By [post_author] –
Posted on Freedom Advocates on October 13, 2004
Summary: Community plans are specifically designed to reflect aesthetically the collective values they seek to impose — at the expense of individual expression and privacy.
Community planning (including growth management, comprehensive planning and smart growth) is suddenly all the rage. Just a few years ago, the words “charrette”, “visioning council”, and “consensus planning” were virtually unknown to most Americans. These words have been introduced to our neighborhoods by a coterie of community planners, who’ve fanned out across the country to confuse Americans into accepting a different political philosophy and a different way of living. Most politicians have adopted the new vocabulary, as well as the political philosophy that hides behind it.
To the disadvantage of personal freedom, this philosophy is not one of individual rights and the protection of private property. The new philosophy authorizes non-elected “visioning” councils to control private property in towns or pre-determined “regions” by placing restrictions on existing residences, and by creating new communities that enforce a value system on Americans that opposes individuality.
By its nature, this philosophy will eliminate those features that give our homes warmth and atmosphere and it will impose conformity and control on them. Historically, Americans have had ample choice when it comes to housing and were free to choose where they live (urban, suburban or rural), free to live in an apartment or a house, and free to choose what kind of garden plants or pets they like for their personal expression and satisfaction.
The new communities — the ones designed by a literal invasion of planners into our towns and cities — mimic the superficial characteristics of the American town. Planners select a “style” for the community, and then restrict the selection of the materials for streetlights, sidewalk and pavements, fencing, signage and residential lighting in order to “comply” with the “vision”. If it is a new community, the planners will provide a pre-selected set of home designs, with strict homogeneity in size, placement, and architectural embellishments like gables, and porches. They call this “character” and a “sense of place”.
The designs purposefully omit the traditional social and spiritual underpinnings of American communities like private gathering spaces, private initiative, and personal choice. The new communities focus on public transportation or public squares so that “sustained human contact” can occur. In their view, street and sidewalk design is intended to foster “low-tech interactions,” where people can watch and be watched. Planners engineer the street spaces so that human conduct can be assessed. The importance of these low tech interactions has been made clear by the planners — public spaces, like streets, parks and squares, are now the focus “for the conduct of daily living” and in that way, the social interactions and conduct of the residents can be controlled. In other words, rather than allowing the individual to choose whether or not they want to “watch and be watched” in the public spaces of the village, they are left with few private choices by design.
In order to mask the other less desirable aims of their planned communities — to collectivize living spaces, hinder privacy and private property ownership, limit choices for home plans, limit mobility and commerce, and deny individuals a choice of housing densities –today’s planners aggressively promote Sustainable Development homogeneity; in order to pursue a collective “value system”.
One planned community called Fair View Village, boasts that the ‘village plan’ has been developed to “ensure that the houses behave in a similar, harmonious manner to form a cohesive neighborhood”. The village guidelines specify the pitch of the roof, scale of the chimney, window type, and ceiling height. The more subtle purpose of these guidelines is divulged in the Fair View Village website. By limiting the choices for architectural elements and coercing “harmony” within the neighborhood, “no one house competes with another for attention”. The purpose of the housing guidelines, according to Fair View Village, is to promote a “value system”, not to satisfy a demand for individuality and character in home design. The architectural vernacular is window dressing for the expression of community planning as a tool for a collectivist society where no one has a home that is distinctive or that they truly own.
Which value system will win?
Individuality, private property rights and the pursuit of happiness in America are now under assault by planners armed with grants, subsidies, and an army of attorneys to change our laws.
Community planners working under the authority of our elected officials have been given the green light to redesign our lives to center around collective community values rather than individual rights and interests — if we let them. Designs that force public interaction and use public spaces as a way of putting our conduct of daily living under constant public scrutiny reflect the social objectives of the former Soviet Union, rather than the social values and desires of free American citizens. The community plans that are proliferating in the current political climate of the United States clearly impose a system of values that oppose responsible self-government and individuality and coerce uniformity of behavior from our citizens.
Planners acknowledge that America “remains a land of and dedicated to the individual” and that “rights talk” must be quashed and “community rights” and values promoted. The attack on American’s traditions and values has been delivered to us against our will, and now we must choose to defend individualism and property rights so that we protect our exercise of free will; otherwise we submit to a new world of conformity and control.
Should community planners be both creators and preservers of our value systems, as the Congress for New Urbanism believes? It’s time for America to make its choice.
- Community Planning Case Study: Corralitos, California
- What’s Behind “THE VISION” in Your Town?
- Community Plans = Sustainable Scams
- Visioning – Know What You Are Getting Into
- The Consensus Process
- Putting a Happy Face on Socialism
- “Fidel gives us candy”: Of Charettes, Visioning and Contrivance
Community Plans Aim to Change Values by Susanna L. Jennings