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Friday, September 09, 2011

9/11: Richard Carson PDX Is Ready for a Bike Ride but Not an Emergency

By Rich Carson 
Victoria asked me to write an essay for her blog and do an interview about the “city planning aspect of 9/11.” So I put this question out on the Internet and got an amazing answer. Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian at the controls of the jet that crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, was an urban planning student pursuing his masters degree in Germany. That did stun me. 
My initial response to Victoria was “I have been a planner, a veteran, a father and a husband. No, they are not all terrorists. But they do make pretty good communists and fascists. Planners want organization and for all things to be predictable. The profession came into being in the 1960s. So they tend to believe in the issues spawned in the day. They are environmental socialists. In other words, they believe in collective environmentalism (Gore) and not individual environmentalism.”
The world in general and the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area specifically have changed as a result of the terrorist attack on September 11th (911). The Pacific 

Northwest, like much of America, has become a nation divided between the individualist/survivalist versus the socialist/collectivist. 
I do consultant work for local governments in order to help them be more productive and efficient. The wake-up call for me was that some of us are now living “off the grid” and others are “living on the grid.” I was working in San Diego, California in 2009. And I was shocked that their big problem was so many people living off the grid.
As the planning director for METRO, the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area’s regional government, I learned that this region is hit by the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake about every 345 years. The same type of earthquake in the Indian Ocean was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries.
The point here is that no one is ready and everyone is clueless in Portland. I will make a prediction that will come true. Portland will be hit by a 9.0 earthquake. And Portland is not ready for it. It is not about terrorists. It is about stupidity and not being prepared. 

That is what planning is about folks. It is not about bike lanes, mass transit or new idiotic taxes. It is about your life. And no one is planning for the next 9/11. Because your elected officials are too distracted by social trivia and not human devastation.
Richard Carson is a doctorate student at Washington State University. He is a former planning director for METRO that planned for the 1.5 million people, 25 cities and three counties in the Portland region.


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