In Levy’s chapter “Planning and Politics” he talked about the fragmentation of power over local and state level. He also talked about fragmentation over the executive, legislative and judicial branches and shows that fragmentation can even go further into local governments. With all of the fragmentation in government it is very hard for a planner to initiate his design. What I got from this chapter was that just because you may have a great plan for a city or a town does not mean that you will receive the funding for the plan or even get approved.
Citizen participation is a huge power behind the planning process. As described by Levy:
Much Federal funding for highways, water and sewer systems, local economic development projects, and the like requires evidence of organized citizen participation before monies can be distributed
Having public participation is great because you get a sense of the values the citizens in the area you are planning hold. This will you as a planner sense of place and can really help you when you are finalizing your project. Planner can also get support from citizens that can help when applying for grants or funding for a project. Public interactions will mostly happen at public planning meeting or at charrettes which are highly interactive planning meetings where the public can actually get a first hand experience with the planners and architects. The National Charrette Institute has a community forum where they post about previous and upcoming events. This blog talks about the benefits of these meetings and also ways to improve them. Charrettes can help form bonds between the planner and the community.
However, there are frustrations when working with the public. One common conflict that happens with the public and the planner is that the planner has a comprehensive plan that works perfectly in his/her mind but then the public cannot see their vision. Citizens often focus on things close where they live and can be hard for them to see the “bigger picture”. It takes time and patients on both sides in order to come to an agreement but if it is worked out both parties most likely will be content or at least had a chance to be heard.
The fragmentation of power in the United takes varies from state to local government and even brakes down more in different municipalities. This is an obstacle that all planners will have to deal with at one time or another whether it is to get a policy approved or to find funding for a new project. The public is a huge source of power for planners because at the end of the day planners are here to make the citizens of a development have a safe and thieving city.