My sense is that most new urbanists and smart growth advocates were happy to see Barack Obama elected President two years ago. While John McCain opposed Amtrak and had not been overly supportive of local public transit, Obama created an Administration full of advocates for transit and urbanism, and high-speed rail is one of his Administration's signature programs. So the Obama Administration will slow sprawl, and will make our cities more transit-oriented, prosperous and walkable. Right?
With due respect to Frederick Jackson Turner, the American frontier closes on Tuesday. This time, for good.
The battle for the White House has reached my inbox, as even listservs about urbanism crackle with endorsements and denunciations of Obama, McCain, Palin, etc.
But all of this frenzied activity assumes that what a President says or thinks is particularly relevant to urban issues. But this need not be so. The policy areas most relevant to sprawl and urbanism, land use and transportation, are not likely to be directly affected by the results of the presidential election.
In particular, zoning and similar land use issues are generally addressed by state and local governments. Even the most pro-urban president is unlikely to take on anti-infill NIMBYism (1), make strip malls more walkable. or make streets narrower.