Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy


America’s public sector planners are constantly trying to “make things better.” That has been true ever since planning became a profession. Planners are paid to think broadly about how emerging demographic, economic, environmental, and mobility trends will impact life in our communities, and then make recommendations and write regulations to respond to those trends in ways that make the city a better place. In fact, if planners were not doing that, it is not clear why cities should pay them. For the most part, the predominant focus by planners is making communities physically better through comprehensive, neighborhood, sector, and corridor plans. Unanswered in most plans and planning processes is the question “make it better for whom?” While there is often an implicit assumption that the neighborhood should be made better for those who live there, the problem is that if the plan succeeds in improving the physical environment, the current residents may not be the ones who benefit from the change. In this article, I address the disturbing tensions between redevelopment planning and social equity.

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