Sunday, May 21, 2006

The thick and the thin

Jim Lewis recounts the "Battle for Biloxi: The New Urbanists thought they had just the plan for remaking the Mississippi Gulf Coast city after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA, the mayor and a councilman thought otherwise." His report points to the obtuseness of the NU planners and the predictable consequences. It all reads like the basis for a script for the first movie about Gulf Coast rebuilding.

Whatever happens in the area, it must take account of what real people in the environs actually want for their built environment. A minimal role for local government and a maximal role for private developers is the only way that this requirement will be met.

I just attended a Liberty Fund meeting devoted to a discussion of private communities. One point raised concerned how the scope for private communities and governance is limited and "thin" as long as that for the local area public governance (usually mandated by the states) remains "thick".

The Gulf Coast will have to turn this corner if stories like Lewis' are not to be repeated up and down the coast.