Managing Land Use Change for Sustainability in Bandung, Indonesia
“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands”—Richard Bach
Our creative city is not a “milch cow”: the need for coping with (un)sustainability
Bandung, the 3th largest city in Indonesia, is located in West Java Province, 180 km from the national capital Jakarta. This city was appointed as one of pilot project for creative cities in East Asia in 2007, and currently received an accolade by Channel Asia News as one of five most creative cities in Asia (Suwarni, 2012). As an emerging creative city, many creative industries, especially fashion, music, and culinary, have become the new cultural identity of the city. In 2010, those creative industries contributed 14.6% of the city’s Gross Domestic Income as well as the growth of 1,200 distros, 5,191 business, and 15,276 employees. This creative industrialization has attracted visitors, especially from Jakarta, to come on weekends. Besides, the development of Purbaleunyi toll-road in 2004 has accelerated and intensified mega-urban Jakarta-Bandung linkage. However, this development factually results in a number of negative impacts on spatial planning issues in Bandung i.e. high traffic jams on weekends, pollutions, and lack of green parks and open spaces. Another impact is the transformation of land use patterns, especially from residential to commercial uses (Fahmi, 2009). Although it seems that the local economic growth has improved over time, the development suffers unsustainability. Therefore, this essay aims to elaborate one of the dilemmas in governing this creative city, especially in the urban spatial planner’s perspective, for more sustainable land use zoning.
It is common in developing countries that cities become “milch cows” in economic development. As critical perspectives describe, the shift to entrepreneurialism implies a more intensive inter-urban competition which encourages them to improve their competitive positions, while also in fact contributes to increasing disparities in wealth and income (Harvey, 1989). In this capitalist urbanization, resources suffer ‘ecological modernization’ where they are being utilized into usable and tradable commodity (Cook & Swyngedouw, 2012; Gibbs & Jonas, 2000). On the other hand, due to unequal power relations, urban environment, by perforce, selects those who have access to resources. As the result, this kind of capitalist cities always engender deprived and alienated communities (Marcuse, 2009). In Bandung, whilst businessmen start up new creative firms, the existence of urban poverty, homeless, criminality, street vendors, and so forth can be seen in the location close by to those creative complexes. On the other hand, it is also problematic since those marginalised people often inhabit places where they do not have rights to live there, such as riversides or on the land belongs to other parties.
In search of the remedy: contesting theories and approaches
The notion of sustainable development in Indonesia is sometime hard to imagine, since policies and actions are prioritized for economic welfare. Once upon a time, the Major of Bandung said, “it’s better dying with traffic jam than that with hunger”. But, we also should be aware that economic development is not ends itself; we need to concern other dimensions: social and environment (Cook & Swyngedouw, 2012). Berke et al. (2006) also indicate that in managing land use changes, sustainable development could be employed as a norm for its potential to serve as a central organizing principle for planners in their efforts to resolve conflicts and guide change in ways that create settlement patterns that are liveable and sustainable. Therefore, if planners can manage land use changes today, our environment and its carrying capacity will still survive and so will the economic activities.
Managing land use change, however, is not as simple as preparing or making the plan and expecting that blueprint will be built out 20 years later. In fact, complexity and turbulence complicate change management (Berke et al., 2006). In Bandung, the transformation of land use patterns is mostly caused by commercial activities that reign in residential areas where sufficient park lots are also not there. As more visitors come to Bandung, some people start new factory outlets and food shops in certain zones where actually commercial activities are not allowed. The situation might be either they do not have building permit (as well as business license) but then experimentally start the business or they actually apply for that permit and the local government admit it. Why could it happen? Spatial planning in Indonesia adopts regulationary system for land use zoning, as enacted by Law 26 (2007) on Spatial Planning. However, in practice, we will recognise more the discretionary system de facto as people should apply for permits where somehow potentially against the land use zoning regulation. Another bottleneck is also found that land use policy is under the rights and obligations of local governments, while land titling procedure is carried out by the National Land Agency (BPN) which is a central agency (Hudalah, 2011). Sometimes, when people change the function of their houses into commercial activities, we can do nothing because they handed-on the legal permits.
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club” – Jack London
How do we get there: expanding the collaborative approach in a creative way. We can see that spatial planning problems in Bandung are complex. Some of them might be wicked, which cannot be formulated, has no stopping rule, and is always unique (Hartmann, 2012). However, I would not refer the complexity theories to diagnose and prescribe the dilemma of land use transformations. The reason for this is that the problems are a kind of complication that are not caused by chaotic conditions, post-war effects, or uncertain hazards (Hartmann, 2012; Portugali, 2006). Although we found that the nature of problems is complex, the chaotic condition referred by complexity theories still does not exist yet in this case. This complication corresponds more to multiplicity of relational networks where place qualities are shaped by multiple forces, non-linear, continually emergent development pathways (Healey, 2004b). Many parties who have interests and force each other, then, create a condition resulting ends in nowhere, disagreed goals; while the means we go about can be defined by planners. According to Christensen (1985), such condition needs bargaining and accommodation of those multiple preferences.
