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Are all planners liberals?

mugbub

BANNED
Messages
67
Points
4
(Posted as Matt Giles)

Is everyone here a liberal? Are you automatically in favor of an environmentalist point of view, or do you weigh cost/feasability factors?

Would you agree most economic development folks are conservative? is anyone against(or able to criticize) New Urbanism? Is sprawl and commuting so bad? Where are the pragmatic reality driven planners? Let's discuss.

BONUS QUESTION:
I voted for Nader in 2000, and I consider myself a moderate- can anyone guess my reason?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
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3,066
Points
30
Let's go back to the old days before liberal=democrat and conservative=republican. A liberal was idealistic, saw a better way of dealing with things, and wanted to see change. A conservative was cautious, followed the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" rule, and was always aware of the costs of change. With these definitions, planners probably do have a liberal bent. But there is room for both philosophies, and often in the same person.

When we put on our zoning administration hats, we are conservative. Zoning is geared to maintaining the status quo (protect the neighborhoods). When we change hats to revitalizing a declining area, we are often liberal, because change is necessary.

I do not think the profession can be pegged to a certain political label. If I were to try to label us, I would say "somewhat to the left of middle, but nowhere near the extreme".
 

Ian Anderson

Cyburbian
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41
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2
Matt, I'm not sure if most planners are liberals, though the desire to want to work in the public sector may indicate that a preponderance of liberal-types may indeed be planners. Of course, I don't want to over-generalize here, but my experience is that most planners tend to be left-of-center. But then again, there are those who don't think sprawl is bad at all. I'm personally not 100% sold that sprawl is such a huge societal problem. From a personal perspective, I get tired of long commutes and congested roads. Professionally speaking, I support efforts to find out what the community values and plan for their vision; I'm not a big fan of forcing my biases to a community. Instead, I like to facilitate discussions to help them find what they value and what they want.

In regards to criticisms on new urbanism, see the following Cyburbia thread, "Can New Urbanism really work today?" at:

http://cyburbia.ap.buffalo.edu/cafe/messages/6/637.html

I think you will find a thorough discussion on the NU phenomenon. As you will gather from the thread, I'm not a big fan of new urbanism.

Voting for Nader back in November was an interesting choice. Instead of us guessing why you voted for him, why don't you tell the audience your reasons. Everyone has their own reasons for voting for their favorite candidate, and considering the level anonymity available to posters here at Cyburbia, I would find it quite difficult to guess your reasons.
 

Hug a Tree

Member
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I work in an office full of conservative republican planners, a weird change to what I'm used to. They scoff at my liberal/environmentalist views. However, in the immortal words of one of my colleagues, "people in gated communities need planners too!"
 

Big Pinko

Member
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Big Pinko Here!

It's hard to say, but judging from the political bents of my planner-fellow-co-workers and class-mates, I'd say, that, quite simply, the overwhelming majority are liberals (by today's defininitions). Of course, that means they are actually the only ones on target regarding the reality of society and economics.

(the one conservative in my class this past year was advocating that sprawl was okay -as long as you put subways in (i'm not kidding) - he was perpetually the laughing stock (it didnt help that he wasnt the brightest, either (coincidence (conservative=not bright?).

I only became interested in planning after having moved south (from the NY area) to go to school, and became completely horrified and outraged at what a landscape shaped by and dominated by unhindered corporate power and financially-driven interests looks like.

Up north, we have such things as community character, history, and environmental concern that has kept our towns pretty much the way I like 'em - quaint, walkable, historic, and our countryside - mostly wilderness - uncluttered by the whores of our highways (outdoor advertising), or big-business monocultural genetically engineered-bland-scape.

Planning, to me, is about giving the people their communities back and reigning in the influence that moohla has over our cityscapes and countryside.

Glad to be working this summer prosecuting billboard/signage violations as a planning-lawyer in N.Y.C.

Sound typical?

Later
Judd
 

perspective

Member
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8
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0
Seems like this discussion echoes the identity crisis that our profession has. Many of us, want a "feel good" job, tyring to do whats "right", such as promote sustainable development and environmental justice. Very often I read (within these threads) that planners are trying to educate their commissioners or the public, but end up being very frustrated. Even worse, some planners have the gall to blame the private sector for what are perceived failures such as stating "big-business monocultural genetically engineered-bland-scape (see above)".

