Thursday, May 19, 2011

Charlotte's disappearing focus on planning

So I'm poring through Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton's proposed budget today – I know you wish you could do the same, but sometimes they just pay us here at the paper to have fun like that – and I notice that the City Council's committees and their "focus areas" seem to have dropped a word from previous years. That word is "planning."

The committee formerly known as Transportation and Planning is now simply Transportation. Council member David Howard, who chairs the committee, says that while the official council "focus areas"  don't mention the word "planning," the committee name remains Transportation and Planning.  Before Mayor Anthony Foxx took office in 2009, there was a committee known as Economic Development and Planning.  When Foxx took office, it became Economic Development, and "Planning" was added to the title of the Transportation Committee, and there it remains.

Of course you can make the case that "planning" is embedded in many focus areas, such as environment, transportation, housing, etc. For the record, the focus areas are: Community Safety, Economic Development, Environment, Housing and Neighborhood Development and Transportation. Other committees are Budget, Government Affairs [no silly, this does not include Schwarzenegger, Edwards, et al] and Restructuring Government.

Pardon my bias here, but I want to stand up for the idea that planning, in and of itself, is important for a growing city such as Charlotte.

The City Council should make clear, as part of its focus areas, that planning is important. Aren't the city's plans a valued resource for the council and the whole community? If they aren't, why not, and what needs to happen to make them so? A comprehensive city plan, drawn up with massive public involvement, builds buy-in from the community toward a vision for the city's future, lays out a road map for policy changes that help get there, and builds buy-in as well for making those changes.

Planning should again become a visible part of the City Council's focus.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how you can describe Charlotte as "a growing city" when Mecklenburg County is still 32,000 jobs short of where it was pre-recession.

Anonymous said...

Planning? That would be way too logical and make way too much sense. It's so much more beneficial to proceed with no plan and wait for a crisis to arise from the lack of planning. Then you can simply blame the other political party for the crisis and claim yourself to be a hero for solving it, and enhance your re-election chances.

That's what it all boils down to. I do not believe there is one politician on Earth that cares about his/her constituents more than getting re-elected. Elected office is now viewed as a position of power rather than servitude, and it's all about getting re-elected and keeping the position of power, and nothing about doing what is best for the constituents.

daddio said...

This is happening coast to coast, with the outright elimination of the entire Planing dept. in Petaluma, CA and the death of a thousand cuts in nearly every California planning department.

Anonymous said...


Who "planned" Facebook? Who "planned" the iPhone? Who "planned" the Tea Party movement or Diet Snapple?

You want "planning"? Go to that country Stalin ran - oh snap, it doesn't exist any more. Was that part of the "plan"?

Anonymous said...

Good grief, so now planning is considered Communist?