This is evaluation item #29 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card
(Above: Side by side the community-developed UNITY Plan and the much denser massing of the Atlantic Yards plan forced on the community without consultation or input.)
Using Public Participation in Shaping Cities? NO
Jane Jacobs viewed the people who live in city neighborhoods as having the most important (empirically derived) first hand expertise about their neighborhoods. She therefore believed that getting their input is a supremely critical aspect of the planning process. By comparison, she discounts the value that “experts” have to offer in the process. Normally, planning for big developments involves the public in the planning through the City’s ULURP process. In the case of Atlantic Yards, the process of involving the public through ULURP was sidestepped using a mechanism that people probably never expected would be used to sidestep projects of this magnitude after the City’s Charter was amended to create the ULURP process. Furthermore, since the public in the vicinity of the Atlantic Yards projects has many valid objections and criticisms of the project it has been counterproductive to shunt them aside, unlistened to by the developer and associated politicians.
JJ Cites: [(T)he proceedings are heartening, because of the abounding vitality, earnestness and sense with which so many of the citizens rise to the occasion. . . They tell with wisdom and often eloquence about things they know first-hand from life. P. 407 we have at least a dim glimmering chance . .to protect . . from the oversimplications of the experts. . . P. 407. Administrative systems which have lost the power to comprehend, to handle and to value an infinity of vital, unique, intricate and interlocked details. P. 408 Much of what they need to know they can learn from no one but the people of the place, because nobody else knows enough about it. P. 409, 410 . . the vital time for coordinating intelligence is before and during the time that even tentative proposals are conceived or tactics worked out for specific services in any specific place. P. 416 The voters sensibly decline to federate into a system where bigness means local helplessness, ruthless, oversimplified planning and administrative chaos- - P.427 . . planners frequently seem to be less well equipped intellectually for respecting and understanding particulars than ordinary people, untrained in expertise, who are attached to a neighborhood, accustomed to using it, and so are not accustomed to thinking of it in generalized or abstract fashion. P. 441]