How to Make Cities More Livable

Portland, Houston are good examples of well-planned cities.

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Are there any common problems or good features that many U.S. cities have in common?

People want different things out of their cities. [When I worked in Pittsburgh,] it was very critical that you, back in those days, had two newspapers. For some people it's important to have culture. For other people, it's important that you have hunting and fishing nearby. But you want local people who want to fight over the issues in the right kind of way. The last thing you want are people who are uncaring and disinterested; that's when you get true neighborhood decline.

How have you seen the planning field change in the years you've been in it?

I think that there are several things [that have changed]: the 1950s and into the 1960s were a period that looked at how you manage and guide suburban development. There's no doubt that what drove a lot people to the planning profession in the later 1960s [and] early 1970s was social equity [and] the civil rights movement. Moving beyond that, more recently, what has been driving people to planning in the '90s and 2000s, without a doubt, has been environmental issues. The current watchword, of course, has been "sustainability." It's looking at that issue of "What is this world that we're all going to be handing to our children, grandchildren, and generations beyond?"

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