Thursday, December 4, 2008

White House Office of Urban Policy

white house picture

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this excellent article by Dana Goldstein for The American Prospect, "Advocating for Urbanism." It takes a look at Barack Obama's intention to create an White House Office of Urban Policy and what that would office would potentially look like. Goldstein envisions an urban czar who would "champion policies that address, in one fell swoop, multiple challenges facing metropolitan regions."

I understand the criticism of Ezra Klein about the vagueness of the concept, but not sure why that leads to such pessimism toward the idea. Any new office is going to take awhile to get a focus and may get into some turf wars, but so what? We'll have someone fighting for cities and urbanism!

I, for one, am excited by the idea of an office dedicated to pursuing ideas that will foster better transportation, smarter development and more density. I'm picturing it as an almost idea incubator for these brilliant people thinking about these ideas, working together with a federal mandate and federal money. Perhaps most importantly, these ideas will become much more of a focal point, not just for blogs and academics. You'll have an entire office dedicated to doing research, talking with the media, funding projects, which should lead to good things down the road. I mean, after 2 centuries of this country ignoring and hating on cities, it seems odd to attack this monumental shift in emphasis.

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