Urban Development and Politics

Essay by CBarnes123 August 2014

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Charles Barnes

Urban Development and Politics

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As our Urban Development and Politics class comes to an end, it is fitting that our last readings bring together all of previous weeks into a "how-to" discussion. This week focused on the urban/economic development practitioners and question of how to put policy into practice. Each author gives a specific lesson on what to keep in mind when entering the field of urban development. Herbert Rubin (1988) discusses, through interviews of a variety of planners, how economic development practitioners tend to identify with the business world as opposed to government agencies because of businesses interest in fast paced change. John Levy (1990) shared the overlooked aspect of economic development in scholarly writings: the sales of policy. He shares that although it is not talked about frequently in writings about development policy, in practice the importance of selling the plan for development is not only seen as the most important aspect of the planning, this is where the most time and money goes.

Harold Wolman discusses fiscal incentives for local economic development and why they are still used despite the overarching consensus that they do not work in bringing businesses to growing areas. He infers that this continues to happen due to the potential benefit to politicians if it worked. The final reading with Leigh and Blakely concluded their book, Planning Local Economic Development. The text shared some insight into what the resiliency planning, the effects of climate change on urban planning, and the role of advanced technology.

It is not obvious that the bureaucracy around urban planning is quite complex. This week's readings emphasize the role of the practitioners as the middleman between the municipality and the business world. This is where bureaucracy comes in, and the need for the...