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A President Who Understands Cities
Julia Levitt, 12 Nov 08
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The smart-growth sustainability set is abuzz with excitement today over a new potential relationship in the Obama administration: Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, has examined the Obama administration's plan for cities and metropolitan areas and endorsed it, calling it "the real deal."

Speaking to crowds in Connecticut last week, Katz commented that Obama, who comes from Chicago, brings an urban perspective to the nation's highest office that we have not seen from Democratic presidents in recent decades. The Obama campaign, and now the transition team, has been forthcoming with its plans for urban policies, and made headlines earlier this week when transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett confirmed Obama's plant to establish an Office of Urban Policy. Many believe Katz is a likely pick to head the office, though Katz himself has declined to comment.

Urban policy and growth management, like so many other issues, tie sustainable development planning to economic recovery and other key agenda items. Recently quoted in the Stamford Advocate, Katz proclaimed:

The question is, can you build a 21st-century economy without vital cities? My attitude is you can't."
Katz said investment in cities is particularly in a weak economic climate. For state governments such as Connecticut's, that means focusing dwindling resources on metropolitan areas and urban cores.
"This economy is a time to tighten belts and focus investment instead of spread investment like peanut butter (and saying) 'We have 169 towns, we have to treat them equally,' " Katz said.

Photo credit: flickr/wallyg, Creative Commons license.

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