After repeated disruptions at regional plan workshops in support of Plan Bay Area across the San Francisco Bay Area, I think it would be a good time to remind residents what urban planners actually do.
Here’s an excerpt from John M. Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning (pg. 95):
Planners are basically advisors. Alone, the planner does not have the power to do many of the things that cause change within the community: to commit public funds, to enact laws, to enter into contracts, or to exercise the power of eminent domain… The planner’s influence on events, then, stems from the capacity to articulate viewpoints and develop consensus and coalitions among those who do wield significant powers.
And similarly, of the importance of holding such workshops (pg. 95):
A more modern view is that good plans spring from the community itself. In this view the planner’s proper role is to facilitate the planning process and to aid it with his or her own expertise, rather than to deliver the plan full blown… The very act of participating in the planning process informs the citizen about the details of the plan. Giving time and energy to the process of planning builds the citizens’ commitment to the plan.
More positivity would help.
[photo via Cherie Lewis]