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  • The Municipal Three-Legged Stool » CSBE
    Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The Municipal Three Legged Stool The Municipal Three Legged Stool Urban Crossroads 69 Most activities involving the larger public may be compared to a three legged stool Remove one of the legs and the stool will fall down One leg is financial resources the money needed to carry out the activity Another leg is human resources the people needed to carry out the activity The third leg is the existence of a suitable number of stakeholders who benefit from the activity and the relationship between them and the providers of the activity No public activity will succeed if any of these three elements is missing or faulty This rule applies to urban services a public activity primarily offered through municipal authorities These services need to have adequate budgets adequate staff and a well worked out relationship with a suitable number of stakeholders who benefit from them The issue of financial resources conceptually is the simplest of the three requirements Urban services cost money and therefore need to have suitable budgets In order to secure such budgets a municipal authority primarily depends on tax collection whether directly collected from city residents or provided by the central government as an allocation of national taxes A municipal authority also can raise funds through other means as with privatizing certain services it offers such as garbage collection and charging the private sector outfit that takes on the service a concessionary fee When examining budgets it is not enough to look at total budgets An equally or even more meaningful figure is found in per capita budgets For example the Greater Amman Municipality s 2006 budget exceeds 140 million Jordanian Dinars 200 million which seems like a reasonable sum However when considering that Amman has a population of no less than two million inhabitants some would go as far up as three million by factoring in members of the Iraqi diaspora living in the city that budget translates to a maximum of 70 JD per inhabitant which isn t very large Since the municipality also has to pay salaries for its over 13 000 employees this leaves it with relatively little to cover capital expenditures or even non salary related operating expenditures The issue

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-municipal-three-legged-stool/ (2016-02-13)
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  • To Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg » CSBE
    A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads To Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg To Kill the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg Urban Crossroads 68 A colleague of mine from Lebanon recently gave me a very provocative book The book published back in 2001 is titled Jumhuriyyat Al Baton The Republic of Concrete It essentially is a photo essay that documents the obliteration of a good part of Lebanon s natural beauty as well as its elegant traditional towns and cities as a result of the chaotic and unregulated building activity brought about by urban sprawl Unsightly as well as shoddily built concrete structures have been springing up everywhere in Lebanon over the past 15 years or so and have heavily and in many cases permanently scarred the famed beauty of Lebanon s mountains as well as its towns and cities As I went through the images of the book I couldn t help but think how this destruction of Lebanon s natural and built environments unfortunately is not an isolated phenomenon but is widespread throughout the region It occurred to me how unregulated building activity has brought about considerable destruction to fertile land in the Nile Valley and the Delta region in Egypt Anyone flying into Cairo can clearly see such destruction as the plane descended towards the city I also thought of the precious fertile forested and agricultural land here in Jordan that over the past few decades has come to be permanently buried under expansive jungles of concrete It is not only nature and agricultural land that have suffered The same applies to the region s urban cultural heritage For example even though serious efforts have taken place in rehabilitating the old parts of Damascus and Aleppo in Syria these same rehabilitated areas now are suffering from commercial overdevelopment primarily expressed in the proliferation of restaurants Not only does this prevent the historical urban cores from reestablishing themselves as areas of diverse habitation that include residential commercial and cultural uses but these large numbers of restaurants when developed without adequate regulatory frameworks and adequate infrastructural services also result in serious traffic congestion and parking problems produce significant amounts of garbage and cause considerable noise pollution especially during the night when loud music is played and crowds of patrons come for their end of day entertainment All this makes daily life for the

