Here’s an example of the political aspect of planning and landscape architecture:
“However, some of them [landscape architects] struggle to find the underlying meaning in the ordinances and what has been established by plan commissions as precedent. For example, one community’s ordinance might allow Betula nigra (River birch) but the review comments keep coming back asking for substitutions. Some designers are keen enough to pick up on this: usually it means someone on the plan commission doesn’t care for River birch but the community hasn’t updated their landscape ordinance yet.”
“Some firms will turn out high quality work each time. They know that I will not recommend approval of a plan that uses stone mulch…
…Finally, I think more BLA and MLA programs need to instruct students how to (1) read and (2) interpret ordinances. (1) is simply what is written in the ordinance. However, two communities might have the same landscape ordinance verbatim but the documents are interpreted very differently. I can’t tell you how many times I review LA’s work and they JUST DONT GET IT…
…Therefore, LA students need to understand not only the larger picture but also how the politics work in getting “good” work built.”
I think plan reviewers can and should only enforce ordinances that are on the books. Just because an individual on the planning commission or the reviewer himself dislikes a certain species of plant or type of mulch doesn’t make it enforceable. Enforcing “future” ordinances is an abuse of the power that planners and planning commissions are trusted with, “creative” interpretation of ordinances undermines the political process and weakens both professions.