Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Consensus and Cities by Alon Levy

[ You know that I’ve previously touted Alon Levy’s blog Pedestrian Observations. He focuses a lot on wonkish transit issues, but also has provocative posts on a range of other and often more general topics. One of them was a series he did promoting consensus in cities. He graciously gave me permission to repost it here, and today we have the first installment – Aaron. ]

The dominant discourse on cities nowadays focuses on the role of visionary, top-down innovation. Some write about mayors who change paradigms, such as Michael Bloomberg and now Rahm Emanuel. Others write about entrepreneurs and the role of new technology, and invariably portray the change as groundbreaking and unforeseen by all except the dogged inventor. In contrast to this worldview, let me propose a view of urbanism based on political consensus among disparate interests, on forging agreement instead of trying to defeat everyone else.

The current trend toward livable cities, as seen in road diets and bike lane projects, is entirely top-driven. Bloomberg decided to make it his legacy, and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan moves aggressively with little consultation with community interests except those that already agree with her. Rahm Emanuel, infamous for his combative style, followed suit. This caused livable streets advocates, led by Streetsblog, to often identify community consensus with NIMBYism and top-down change with improvement; it’s unavoidable on Streetsblog, though sometimes there are glimpses of support for a more consensus-based policy on other livable streets blogs.

In reality, in cities, there are too many interest groups for one to normally dominate: labor, the middle class, multiple kinds of business, organized religion – and in the exceptional cases, such as Singapore, it comes out of autocracy. This is especially true in the US, with its multi-ethnic cities, requiring delicate acts of ticket-balancing. This is easy to paper over in majoritarian political systems, as the US is, but the actual practice of politics in American cities is far from majoritarian. Liberal cities have become cities of primaries – one wins by assembling an ad hoc coalition that can win the Democratic primary. In general, cities have multiple interest groups, even independently of ethnicity: see for example Christof Spieler’s analysis of the 2009 Houston mayoral race. The reason this political process hasn’t led to a consensus-based decision making is that the electoral process – in particular, the authoritarian strong-mayor system – is anti-consensus.

And yet, a consensus-based agenda is possible. As one of the Streetsblog community members explained to me, the way to obtain community support for a project is to talk to all stakeholders in the neighborhood, and understand what their hidden hopes and fears are; it’s important to avoid any situation in which someone later complains “Nobody informed me about this.” Ordinary people are far less intransigent than they can appear in the papers. For example, along Queens Boulevard, the long-term residents are still reeling from plans to turn the street into an expressway, and therefore will support or oppose a livable streets proposal in part based on whether they perceive it as turning the street into more of a highway (closing cross-streets) or less of one (widening sidewalks).

A community so empowered with its own ideas about how to make itself pedestrian-friendlier will of course help if a top-down reformist politician wants to make the city more livable, but it can also convince an apathetic politician to champion its cause if it can demonstrate that this cause is popular. The same is true of many other public projects and contentious issues; support for many of them crosses ideological and partisan boundaries, both the normal national ones and the specific issue of machinists vs. reformists in American cities.

Consensus must be contrasted with its distant top-down cousin, outreach. Outreach is what a partisan or dominant side in a debate does to get the little fish on board. There’s almost no possibility of dialogue. In contrast, consensus implicitly assumes that all stakeholders own the decision, more or less equally even if one side began the push for it and in reality did most of the work. One can imagine a community board agreeing to a development plan put forth by a mayor, and then criticizing the mayor for it after it fails; one can’t imagine the same if the community board is the body that created the plan.

Film critic Pauline Kael, when asked to comment on why Nixon won the 1972 election, refused to comment, saying she couldn’t know because nobody she knew voted for him. (This has been misquoted in conservative circles as her saying that she couldn’t believe he could have won.) Kael’s contrition was unusual; most people are more than happy to generalize based on the few people they know who fit a type, or, even worse, based on stereotypes they’ve heard from others. It’s bad enough in a bipartisan world, but in city politics, the large number of different factions and worldviews is such that no one force can possibly know enough to govern for everyone.