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/to-kill-the-goose-that-lays-the-golden-egg/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Trans-Jordan Trail » CSBE
    Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The Trans Jordan Trail The Trans Jordan Trail Urban Crossroads 67 Jordan has a decent road network It might also get a rail network as the importance of developing one for the country finally is being acknowledged A very useful addition to those two infrastructure networks is a transportation venue of a different nature the Trans Jordan Trail a route for pedestrians hikers and even cyclists that would cross Jordan from north to south The trail would cover over 415 kilometers depending on its exact course Developing such a trail is a complex endeavor that will take many years to complete One advantage of the project however is that it may be created in stages with each stage being fully functional as soon as it is completed This project touches upon many domains recreation tourism and by extension the economy and environmental protection Jordan s geography and nature express wonderful diversity although the nature part is increasingly coming under serious threat The country also has an incredible historical heritage Traverse the country from north to south and you will come across forests semi deserts as well as agricultural lands that produce fruits and olives to wheat and vegetables You will come across the highlands of Ajloun and Tafileh which receive snowfall in the winter and the Jordan Valley which boasts the lowest point on earth and with it warm year round weather You will come across a wide diversity of historical sites dating to the pre historic Roman Byzantine Early Islamic Crusader and Ottoman periods Some of these sites are located in relatively isolated areas others are in the midst of urban centers Imagine being able to visit all of this by foot or by bike The Trans Jordan Trail would allow you to do so A trail of this sort will appeal to a wide variety of users including schoolchildren local and foreign tourists nature and history enthusiasts hikers and even those who just want to enjoy a leisurely stroll The Trans Jordan Trail has to be thought of in terms of sections with each section linking up to the next to eventually create one long continuous route that crosses the country Each section would cover a certain distance possibly the equivalent of a one hour walk and would begin

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-trans-jordan-trail/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The Dubai Model » CSBE
    city emirate has achieved In less than three decades it has evolved from a little known backwater my only recollection of Dubai as a child was of an emirate that produced nice postage stamps into the undisputed commercial center of the region and a truly global city Many multi national companies have established regional offices in this efficiently run emirate Its airport and seaport are amongst the busiest in the world It receives about eight million tourists every year from all over the world who come to shop in its malls stay in its hotels and visit its attractions Foreigners recently have also been flocking to Dubai to buy property now that they are increasingly allowed to do so By all accounts Dubai is a success story Even though it has limited oil deposits of its own it is as wealthy as its oil producing neighbors It has emerged as a most successful center of global consumerism and to use a most popular term in the press releases coming out of Dubai a primary destination for tourists and businessmen from the Gulf and also from the rest of the Middle East as well as from all over the world As a built environment one way of describing Dubai is as an instant city where complete districts are planned and built within very short periods of time All of Dubai in fact is treated as one large scale real estate project Expansive tracts of virgin desert land are developed at a time Each of these real estate developments usually is given a theme Dubai therefore has a Media City Healthcare City Internet City Sports City Auto City Festival City and even a Culture City No matter what their announced purpose may be they all offer high end housing units office space hotels and shopping malls Firms and individuals with international expertise are brought in to design market and manage those developments all of which are intended to dazzle and overwhelm Dubai s high rises therefore are amongst the tallest anywhere and its malls and hotels are amongst the biggest Dubai offers indoor ski slopes rotating apartment buildings self rated 7 star hotels we are informed that the maximum international 5 star rating does not do them justice and full size replicas of world famous historical monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal To top it all man made islands the largest anywhere are created off Dubai s shoreline in the shape of palm trees and a map of the world Whatever one may think of Dubai whether an example of marketing ingenuity or of conspicuous consumption with no cultural depth what it has achieved is impressive by any account However following Dubai as a model to emulate at least on the urban level is something to be avoided For one thing there is no need to follow Dubai Each city in the region has its own specificities and each city should build on these specificities This basically is

