The following is an expanded version of what was published in the Wall Street Journal on September 4th, 2019 in response to an op-ed by Christopher F. Rufo entitled ‘New Left Urbanists’ Want to Remake Your City. You can read the original letter-to-the-editor here.
To the Editor –
Christopher F. Rufo’s op-ed was troubling because it equates developmental concepts that have been put to use by planners in local government since the post-war suburbs began growing in both population and footprint with today’s volatile political partisanship of red versus blue and right versus left.
In practice, urban and suburban planning balances a region’s social, economic, and environmental needs through policy actions such as land use regulations and strategies for job creation. Political forces shape what recommendations local governments implement, but the planner’s goal is a-political – to ensure environmentally and economically sustainable growth of a municipality in the decades to come.
Planners grapple with issues that transcend geopolitical boundaries and work with elected officials to shape the neighborhoods we call home.
By painting planning with such a broad partisan brush, Mr. Rufo is smearing a data-driven profession not only with the taint of today’s volatile politics but is also discrediting the very legitimate process that protects villages, towns, cities, counties and regions from overdevelopment, financial malaise and degradation of the quality of life.