Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 56

Thread: APA: not open to conservative planners?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Townville
    Posts
    1,047
    At the risk of taking this off topic, there is a much bigger picture to consider here at Cyburbia.

    The conservative v. liberal conflict is mirrored nationally in my opinion at APA: the tent really is not open to conservative planners. At least there is no front door for us.

    And that's a real problem. Planners are liberal, let's not get wrapped around the axel arguing this. The national APA agenda is a liberal agenda, dominated by increased land use regulation, top down directive, slow/anti-growth-perhaps even anti-business, pro-environmental, and hostile to property rights. Most planners who have joined APA seem to agree at least in part to buy into this. Think back to your masters program and I am sure you can recall those one or two students a little "conservative" and different.

    I have written letters to APA, Mr Farmer et/al. regarding whether there is a place in the American Planning Association for a different perspective. Shocker-no response.

    So is there room for a more conservative point of view here at Cyburbia? And i personally don't care about the political stuff in the friday afternoon club, I support the president, the war, etc. and am not afraid to defend myself.

    Off-topic:
    Its in the Planning arena and on Planning topics that we have to really keep an open mind and work toward solutions. And that is what we do not do enough of here. We should talk more about whats good development and why and whats bad develoment and why etc...

    There was a recent thread regarding the US approaching 300 million people that I and BKm and a few others began some discussion about how to direct this growth. Sorta just stopped.

    We spend way too much time posting about songs and sports and politics here and not enough about advancing the profession and quality realistic planning.

    That's enough. I gotta work, get more houses approved!


    Moderator note:
    (Dan) Split from another thread, with the permissipn of the the author. I think the subject is worthy of a thread of its own. Please try to keep this thread on-topic and civil, and avoid the Bush-bashing and partisan name-calling

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,074
    I think this is to a large extent true. Plannig is dominated by liberals, and while there are many who would still be very fair in respecting other peoples' political beliefs, a large contingent of the left is very non-tolerant. These people have tended to call the shots at APA, as I see it.

    Furthermore, it seems that the planners who may tend to be more conservative - often those in more rural jurisdictions - are in part segregated out of APA by the cost of membership.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    9,372
    It's funny, for me, I have been a registered Democrat since I was 18 but now after 20 years of practice, I find myself having closet libertarian tendencies - as in asking myself the question: what is the true role of government here? -

    and leaning more towards buying land that's sensitive instead of asking the private sector to shoulder the tax burden of owning property, if it's so important as a resource, then it should be owned outright by the people

    but no, I still don't like this administration and I think Obama rocks but, I find I question more than I did when I was younger so I'm not sure if that makes me more conservative or not

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Mr. Cool Ice
    Posts
    4,163
    Do you think any of it has to do with the fact that alot of the APA are public sector employees (I dont really know, just throwing it out)...??

    All of the planners here (private) are gun totin' bible carryin' conservatives.....and half of them couldnt tell you what the APA is.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    8
    I'm planning to take the AICP exam next spring and I have had several people tell me that I have to learn to think like APA wants me to think in order to pass the exam, even if I purge it all out of my head as soon as I leave the testing site. It's pretty sad that the closest thing we have to a regulating agency (for lack of a better term) is more interested in pushing its own ideology than recognizing that there are many disciplines and views that make-up good planning. I vary from conservative to liberal, depending on the issue and my mood, but it's frustrating that I have to spend the next few months essentailly brainwashing myself.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    4,604
    I'm pretty lib and I don't care for APA and don't feel it/they share my views on planning. Face it APA is not open to anyone not willing to drink their coolaid or question the one true wayism they seem to preach.

    Come on we need to focus on CHINESE planning? These folks need to get over themselves and in my mind it is more about egos and who's king of the hill than left or right politics.

    But hey I could be way off I spend very little time thinking about APA or why they do the crap they do.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  7. #7

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    The leadership of any non-profit is always more extreme than its membership. And having worked for a non-profit that tries to steer a course of moderation, I can tell you that most of the incentives are to lean to one edge or the other. That is just as true of the NRA or any of the conservative organizations as it is of APA or any other "liberal" organization.

    Most planners, including most APA members, who have persisted in this profession have a good ability to see both sides of an issue and to work toward compromise. The folks who work at APA don't have to do that, they're not out here in the trenches making deals, so their view of the world is just as inaccurate as, say, the folks who work at the Heritage Foundation. This shouldn't be a surprise, nor should it be a cause for not participating in an organizaiton that provides valuable services and forums for people to get together.

