Friday, April 28, 2006

Jane Jacobs

Most people find fault with what politicians do. Yet, these critics divide into two camps. Most cherish the dream of a better class of politicians and better outcomes. Others believe that this is naïve and/or silly. They pin their hopes on less politics instead of better politics.

The same divisions apply to the fans of Jane Jacobs. All sorts of people claim her as an ally. Her advocacy of more open-ended spontaneity and less ham-fisted top-down planning has been embraced by most city planning academics who, at the same time, love to assert that “regional problems have regional solutions.” In other words, in this view, Jacobs pointed to the need for “reform” and top-down planning but of a better sort.

Others see her analysis as more proof that top-down planning, even by the most worthy souls, does not hold a candle to a limited ambit for top-down interventions.