Although the political process of any non-autocratic city forces some cooperation among groups, the practice can be authoritarian enough that many are completely unheard of in the halls of power. This is especially true of recent immigrants and others who have no long-term activist presence, or of racial minorities in cities with a majority race and racist politics. But even groups with some organization and voting power can be shut out by a Bloomberg, an Emanuel, or even a Villaraigosa. The result is that even policy that isn’t malevolent can be destructive; this is the sin of many postwar urban renewal programs, which didn’t have to accommodate the concerns of the neighborhoods they leveled and had no intention of listening to anyone they didn’t have to listen to.

The alternative is to embark on a process that’s slow, but more robust. It’s immune to changes in electoral fortunes, since swings from 52-48 to 48-52 don’t have such a huge impact on policy. The roads movement in the US got everything it wanted from the 1910s to the 1950s, from governing ideologies ranging from Hooverism to New Deal liberalism. It’s important to imitate this one aspect of the roads movement, and ensure as many groups as possible pull in the same direction.

There are always authoritarians-in-making, people who pay lip service to any consensual and democratic concept they need to be seen to support but in reality seek power for themselves and surround themselves with yes-men. Those we need to be watchful of, to make sure that they never have the power to cause permanent damage. Streetsblog has shown glimpses of holding the Bloomberg administration’s feet to the fire on issues on which the city has not been a positive force for livability – for example, the 1st/2nd Avenue bike lanes – but we need to do more than that, and ensure that even if an autocrat has power, we use him more than he uses us.

Switching from a fundamentally authoritarian booster mentality to consensus governance has no hope of getting us demolition of low-performing or city-splitting freeways, or Hong Kong-style traffic restraint, at least not until the far future. It will take a long time to overturn preexisting anti-urban biases – even longer than necessary, since it will be based on consultation with many groups that oppose gentrification and find what’s happening to American cities now a bad thing. It requires letting go of many proposals that are currently too expensive, and focusing on making the process friendlier to good transit and walkability and less so to boondoggles and pollution. It requires sitting down with people we may find abhorrent on other issues. Its saving grace is only that, in the medium and long runs, it works.

This post originally appeared in Pedestrian Observations on September 6, 2011.

Topics: Urban Culture

31 Responses to “Consensus and Cities by Alon Levy”

  1. AIM says:

    I find myself in agreement with Alon’s dim view of top-down driven decision making. But on what basis does he come to the conclusion that “sitting down with people we may find abhorrent on other issues” is what works in the medium and long run? What communities have embraced this approach and provide a stronger counterpoint to the NYCs, Chicagos and Singapore’s of the world? I read a lot of examples of what’s wrong with the top-down approaches but no examples of where Alon’s preferred approach worked.

  2. John Morris says:

    I’m not sure if we can compare NY with Singapore. Clearly, Bloomberg has some pretty strong support as well as strong opposition to many of his policies. I do think there’s a good case for often going slower and making better explanations for one’s actions.

    For example, I don’t think most New Yorkers understand the basic economic and practical benefits of the rezoning-like making transit more viable, shortening commute times and most importantly building up the tax base.

    In a nice way-Bloomberg needs to make clear how much the rest of NY’s homeowners ride on Manhattan’s tax base.

  3. John Morris says:


    Perhaps you need to read a little history. For every, Lee Kuan Yew, who might make wise decisions, there are 20 Robert Moses characters. (BTW, Lee Kuan Yew partly made good decisions because of market forces on a small city state)

    How many cities almost lost everything to planners given absolute power?

    It’s scary and naive to think that somehow it would be different this time.

    Also, one has to be honest about the decisions being made-not all of which are good or pro-urban. Bloomberg supported the pretty questionable Atlantic Yards development and I think, the masses of parking garages built for the new Yankee Stadium.

    Before Bloomberg, Giuliani had supported a West Side baseball stadium and I think even kicked around the idea of a football stadium. Suppose he had done that?

  4. Alon Levy says:

    AIM: I know more cases of individual consensus-based decision making rather than an overarching consensus-based system. Here are some examples of the former:

    – Big-ticket spending items in Switzerland require a referendum, and this requires the government to be forthright about the costs and benefits.

