Existing Conditions and Issues

  • Arthur E. StampsIII


On 10 May 1995 a design reviewer receives an application for a controversial residence. Under the local planning code, it is her duty to evaluate the quality of the proposed design. If the quality is insufficient, the code grants her the authority to request modifications. The code itself provides only nebulous guidance, such as the prescription that new houses should fit into their contexts. To remedy this situation, the reviewer has the authority to use her discretion in either applying or interpreting the code. Time is important. Due to heavy case loads, the reviewer has perhaps thirty to sixty minutes to evaluate the design. Much of that time is consumed by mandatory consultations with a team of other reviewers and in correspondence with the applicant. There is no time for detailed inspections of the existing conditions in the neighborhood or other research. Her available resources are her training, experience, and judgment. The project continues to be contentious, and the reviewer falls back on the procedure of asking for more and more modifications until the applicant simply runs out of resources. After 13 months of negotiation, the project is approved, but the time and cost of the process, for reviewer and applicant alike, raise the issue of whether this is the best way to perform design review?


Social Contract Planning Department Design Review Quality Control Program Governmental Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur E. StampsIII
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental QualitySan FranciscoUSA

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