Chicago's Planning Director on Leadership During Crises

Maurice Cox, planning commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, is the subject of this in-depth coverage by the Chicago Tribune.

1 minute read

June 29, 2020, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Bret Habura / Shutterstock

Blair Kamin interviewed Maurice Cox, the current planning commissioner of Chicago and previous planning chief in Detroit, who shares insight into how planners can help spur economic and social healing in U.S. cities while protecting residents of the public health risks of the pandemic.

According to Kamin, Cox's challenge in the city of Chicago must focus on the neighborhoods with the longest history of deliberate neglect. According to Kamin, these neighborhoods in Chicago saw looting during the protests following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. 

While much of the national conversation in the wake of Floyd’s death has rightly focused on tearing down Confederate monuments and other symbols of racism, too little attention is being paid to the nitty-gritty task of building up African-American and Latino neighborhoods that have been hammered by decades of disinvestment and decay.

As specific evidence of the response of the multiple crises facing the most vulnerable residents of Chicago, Cox lists several specific initiatives underway at the Chicago Planning and Development Department, including a shift in priority for the INVEST South/West underway at the city, plans to allow outdoor dining for restaurants on the South and West sides, and forthcoming programs to invest in vacant properties in struggling communities in Englewood and Austin, among others.

Friday, June 19, 2020 in Chicago Tribune

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

Nighttime view of Tacoma, Washington skyline

Tacoma Coalition Calls for ‘Tenants’ Bill of Rights’

The group wants to put more power in the hands of tenants, but the city has its own, competing proposal for addressing the housing crisis.

May 26 - The Urbanist

Wind turbines sillhouetted against a sunset sky along roadway in New Mexico

New Power Transmission Line Approved in the Southwest

The proposed transmission line will transfer wind-produced power from New Mexico to cities in Arizona and California.

May 26 - U.S. News And World Report

Aerial view of 238 freeway in Oakland, California cutting through neighborhood with small houses

The Limitations of ‘Reconnecting Communities’

The Biden administration has pledged to correct the damage imposed on communities by highways and infrastructure, but many projects are only committing to minor improvements, not transformative changes.

May 26 - The New York Times

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.