Impacts of planning decisions in an earthquake vulnerable city: the case of Adapazarı

Bayhan, Fikret
Much emphasis has been given to the damages and loss experienced in the 1999 earthquakes with little research however on the social and administrative causes, and in particular on the consequences of malpractice of planning previous to the natural hazard. Reviewing the case of Adapazarı, the three succesive periods of plan making and implementation are critically investigated here to establish the extent that planning decisions of the local authorities and their modes of enforcement have generated adverse results causing the loss of many Lifes. The analysis required the combination of data sources on plan decisions and the consequences of the disaster, accommodated in the different authorities. Surveying the scope and decisions of 1957-70, 1970-85, and 1985-99 plan periods, and comparing these decisions in their spatial context with the loss and damage experienced, provides sufficent evidence of the causality. It is possible to identify that decisions of increased densities and building higher, changes to commercial uses in the CBD, siting of individual buildings, removal of open spaces all had their share in contributing the dramatic panaroma of losses. v Findings indicate strong correlations of loss of life with increased number of floors in buildings in the 27 districts of Adapazarı. It is particularly evident that greatest damages occured due to the 1985 plan decisions, when all powers of comprehensive plan-making were transferred to the local authorities, central authority control powers being removed. So long as local interests can not be curbed in plan preparation avoiding control with reference to the criteria of ‘public benefit’, many other cities in Turkey are likely to have similar fate in the near future.