Rather than "talking the talk" (being liberal) and then being primarily forced into conservative mode (zoning) for implementation why don't more planne types consider a move to the other side? Thats right, instead of being a reviewer, be the doer an work for a developer or better yet become a developer. Wouldn't this be the most effective manner in which ones views could be implemented?
 

troy

Member
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68
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4
It depends on what you mean by liberal and conservative. I consider myself a pragmatist. I am sure that some of my views are considered liberal, and others are conservative. Generally, we should try to figure out what we need, and then figure out the most practical way to get it.

I support protecting the environment. We've only got one world, lets not screw it up! Let's try not to destroy any more of the ecosystem than we have to in order to survive.

Is sprawl bad? It depends! Most of the land surrounding our cities is already ruined for wildlife and native vegetation (having been cultivated for decades and criss-crossed by highways). However, I don't want us to pave over the best farmlands in the country. I really think that we should make an effort to predict the peak population of the country, and make sure that we are preserving enough arable land to support such a population. The rest of the land should be either developed, or preserved in as pristine a state as possible. Feed humanity first, then we can either sprawl out or preserve nature as we choose.

Are economic development folks conservative? I don't know. My guess would be yes, in general, but frankly I don't know many people in that field. I always figure that people with money tend to be more conservative since they are afraid of losing it. Those without money don't have such worries.

Everything has a cost, and sometimes the cost outweighs the benefit. The difference between liberals and conservatives is merely how much they are willing to pay for specific benefits.
 

Planzilla

Cyburbian
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45
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2
Take a look at the AICP code of ethics. It states that "A planner's primary obligation is to serve the public interest." And it specifically mentions the obligations of planners in regard to citizen input, disadvantaged groups, and the natural environment. Doesn't say much about private property rights or the free market.

Planning is a communal activity. I don't see how a true-blue conservative could do the job. If you really believe that the free market cures everything, why would you need a comprehensive plan?

And Matt, I also voted for Nader, because I couldn't see much choice between Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dumber. Maybe you did the same.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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Ah, Planzilla, I can just see Adam Smith's invisible hand extending an invisible middle finger...

Just kidding. I consider myself a conservative planner, and strongly defend private property rights often at the expense of our poorly crafted and ancient local zoning codes.

I always say that you don't become a conservative until you have something to conserve. Given that most planners aren't in it for the big $$$ and status, I would agree that you can draw some broad assumptions that as a profession we mostly lean to the left...
 

mugbub

BANNED
Messages
67
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4
Planzilla, I voted for Nader for the same reason you did. Two morons (Bush/Gore and a guy with no chance (Nader). I wanted Nader to get 5% of the vote so his party would have more resources in '04. Well, that didn't happen, but the Nader voters surely got rid of Gore's chance.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
I gave up on either term describing anything useful years ago. All the conservatives I worked with were desperately seeking federal subsidies for what they valued, with no hint that such behavior was out of step with their stated values. Most of the liberals were seriously confused, and many just as biased and close-minded as any "conservative." Both are devoutly centralist in behavior if not in words. On my bad days I see the modern dialectic as being simply between problem-solvers, who can't afford an ideology, and consumers, who are simply taking up space. On philosophical days, I come back to the centralist-decentralist axis. And if that's where the heart of our problems is, we are in trouble. Both D and R, liberal and conservative are on the centralist end of the axis. I think planners who really want to solve problems have to decide where they fit on the axis of community v corporate ways of heading into the future. The corporate way is winning right now (and equally supported by both conservatives and liberals), but my own conclusion is that any desirable future will result from a return to and revitalization of community values.
 

WRH-IV

Member
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6
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0
It has always boggled me that the "free market," unfettered by zoning regulations, has produced the compact 18th and 19th Century New England coastal towns that adorn so many post cards and calanders. Nowdays, these same New England communities have professional planners (mostly of a liberal bent), who enforce regulations that stamp out cookie cutter homes on 1 and 2 acre lots and commercial strip development that rivals that found anywhere else in the Nation. Yet look at the prices -- real estate values of the older, compact villages are so great as to be unaffordable. I think the "conservative" developers -- guided by market demand -- would build with an imagination that reflects older designs found in these areas if the rules guiding building line setbacks, minimum acreage, etc. were relaxed. The bottom line is that "liberal" does not imply "forward thinking" when it comes down to aesthetics, design or settlement pattern.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
WRH: You have a point. However, many of these older communities were built slowly, one house at a time, by individuals or single carpenters. Even the early subdivisions that we admire from the arts and crafts era were built by relatively small builders.

