Contemporary Urban Planning (6th Edition)

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9780130985989: Contemporary Urban Planning (6th Edition)

Based on the author's extensive experience as a working planner, this book gives readers an insider's view of sub-state urban planning—the “nitty-gritty” details on the interplay of politics, law, money, and interest groups. The author takes a balanced, non-judgmental approach to introduce a range of ideological and political perspectives on the operation of political, economic, and demographic forces in city planning. Unlike other books on the subject, this one is strong in its coverage of economics, law, finance, and urban governance. It examines the underlying forces of growth and change and discusses frankly who benefits and loses by particular decisions. A four-part organization covers the background and development of contemporary planning; the structure and practice of contemporary planning; fields of planning; and national planning in the United States and other nations, and planning theory. For individuals headed for a career in planning.

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From the Publisher:

Reflecting the author's many years' experience as a working planner, this text focuses on public planinng at the substate level -- that which is done by and for cities, counties, towns, and other units of local governments -- and examines much more briefly planning for metropolitan regions, the states, and the question of national planning. Throughout, it emphasizes politics, economics, ideology, law, and the question of who benefits and who loses by particular decisions.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The term planning is a very general one. There are city and town planners and also corporate planners. The Pentagon employs numerous military planners. The launching of a space shuttle is the culmination of a tremendously complex and sophisticated planning process. Wealthy individuals who prefer to leave as much as possible of their wealth to their heirs and as little as possible to the Internal Revenue Service employ the services of estate .planners. And so on.

Planning in its generic meaning, then, is a ubiquitous activity. Cutting across all types of planning is a certain common denominator. All have in common a conscious effort to define systematically and think through a problem to improve the quality of decision making. The planning discussed in this book represents a very small part of the total planning activity in the United States. Specifically, this book focuses on public planning at the substate level, that which is done by and for cities, counties, towns, and other units of local governments. We will also examine, much more briefly, planning for metropolitan regions, the states, and the question of national planning. This edition also contains a chapter which surveys planning in a number of other nations.

The reader who has at least sampled other books on planning will notice that this book has some particular emphases, specifically on politics, economics, ideology, law, and the question of who benefits and who loses by particular decisions. These emphases stem from my experience as a working planner. I entered planning in 1969 with a background in economics and journalism but with no specific training in planning. In my ignorance of the field, I assumed that if engineers planned bridges and architects planned buildings, then city and town planners planned cities and towns in an essentially similar way. In effect, I thought of planning as engineering or architecture writ large.

It did not take me long to learn that planning is a highly political activity. Not only is it immersed in politics, but also it is inseparable from the law. The ultimate arbiter of many a planning dispute is the court. Anal for every case that comes to court, some dozens of planning decisions have been conditioned by what the participants in the process think would be the decision if the matter were to come to court.

Planning decisions often involve large sums of money. In some cases large sums of public money are involved in the form of capital investments. But even when little in the way of public expenditure is involved, planning decisions can deliver large benefits to some and large losses to others. Thus to understand planning, one must understand something of the economic and financial issues at stake.

The study of planning quickly takes one into ideology. Planning issues and controversy inevitably raise questions about the proper role of government and the line between public needs and private rights. What properly is to be a matter of political decision, and what properly should be left to the market? Planning can raise issues that are not easily resolved. Planners are a fairly idealistic lot and often enter the field to serve the public interest. After immersion in a few public controversies, the beginning planner may wonder if there is such a thing as the public interest. For if there is, there ought to be some general agreement among the public on what it is. But one can spend a long time in some areas of planning without seeing a single instance of this agreement.

In this book I have tried to convey something of the reality of planning practice and something of what goes on under the surface of events. I hope that the reader will not find this reality disillusioning, for planning in an open and democratic society cannot be smooth and simple. Planning as it is-involved in political controversy, hedged about by the trends of judicial decisions, inextricably tied to economic questions, and connected to issues of ideology-is far more interesting than it would be if it were simply architecture or engineering writ large.

The book contains a certain amount of material on history and technology because the issues that planning focuses on are largely ones that political, social, and economic change bring to the forefront. For example, it can be argued that one of the biggest influences on American cities in the 1960s and 1970s was the massive acceleration in the mechanization of agriculture that began after the end of World War II. That event, the result of both economic and technological forces, set in motion a huge migration of population. The effects of this migration are still being felt in America's cities. I hope the book will help readers make some connections of that sort and develop the habit of looking for other such connections on their own.

Though the book is about planning, it is assumed that most of its readers will not become planners. Therefore I have tried to write a book that would be of some value in the course of a liberal education, quite apart from imparting information on planning. I have gone somewhat more lightly over matters like the enumeration of federal programs (information that tends to age rapidly in any case) and placed an emphasis on connecting planning with ideas and with the main currents of events in the larger society.

The best and most effective planners are those with good peripheral vision—those who not only have mastered the technical side of planning but also understand the relationships between planning issues and the major forces in the society around them. I have endeavored to write a text consistent with that view.

The structure of this edition is the same as that of the fifth edition, but considerable new material has been added. The legal environment of planning continues to evolve, and so I have added new material on court cases. Growth management, too, is an evolving area of planning and therefore I have added and deleted material there. There is new material on "smart growth," "edge cities," public finance, federal policy in the first year of the presidency of George W. Bush, the much publicized Segway, and a number of other topics. Sadly, as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, there is also new material on the relationship between planning and terrorism.

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