When people think about urban planning, usually what comes to mind is the more clerical and demographic view of the practice. Subjects such as zoning, utilities, residential areas and similar dry, bureaucratic topics are the most prevalent of the thoughts associated with urban planning.
Apart from a few regulations and citations such as issues dealing with parking areas, the government and its institutions never play a part in one’s thoughts about this activity. However, urban planning isn’t all about just paperwork and rubber stamps.
Whether it is apparent to the everyday man or not, their decisions directly affect the towns and cities that they live in. Cities have to grow and change with the world around them, and urban planning reflects this just as much as a new outlet mall or bus stop. Recent changes in the world’s climate and environment has given urban planning a new set of challenges to consider.
Areas once thought to be safe are being proven to be hot zones for temperamental weather. Events in recent years such as the flooding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region as well as the wildfires in the West Coast brought upon by drought conditions run the gamut of natural disasters that a changing world is bringing on cities and towns. Now, government agencies such are stepping in with a slew of new regulations that bring these events into the public mind as well as city board rooms.
Now, cities are being zoned and planned to have easier evacuation routes and contraflows in interstate highways in case of such emergencies. New energy practices and reworked power grids are being planned out to make sure a few downed power lines won’t bring the city to a standstill. Now, legislators and city officials are more sensitive to the conditions of their city, making use of their powers for burn bans and water conservation in the face of drought conditions. While the average person may not see their effects in plain view, urban planning and the government behind it is a force of nature always changing in the background.