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Planning Issues Analysis: the Film “Chinatown” Essay

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Updated: Apr 18th, 2021

Robert Towne, in his movie Chinatown, has tried to bring out an exemplary idea of planning issues affecting most of the urban areas in today’s world. The people who were expected to be active planners in the city eventually leave the town in a worse state than they found it. First, it is the water crisis whereby the water supply of the entire town is controlled by one politically significant individual. As a result of this, only a part of the whole community is able to access clean water.

The people in control direct it wherever they want it to flow to, which in this case is their farmlands. Proper planning of urban centers requires that the essential resources such as water be distributed to every household fairly, and this is not the case in Chinatown.

The planners in this town are not able to balance their personal needs and the growing needs of the town. Being the prospective people in the area, the growth and development of this town depend on them entirely. But what happens is the exact opposite of the general expectations. These people move out of the suburb after they have invested in their personal projects, such as farmlands. The rest of the inhabitants remain in grave poverty in an area that has a lot of unutilized potentials. Owing to this, the growth of the urban town remains retarded indefinitely. The main reason behind the poor planning decisions was the incorporation of politics in the planning. The politicians were in control of all the resources, and this explains the ordeal of Chinatown.

One of the characteristics of poorly planned and developed urban centers is poor transport network. In Chinatown, for example, the private vehicle only belongs to the few tycoons in the town. The other people are forced to use public means, which is rare in the first place; hence they end up walking on foot for long distances.

It is not that these people are unable to afford private vehicles. Only that they are not given a chance to develop themselves to the point of acquiring a decent living. The type of growth experienced in this area, according to this movie, is the short term growth that cannot be sustained. This is because it is focused on a small section of the area, and any growth plans brought forth are expected to only benefit the already rich individuals. This is why the town is left desolate the moment these people decide to leave.

Farming is one of the activities that could benefit Chinatown a great deal if done in the correct manner. However, the planners severe the entire community and directs the main source of water to their farmlands. These farmlands are doing fine, but they are not able to provide food to the whole community. As good planners, they would have distributed the water to the whole region and encourage people to use the water for agricultural purposes. This is the best and sustainable method of preserving farmland. Otherwise, these farmlands would eventually disappear despite the fact that they had been developed at the expense of the entire community.

Chinatown is a perfect example of the emergence of suburban towns. These towns are usually overcrowded with people looking for cheap housing, and hence the facilities are usually strained. This includes service facilities such as banking services and transport facilities. The development of a suburban most of the time, eventually affects the neighborhood owing to the swelling population in these areas. There is a chance that this population might spill into the neighborhoods. There is, therefore, a high chance that the suburb might extend and replace the communities around. This is the trend being experienced in most of the underdeveloped towns, whereby developers put up cheap housing structures that attract many people.

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1. IvyPanda. "Planning Issues Analysis: the Film "Chinatown"." April 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/planning-issues-analysis-the-film-chinatown/.


IvyPanda. "Planning Issues Analysis: the Film "Chinatown"." April 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/planning-issues-analysis-the-film-chinatown/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Planning Issues Analysis: the Film "Chinatown"." April 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/planning-issues-analysis-the-film-chinatown/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Planning Issues Analysis: the Film "Chinatown"'. 18 April.

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