Homebuilding today is increasingly, at least in California, a province of national and large regional builders that have the capital to accumulate the expensive land and pay the high up-front impact fees and costs. These companies will not build true small towns. They are specialized at popping out one "product" that can be easily marketed as having "high resale value." It may be a failure of imagination, but it goes beyond the "liberal versus conservative" debate.

And, don't forget the great postwar determinant of urban form-the private automobile.

Combine car-centered developments with very large national homebuilding firms, and what do you get? Modern suburbia. I don't think a conservative, market-only approach would recreate the traditional village. Modern economic forces and transportation systems have evolved beyond that-at least for now (read Kunstler's website for his polemical insight into the post-cheap oil era)

Not that liberal planners can avoid responsibility. Local highway and street departments impose the huge street requirements that destroy any pleasant streetscape. Onerous impact fees make it difficult for all but the largest homebuilders to survive. And, liberal immigration policies encourage rapid population growth that makes "build-it-as-quick-as-you-can" the only realistic approach to housing.
 

BikePlanIt

Cyburbian
Messages
123
Points
6
Dan said:
Originally posted by Hug a Tree

I work in an office full of conservative republican planners, a weird change to what I'm used to. They scoff at my liberal/environmentalist views. However, in the immortal words of one of my colleagues, "people in gated communities need planners too!"
Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language" recommended gateWAYS be part of a neighborhood entrance. Maybe the aforementioned planners should just figure out how to plan better subdivision entrances. Or, is that a new thread?
Dan said:
Originally posted by Planzilla

Take a look at the AICP code of ethics. It states that "A planner's primary obligation is to serve the public interest." And it specifically mentions the obligations of planners in regard to citizen input, disadvantaged groups, and the natural environment. Doesn't say much about private property rights or the free market.

Planning is a communal activity. I don't see how a true-blue conservative could do the job. If you really believe that the free market cures everything, why would you need a comprehensive plan?

And Matt, I also voted for Nader, because I couldn't see much choice between Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dumber. Maybe you did the same.
Yeah, this definitely raises a few ethical questions. I'd like to think that the Republican party has just swung too fiscally conservative in the short-term. Hopefully, fiscal conservatism is not always synonymous with social conservatism. Some legislation can foster advocasy planning without taking the hard-earned dollars from the legislators.

I think a big job of our is to manage these decisions with public input and personal knowledge to prevent issues like exclusionary zoning, and promoting transportation equity. In other words, yes, a fiscally conservative planner can do a great deal of social good in our field.

New York Times:
"Hypomanic? Absolutely. But Oh So Productive!"
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/22/health/psychology/22hypo.html?ex=1111813200&en=fc48aaf9edeca084&ei=5070
 
Last edited by a moderator:

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
sisterceleste said:
Pink Commie here...socialized medicine, gun control, LAND USE CONTROLS!!!!!!!!!
Homeland Security will be dragging you from your cubicle any day now!

I am pretty liberal in many ways politically but have some cosnervative personal behaviors (not views, behaviors).
 

Wulf9

Member
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923
Points
22
Social progressive.

Free market economist after accounting for socially progressive goals. (The market will adjust.)

Anti monopolist and anti oligopolist

Give power to the smallest level of government that can do the job.
 

JusticeZero

Cyburbian
Messages
367
Points
12
Dan said:
Is everyone here a liberal? Are you automatically in favor of an environmentalist point of view, or do you weigh cost/feasability factors?
Personally, i'm conservative.
Would you agree most economic development folks are conservative?
No, I met a couple who were liberal.
is anyone against(or able to criticize) New Urbanism?
I dislike New Urbanism. I think that it is an artificial attempt to force a model which is more idealized than effective. I don't like suburban sprawl with large lots, big setbacks, and long drives to get to anywhere, but I feel that our zoning and financial structure is to blame for that and simply trying to legislate a Disneyland style variant of a "Leave it to Beaver Haze" imaginary town is not going to create an effective place to live and work.
Is sprawl and commuting so bad?
The problems of sprawl and commuting are often overrated, and some people seem to feel as though consumer choice should be forcibly removed from the equasion entirely. (They would be happier in a tiny apartment in downtown and there aught to be a law forcing them to!)

