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Land Use Policy
Last Thursday I debated the merits of smart growth with ‘Anti-planner’ Randal O'Toole at a community forum in Langley, a rapidly-growing suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia. A recording of the Debate and presenters' slide shows are available at www.southfraser.net/2012/02/smart-growth-debate-media.html. At the end more than three quarters of the audience voted for a pro-smart-growth resolution. This may reflect some selection bias – people concerned about sprawl may have been more likely to attend – but I believe that given accurate information most citizens will support smart growth due to its various savings and benefits.
Smart growth sometimes faces organized opposition by critics. It is important that planners respond effectively and professionally. Here is my critique of O'Toole’s claims and some advice for planners who face similar critics.
The planning profession’s ambivalence toward Houston has always been a little frustrating. In part, the profession’s attitude is understandable. Houston hasn’t embraced planning’s conventions, so why should the profession embrace Houston?
Fair enough. But the downside is losing the opportunity to look at core issues and problems from a completely different lens. This is especially true when it comes to housing development where Houston performs remarkably better than its peers.
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."