 3,000 acres of original Urban Renewal

Plan

areas and constantly added "Demonstration Project" areas, where the BRA
conveys land to a developer; and

- *Institutional Master Plans (IMP) of expanding tax-exempt

institutions.*


In these self-zoning districts, development rules are simply negotiated
with
the BRA. But such relief is illegal. It violates the Boston Zoning

Enabling

Act, which gives the power of zoning relief only to the Zoning Board of
Appeal, whose process provides legal recourse: aggrieved parties can sue.
Thus, the BRA, having disarmed the legislative branch, has also largely
deprived us of the judicial branch, leaving the "three-legged stool" of
democratic government standing on the executive alone.

No neighborhood is protected from the BRA's magical self-zoning wand,

given

its liberal criteria - *although the BRA routinely violates even these*.
Even a project with only a half-acre of land has been made a PDA, by
counting nearby streets and sidewalks. Abracadabra!

Even when the zoning code included provisions that the BRA's own lawyers
warned cannot be changed by a PDA, it used a PDA designation (indeed, the
half-acre one) to remove the code protection of the historic Gaiety

Theatre

and destroyed it for an unlawful tower. Hocus pocus!

Even where the code prohibits PDAs altogether, the BRA simply gets the
puppet Zoning Commission to delete the prohibition when it approves a

PDA.

The tower replacing Filene's in Downtown Crossing was legalized this way.
The Columbus Center project was given a PDA, when, as a Turnpike air

rights

area, it is not even subject to city zoning. The BRA's project manager on
the Columbus Center wrote in a memo in 2003 to the several local
neighborhood associations: "PDAs are not permitted in the Bay Village
Neighborhood District, the Open Space Urban Plaza subdistrict of the

South

End Neighborhood District, or the portion of the Downtown IPOD that
includes
the Site. Text Amendment No. [blank], submitted by the BRA for approval
immediately prior to approval of the PDA Plan, would make such provisions
inapplicable to the Site." Presto!

The BRA granted a 121A to Two Financial Center, a tower proposed in the
booming historic Leather District. Residents sued and lost: the BRA, the
court said, may declare blight at its discretion. That developer's

revised

proposal for a still over-sized building stated that if the community
opposed a variance, he would take the 121A and not only over-build but

take

the tax exemption as well. Loew's (now W) Hotel near the Theatre District
got a U-District when the BRA seized a few square feet of land near the
site
and conveyed it to the developer. Shazam!

Coming up: the redevelopment of the Government Center Garage. It's big
enough for a PDA, but the BRA owns the adjacent parcel. By adding it to

the

project, it can make a U-District, become an equity partner, and profit

by

approving the biggest possible building. A 121A is also possible, and

would

leave more money in the developer's budget for the BRA's lease fee.

Institutional Master Plans are by used all colleges and health care
facilities. With their unfettered expansion, residential buildings become
student dorms, neighborhood-serving retail disappears, neighborhoods are
destabilized, voting power diminishes, families move out. And the tax
burden
of their exempted property is shifted to the rest of us.

The BRA owns hundreds of acres of land rights, where it simply writes it
own
rules, an egregious conflict of interest the Boston Globe editorialized
about on April 6, 1999, "On top of South Station?": "The BRA ought to be
the
watchdog for the project, but it owns the air rights over the station and
stands to gain a fortune in lease payments..." It is a profit-seeking -

and

unfairly advantaged --competitor in the real estate market. It tilts the
playing field with cronyism in developer designations (it is exempt from
competitive bidding laws), encourages (and engages in) speculation,

permits

development that hurts our environment and quality of life, causes an
artificial land scarcity, and drives up land costs, driving up housing

and

business costs.

These few examples barely scratch the surface; the BRA's zoning

shenanigans

could (and should) fill a book.

Meanwhile, for a half-century, we, in the cradle of democracy, have been
without a planning entity that cares about anything besides the profits

of

big developers (including itself). Its social mission remains to remake
Boston for better people. Its political mission as an "ethics laundry"
remains as well: to do the dirty work while keeping politicians' hands
clean.

Accountable only to its own board, dissolvable only by its own hand, and
apparently out of reach of the ethics commission or any law enforcement
agency, the BRA is "da bums" we can't "t'row out."


Shirley Kressel is a landscape architect and urban designer, and one of

the

founders of the Alliance of Boston Neighborhoods. She can be reached at
[email protected]
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