    MY principal complaint about APA has always been that it is too urban. But, hey, the majority of the members come from cities. And while I have sometimes wondered what I am getting for the money, if I ever felt excluded that was about me, not about APA. I suggest the same is true of Cyburbia. The liberals here listen to jaws (and that isn't always easy) and love El Guapo. In fact, the forum wouldn't be much fun without the interplay. All of the public planners tolerate, and in fact respect, ablarc despite his blistering critcisms because the guy obviously knows his stuff when it comes to design.

    It affects us all. As someone who quite consciously decided (and not for the first time) to live on a cul-de-sac, I have a choice of feeling excluded from this forum, or of being amused at some peoples' earnestness. I choose to be amused. So can you. Or are the liberals right in their belief that conservatives' ultimate goal is to suppress all other thoughts?

  8. #8
    I was the token republican in grad school. Somehow, this morphed into being a right-wing conservative, much to my amusement. I recall a certain faculty member being truly disappointed when I wrote a housing paper that he expected to be a "right-wing screed". I could only reply that perhaps he had reached some conclusions without merit.

    I think Lee is pretty much right-on for those of us old hands down in the trenches: my politics don't matter in my professional capacity -- I'm looking for consensus and value and I don't care if it comes from the left, center or right.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Snarkville
    Posts
    6,594
    I am not sure what you are asking or what you're issue is. Certainly you will not get any argument to the statement that the APA as an organization tends to have very liberal viewpoints, and planners in general tend to be very liberal.

    I find myself more conservative than the majority when it comes to property rights (I am very liberal on social issues however). But the APA takes positions which reflect the collective. If conservative planners make up 15% of APA's membership (a percentage I just made up) than of course conservative positions will not be reflected in APA policy statements and position papers.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,421
    imaplanner is correct in that people have stated the obvious. Just like many doctors probably don't agree with the AMA's stance on things like stem-cell research and assisted suicide.

    The real issue is how open-minded the APA collective is when it comes to more conservative viewpoints on economic development/property rights, etc. I would imagine that on an individual level, more liberal planners would listen to conservative viewpoints as long as they are logical and reasoned. That being said, I do get the impression that the powers that be at APA belive they're siting in their ivory towers, and they often control what issues become "important".
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  11. #11
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,830
    I tend to agree with Lee's analysis of the APA national situation when it comes to politics.

    I tend to focus my attention more at the Chapter level, which seems to be far more pragmatic politically than National is. It's a good mix of liberal and conservative at the Chapter level (at least in northern New England).
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  12. #12
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Snarkville
    Posts
    6,594
    I should add that the conservative planners I have known still tend to agree with most of the APA positions relative to planning issues.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,421
    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner
    I should add that the conservative planners I have known still tend to agree with most of the APA positions relative to planning issues.
    I've found this to be the case as well.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor,Michigan
    Posts
    152
    I am a 24 year old registered Republican and have voted as such in all of the past elections. I would agree with the sentiment regarding the APA. Likewise, I would agree with other comments posted and state that I agree with the APA and their initiatives for the most part. Although Republican, I find it dificult to support the ideaology that private property rights should rule over broad goal of planning which is to benefit the community. Funny thing, my final research project for graduate school showed that it was Republicans, not Democrats who tended to support land use planning policy in Michigan. Democrats tended to represent the districts with more poverty and social ills while Republicans tended to represent growing suburban districts where constituents placed high priority on planning.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Here, but where are you?
    Posts
    16,163
    I am not sure that this is a “problem” in that it is representative of the majority of its members. *I however will stay a registered republican! While I don’t agree with some of their policies, I do find some of the work that they do beneficial. I however have other qualms about not fully understanding how my dues are being utilized at a federal level. I have however become an active member of my state chapter and have seen some of the legislation to improve the condition of municipalities in Michigan.
    "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." - George Washington

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Townville
    Posts
    1,047
    Maybe I used the wrong words. My use of the word conservative is really intended to get at those people or viewpoints that are contrary to APA or planning's general policy positions or leanings. Kelo is a great example. I completely disagreed with the APA's position on this matter.

    Maybe the better question is: are contrarian viewpoints received with an open mind?

    I am a political conservative (may be libertarian as well) to be sure. But I find my beliefs similarly "conservative" when it comes to the profession. For instance, in a planning sense I find that planners and the APA (Lee notwithstanding) no longer seek out a balance between a community's interest and an individual's property rights. The balance seems to me so greatly on the side of the community. The APA advocates on lots of issues, but not property rights and looks upon those groups as the opposition.

    I have read the APA treatise on building smart communties. Interesting yet it really is dependent upon increasing regulation.

    The APA is always in favor of large spending bills for roads or whatever and is highly critical of adminstrations that "cut" growth in these programs.

