What Is UNOP?: The History Of Post-K Planning and Sunday’s City Park Meeting

Still in recovery and digestion mode from yesterday’s UNOP Workshop at City Park. Less rebirth, more reeling (from). The most amusing and distressing aspect of the meeting for me was that I was the only one there representing the entire Lower Garden District (sure, Michelle Kimball of PRC acted on behalf of our neighborhood association president, but I was the only LGD resident present). Was it coincidence or prescience that I was there wearing my LGD shirt? Hmmm …

Becky Houtman has written a well-researched and insightful essay on the history of New Orleans planning since Katrina. Please read it, applaud her effort and leave comments, tips and questions at her blog. For her yeoman service, she has won my essay contest and will be awarded a platter of home-baked brownies in a ceremony for which, in the spirit of the current state of city planning, the time and place are still to be determined.

For a philosophical recap of yesterday’s meeting that starts “the most important planning process in American history,” please read Res Ipsa Loquitur by Schroeder. A “democratic process” would have involved more than 20 chairs per planning district booth. For starters.

Accounts of the meeting are coming forward:

Adrastos: FUBAR
Michael Homan: Red Dots For The UNOP
Michael Homan’s response to John Pope’s “pep squad” article in the T-P (referenced above): Sunday’s UNOP Meeting

Please do not forget that there is another meeting on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 from 4-9pm at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters in City Park, “allowing participants to select their top three choices for technical assistance teams to support their planning process. Following this meeting and until 5:00pm on Monday, August 7, participants will have the opportunity to [vote for] their top three teams.” Once we make contact with the planners and get their contact information, we can begin the calls for accountability and progress.

See previous articles in this series:
Sunday’s Unified New Orleans Plan(ning) Meeting
You Must Attend The Unified New Orleans Plan Meeting This Sunday

3 Comments so far

  1. Becky (unregistered) on July 31st, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    Thanks Maitri!

  2. rcs (unregistered) on July 31st, 2006 @ 11:59 pm

    There’s so many posts on this meeting, I’m not sure where to put my thoughts. Maybe I should get one of those blog things. Anyway, a few quick impressions:

    – the #1 problem with the whole affair, in my mind, was the lack of time spent explaining the overall process and where this particular meeting fit in. Ostensibly, the sole purpose of this meeting was to prepare for selecting planning assistance but there were A LOT of completely out-of-scope questions and rants that took up A LOT of time and oxygen. More effort must be taken to educate everyone on the overall process as detailed in the Neighborhood Planning Guide. Maybe a big freakin’ chart depicting a progress bar at the next meeting.

    – both District #2 (my district, which I am privileged to share with Maitri and many other estimable souls,) District #3 and perhaps others seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time hashing out neighborhood boundaries. In our case, it was triggered by the Garden District claiming borders that crossed St. Charles, which got some pushback from the Central City folks. My opinion: there’s some “transition areas” between neighborhoods – recognize them as such for purposes of the UNOP effort and save the turf battles for Neighborhood Council meetings.

    – I’ve seen a few complaints about the facilitators and how they were unprepared and/or condescending. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the way trained facilitators work; they’re not necessarily experts in the problem space but rather they’re there to draw the information out of the participants and to keep the discussion moving along, which our facilitator certainly tried (in the face of an initially hostile crowd.) And the pitch is consistently at the high-school level; I’ve engaged in these types of discussions with some pretty high-powered people that I work with and after about 4 hours of moving big sticky notes around and dividing up into small groups even the most enlightened intelligence just gives up and plays the little facilitation games. Which I guess is the point.

    – I agree about the unsuitability of the meeting room but apparently this was the best option available at the time.

    – In spite of the crowding, it was a little sad to see how few people showed up for the hard-hit areas to the east – Districts 9-11, I believe. In fact, I felt a little guilty taking one of the many empty chairs from the District 11 folks.

    – Finally, was this particular meeting really that big of a deal? I confess to arguing from ignorance but I’m having trouble seeing how selecting one set of planning assistants vs. another is going to make that much of a difference in the long run. I feel the same way about voting for judges – how the hell should I know who’s a qualified candidate? I think, in terms of meeting conflict and confusion, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

  3. mominem (unregistered) on August 1st, 2006 @ 9:58 pm

    I admire you energy. I’d like to know what good this beauty contest is on planning assistants is.

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