Despite the free market aspects of modern-day urbanism, smart growth and new urbanism are not libertarian movements. Urban planning is dominated by liberals, and it shows — few even seem aware of the capitalist roots of their plans. The private corporations that built America’s great cities and mass transit systems are all but forgotten by modern-day progressives and planners, who view the private sector as a junior partner at best.
God forbid someone should actually turn a buck downtown.
These tendencies not only result in bizarre contortions of public policy, but they also blind planners to their own libertarian tendencies and history. Unable to communicate these commonalities to conservatives, it’s no wonder the Tea Party doesn’t see why eliminating parking minimums, allowing dense development, or raising tolls are good things. Urbanists have to overcome the urge to write more stories about yuppies riding bikes, and instead channel some of that energy towards issues of fiscal fairness and overregulation in land use. They have to recognize that arguments about social justice and the environment aren’t going to cut it if they want to unite both halves of America and reverse its sprawling ways.