Community in the city: conservatives talk urban planning
Conservatives and government planning mix about as well as oil and water. Although most on the right would admit that governments, particularly at the local level, have a role to play in building roads, sidewalks, sewers, and other public works projects, they are wary about attempting to use policy to attempt to shape how people live. In part, this is a reaction to unsuccessful urban renewal programs, such as those that cleared out “slums” only to replace them with large high rise housing projects that soon presented problems of their own. However, several right-leaning groups, including the American Conservative Magazine and the R Street Institute have made conservative urban planning a focus in the hopes of creating cities where people want to live.
“As conservatives I think we are called to try to work out how families can thrive in more dense urban environments perhaps with only one car or with fewer suburban amenities. How can we make this a more reasonable choice?” asked Lewis McCrary, executive editor of the American Conservative. As editor, McCrary helped start an urban initiative program, which hopes to begin a dialogue among conservatives on issues of urban design and public planning.
When many Americans consider the cities and towns that they find particularly beautiful, they might think of Art Deco buildings in downtown Chicago or old Victorian houses trimmed in painted gingerbread. Many of these traditional styles of both building construction and urban design made cities and towns of the past great places to live, says Jonathan Coppage, a visiting senior fellow in urban planning at the R Street Institute.