I do get disturbed when I hear people talk about the 'conservative=stupid' connections and such. While advocating massive sprawl and subways is pretty moronic, I can think of similarly absurd and unrealistic viewpoints held by liberal planning students. (I think someone I remember was suggesting that the road system - including freight hauling - could be refitted for human powered vehicles, for one.)
 

ablarc

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
713
Points
20
JusticeZero said:
I dislike New Urbanism. I think that it is an artificial attempt to force a model which is more idealized than effective. I don't like suburban sprawl with large lots, big setbacks, and long drives to get to anywhere, but I feel that our zoning and financial structure is to blame for that...
Well, that about covers it all; seems you don't like anything.

Must feel bad.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,342
Points
31
Wulf9 said:
Social progressive.

Free market economist after accounting for socially progressive goals. (The market will adjust.)

Anti monopolist and anti oligopolist

Give power to the smallest level of government that can do the job.
This is pretty close to what I am. Actually, I really like the "free market economist after accounting for socially progressive goals" part - I may borrow that in the future. :)

I see New Urbanism as an improvement, but not a solution to America's planning ills; I think it is part of the solution. I believe in housing choice, meaning that if people want sprawl, fine. They just need to accept the consequences of that decision (lower service levels, traffic, gas costs, etc.) and stop complaining. As planners, we need to make people aware of the consequences/benefits and let them decide for themselves. I would like New Urbanism more if it was done properly. Many of the supposed "New Urbanist" developments have the same traits as their suburban counterparts, just with a prettier form. New Urbanism in conjunction with Transit-Oriented-Design seems closer to answering many of our concerns. I don't like government regulations "forcing" alternative design, but they should make it easier to create alternatives or even incentivize.

Of the ecodev folks I've met, it's been about 60/40 conservative-leaning.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,461
Points
44
Conservative that supports mixed use urban developments, shirts and ties, the creative class, gun rights, alternative transport, street rods, fast cars, and form-based coding.

I don’t support Euclidean Zoning, Wal-Mart, Michael Jackson, or alternative fluids in super soaker water guns.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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27,309
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63
michaelskis said:
Conservative that supports mixed use urban developments, shirts and ties, the creative class, gun rights, alternative transport, street rods, fast cars, and form-based coding.
and don't forget CDBG program funding....

So, I am a liberal who supports civil rights, a strong military, am a virgo, using public funds to combat poverty, birth control, long walks on the beach, believes gun control involves steady pull and even breathing, alternative energy research, slow enrgy efficient cars, and World Government. Oh, and have a nice day. :)
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,329
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31
This Bear is a card-carrying Libertarian. Supporter of significantly reducing penalties for drug use (fill the over-crowded prisons with people who did real crimes), believer that gun control is a waste of time ( a requirement for entrance into the U.P., right michaelskis ?), downsize government.....in other words serve and protect and ONLY serve and protect. Serve and protect doesn't mean snooping in my bedroom, censoring my habits, wasting government time and effort (and my tax dollars) on supplying "pork" to any congressperson with a big mouth.

This Bear is a fiscal conservative and it bugs the hexx out of me that so-called Republican "fiscal conservatives" are OK with huge deficits.

I step OFF the Libertarian ride to say that I also supported the war in Iraq, which goes against my party's view. I figure that the world needs a "cop" and, despite all our problems, I feel a whole lot better with the USA as the "cop" as opposed to countries such as Syria, Iran, France, Japan, or (the new and improved) Russkiland.

For the past few years the Libertarian Party has been considering a name change because so many people confuse the terms liberal and libertarian with each other.

Bear
 

Slotcar Mikey

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
The Democratic Party just isn't what it was under FDR or JKF. The idealism is gone. It is now full of fringe stuff. I'm a conservative and alway will be. Unless I apply for a job at a university, of course. Then I become a wolf in sheeps clothing, so to speak.
 

nuovorecord

Cyburbian
Messages
444
Points
13
JusticeZero said:
The problems of sprawl and commuting are often overrated, and some people seem to feel as though consumer choice should be forcibly removed from the equasion entirely.
Ummm, with trillions of public dollars and private lobbying spent developing the car-dominated transportation system we currently have, and a fraction of that spent on alternatives, "consumer choice" has pretty much been taken out of the picture. It's assumed that "everyone chooses to drive" when the reality is that is simply not true.

