The Trouble with City Planning


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What New Orleans Can Teach Us

Kristina Ford

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A groundbreaking look at the successes—and great failures—of city planning, from New Orleans’ former director of city planning

After the vast destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans faces a rare chance to rebuild, with an unprecedented opportunity to plan what gets built. As the city’s director of planning from 1992 until 2000, Kristina Ford is uniquely placed to use these opportunities as a springboard for an eye-opening discussion of the intransigent problems and promising possibilities facing city planners across the nation and beyond.

In The Trouble with City Planning, Ford argues that almost no part of our usual understanding of the phrase “city planning” is accurate: not our conception of the plan itself, nor our sense of what city planners do or who plans are made for or how planners determine what citizens want. Most important, our conventional understanding does not tell us how a plan affects what gets built in any city in America.

Ford advances several planning innovations that, if adopted, could be crucial for restoring New Orleans, but also transformative wherever citizens are troubled by the results of their city’s plan. This keenly intelligent book is destined to become a classic for planners and citizens alike.

Kristina Ford is Visiting Professor of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi. In 2010–2011 she was the chief of staff to New Orleans' deputy mayor, who is responsible for all efforts to rebuild the city and to plan for its continuing development.

"In what should be regarded as one of the best urban planning texts to come off the presses in the past decade, Ford traces the origins, evolution, and practices of city planning, outlines its troubles, and offers a cogent remedy for its plight."—Books and Culture

“Kristina Ford makes sense out of the misguided planning efforts that have bedevilled post-Katrina New Orleans, and provides valuable suggestions for how our cities should be planned in the future—more democratically and more effectively.”—Witold Rybczynski, author of Last Harvest

“A thoughtful, engaging, and cautionary account of the interaction of professional planners, politicians, developers, and citizens in contemporary American cities. The message that planning can and must do better with respect to daily decision making, as well as big and recalcitrant but now urgent problems, and that informed citizens are crucial to this, is timely and important.”—Alan Plattus, Yale University

"Ford practices what she preaches, drawing upon citizen experiences with planning, orienting readers to the principles and practices of a sometimes mystifying field, and empowering readers to ask the right questions of new developments in planning. The Trouble with City Planning , demystifies planning and plans with an accessible and compelling argument."—Books and Culture

"Kristina Ford has written an interesting and illuminating book on the realities of city planning, and one that speaks to more than just that profession. In The Trouble with City Planning, she uses the experience of rebuilding New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as a case study on why city planners are in trouble, and what they can do about it."—Globe and Mail

"Ford's book takes helpful first steps in outlining . . . how the next generation of planners might guide us toward safer, saner, and more sustainable cities."—Wayne Curtis, Architectural Record

“……a detailed and insightful analysis of what went wrong and a blueprint for how city planning can be improved in all cities…..Her idealism is refreshing but not unrealistic and this, together with her frankness about the challenges of city planning, help to make this a valuable study for all cities.”—PD Smith, The Guardian

ISBN: 9780300177428
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
288 pages, 5 7/8 x 9
8 b/w illus.