    I am suspect of the government bureaucrat, rather that the businessman or developer.

    I enjoy the growing prosperity of the suburb.
    I like the car.

    I think certain "takings" legislation should be enacted and expanded.

    I think maybe we should consider oil drilling in some "new places."

    You see, the APA would take an opposite position.

    Maybe I should hand in my APA and AICP card. ULI will always have me

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Man With a Plan's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    219

    In Practice - Too Conservative

    You have an interesting point and I respect the different views articulated in our profession. However, it appears that community planning in practice is very conservative. At the municipal level, a great deal of planner staff time is often occupied with ensuring that conservative land use policies are followed.

    I would be interested to see what percentage of Cyburbia spends the majority of their day recommending that Boards approve land use proposals that are auto-oriented in nature, because they meet our ordinances and regs. Once these developments are approved, the subsidy for the Corporatocracy begins. Directly we subsidize the auto industry with road construction, maintenance, plowing, etc... Indirectly when we approve auto-oriented development, we ensure that people remain dependant on their cars. This supports oil, rubber, auto makers, and on and on.
    .

  18. #18
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,872
    Quote Originally posted by Man With a Plan
    You have an interesting point and I respect the different views articulated in our profession. However, it appears that community planning in practice is very conservative. At the municipal level, a great deal of planner staff time is often occupied with ensuring that conservative land use policies are followed.

    I would be interested to see what percentage of Cyburbia spends the majority of their day recommending that Boards approve land use proposals that are auto-oriented in nature, because they meet our ordinances and regs. Once these developments are approved, the subsidy for the Corporatocracy begins. Directly we subsidize the auto industry with road construction, maintenance, plowing, etc... Indirectly when we approve auto-oriented development, we ensure that people remain dependant on their cars. This supports oil, rubber, auto makers, and on and on.
    .
    I think your missing the point here. Urban development is, whether we like it or not, going to be auto-oriented in most cases. And if development proposals meet code, and comp. plans, than why shouldn't they be approved? Otherwise amend the code. Propose an alternative. IMO too many plans are held hostage because there is no alternative on the table and this is ultimately the fault of the planners and politicians. It is not the developers responsibility to figure out what the ideal development should be. After all, all they are interested in is the bottom line.

    What you're essentially talking about are outcomes, and outcomes are a result of more powerful forces at working than planners.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,421
    Quote Originally posted by Man With a Plan
    You have an interesting point and I respect the different views articulated in our profession. However, it appears that community planning in practice is very conservative. At the municipal level, a great deal of planner staff time is often occupied with ensuring that conservative land use policies are followed.

    I would be interested to see what percentage of Cyburbia spends the majority of their day recommending that Boards approve land use proposals that are auto-oriented in nature, because they meet our ordinances and regs. Once these developments are approved, the subsidy for the Corporatocracy begins. Directly we subsidize the auto industry with road construction, maintenance, plowing, etc... Indirectly when we approve auto-oriented development, we ensure that people remain dependant on their cars. This supports oil, rubber, auto makers, and on and on.
    .
    I think you may be equating "conservative" with "supporing big business". I think for the most part the ideal "conservative planner" is a proponent of strong property rights, whereas the "liberal planner" is a proponent of strong government regulation.

    For the record, planners are typically bound by state statues that if a "plan" conforms to the ordinance and master plan, we have no choice (legally or ethically) but to recommend approval. That is why the comprehensive/master planning becommes so important.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Reductionist's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Swans, Fruits & Nuts
    Posts
    68
    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Maybe I used the wrong words. My use of the word conservative is really intended to get at those people or viewpoints that are contrary to APA or planning's general policy positions or leanings. Kelo is a great example. I completely disagreed with the APA's position on this matter.
    I'm a liberal and I thought the APA's stance on Kelo was dead wrong. What does that make me??

    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    I am suspect of the government bureaucrat, rather that the businessman or developer.
    You should be suspect of both. Or simply put, if you only care about the lies of your opponent, you really aren't concerned with the truth.

    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    I enjoy the growing prosperity of the suburb.
    I like the car.
    Yeah and I like cheese. But personal preferences add little to the discourse and provide absolutely nothing in terms of solutions for very complex problems. I see the value in the private automobile and why many choose suburbia. But implying that it is right just because many people like it while ignoring all the environmental, social and economic externalities that is generates just doesn't sound like a basis for sound policymaking to me.