When a gallon of gas is $6.00 9/10, let's discuss the matter of choice again, shall we? :-c

JusticeZero said:
(I think someone I remember was suggesting that the road system - including freight hauling - could be refitted for human powered vehicles, for one.)
I'm a liberal and even I think that's nutty, too. But more bicycle-friendly roads wouldn't hurt a thing, either! :-D
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
I am surprised by the number of young conservative planners (a typically liberal occupation). And I am also surprised by the number of old folks who were liberal in the 60's and are now on the radical right.

The thing that confuses me is that old conservatives started the tax rebellion, which is depriving their children and grandchildren of education, passing a huge debt on to the young, and tossing them into wars that don't need to be fought.

And I am equally confused about the increasing assault on programs for the middle class and elderly -- reduced health care, reduced retirement, reduced bankruptcy protection, reduced employment security.

So, who is winning? In this warfare between ideologies, it seems to me that everyone is less well off.

We have a one party government at this time, which is dismantling the "liberal" programs of the past 70 years, and you would expect the 50.5% of conservatives who elected that government to be getting some benefits. But they are not. They are getting the same treatment as the "liberals" who have virtually no say.
 

JusticeZero

Cyburbian
Messages
367
Points
12
nuovorecord said:
It's assumed that "everyone chooses to drive" when the reality is that is simply not true....more bicycle-friendly roads wouldn't hurt a thing, either! :-D
I like bike-friendly roads. I went out of my way to learn more about them, and to learn about walkable cities. People need more options.
However, too many people seem to be more into punishing the auto than they are into making other modes workable.
I don't like "New Urbanism". It doesn't address the forces that pulled us away from Old Urbanism, or what those forces really mean. It's nice to think that a little 7-11 type grocery on the ground floor will meet the people's needs - but it doesn't anymore, and they aren't built in ways that will support those businesses adequately, oftentimes. The tiny grocery offers poor selection at high prices, because it just doesn't have enough rooftops to improve bulk and selection.
Maybe the solution is to use commercial centers as your transit hub, I don't know. The real problem is the clash between economy of scale and the need for arterial access conflicting with the desire for safe access to those facilities. The solution that has developed and disliked is to funnel automobiles into arterial commercial roads. It's developed that way for a reason. If you don't offer an alternative solution that addresses the pressures that created the situation you dislike, it won't function; the "New Urbanist" ideas I see generally do not address this. What's the real problem? You want people to access the things they need easily without resorting to cars; the things they need have to dominate access to 200,000 rooftops or more to exist; you can't easily pack 200,000 households within walking distance of the store - you need to deal with that part of the equasion.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
New Urbanism is entirely market-driven. Nobody is forcing people to buy housing in New Urbanist communities---yet people do. And they pay a premium for it. So it can hardly be considered to be "punishing the auto" when the people are choosing that lifestyle willingly.

In fact by any measure, the opposite is true. New Urbanist development represents such a small percentage of new housing and the prices and demand for it are so high that it can be inferred that there are many people who are being forced into conventional housing that would prefer New Urbanist housing.
 

JusticeZero

Cyburbian
Messages
367
Points
12
jordanb said:
New Urbanism is entirely market-driven. Nobody is forcing people to buy housing in New Urbanist communities---yet people do...it can be inferred that there are many people who are being forced into conventional housing that would prefer New Urbanist housing.
I agree with that. However, I do not feel that New Urbanist development is.. and I hate this word.. "sustainable". It is desirable, yes. But some of the elements that make it desirable are left with conditions that will not by themself support their continued existance. It's like having an inner city hotel in a fenced in "nature area" with many many harmless animals foraging on imported plants just off of the paths. Is it desirable? Sure. But you're going to have to keep channeling plants and animal feed in because the plants won't grow fast enough to feed all the herbivores that are the hotel's attraction.

