OOS 28-4 - Green infrastructure planning and monitoring in semi-arid cities

Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 2:30 PM
Portland Blrm 256, Oregon Convention Center
Diane E. Pataki, Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT and Sarah J. Hinners, City and Metropolitan Planning, Metropolitan Research Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Background/Question/Methods - Cities in the western U.S. face unprecedented challenges in maintaining functional green infrastructure and urban landscaping in the face of accelerating drought and climate change. New frameworks for integrating action-based ecological research with the urban design process have provided opportunities to collaboratively re-shape greenspaces to meet these challenges. The Center for Ecological Planning and Design is implementing this approach in teaching, research, and practice at the University of Utah through design and planning projects aimed at 1) participatory, community-engaged greenspace planning, 2) collaborative teams of planners, designers, and researchers, and 3) designed experiments, monitoring, and adaptive management of new and retrofitted greenspace. Here we discuss two ongoing projects that adopt this approach: a riparian re-development plan in Salt Lake City and an assessment of the outcomes of recent drought-response policies in Los Angeles. These projects are aimed at identifying the most critical areas of scientific uncertainty that can likely lead to failures and unanticipated consequences of new urban design and planning projects without a collaborative and experimental approach coupled with careful monitoring.

Results/Conclusions - The initial results highlight the complexities and inter-connectedness of urban water systems, in which landscape water conservation measures and policies impact people and places in numerous ways, both desirable and undesirable. Salt Lake City and Los Angeles share a similar precipitation pattern with wet winters and dry summers. Conventional green infrastructure designs are challenging to implement in these systems, requiring the co-production of new knowledge by scientists, engineers, planners, and landscape designers. By greatly shortening the pathway by which new knowledge enters the planning and design process, ecological planning and design is intended to more effectively mitigate and avoid undesirable impacts of urban interventions than current drought response policy.