Planners Must Speak for the Disadvantaged

"No one other than we as planners has the responsibility for decisions today that will profoundly affect others," says Attorney/Planner Dwight H. Merriam.

Dwight Merriam, a Connecticut land use attorney and planner and former president of the American Institute of Certified Planners, in a lecture at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ, emphasized that both social equity and the welfare of future generations must be at the core of planning practice.

The planner's clients, Merriam said, "are the poor, they are the disenfranchised, they are people who live far away but wish to be our neighbors, they are the old, they are the young, they are the people working two and three jobs who have no time to go to public hearings or run a blog, they are the people who need our help in processing and applying complex information, they are the generations not yet born, they are the people who will live on this earth 50 years and 100 years and 200 years and 500 years from now."

"When you save a sole-source aquifer," Merriam maintained, "when you preserve a critical habitat, when you make it possible for dense mixed-use development along public transit corridors that gets people out of their cars . . . and when you plan and regulate in a way that keeps our foundry worker's family from being destroyed and makes it possible for children [from low-income families] to live where they want to live and to get the education they so desperately seek and deserve, then, I say to you, you have begun to do your job as a planner."

The lecture is available as both a PDF and a podcast.

Thanks to Stuart Meck, FAICP/PP

Full Story: Dwight Merriam, attorney, to present annual Isadore Candeub Memorial Lecture in Planning



Where was this guy

when APA submitted an amicus brief in support of New London in the Kelo case? He's speaking to what the AICP Ethics actually say, which is great. Somehow, APA managed to overlook those same ethics (voice for the voiceless, etc. etc.) in somehow supporting the removal of an established community for ephemeral economic development.

Yes, I'm aware Kelo is old news, but it rankles to this day...

APA/AICP Fails to Fight Discrimination

Today's APA/AICP leadership continues to ignore housing discrimination and the nation's continuing hypersegregation in housing (affectionately known as "American Apartheid"). It was a tough fight to get APA/AICP on the record in support of racially and economically-integrated communities back when I was AICP Prez 2003-2005, and the commitment seems have been watered down every few years. It has been impossible to get substantive sessions onto the program at the national APA conference that deal with the obligation of recipients of CDBG funds to "affirmatively further fair housing," integrating (pun intended) fair housing into our routine planning and zoning practices, and eliminating exclusionary practices. Given that APA executive director Paul Farmer has the final word on what goes on the conference program (a level of micro-management none of his predecessors exercised), accountability rests with him -- and his two boards that seem to ignore the issue which is at the heart of planning and the root cause of so many of our nation's domestic problems.

Daniel Lauber, AICP
AICP President 2003-2005, 1992-1994
APA President 1985-1986

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."