June 3, 2011
Public participation in master planning is a form of flattery that empowers politicians. Voters like to hear how smart they are. A 1976 master plan told them that “after Earth Day in 1970, the people knew that everything was connected to everything else.” This was a funny thing to say because no list of every connected thing exists.
But it made locals happy to learn how smart they were. This plan’s flattery served its purpose. It is now found with other planners’ joke books on dusty shelves in City Hall. Public participation in planning is a means officials use to distract the people from the fact that the real power in planning is zoning and that Home Rule says it’s off limits for citizens.
That’s where the real empowerment “lies,” if you get my meaning.
Kenneth KNCB Moore
Santa Barbara, Calif.