What's Missing from City Plans? Everything That Matters, Says Economist

In an op-ed for Forbes, economist Carl Schramm argues that "the practice of city planning has escaped reality." He indicts planners, and the plans that cities produce, for ignoring the economic imperatives that constitute a successful city.
May 16, 2013, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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For Schramm, a so-called "evangelist of entrepreneurship", an examination of unspecified "plans" for five unnamed "cities" by his unexplained "students" reveals the shameful truth about city plans: "Its highly stylized form, apparently reflective of a settled professional culture, is first and foremost a political document disguised as a physical plan for a specific locale."

While Schramm may have a valid point in criticizing the inadequate analysis and integration of measures of economic success in some planning documents, his overly simplistic hyperbole does his argument no favors.

"If planning is to be helpful it must see cities first as the economic communities that they were at their beginning," he says. While that may be worth debating, demonizing all planners as adherents to the notion that "the growth of government and its control over all aspects of the built environment [is] the pathway to the cities of tomorrow," is certainly not the way to engage them in a productive dialogue. 

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Published on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Forbes
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