Sunday, April 11, 2010

Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices

I have just published a new book named Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices.

I suggest that you start by getting a quick overview of the book by looking at the preview at:

Then read or buy the book by going to its homepage at:

I have also written an article based on the book that is available on planetizen at

Here is the book's front cover:

And here is the description of the book from its back cover:

Unplanning is a wonderful read! It is beautifully written, it takes up extremely important and timely topics, and it offers a new and concrete approach to democracy and sustainability. I enjoy going back almost at random to read and re-read pages and passages from it. It’s very engaging and stimulating - and it should be read by every environmentalist.”

- Prof. Charles Derber, author of Greed to Green

Planning or Political Choice?

The conventional wisdom says that we need strict planning to build walkable neighborhoods around transit stations – even though these neighborhoods are like the streetcar suburbs that were common in America before anyone heard of city planning.

Yet many of our greatest successes in urban design occurred when we treated the issues as political questions – not as technical problems that the planners should solve for us. The anti-freeway movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the anti-sprawl movement of recent decades were both political movements, and citizen-activists often had to work against projects that planners proposed and approved.

This book uses an intriguing thought experiment to show that, in order to build livable cities, we should go further than the anti-freeway and anti-sprawl movements by putting direct political limits on urban growth.

Political choices about how we want to live can transform our cities more effectively than planning.


Blogger Udo said...

Please be realistic: America presently functions by these two factors: Greed and Fear. Any plan to change American cities must address these basic instincts.

There is no question that with millions manufacturing jobs gone, this country will see years of slow growth. Society at large has to become more efficient, spend less on consumer items and transportation costs.

What looks like a conundrum for the Obama administration may morph into an opportunity to redesign American cities. Obama needs a viable job creation program. This can be done with the help of a high-speed train system.

The present transportation mode for people are road and air transportation leaving this country very vulnerable in case of natural disaster (Iceland volcano outbreak paralyzed European Air traffic) or a hostile country attack on the countries air control infrastructure.

1. Obama declares a National High Speed Railway System as a matter of National Security. – Fear factor.
2. Trains will reduce dependency on foreign oil. – Fear factor.
3. Mandate that train stations and a massive amount of high density real estate surrounding the stations will be run by REIT corporations. – Greed factor.
4. Many European cities can offer great examples of vibrant, livable downtown areas with car free zones, promenades, parks that may turn into tourist attractions.
5. Defense contractor are requested to build the trains. – Greed factor.
6. High Speed railroad uses massive amount of electricity. – Greed factor.
7. New rail tracks, tunnels, bridges need to be build. –Greed factor

Obama will have the Real Estate, defense construction and utility lobbies on his side.

I can’t wait for the call from the White House. ☺

8:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home