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-dubai-model/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Urban Planning and Daily Stress » CSBE
    Daily Stress Urban Planning and Daily Stress Urban Crossroads 65 A recent survey asked various working people in North America about the main sources of daily stress in their lives Many cited the daily commute to and from work Jobs often are located in the central areas of cities but because housing costs usually are abhorrently expensive there many people only can afford to live in outlying suburbs These people therefore spend considerable amounts of time cost and energy going to and from work with total daily commuting times of two and three hours being commonplace Considering that the average work day amounts to eight hours this translates to spending 15 to 20 minutes commuting for every hour spent working Many working people therefore have to wake up very early in the morning to make it to work on time By the time they return home in the evening they are exhausted and have no energy left to spend quality time with their families or to engage in rewarding activities Their evenings often are reduced to quickly making something to eat hastily doing household chores and if there is any time left sitting down in front of the television to try to wind down after a long tiring day Such a daily routine is far from ideal It is stressful it results in a phenomenal waste of time and it reflects wasteful transportation patterns It leaves much to be desired regarding the more leisurely and rewarding life that modernity promised the working person This troubling scenario also shows the incredibly tight relation that exists between urban planning decisions and the quality of life we lead It is a manifestation of the monumental failure of modern urban planning approaches that have allowed excessive urban sprawl and the dependence on the automobile to dominate urban life and that have promoted single use zoning over mixed use zoning solutions that provide affordable housing in central parts of the city For the longest time we in Amman have been spared this sad state of affairs Amman remained a relatively compact city in comparison to North American ones Places of work and places of residence have been located relatively close to each other However as Amman began its latest wave of phenomenal growth during the 1990s this has begun to change Even before Amman s tremendous recent expansion we also have to keep in mind that not all those who work in Amman live in it I am thinking of the thousands of people who live in Zarqa because housing is more affordable there but work in Amman where work opportunities are more abundant They have to go through the agonizing daily commute between the two cities Many do so as passengers in Coaster buses with their notoriously reckless drivers along the visually blighted 25 kilometer Amman Zarqa Highway It is an incredibly stressful experience and no one should have to go through it Fortunately some positive developments are taking place in Zarqa The first

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/urban-planning-and-daily-stress/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Sharing the Road » CSBE
    of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Sharing the Road Sharing the Road Urban Crossroads 64 The motor vehicle dominates Amman s transportation network Siba al Shouli If left to its own devices urban transportation easily can degenerate into a zero sum game It is an example of a struggle over limited resources The resources are the city s transportation arteries primarily streets and also sidewalks The people who use those arteries to get from one point to the other i e pedestrians cyclists as well as the drivers and passengers of vehicles compete over using those transportation arteries A city can only have so many streets and sidewalks but the numbers of people and vehicles using these arteries in most cases are constantly increasing If the situation is left unmanaged the rule of the jungle will prevail and the most numerous and most aggressive will overtake those arteries In Amman the prize goes to the motor vehicle primarily the private automobile the taxi and the infamous mid size coaster bus zooming aggressively through the city Pedestrians and also the larger public transportation buses however are relegated to second degree status in their ability to freely and comfortably move through the city s network of arteries There are cases where pedestrians end up forcing their control over the road A fascinating and often amusing example of that is the Dead Sea Road in the Jordan Valley on Fridays and holidays during the winter months This competition over resources often gets nasty I recently read an interesting article about such competition in New York City Driving in New York s central parts is a highly unpleasant experience that is marked by tension between drivers on the one hand and between drivers and pedestrians on the other As if this is not enough cyclists now are further complicating this situation Ideally incorporating cycling as a system of transportation in the city is an admirable task but this partly involves creating bike paths that are dedicated to bicycle movement If these are not provided then cyclists assuming they exist simply will compete with other users over the city s transportation network This is what is happening in New York Ironically the retrofitting of sidewalks there to make them handicapped accessible through constructing ramps at their corners has allowed cyclists to comfortably get on and off the sidewalk Cyclists consequently are becoming a nuisance and even a danger to both pedestrians and drivers as they zoom off and on sidewalks and streets What under other circumstances would have been a welcome development here has developed into a nightmare scenario The authorities consequently have devised a plan to construct 320 kilometres of bicycle paths i e expanding a neglected component of the city s transportation network How does one manage urban transportation with all its complexities The solution is in resource allocation This involves a very carefully thought out management plan of the existing transportation network that organises who uses

