Who governs?: who plans? : in King County's farmland retention decisionmaking process
Grembowski, David Emil
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In the United States where the political process dominates planning, the rational application of the planning process and alternative planning approaches have been generally ineffective in resolving urban problems. New planning theory is needed that defines how planners may perform effectively in American urban political systems. However, because planners know very little about how planning occurs in these systems, empirical studies of planning processes are needed to develop effective planning theory. This study examines the effectiveness of a successful planning process through two interrelated questions, "Who governs, how and to what effect?" and "Who plans with what means and ends for which interest groups?"The planning process chosen is King County, Washington's (USA) voter-approved purchase of development rights (PDR) farmland retention policy and program development process that occurred between 1969 and 1979. Multiple data gathering techniques and sources of information were used. Major sources include interviews with participants, local newspapers, government records and secondary publications.The major findings of the study are that a relatively small number of interest groups holding a narrow range of views govern, each influencing decisionmaking, each prevailing at different times in the case study, and each contributing toward the study's ultimate outcome (voter approval of the PDR program). Moreover, the interest groups supporting farmland retention dominated and used the planning process to promote their own views. Groups holding opposing views were often excluded, and when they were included, their challenges to the program were suppressed through cooptation by pro-PDR interest groups.The findings indicate that while politics is inseparable from planning, the political process per se is not a constraint on the development of effective planning procedures. The effectiveness of local government planning may be improved by institutionalizing procedures which regularly include unrepresented and/or underrepresented interest groups in the planning process. By centralizing planning resources in a separate branch of local government and allocating planning resources among these groups, local government planning may become more effective than under planning procedures present in most local governments.
- Urban planning