Despite continued attacks against global sustainability initiatives, a new national poll by the American Planning Association shows bipartisan support for planning, as well as belief that community planners play a key role in economic recovery, according to Plan Charlotte:
Some political groups have attacked planning and are crafting laws that would bar cooperative planning or ban the word “sustainability.” Results of the new poll show those efforts don’t reflect the primary concerns of U.S. residents, who are focused on jobs and the economy and believe a combination of market forces and planning – not the market alone, or planning alone – best support the economy.
“The results confirmed what we already believed: that it was a very vocal minority concerned about Agenda 21,” said Mitchell Silver, president of the American Planning Association and Raleigh’s chief planning and development officer.
“Agenda 21” is a voluntary global environmental initiative backed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Silver said the APA has spent time this year discussing the initiative and the opposition to it, because it has surfaced in political discussion. In North Carolina it has come up in the N.C. General Assembly and in the N.C. gubernatorial campaign, after GOP candidate Pat McCrory tweeted support for a resolution opposing Agenda 21.
The new poll results, though, will help the planning organization focus efforts on economic issues like jobs, Silver said.
The most important planning priorities for those surveyed? Jobs, safety, schools, neighborhoods and water quality, according to the poll.
“The public in general is speaking loud and clear: ‘We need you to help us plan for economic recovery,’ ” Silver said in an interview. The APA will use results to refocus its mission on those priorities, he said.
The poll surveyed 1,300 U.S. residents in March to help determine what the public wants from planners and what perceptions exist. Planners wanted a clear picture amid a squeeze on government budgets and vocal claims by those who see planning as part of a global conspiracy.
An example of a question on the issue of planning vs. “market forces” and the results (graphed) are below:
Some people believe that community planning is a necessary part of improving the U.S. economy and encouraging job growth, while others believe that “market forces” alone will help the economy and bring more jobs. Which of the following statements comes closest to your belief?
Amid the poll’s other findings:
- Less than a third of respondents believe their communities are doing enough to address economic issues.
- Two thirds believe their communities need more planning and that it takes a combination of market forces and planning to help the economy create more jobs.
- Half of respondents want to be involved in community planning in the future.
- Almost half the respondents say living in their community is worse for most people than it was five years ago.
- Respondents describe ideal communities as having locally owned businesses nearby (55 percent); the ability to grow old in the same neighborhood (54 percent); availability of sidewalks (53 percent); energy-efficient homes (52 percent); and availability of transit (50 percent).
- Most respondents (85 percent) don’t know enough about Agenda 21 to hold an opinion; 6 percent oppose it and 9 percent support it.