It's often said that in America, urban development issues are decided at the local level. In general the rule of thumb is accurate, explaining a country home to cities as different in form as Houston, Texas and San Francisco, California. The notable exception to the rule is the country's interstate highway system, build with extensive involvement of the federal government. However, under closer inspection we can find a number of areas where federal funding and policies has a strong impact on urban development. A survey of what the leading presidential candidates are saying about urban policy suggests what priorities our next president may have.
This week Salon.com published a remarkable interview with a contender for the White House. The candidate didn't offer the solution to stabilizing Iraq, strengthening the economy, or bringing down the price of a six-pack (at least not directly), but for the first time in the history of American campaigning that I'm aware of, he referred to the issue of "land use."