With the revival of the "APA: not open to conservative planners?" thread, I thought I'd post a question to the ideologically diverse denizens of Cyburbia: just what is conservative planning?
One might think that conservative planning is "let the market decide", but that's not planning; it's Libertarian-style anarchy. In conversations with planners who label themselves as conservative or libertarian, they acknowledge the need and valuable role planning has; that it's a response to what would otherwise be market failure and "tragedy of the commons" if there was no government intervention.
So, how does conservative planning differ from commonly accepted good planning practice? Does current good planning practice incorporate elements of what could be considered conservative planning?
I'll give an example: even though my ideology leans towards the left, I'm opposed to what I call "feelgood planning", which I once described as:
"Projects with poor cost-benefit ratios that are destined to fail or at least underwhelm, but which are promoted and implemented because they bring a feeling of hope to the surrounding community, and possibly because their proponents are in denial about the inevitable outcome. "At least they're doing something.""
Examples of feelgood planning include:
* Mural programs
* Banners on light poles
* Pocket parks
* Creation of subsidized infill housing in blighted, often dangerous areas where there is a shrinking demand for housing.
I could argue that conservative planning acknowledges market forces, rather than disregards it. Some examples would include the "shrinking cities" movement; rather than continue growth-oriented planning in areas that continue to lose population and jobs -- another type of feelgood planning, in my opinion -- it acknowledges the problems facing the region, and plans for "rightsizing". They acknowledge that breathing new life into urban prairies is pointless, and costly in the long run. Conservative planning acknowledges that plans shouldn't be boosterist prose where growth is always the intended result.
So, fellow Cyburbians: what is conservative planning?