Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More on The Urban Policy Roundtable

There isn't much in the news on this. So far the Washington Post has provided the best coverage.

You can read their report on the confab here: Obama Paints a New Vision for Nation's Urban Policy. (and it should be noted we havn't actually had one since the LBJ/Nixon years)

The article quotes Obama at length, so here are some excerpts from the POTUS' s remarks.

....he said that he defined "urban" as not just inner cities, but also their surrounding suburbs, asserting that there is no longer a divide between the two.

"Even as we've seen many of our central cities continuing to grow in recent years, we've seen their suburbs and exurbs grow roughly twice as fast," said Obama. "It's not just our cities that are hotbeds of innovation anymore, it's our growing metropolitan areas."

He said he would send members of his Cabinet and the Office of Urban Affairs to look at innovations in cities around the country to elevate as best practices.

Obama noted Denver, for its plans to build a public transit system to handle the city's anticipated growth; Philadelphia, for its urban agriculture; and Kansas City, which has weatherized homes and built a ecologically minded transit system in one low-income neighborhood.

The foot stomper is in bold. Obama is calling for a metropolitan vision, trying to get beyond the parochial and limited view of "urban" = "inner city/black". And in this he is borrowing on some thinking coming from Brookings; their Metropolitan Policy Program is probably one of the best urban policy think tanks.

Obama is proposing some interesting things regarding inner city neighborhoods, mentioned in the previous post, but it seems this advocacy of a metropolitan model for urban policy is quite new.

The Washington Post followed up with an editorial today on the topic: Rethhinking the Cities.
The WaPo chides Obama a bit in that the stimulus money isn't necessarily metro-focused, as well as other policy glitches (like the abandonment of the Vechiles Miles Driven tax and urban areas getting less stimulus money). Yet the thrust is correct: the time has come for the Feds to catch up with almost 20 years worth of new thinking and policy innovation on urbanism, much of it happening at the state and local level (unfortunatly none of it from the laggard Dayton area):

The 1990s brought a resurgence of cities and ushered in a new way of looking at them as part of sprawling metropolitan areas with interdependent localities. Today, according to the Obama administration, these areas are home to more than 80 percent of the nation's jobs and residents and 90 percent of the nation's economic production.

Urban policy already is being redefined by many states and localities around the country.

That's one reason this blog has changed focus to the Dayton region, recognizing this is a interdependent regional economy even if there is still that cultural parochialism. Or, to put a postivie spin in on it, a rich variety of communities and places that comprise the region, yet function together as one economic unit; one media, employment, and retail market.

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