Posted by: brian | July 12, 2007

City planning and democracy

I’m reading an article by Paul Davidoff, published in 1965 in the Journal of the American Institute of Planners. It’s called “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning.” Davidoff argues that minorities in particular, and citizen groups in particular, need a means of expressing their needs to planning commissions so that their interests are taken into account in the planning process. He notes that the government (at whatever level, but often federally funded) is traditionally the only organization involved in planning, and that it tends to plan based on what is deemed best for “those people,” rather than soliciting their input in the process to find out what they really need. He recounts:

For example, last year a Federal official complained to a meeting of planning professors that the academic planners were not giving enough support to Federal programs. He assumed that every planner should be on the side of the Federal renewal program. [B]ut such support should not be expected as a matter of loyalty. In a democratic system opposition to a public agency should be just as normal and appropriate as support. The agency, despite the face that it is concerned with planning, may be serving undesired ends.

The nerve! I guess you’d have to expect that sort of unpatriotic tripe from some socialist hippie academic in the 60s!

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