visualizing regulatory change in the urban setting

Fourth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter



The first entry in this series described the importance of multiple forms of juxtapositions in urban settings, and emphasized the importance of reading such overlays and overlaps as a basic aid to policy, governance and regulation.

In particular, reading the overlay of regulatory change on urban spaces is easier than you might think. Ready snapshots illustrate changing socio-cultural practices, co-reflected in the evolving regulation of public venues.

The photographs above show two simple examples of this overlay. In summary, pictured here are two visual byproducts of overlaying and evolving regulatory schemes, focused at the human scale, rather than more typical parameters of building height, bulk and density.

In the first, more common example, an active sidewalk scene benefits from relaxation of enforcement practices regarding sidewalk spaces. Revised policies or regulations (either before or after the fact) enhance such visual results.

The second example results from legalized marijuana use in Washington State—call the scene “a vignette of tolerance”. Such scenes are not uncommon while cities around the state evaluate further regulatory approaches to venues for marijuana sale, use and consumption.

There are purposely no before and after images here—the point is to review the photographs and contemplate the appearance of different bounds of permitted uses in the not so distant past, from empty sidewalks to interventions of police and prosecutor.

Consider, also, the visual possibilities of the overlay of regulatory change some years from now.

Images composed by the author in Seattle. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanistAll Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effortan e-book from Island Press.

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