    – Again in Switzerland, transit planning involves cooperation of multiple governments, and has a slow process allowing individual citizens to make suggestions for improvement that then make their way up the bureaucracy. Max Wyss, a Zurich-area commenter on some transit blogs, says that the transport association eventually adopted a proposal of his to slightly modify bus service in his area.

    – Jarrett Walker’s philosophy is to engage ordinary citizens in workshops where they learn about rudimentary technical constraints and tradeoffs (for example, the comparative costs of bus and light rail) and get to design their own transit systems in the local area. The bus service reforms he proposes for cities often come from such workshops.

    – In Stuttgart, a proposed train station redesign and track burying (Stuttgart21) caused intense opposition due to high costs and neighborhood impacts. The Green Party, which led the opposition, contracted Swiss consultants and collaborated with protesters to come up with an alternative, surface-only plan. It won the next state election largely because of this opposition, but instead of immediately canceling the project, it put a cancellation to a vote. The cancellation failed, and even in the city itself, where opposition was concentrated, most voters supported continuing the project; therefore, the government pledged to continue despite its personal opposition.

    – American school boards are based essentially on consensus and participation, though only internally to the district (and are often combative against outside districts, particularly those populated by different kinds of people). They assume a lot of parental involvement, and traditionally chose their own curricula without state input.

    In addition, on a much more grassroots level, protest movements often adopt consensus-based decision making. Jane Jacobs credits “hundreds of people” with the success of the fight against urban renewal in the West Village. More modern protests (say, since the 1990s) are entirely consensus-driven, and adopt lists of demands by collaboration among all stakeholders and all groups participating. This can lead to national demands, for example in the Israeli housing protest, or to localized demands, for example in some of the Occupy chapters (e.g. in Providence it evolved into a homeless advocacy group, and agreed to disband the camp in exchange for a new shelter). This is of course messier than when the government incorporates consensus into the formal lawmaking process.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    Oh, and I completely forgot the example I did bring up in the post obliquely, about livable streets in Queens. The people I was talking to explained that in order to ensure that when JSK came around to installing bike lanes the community would support them, they made a list of all stakeholders and talked to them. That means business leaders, community organizers, and whoever else could plausibly complain that nobody told them and they had to read it in the papers.

    As it happens, the community around Queens Boulevard is still reeling from Moses’s plan to turn the street into a freeway. Therefore, the old-timers oppose the closure of streets intersecting the el and predicated their support of (I believe) congestion pricing on reopening those streets to cars. So the activists instead came up with other ideas of making the streets more livable, based on slowing down traffic on QB, such as sidewalk widening, and all-day parking lanes (buffering moving cars from pedestrians) instead of moving lanes. The business community supported all-day parking lanes on the grounds that drivers would find it easier to stop for business in the neighborhood instead of just driving through.

  6. John Morris says:

    It’s the old chicken and egg situation where it’s sometimes hard to tell which came first, the law or the cultural change.

    Anti smoking laws almost always happen after a pretty high percentage of people (75%) already don’t smoke and when a lot of the smokers acknowledge that they shouldn’t. However, it’s widely thought that the laws created the change rather than reflect it.

    Youngstown might be a good example of consensus building. The long, elaborate series of meetings and public outreach seemed at first to create no direct results, but it did build a wide agreement on shrinking the city and which areas would be focused on.

    I don’t follow closely, but it seems like the bitter feeling that are happening in Detroit never developed on a large scale.

  7. John Morris says:

    Also, it’s interesting how the two biggest examples of more authoritarian success, Hong Kong and Singapore were small city states.

    This meant that while the government’s might have had less political constraint, they did not have a massive national taxbase or ability to borrow for totally irrational schemes. Plans had to pass some pretty strong market tests and would have had to be changed if they created bad results.

    It’s also pretty likely that there was a pretty wide degree of consensus about the basic urban form. I mean, how many people in Hong Kong could think suburban tract housing was a real option there–even if they might have liked it?