As for "punishing the car", that is a subject seperate from New Urbanism entirely and comes from discussions with planning students at PSU at various levels. A view was often raised that the first step is to severely punish automobile use, which I do not agree with. Punishing road users punishes severely many groups which these same people claim to want to protect. I would much rather see changes in financing and zoning to make dense, ped and bike friendly, small lot development nearer to commercial centers and inside of the existing infrastructure network more appealing to developers.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
As for "punishing the car", that is a subject seperate from New Urbanism entirely and comes from discussions with planning students at PSU at various levels. A view was often raised that the first step is to severely punish automobile use, which I do not agree with. Punishing road users punishes severely many groups which these same people claim to want to protect. I would much rather see changes in financing and zoning to make dense, ped and bike friendly, small lot development nearer to commercial centers and inside of the existing infrastructure network more appealing to developers.
OK, would you agree then that creating economic conditions that keep a disproportionate number of the poor in the cities is a form of "punishing" city dwellers? Because it tends to make the schools look like they are doing a lousy job and makes the police look like they can't control crime. That in turn can hurt property values, and make a city less comfortable to live in. I thought the point New Urbanists were trying to make was that the car is unfairly subsidized, that its true costs are not factored in.

Justice, what is with Alaska politically anyway? Maybe you can explain it a little. Why are so many of your politicians conservative Republicans? As I see it, coastal Alaska, where most of the population is, is in physical appearance most like the "Salmon Nation" of the Pacific Northwest, where there is a high degree of environmental awareness (maybe even kookiness) but then in Alaska, where you have all this magnificent scenery, it appears that you elect people who can't wait to tear it up, extract minerals, lumber etc. from it. Is it an independent streak that Alaskans have that provokes a visceral negation of ideas and policies from the lower 48? Are so many tied to the extractive industries that they vote to grow their wealth via said industries? We don't come across many people from Alaska here in the northeast, so I'm really curious about this!
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Nearly the entire economy of Alaska is extraction. Everyone there is either involved in cutting, drilling, or digging. So they have incentive to see that their cutting, drilling, and digging continues.

I think Alaska could really do good to push tourism or something (there are Alaskan cruises that are very popular, and the train and whatnot, but in general it's a very underdeveloped sector). But to current Alaskans, tourism just means more of those namby-pamby liberals coming up there and telling them what to do with their god-given land.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
boilerplater said:
what is with Alaska politically anyway? Maybe you can explain it a little. Why are so many of your politicians conservative Republicans? As I see it, coastal Alaska, where most of the population is, is in physical appearance most like the "Salmon Nation" of the Pacific Northwest, where there is a high degree of environmental awareness (maybe even kookiness) but then in Alaska, where you have all this magnificent scenery, it appears that you elect people who can't wait to tear it up, extract minerals, lumber etc. from it .. . Are so many tied to the extractive industries that they vote to grow their wealth via said industries? We don't come across many people from Alaska here in the northeast, so I'm really curious about this!
As a former Alaskan planner (Ketchikan Gateway Borough, aka the KGB), I can tell you that there is not a lot of liberal talk in Alaska, at least not that I noticed. As previously mentioned, Alaska's economy is based largely on extractive industries. Southern Alaska has an economy based largely on fishing and timber. Tree huggers are not approved of at all. If you have a liberal or even progressive bent, you best keep it to yourself. Also government is a big employer. Tourism is a close third. Alaska is a very conservative state.

I recall an Assembly meeting when the most conservative member called the assembly's most liberal member (that is, a moderate conservative) a "red" and a "green". The offended assembly member (who ran an off-the-grid timber mill) jumped up and defended himself. He said he was not a "green" :-D
 
Messages
80
Points
4
I would have to describe myself as a supporter of the principle of the old Social Credit Party which was in power in BC for a long time. This would probably make me a progressive conservative or "red" liberal, depending on who I'm talking to... :-D

Could we start a Continental Common Sense Party?? ;)


Graham.
 

lec9496

Member
Messages
128
Points
6
boilerplater said:
We don't come across many people from Alaska here in the northeast, so I'm really curious about this!
Seeing how I can't vote, I may not be the best person to comment but I've noticed that a significant number of Alaskans are retired/former military. The ones I've met appear to be conservative in their thinking.
 

cololi

Cyburbian
Messages
1,186
Points
22
JusticeZero said:
However, I do not feel that New Urbanist development is.. and I hate this word.. "sustainable". It is desirable, yes. But some of the elements that make it desirable are left with conditions that will not by themself support their continued existance. It's like having an inner city hotel in a fenced in "nature area" with many many harmless animals foraging on imported plants just off of the paths. Is it desirable? Sure. But you're going to have to keep channeling plants and animal feed in because the plants won't grow fast enough to feed all the herbivores that are the hotel's attraction.
Not sure I fully understand your comparison here. As far as sustainable, one of the underlying emphasis of new urbanism is sustainability, particulary in regard to natural resources. The idea of new urbanism is to give people choices, in where they live, lifestyle, housing type, etc. The problem with suburban developments is that they do not give people options and it drains natural resources, water for lawns, fuel for cars, lawn mowers, etc, increased capital expenditures to maintain infastructure, etc.

