What struck me most about this weeks reading is the overwhelming theme of political influence regarding planning. Specifically what I thought was interesting was the divide caused between liberals and conservatives and the local governments vs. property owners respectively. Planning seems at face value to be an effort to help the people regardless of political motivation but many of these issues that arise in the real world become complicated and partisan. One example is the Palazzo v. Rhode Island (2011) case, where the court blocked the state from preventing Palazzo to build a 74-unit housing development on coastal wetland. Here, the five justices that voted for the plaintiff were appointed by Republican presidents and the four that opposed him were appointed by Democratic presidents. The decision to allow Palazzo to build on the wetland is purely economic and political and does not take into account the environmental damages and effects that will be had on the coastal wetland. This type of political, partisan decision-making when it comes to potentially detrimental actions can be dangerous and is unfortunate, but a reality.
It is no surprise that politics play a monumental role in public planning. Conservatives generally believe in a limited, less-regulated government which leads them to vote for policies that require less government intrusion and more individual freedom. Democrats and liberals generally want larger, more in control governments who have the power to regulate in the interests of the people. This said, too much of either side is never good. However, in most of the court cases that involve partisan politics in this chapter, the ones that favor the homeowner or the individual seem to be more problematic and set dangerous precedents. One example is the Marvin M Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States. Here, Brandt argued that an old rail line that had decayed and been abandoned and ran through his private land should not be in government control and the land should be given back to him. This seems obvious that he should receive the land but the issue was since the rail line had been out of service for business it had been replaced with a line that connected many hiking trails together. The supreme court ruled in favor of Brandt, allowing him to take his land back and leaving many hiking trails splintered and not connected. This decision was legally sound but a massive blow to many individuals.