A few weeks ago, I read an online comment suggesting that unnamed "planners" displayed no interest in suburbia, single-family housing or family life, and instead are only interested in improving downtown neighborhoods for single people. If by "planners" the author of this comment meant new urbanists or critics of the sprawl status quo, this claim is simply incorrect.
Over the past month, I have visited half a dozen new urbanist developments in Dallas and Denver (1). All of these developments have a few things in common: all include both retail and residential uses, and all strive for walkability by providing sidewalks and narrow, gridded streets. But the developments differ in two other respects: geography and housing type.
Reporting from CNU 17 in Denver, where the thundercracks shook the Sheraton at various points throughout the day. Somehow though I've managed to be outside only when the sun is out.
The conference bags handed out to the attendees of the 2007 National Planning conference in Philadelphia had four words printed on one side: value, choice, engagement, community. The words echo the long mission statement of the American Planning Association, evidence of what I described last year as the pragmatic position of the profession that refrains from making a larger argument about the form of the city. Here's a taste:
"Our collaborative efforts will continue to result in great success for APA and the vital communities we strive to support, and APA members will continue to help create communities of lasting value. We value choice and community engagement, diversity, inclusion and social equity."
Since then, a new program from the organization and other evidence may suggest a subtle shift in professional values now underway.
On this week's KunstlerCast (James Howard Kunstler's podcast, with host Duncan Crary), you can hear me leaving a comment. I just listened to the episode, and I sound like I took a shot of codeine cough syrup before recording it. I think the point is relevant enough to reiterate in the safety of print.