    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    I think maybe we should consider oil drilling in some "new places."
    Yeah I'd agree if such a gesture were part of a comprehensive plan to pursue energy independence through new technologies, conservation, major investments in multimodal transportation systems and a truly sincere effort to move away from sprawl. But it isn'tt. And if you do your research you'll discover that indeed the opposite is happening and has been so for at least the last 30 years. Our imports of oil in the early 70s were around 1/3 of consumption up to over 65% today. Energy indpendence through drilling is a joke. If you seriously believe we can drill our way out of this mess we're in I've got some prime swampland in Florida that I'd love to sell you.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Townville
    Posts
    1,047
    reductionist

    i was not asking for my statements to be parsed as such. My point is whether or not there is room for differing positions on growth and development in the profession, as represented by APA.

  22. #22

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    You know these ideological arguments always seem to proceed in the absence of facts that are verifiable by a third party.

    For example, the perception that the balance between individual and community interests is now greatly skewed toward the community is, based on what I see every day, and on what I have seen over 30+ years in this profession, simply untrue. It isn't a matter of opinion, it isn't about philosophy, its a matter of fact.

    I think that any systematic analysis at all would prove that developers hold, and have always held, the whip hand over planning decisions in the vast majority of communities throughout the US, even in "liberal" states like Vermont. I also think that if you look at the rate of passage of what liberal planners would consider "progressive" land use legislation, vs. the passage of restrictions on local land use regulations, you will find that restrictions have greatly outnumbered the expansions of power since sometime in the '80's. One can, of course, find indivdual communities where the regulations have become stricter, but I do not think you could document an overall trend in that direction. I suspect it is just the opposite. I have written or helped write several plans and sets of regulations that were quite conservative in their scope and intent, but that were still dismantled later on because ideolgical conservatives won an election.

    As for me, I think my property rights are best protected in a community - like this one - with strict regulations. Developers, speculators, and oil companies are not the only ones who have property rights, you know. I have precisely the same right to enjoy my modest home as they do to develop their holdings. If their development plans impinge on that right, I have the right to assert my interest. And since the reality is that any development, of any scale, has an impact on other people, we step immediately beyond immature notions of absolute rights to some type of political conversation about how to balance rights.

    When I started my career, in very consevative, rural places, it was possible to have a productive conversation about planning because we could step past ideology to the facts and talk about how to address the impacts of development on other folks who also have some rights. Modern ideological conservatism has made it difficult to have that conversation because it asserts property rights as absolute.

    My advice to the "conservative" planners here in Cyburbia is to attend some planning meetings in a place like north Idaho, where the conservatives come well armed and all belong to a militia or the Klan. There is where you will see the actual, factual utlimate result of the modern intepretation of property rights. And while I know some of you will rush to deny this, that is where you will see the America (?) that modern conservatism is attempting to create.

    I hasten to add that the America modern liberalism is trying to create would be a kinder, gentler, but equally nonfunctional place. All of this ideology is so useless. I used to think that the people who actually get things done work in the middle. But I have come to realize that that is a misperception. The only people who are getting things done in these days of ideological gridlock are stepping off that old conservative-liberal axis altogether and leaving it behind, where it belongs. If we have a future, it is a future where the conversation is about responsibilities, not about rights.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    9,372
    Thank you Lee...

  24. #24
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Posts
    3,872
    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u
    reductionist

    i was not asking for my statements to be parsed as such. My point is whether or not there is room for differing positions on growth and development in the profession, as represented by APA.
    I think you have a good point. I don't think the APA takes opposing viewpoints very seriously. I doubt, for instance, that a planner with free-market based ideas would be invited to speak at the national conference. I also suspect this individual, all qualifications equal, would not be a top candidate for the planning director positions in the major metropolitan areas of this country. This is a problem. Planning is desperately in need of fresh ideas and professional practice risks going stale if planners fear being frozen out by their colleagues for their views.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,927
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller
    I doubt, for instance, that a planner with free-market based ideas would be invited to speak at the national conference.
    I think you are on the mark with this one. Anything that subverts the planning process will not get the support of a national planning organization. Right or wrong, this is why APA exists. As repugnant as APA's support for eminent domian was in the Kelo supreme court case, you cannot blame them for trying to be consistent. In this case, the APA come out in support of New London because the town used the planning process to create a redevelopment plan, one that had recommendations to acquire land through condemnation.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 ... LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Letting your inner conservative out
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 78
    Last post: 05 Jan 2015, 11:19 AM
  2. Conservative Canada
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 04 May 2011, 11:38 AM
  3. Replies: 26
    Last post: 04 Feb 2011, 9:01 PM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last post: 10 Aug 2003, 2:48 AM
  5. Replies: 6
    Last post: 24 Jul 2003, 2:02 PM