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The Trouble with City Planning: What New Orleans Can Teach Us Hardcover – August 30, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0300127355 ISBN-10: 0300127359
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

(Witold Rybczynski)

“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
(Alan Plattus)

"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

(Books and Culture)

"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
(Wayne Curtis Architectural Record)

About the Author

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (August 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300127359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300127355
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Troutman on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The stated purpose of this book is to take the experience of New Orleans, especially as intensified by the need to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, as a way of examining the strengths and weaknesses of city planning in the United States. As a former director of planning for New Orleans, the author definitely has, as the book industry likes to put it, a platform, and my initial impression of the author's writing style was that she could have made it as a novelist. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, however, the book melts down into a forgettable muddle.

As I worked my way through the book, I thought I was beginning to detect a tension classic in books on urban affairs: the author is highly experienced with one or a handful of cities but to make the book saleable, they have to make conclusions about all cities. I could just see the author submitting a manuscript on New Orleans but the editor coming back and asking for it to be broader in scope: the book has rich descriptions of planning in the Big Easy, including a scathing portrait of consultants descending upon the city in the wake of Katrina, smelling the stench of contract money in the air. Then inserted around these descriptions are more general points that weren't quite connected and feel like they might have been written later. At this point, the author had my sympathy and I dismissed these problems as just coming with the territory of urban affairs books: the issues weren't enough to keep this from being a good book, only a great one.

But then the muddling started. A lot of it has to do with this ambiguous dance that the author attempts. On one hand, she comes across as defensive of the planning profession for being misunderstood. On the other hand, while she lauds the profession, almost arrogantly, she is also critical of it.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Williams on August 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 one of America's best known urban planners and writers on planning. In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, Ford's thoughtful assessments--heard on CNN, the BBC, and National Public Radio--became the first public voice of reason to mediate the great storm's human and civic consequences. Her highly regarded study, Planning Small Town America, is used as a text in many graduate urban planning programs. She lives in New Orleans.
"A thoughtful, engaging, and cautionary account of the interaction of professional planners, politicians, developers, and citizens in contemporary American cities.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jtwinston on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kristina nails many of the issues confronting city planning today--especially the issues of how the public and policy makers interact with city plans, the challenges in public involvement, and the reality of how plans need to be used. I found the prescriptions good, but could be expanded to be more helpful.
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By Rick on December 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great book.
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