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Thread: White House Office of Urban Policy - ideas?

  1. #1
    Feb 2007
    Cambridge, MA

    White House Office of Urban Policy - ideas?

    During the campaign President-elect Obama included plans to create a White House Office of Urban Policy within his agenda for Urban America. As recent as Monday this plan was reiterated by the transition co-chair Valarie Jarrett.

    There doesn't seem to be a ton of information about specifically what this office will do, other than coordinate all the federal "programs aimed at strengthening metropolitan areas" throughout various agencies (HUD, Transportation, Labor, etc.)

    Although short on specifics, it's really great to see an administration in Washington that's actually concerned with what happens in Cities. I just hope that this office works: that it actually happens, and that it's able to fulfill this role without being sucked in by bureaucratic inefficiencies.

    I'm interested in hearing what others on Cyburbia think about this -- how, in particular, can a federal government agency have a positive impact on our daily work as city planners?

    I'd personally like to see a strong effort within this new federal office to focus on promoting smart/sustainable growth for urban areas. Obviously land use and development issues are the realm of local government in the US, but it seems that federal housing and transportation funds could be distributed to states and localities based on the efforts they've made to curb sprawl and adopt sustainable growth policies. Some states do that (here in Massachusetts it's the Commonwealth Capital program) and it's of course no small task for the Federal Government to create and manage such a program, but I think strong national leadership is needed on this issue.

    What else?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    I think that any urban policy should be an inclusive policy which strengthens not only the city-proper, but also emphasize the role and relationships that each portion of a regional urban area has to the other from hinterlands to the city center. The focus on one fragment of the urban area has left us with poorly run program with difficult data to measure. Too many other policies and programs at the Federal level is working in conflict with the goals of CDBG, HUD and other revitalization/type programs.

    The big picture needs to be captured here and refined over the course of many months, perhaps a year to ensure that the best possible holistic policy is brought forward.

    I think we do all this not for the sake of cities, but we do this because a strong urban area invites a strong economy which invites a strong workforce which invites widespread prosperity. Also, a properly assessed program provides a complex, redundant and efficient transportation network which can further improve economic resilience and compliment and support the energy policy. The health of our urban-economic systems is a significant component to the general health of the entire country.

    Again, don't give me your token program aimed to "solve" one problem. Give me a comprehensive policy which will improve the sustained health of our cities, suburbs, and hinterlands.

  3. #3
    Jan 2006
    New York, NY

    Help the Office of Urban Policy Prioritize!

    Encouraging news here about the rumored new office: http://www.designnewhaven.com/2008/1...real-deal.html

    There's a link embedded there, to a cool website that lets you prioritize and vote on urban policy issues, like SmartCode, creating high speed rail networks etc...


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