In the spotlight

Roles and Motivations of Planning Professionals Who Promote Public Participation in Urban Planning Practice: Two Case Studies from Beijing, China

By Lin Zhang, Pieter Hooimeijer, Yanliu Lin, and Stan Geertman | Public participation in urban planning is a contested issue in China. Despite the official rhetoric of a harmonious society and changes in the legal framework that formalize the involvement of citizens in planning processes, many hold that the current practice is highly symbolic and aimed at placating the population rather than at empowering it. External forcing of the current system by environmental threats, social change and technological innovation may be more pertinent than the desire to change the system from within. However, this might overlook the role of the professionals. We expect our study to contribute to the international debates on the management of urban affairs in general and on public participation in urban planning in particular by exploring these in an authoritarian context. Read More
  • By Brandon Harris | A study conducted by park and recreation researchers at the universities of Arizona, Utah, North Carolina State and Clemson on the effects of neighborhood stigma on greenway use recently found that when greenways are located in neighborhoods occupied by residents of color, stigma may lead to avoidance, discrimination, and exclusion. Read More
  • By Jan Doering | Donald Trump’s election has renewed our attention to the use of racial appeals in electoral campaigning. Among other things, Trump infamously referred to Latino immigrants as “bad hombres,” murderers, and rapists. Since then, numerous candidates have followed his lead. In the 2018 campaign for the Florida governorship, for example, the Republican candidate Ron DeSantis called on voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for the Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee. For social scientists, Trump and DeSantis’s appeals are remarkable because they are so blunt and explicit. Read More
  • By Linda Shi (Cornell University) | Advocates for a Green New Deal forcibly argue that climate action must be racially just and transform institutions that govern social welfare. However, these proposals have focused on cutting carbon emissions and been vague on how the country should adapt to an already changing climate. Early proposals suggest that a Green New Deal for adaptation should emphasize large-scale investments in infrastructure for marginalized communities. But evidence suggests that adaptation infrastructure projects can worsen the well-being of the most vulnerable. For instance, cities tend to prioritize investments for high value real estate or enforce land use and other regulations more stringently on those with less political voice. There also isn’t enough money to protect everyone and every place. Given the prevailing dynamics of urban development, an adaptation moon-shot must go far beyond giving the poor a sea wall or sand dune. Read More
  • The Urban and Local Politics section of the American Political Science Association invites all members to submit nominations for its awards. Read More
  • By Germà Bel (Universitat de Barcelona) and Marianna Sebő (Universitat de Barcelona) | Growing skepticism expressed by local governments towards private-sector participation in public service provision has led many local authorities to experiment with new forms of public service delivery. In recent decades, one of the alternatives most frequently adopted has been inter-municipal cooperation (IMC). IMC is seen as a tool that can lower costs by exploiting economies of scale, while maintaining greater government control over production, something that is not readily achievable with privatization. Further benefits of IMCs include the enhanced cross-jurisdictional coordination, service quality and inter-municipal reciprocity. Concerns over stability, equity and universality may also stimulate cooperation. Read More
  • Robert P. Stoker (George Washington University) and Michael J. Rich (Emory University) | Our recent Urban Affairs Review article (Stoker and Rich 2019) examined President Obama's urban legacy. We described the distribution of selected place-based urban assistance grants provided by the administration to the fifty largest U.S. cities. That analysis emphasized the complexity and fragility of Obama-era urban policy, which required multiple local mobilizations to win competitive federal grants. Few cities won multiple grants and those that did often had difficulties coordinating projects to create synergistic local initiatives. Read More
  • Jaimee Lederman (UCLA), Anne Brown (University of Oregon), Brian D. Taylor (UCLA), and Martin Wachs (UCLA) | Voter-approved local option sales tax (LOST) measures for transportation increasingly fill gaps between falling fuel tax revenues and growing transportation investment needs. There are concerns, however, over whether LOSTs are an equitable transportation finance mechanism. Equity is a critical concept in public policy and finance, and debates over resource distribution on fairness grounds are often contentious. Sales taxes are typically regressive—disproportionately burdening low-income residents—and disconnected from transportation system usage. Read More
  • Editor's Note: This post contains a three-part exchange starting with a piece by Margaret Weir and Elizabeth Mattiuzzi about their recent UAR article, "Governing the New Geography of Poverty in Metropolitan America," a commentary from Elizabeth Kneebone, and a response from Weir and Mattiuzzi. Read More
  • Welcome New Editors