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/sharing-the-road/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Where Should All the Garbage Go? » CSBE
    mini garbage dumps littering the neighborhoods of the city Although garbage does not make for a glamorous topic of discussion it should never be underestimated Definitely no municipal official would take lightly the collection and disposal of garbage or what is referred to as solid waste management If properly implemented it is a feather in his or her cap If not it can be a disaster of monumental proportions This should not be surprising Solid waste management crosses a wide spectrum of issues that include aesthetics hygiene and environmental concerns A beautiful city first and foremost has to be a clean city and any attempts to beautify a city should begin with cleaning it up Also a clean city is a more hygienic city An inadequate collection and disposal of garbage will attract rodents and insects and very well may lead to the outbreak of disease And of course the improper disposal of garbage will have disastrous environmental effects If not disposed of properly chemical pollutants in solid waste such as batteries will pollute our soils and contaminate the underground water reservoirs from which we drink No matter how one views it very few matters have as strong an effect on the appearance and health of the city as solid waste management Solid waste management is a logistically complex endeavor It requires a sophisticated system of collection with regular schedules and carefully worked out routes as well as a system of garbage disposal that is environmentally and economically feasible There also is the issue of recycling The principle behind recycling is a very simple one garbage is conceived as a resource rather than a burden A good part of the garbage collected can be separated into different components and sold for reasonable sums For example the Canadian capital of Ottawa which has a population of about 860 000 people earns almost eight million Canadian Dollars over five million JD a year from selling the recyclable garbage it collects The city estimates that the amount easily may be increased by an additional one million if residents are more diligent about separating their garbage It takes two to tango and both residents and municipal authorities have obligations to fulfill in order to improve the recycling of solid waste management The residents of the city who generate the garbage need to have a sense of civic responsibility and to make every effort to separate as much as possible of their garbage As for the duties of municipalities they have to put in place a recycling requirement and to make sure it is enforced In some countries Switzerland and Japan are two that come to mind if the municipal authorities suspect that a household is not separating its garbage they would go through the garbage and punish the household with a hefty fine if it turns out to be at fault Municipalities also need to make sure to only put the garbage that cannot be recycled in landfills Scandals have emerged when it was

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/where-should-all-the-garbage-go/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Smart Growth » CSBE
    Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Smart Growth Smart Growth Urban Crossroads 62 As Amman experiences the most dramatic growth spurt in its history it would be a good idea for the city s decision makers and developers to take a close look at the extensive discourse available on the urban planning concept known as smart growth there even is sizable and highly informative web site devoted to it www smartgrowth org As the name indicates this concept is not against growth it accepts growth but puts forward strategies for harnessing it as a positive force What smart growth is against is urban sprawl the cancerous low density chaotic expansion of the city into the adjacent countryside In addition to resulting in visual blight urban sprawl overstretches infrastructure services and results in un integrated and even contradictory land use patterns Smart growth acknowledges that cities grow and that during economic booms they grow at overwhelming rates If appropriate steps are taken that growth does not have to be detrimental to the quality of life and sustainability of the city but can be a source of positive change Smart growth emphasizes investing in the existing built up parts of the city and expanding upon them rather than spreading horizontally beyond them Smart growth stresses pedestrian access and the use of public transportation It promotes mixed use zones that bring together residential office retail and cultural spaces within proximity to each other Smart growth calls for preserving open spaces whether parks plazas or even agricultural patches of land both inside and outside the city and accommodates growth by increasing densities in already developed areas thus taking advantage of preexisting infrastructure services and avoiding the disruptions caused by bringing about drastic changes to the character of older neighborhoods Smart growth calls for providing a wide range of housing types to meet the demands of diverse residents senior citizens young families people who work from their homes those who need subsidized housing etc It emphasizes allowing existing neighborhoods to increase the available housing supply through accommodating higher building densities and encouraging infill developments Smart growth celebrates the vibrancy of the 24 hour city where people live

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/smart-growth/ (2016-02-13)
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