Anybody who thinks that new urbanism is about removing the automobile from our lives doesn't fully understand the concept. You are right about a retailer needing a certain number of rooftops to be successful, but it certainly makes it easier if some of those rooftops are within walking distance. It also makes it easier if a small number of them can get there on public transportation. Even more so, it makes it easier if someone who drives will end up spending several hours and run several errands and be able to reduce the number of car trips per day that they would otherwise have to make. As Peter Calthorpe said at the APA conference, perhaps it should be called "Good Urbanism" instead of new urbanism, because the whole concept is not about creating a new sense of place, it is about rediscovering the sense of place that was lost to suburbanization.

Oh, and for the record, I am a tree hugging liberal stuck in the most conservative state in the country.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,179
Points
21
Cars, New Urbanism and political leanings of planners

Cars, per se, are so obviously a boon to our way of life that to pretend otherwise seems to me indicative of some sort of phobic condition. As I understand it, NU types are not so much 'against' cars as against the idea that all aspects of urban planning should be built around cars and therefore make continuous car use a necessity. That seems to me eminently reasonable. There is ample empirical evidence that reasonable car use is perfectly compatible with a pedestrian-friendly (as opposed to pedestrian only) and pleasant walkable environment. It isn't as if there are no cars except in sprawly US suburbs.

I would guess that NU and architectural conservation principles fit well with a generally conservative and pragmatic mindset. I suppose that, taken to extremes, they could meld into an anti-growth, anti-development, anti-people ideology but that seems like a stretch.

Oh, someone mentioned cars being 'subsidized'. I am not a professional planner and am eager to learn more through this forum., I am, however, a professional economist and I can tell you that in no way are cars subsidized. Any car-specific public infrastructure is more than paid for by VAT/sales tax on autos and taxes on gasoline and other automitive consumables. Usually well in excess of it. Many of the extrnalized 'costs' of cars woudl have to be borne by some other transportation system if cars were absent or less common. There are plenty of good reasons not to worship the car, but demonizing it is silly and ultimately creates a justified backlash, especially in N.A.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Luca said:
Oh, someone mentioned cars being 'subsidized'. I am not a professional planner and am eager to learn more through this forum., I am, however, a professional economist and I can tell you that in no way are cars subsidized. Any car-specific public infrastructure is more than paid for by VAT/sales tax on autos and taxes on gasoline and other automitive consumables. Usually well in excess of it. Many of the extrnalized 'costs' of cars woudl have to be borne by some other transportation system if cars were absent or less common. There are plenty of good reasons not to worship the car, but demonizing it is silly and ultimately creates a justified backlash, especially in N.A.

I'm not sure this is as true in the United States. We have no VAT, for example, and our gasoline taxes are lower. In areas of the country with no development impact fees, existing cities and older suburbs heavily subsidize the new exurban development on almost every front.

Some would also argue, especially today, that much of our military budget should be directly funded by taxes on petroleum, as well ;)

Does anyone here "know" any data on this. Because the other side of the coin is that gasoline taxes pay for public transit improvements as well.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
BKM said:
We have no VAT,
That's not entirely true. There is no federal VAT, but most states and many cities have their own VATs.

But yeah, automobiles are heavily subsidized by property and income taxes, and by VATs collected on products that aren't auto-related. I've seen it estimated that gas taxes, fees, sales taxes, and tolls only cover 60% of the total cost of the nationwide road network.

And of course that doesn't include oil wars or environmental impact, just the direct cost of building, maintaining, and operating the road system.

And gas taxes here are a tiny fraction of what they are in the UK. I believe the UK has one of the highest gas taxes in the world.
 

jsk1983

Cyburbian
Messages
2,442
Points
23
jordanb said:
And gas taxes here are a tiny fraction of what they are in the UK. I believe the UK has one of the highest gas taxes in the world.
When I was in England a few months ago gas was selling for around 80 pence a liter. Which would be around 3 pounds a gallon. In American dollars thats about $5.68!
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
jordanb said:
That's not entirely true. There is no federal VAT, but most states and many cities have their own VATs.

