Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Planning issues are often considered to be conflicts between the interests of different groups, such as neighborhood residents versus developers, or motorist versus transit users. But planning concerns the future, so it often consists of a conflict between the interests of our current and future selves.
Why plan? That’s an important question for a planning skeptic like myself. I’m not at all convinced that conventional public urban planning has much value, despite (or because of?) spending eight years on a city planning commission. Yet, I don’t consider myself an “antiplanner”. I’m happy to leave that role to my friend and virtual colleague Randal O’Toole at the Cato Institute. (He even runs a blog called “The Antiplanner”.)
Urban planning has a role even though, IMO, on balance, its application has had a negative impact on communities and cities. Notably, even the free market (and Nobel Prize winning) economist F.A. Hayek recognized a role for planning in his classic book on political economy The Constitution of Liberty.
The question is: what is planning’s role and, perhaps more importantly, how has this role changed or shifted in modern times?