Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

A National Urban Agenda

Dateline: 11:51 am February 21, 2008 Filed under:

Cities and metropolitan areas must become a greater priority among national policy makers. The Brookings Institution in November launched an effort to raise awareness of the issue in this election year. A New York Times editorial from earlier this week discussed the lack of urban policy discussion among candidates.

For such an urban nation we are very rural-focused in our folklore and imagery. As the Times editorial notes, most presidential candidates preach to the rural crowd, but not one presidential hopeful has a comprehensive agenda for cities or even metro areas. Obviously the frontier imagery and mentality will never leave our collective psyche, but the reality is, as the Brookings points out, our 100 largest metropolitan areas are home to 65% of the country’s population and generate three-quarters of our GDP.

Sure, the candidates touch on climate change and the economy, and maybe transportation and poverty (though not necessarily), but urban policy unites all. I didn’t even mention housing, and the foreclosure issue is just a tiny part of the big picture. A presidential candidate with a strong urban agenda, be they Democrat, Republican or Independent, would get my vote. I suppose it is up to those of us in the industry, with the help of the Brookings Insitution and the New York Times, to raise awareness on the issue.

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