It’s not exactly clear to me from the story, how creating neighborhood “superclusters” is supposed to be benefical. Can any Urban Planner dopers explain?
I have no idea how the government of Omaha works, but I’m guessing he seems to think that redefining intracity boundaries into fewer, larger subsections would make city planning easier.
The world forever bounces between centralizing and decentralizing. This is true both for industry and government.
There are arguments to be made for both. Centralizing avoids duplicating resources and makes it more obvious who is in charge. Decentralizing allows those closest to the work to have more control and a better understanding of the process.
Neither work in practice, because the world is too complex. So whatever has been around for a while looks like a worse choice than the alternative.
Having had many years in government, my guess for the recommendation here is that having 200 neighborhoods is an administrative nightmare. The real world overlaps neighborhoods, so several of them need to agree when anything needs to get done. And you cannot get neighborhood organizations to agree on anything.
In a few years, however, they will find that having fewer areas gives the politicians representing those areas greatly inhanced powers, and they will eventually become such impediments that someone will suggest breaking their control by redividing the city.
I think it was a dude named Parkinson who claimed work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. Urban planning is a field that expands its plans to fill the bill submitted to the city for its services.
Urban Planning Consultant checking in. Tho I do not consult full time, you know I’m a teacher but I’ll tell you a few things about Mr. Barnett. He is well known in the field and does have quite a bit of talent. However, he rattles a lot of cages with some of his ideas. Urban planning on the scale discussed in the article is a tricky business. Very lucrative, but a town or city must be ready for Big change when the town manager hires Jonathan Barnett.
My style is much more practical and it tends to Work with most firms. At least in the North East where people are notoriously opposed to any change.
Back to your OP - why is creating neighborhood super-clusters beneficial. When done right they are multi-faceted working models to making people feel comfortable in thier environment. When done wrong or by amateurs trying to save a buck, they can destroy that sense of comfort. Having not seen his plans I am not sure about Omaha, but I can tell you he traditionally likes to bring people together in clusters but 17 clusters in a town as large as Omaha is a little much for me to swallow.
Not to seem ungrateful, but could you translate how your description below is supposed to work on a practical, operational basis.
“When done right they are multi-faceted working models to making people feel comfortable in their environment”
Well, if the city is organized into larger districts, it can be advantageous in allowing the residents to work as political groups large enough to influence what city hall does. Whether this can be arranged politically, I don’t know. Otherwise, it may be largely a tool for administrative simplicity. The article doesn’t really say enough to determine exactly what’s being done, let alone the reasons for it.