However, planners in Indonesia—especially practitioners—do not believe in (planning) theories. “We do not need them, what we need is real action”, they say in every time they have roundtable discussions with academicians. Therefore, contesting any theories in this sense is not necessary. What we need is delivering creative suggestions so as to inspire policymakers in the decision making process. On the other hand, this situation also gives me reflection: there is no need to learn enchanting theories, except we know how to make use and apply them in planning exercise.
Healey (1998) indicates that urban planning is no longer defined as a highly technical process in which planner knows everything and has the right to decide anything. Hard land use planning, as well as imposition and relocation, will not work for this condition. We need a new governance to institutionalize new forms of ideas and imagination of a more sustainable and well-planned city (Healey, 2004a). On the other hand, the process of creativity is not about imagination solely by planners, but needs involvement of more stakeholders. Collaborative approach can be employed to approaching the problems as it can deal with conflicted interests and targeting consensus toward the problem and its solutions.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury
As Bandung itself has already a clear vision: “creative city”, indeed it helps us in the strategy making to have a clear imagination about how environment in the future will be, thereby enables to develop openness to new ideas and to understand and accept the need and opportunity to change (Albrechts, 2010). Thus, as the main idea, in managing this creative city, we need creative governance. The next question is how do we make use of creativity in this governance? I would refer Healey (2004a, 2006) on transforming governance principles. In specific episodes, we need to involve diverse range of actors, open and diverse arena, stimulating, respectful and knowledgeable ambiences. These aspects will also be needed to build the institutional capacity in governing land use change, as well as create “culture” for self-organizing mechanisms for actors to proactively participate in decision making process. In stressing this implementation plan, I would elaborate several points.
Firstly, in specific episodes, related stakeholders should be involved. They will comprise business practitioners, universities which can be agents of change and knowledge for those creative industries, environmental activists, and creative communities. Having them engaged and proactively participated would be helpful, since it can create an arena for those creative circles to share knowledge and develop networks. Here we can also hear what they need, for example, the needs for open space for music festivals or apparel bazaars, theatres, cluster for shops and firms, and place to meet each other. The meeting with those actors also help us to have divergent ideas regarding land use planning and management. As we have divergent thinking from various stakeholders, the role of planners is to converge the ideas into decision making process and also to persuade them to participate in implementing plans and manage land use changes.
Secondly, for the sake of building capacity, episodes of governance are shaped by structuring power embodied in the mobilization of rules and norms, material resources, and framing ideas (Healey, 2006). During this process, learning is also encouraged to inform stakeholders, “here is our plan, and let’s make it happens”. Stakeholders are being empowered with knowledge, creative thinking process, and problem solving exercises. However, I realize that this approach has always challenges in involving stakeholders as not each party is willing to participate on this episode and governance process. Then, it is the planners’ function to overcome this barrier. In the next steps, I will also indicate alternatives how to deal with this problem.
Thirdly, also in overcoming the barrier, communications between actors should be performed and monitored by the planner. Here is the role of planners to create a comfortable situation for engaged stakeholders so that they can participate. In this sense, a more informal (governance) process is preferred (see Hajer, 2006). For example, meetings should not always take place in the government offices, but sometimes can be held in the creative communities’ places. During this process, the (governance) culture can also be shaped by enabling self-organizing mechanism where actors can be proactively control, freely suggest and aspire what is good and what is wrong with the implementation of land use change management.
Fourthly, is to focus on action and engage public to proactively support our plan and ideas. Different with the first one, public participation is not necessary to hear from people, but conversely to have supports from them so as they can help in implementing this plan. As a two-sided coin, we also build social capital and sensitive-sense of people to response issues surrounding their environment (Selman, 2001).
Lastly, as planners—this also is an essential reflection, we should be creative in thinking and acting. In many situations, planners are encouraged to be assertive, in the sense of thinking out of the box about solutions and alternatives, as well as considering aspiration of each party. It would not be easy, but if we believe: there is no such unsolved problem, if we try to deal with it.
 Distro, or distributor, is one of icons from Bandung which is creative apparel shop.
 Land titling procedure involves certifying process of land rights by people, including freehold right, cultivation right, building right, right to use, right to rent, land clearing right and others.
 Certifying land ownership is to accomplish in the National Land Agency (BPN), including the land title certificate, building permit, as well as cultivation/business permit. Meanwhile, the disturbance permit (izin gangguan) and other local permits are to accomplish based on spatial plans in the city. Mostly, essential permits in building and starting up new business have to be arranged in the central agencies, even though now Indonesia is practicing decentralization system. Because BPN has the position in keeping the national security—and somehow this makes the organization keeps information for confidential reason—it is hard to make coordination works between this board and the local governments. As the result, land use management is quite problematic.
 In my opinion, the complexity theory is very attractive to apply. Nevertheless, as I understand the nature of this perspective, it came from places where the situation is defined as chaos, open system, interrelated parts in wich the relation patterns cannot be drawn up (see Alfasi & Portugali, 2007; Portugali, 2006); whereas for Bandung case, the situation is not chaotic yet.
 There are several creative communities in Bandung i.e. Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), Common Room, HelarFest, and so on. Many creative industry practitioners have joined these forums. See for more details: http://bandungcreativecityblog.wordpress.com/
 Anyway, when I say “the planner” here, I refer to the one who has connections to power and bureaucracy, that is, planner from the local government agencies.
* This essay is based on the final assignment of EIP Interactive Workshop