    January 13, 2020

    As announced in the January 2020 issue of UAR, we are pleased to welcome Phil Ashton, Joshua Drucker, and Yue Zhang to the editorial team as new Co-Editors of Urban Affairs Review. We deeply thank Antonio Tavares and Jill Tao, who have stepped down from their roles as Co-Editors. Both have been critical parts of our editorial team since 2014 and we are grateful for their enormous contributions to UAR. We are pleased to announce that they both will remain involved with the journal and have agreed to serve as the editors of our reestablished book review section (stay tuned for more news on that)! Read More
  • Kesicia Dickinson, Marty Jordan, Sarah Reckhow, and Joshua Sapotichne | On July 18, 2013, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the largest U.S. municipality to declare bankruptcy. The city’s financial crisis had severe consequences for the day-to-day operations of city government -- diminishing capacity to collect taxes, to respond to blight in neighborhoods, and to provide a baseline of public services and social supports. Through the InnovateGov program, we have developed a way to connect Michigan State University’s (MSU) most vital resource -- talented and motivated students -- to local government agencies and nonprofits charged with governing post-bankruptcy Detroit. Our students work on projects directly contributing to service delivery and resident engagement in a city where fiscal cuts have drained human capital and the benefits of a downtown resurgence have scarcely touched many of the city’s neighborhoods. Read More
  • Evangeline Linkous | Sarasota County, Florida established a reputation as a leader in smart growth planning with adoption of its Sarasota 2050 plan in 2002. As an alternative to sprawl in the countryside, the plan envisions a new form of development composed of compact villages and open space protections for land beyond the county’s urban growth boundary. In 2003, Sarasota 2050 was recognized with the Charter Award from the Congress for New Urbanism. Read More
  • Andrew Smith | When I arrived at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and learned I had the freedom to incorporate service learning into my courses, I leapt at the opportunity to educate my students on the importance of community engagement and the hands-on application of the material we discussed in class, for multiple reasons. Service learning in undergrad allowed me to know my local community better, delve deeper into social science theories surrounding the issues related to the communities in which I served (education policy, the politics of disaster relief, etc.), and working as a team to accomplish important tasks in the broader community. Civic engagement is also a way to simultaneously counter the growing “polarization” of American politics and foster a sense of interconnectivity between the academy, students, and the community. Read More
  • Stephen J. McGovern | Regime theory has dominated the analysis of urban politics since the publication in 1989 of Clarence Stone’s seminal book, Regime Politics: Governing Atlanta, 1946-1988. As with any influential theory, there have been trenchant criticisms, but for years no alternative approach has emerged to challenge its leading position within the field. Read More
  • Megan Brown | At traditional academic research centers, faculty and graduate students make decisions on what topics to study. The Liberal Arts Action Lab reverses roles by empowering local residents of Hartford, Connecticut to drive this process. Prospective community partners from different neighborhood groups and non-profit organizations submit one-page proposals about real-world problems they wish to solve. All must agree to share their proposals on a public web page, designed to share -- rather than hide -- what different organizations are planning to work on. Read More
  • Editor’s Note (Jered Carr): We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight three important books published last year on urban politics. Michael Craw of Evergreen State College chaired the committee responsible for selecting the recipient of the Dennis Judd Best Book Award given by the Urban and Local Politics Section of the American Political Science Association in August 2019. In this post, he briefly describes the committee’s top three choices for best book published on 2018. Read More

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About the Forum

Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

 

We are interested in Forum contributions about urban, local, and regional topics. If you would like to contribute, email Jered Carr at jbcarr@uic.edu.

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