All That Urban Planning Jargon No One Understands, Translated

By: : voiceofsandiego – excerpt

In a year spent writing about land use in the city, I’ve learned the only people who use more jargon than the military are urban planners.

The field is filled with so many acronyms, Orwellian euphemisms and largely meaningless buzzwords, I’ve even broken into audible laughter at public meetings out of the sheer (and seemingly intentional) incomprehensibility of the discussion.

But you’ve gotta learn the language, as they say, and I’ve started to become fluent in planner.

There are far too many terms, blurbs and newspeak to list in one story, so we’re trying out an occasional installment where I provide a few terms, their meanings and links to relevant examples in San Diego. If people like it, we’ll keep it up and flesh it out going forward. (Add requests in the comments for terms you’ve heard at public meetings/always thought were ludicrous, and maybe we’ll include them in a future post.)…

California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA: Passed in 1970, CEQA is maybe the state’s most influential planning law. To provide decision-makers information on the environmental effects of a project, it requires developers and planners to specify “significant” environmental effects and how they can be avoided. It also requires decision-makers to disclose to the public why they ignored those issues if they ultimately approve a project anyhow.

It’s sometimes referred to, jokingly, as the Consultants Employment Quality Act, as its presence has provided much demand for land use consultants on large projects. (See also: Environmental Impact Report, or EIR)… (more)

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