But yeah, automobiles are heavily subsidized by property and income taxes, and by VATs collected on products that aren't auto-related. I've seen it estimated that gas taxes, fees, sales taxes, and tolls only cover 60% of the total cost of the nationwide road network.

And of course that doesn't include oil wars or environmental impact, just the direct cost of building, maintaining, and operating the road system.

And gas taxes here are a tiny fraction of what they are in the UK. I believe the UK has one of the highest gas taxes in the world.
Our typical "sales tax" is much lower than a Value Added Tax, though, isn't it?
 

jsk1983

Cyburbian
Messages
2,442
Points
23
BKM said:
Our typical "sales tax" is much lower than a Value Added Tax, though, isn't it?
The VAT in the UK is 17.5%, although it is included in the price, not added on when you check out. Thus something that is 5 pounds included the tax in the price.

Anyone know what the highest sales tax is?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
jsk1983 said:
The VAT in the UK is 17.5%, although it is included in the price, not added on when you check out. Thus something that is 5 pounds included the tax in the price.

Anyone know what the highest sales tax is?
They generally top out below 9% in high tax California. (Of course, our property taxes are set at 1%...) I've never heard of any higher sales taxes?

Gasoline is taxed at a higher rate, of course.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
Ditto what BKM wrote, and I'm sure you guys all read that article in the New York Times about the APA study on parking:
NYT article

You can find plenty more evidence if you go through the articles linked on Planetizen.
NJ and PA sales taxes are 6%, NY is 8% I believe. If you want to buy drinks or stay in a hotel in NYC, look for a surprise when the bill comes. Delaware has none. Annual registration is around $60 for me, insurance $780. The miles you drive for work (not to work) are deductible on your federal taxes if you don't get reimbursed.
 

Pride of Place

Cyburbian
Messages
118
Points
6
otterpop said:
As a former Alaskan planner (Ketchikan Gateway Borough, aka the KGB), I can tell you that there is not a lot of liberal talk in Alaska, at least not that I noticed. As previously mentioned, Alaska's economy is based largely on extractive industries. Southern Alaska has an economy based largely on fishing and timber. Tree huggers are not approved of at all. If you have a liberal or even progressive bent, you best keep it to yourself. Also government is a big employer. Tourism is a close third. Alaska is a very conservative state.
Amusing how so many places that have high numbers of government employees can be so conservative. Cobb County Georgia recieves more federal dollars than any other political jurisdiction, yet it elected Newt Gingrich!

I lean left. I like to think that my government can make a positive difference, I like building places for the common good. I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes to live in a clean, safe and well educated nation (or city, county, state).
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Pride of Place said:
Cobb County Georgia recieves more federal dollars than any other political jurisdiction, yet it elected Newt Gingrich!
Cause and Effect.

They elect people who shamelessly try to "bring home the bacon" because they figure it's all waste anyway, so it might as well be wasted in their district. It may seem hypocritical to us, but it makes sense to them.

Alaska recieves more federal dollars per-capita than any other state.
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
10,697
Points
34
Politically, I am a pro-environment moderate. I believe that government has a definite role in funding social programs and regulation in general. However, I'm not for some of the left's social issues and believe that people need to help accountable for their actions.

As for the NU movement, like most things, its nice in theory. However, most NU developments have ended up being high-end, fancy subdivisions. The promised mixing of the social classes hasn't happended and most of the commercial development has been geared for the upper income residents.
 

BikePlanIt

Cyburbian
Messages
123
Points
6
The discussion of taxes relates to planning politics perfectly, but I think there's a very different aspect of automotive subsidization in America. We tend to think of a product (1 gal. gas) having a cost (~$1.50), and a tax (~$0.50), but these costs are linked to a given moment in time, and do not include other costs in the future. What is the cost of dependency on non-renewable fuels? We'll find out eventually. I believe the subsidy was built into petroleum products when they were manufactured: principally during the Cretaceous and Triassic periods, through the transformation of organic matter. That energy is expendable once, and we're running through it like there's no tomorrow.

I'd bet a lot of people would say that's a liberal take, but I think it's the most conservative; fiscally and environmentally. I like the idea of ethanol, produced sustainably from native corn crops here in America. What could be more conservative than retention of valuable resources, producing local jobs on our own soil?
 
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