Creative Placemaking in San Francisco and Seattle. Inclusive and/or Democratic?

May 10, 2017  • Posted in Member Projects  •  0 Comments

Vinita Goyal, Practitioner: City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development, and Independent Researcher

Occidental/West Lake Parks are one of the latest additions in the city of Seattle under a Mayor whose administration has put race and equity front and center in all its projects. Previously an alienated space with perception of crime and much visible homelessness, recent claims acknowledge that the transformed space caters to all needs, office crowd on lunch breaks occupying the central seating area does not overpower or usher away the homeless. Homeless advocates have confirmed the claims.

Market Street, the main spine in San Francisco, has undergone several layers of transformations. The latest activation strategy includes installations that are designed not for a homogeneous user but a diverse population group that holds a stake, even if ephemeral, in the street. Social justice advocates and other experts have however acknowledged that the space primarily serving tourists only passively includes marginalized populations.

Are Occidental-West Lake Parks redesigns an inclusive endeavor but not Market Street activation? What are the indicators? Which actors and instruments in the planning and design process reinforced or shifted the social justice aspects of the project? What lessons related to a placemaking process emerge that are integral in achieving true equity in space production?

“How can tactical urbanism do more than serve as ‘camouflage’ for the vicissitudes, dislocations, and crisis-tendencies of neoliberal urbanism?…The goal cannot be realized simply through the redesign and reappropriation of specific physical sites with the city; it also requires the creation of “a new role for progressive policy, [and] a more efficient, transparent, inclusive and collaborative form of government.’’

(Neil Brenner, 2015, Is tactical urbanism an alternative to neoliberalism?)

Twitter Handle: @Vinita_Goyal


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