For City Planners in Seattle, Livability and Equity Go Hand in Hand

According to Vinita Goyal from Seattle’s Office of Planning, inclusivity is essential for healthy neighborhood growth.

Vinita Goyal Seattle City Planning
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This is the fourth installment of Metropolis’ new video series, The Slant. Each segment features designers, stakeholders, and end-users weighing in on innovative research, dynamic trends, and thought-provoking ideas that promise to change the way we shape and inhabit buildings.

Today’s urban planners and public policy makers frequently speak about the need for cities to be made “healthy.” But this entails more than public health, says Vinita Goyal, a strategic advisor for Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development. It’s about “wellness.”

Though increases in amenities such as parks, quality schools, shops, and transportation are traditionally seen as a net positive for cities, this sort of growth, according to Goyal, “has sometime excluded some of the populations from enjoying the benefits.” The challenge for planners is devising ways to make this growth open to all, regardless of income, race, or age.

One way Seattle’s planning department is approaching its city planning is by soliciting community input during the planning process, especially those in disenfranchised neighborhoods. The most effective planning, says Goyal, leverages and builds off of existing community ties and networks. “We are trying to work with the communities, having them participate in the decision-making and focus on priorities that do not fracture those networks and assets but are sensitive to the community on the whole,” she explains.

In doing so, cities can be places “that work for everyone.”

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