  8. Eric says:

    This is a nice idea, but I am a little skeptical. Consensus almost never happens, and the more it is required, the less likely it is that cities will change. And cities need to change. The main thing we need in my own city is more density–which means we need more building. And yet building anything is almost impossible, since the zoning is absurdly limiting and neighbors work hard to prevent any variances, etc. What is needed is regime change–so that the default rules are different and so that you in fact DON’T need consensus!

  9. It’s important to note that informing and engaging all the stakeholders must be done with the realization that all those stakeholders are vested interests. Their opinions (whether pro or con) must be tempered by other citizens who are NOT stakeholders, who can weigh in on the project from a “greater good” perspective. That doesn’t mean either one should be more or less important than the other, but when you engage only the stakeholders the process gets bogged down in NIMBYism.

    This notion is something Andres Duany has championed, though I can’t remember in which of his lectures he talked about it. The example he gave was Australia, where they use the jury pool to get citizens from the community at large to attend planning meetings that would otherwise be attended only by those immediately adjacent stakeholders. By having those neutral citizens in the mix (who can’t be expected to attend such meetings of their own volition), you get things like public beaches with transit access among multi-million dollar homes. Of course the adjacent homeowners would oppose such a project, and it becomes a messy fight. But those other citizens are able to weigh in on the benefits to everyone in the neighborhood/city/region, and push support of it past the biased vested interests of the immediate stakeholders.

    Of course the key here is balance. As I said before, too much focus on only the stakeholders leads to NIMBYism and general paralysis of the process. On the other hand, excluding them completely can just as easily lead to misguided idealistic plans that get rammed through the system with little oversight and can cause untold destruction. Think urban renewal and inner-city highway projects.

  10. John Morris says:

    Yikes, that’s pretty wrong.

    Austrailia drafts people into going to planning meetings. Honestly, if that happened to me, somebody’s lip would get fat.

    I hope the people who are against any consensus building know that the opposition often feels the same way-and would like to shove their point of view down your throat too.

    The really sad thing about this way of thinking is it often costs just as much in time, lawyers and effort to force people to do things as it might to keep them involved and informed.

    Also, we can’t assume that all stakeholders are ill informed.

  11. Yeah, heaven forbid people have to be forced to do their civic duty.

  12. John Morris says:


    I don’t think what Aaron is talking about is total consensus, but a process of consensus building in which a larger number of people feel at least slightly informed.

    IMHO, this is a process that should be continual since most of the big issues are common to many areas. The need for transit access, the need for walkable streets, a certain level of daily convenience from local stores etc–are not really things that many people oppose.

    It shouldn’t be that hard to just keep people in the loop. Often there is a nearby neighborhood or street one can point to as a relative success.

  13. John Morris says:


    Ooops, I meant Alon. I don’t think alon expects total consensus or anything like it.

  14. John Morris says:


    Do you know about Youngtown’s consensus building effort to rethink the city?


    I’m not too aware of all the details of how specifically productive it was, but it’s usually descibed as a big turning point. The process, involved thousands of people who attended meetings freely and many seemed to feel more hopeful about the city because of the process.

    Most people seemed to buy into the basic idea that for a while at least, the city would have to shrink. They also, understood the need to focus on the core downtown and other key neighborhoods.

  15. Alon Levy says:


    No, I don’t know what’s going on in Youngstown. Sorry. The rethinking effort you’re linking to reads like standard planned shrinkage. It could involve consensus-based decisionmaking, or it could not; I wouldn’t know, and it’s very hard to glean from official documents like this.

    By the way, while Singapore indeed grew under autocracy, Hong Kong did not. The government there was semi-democratic, with plenty of opportunity for people (especially the rich) to air their views. Mercantile plutocracy is of course not democracy, but it sometimes successfully emulates democracy’s broad distribution of power, which for some applications is good enough. Hong Kong is the modern equivalent of Renaissance Venice, or maybe 1800-era Britain, where only a few percent of the adult male population met the property qualification for voting; Singapore is instead more like absolute monarchy.


    First, Duany is exactly the person I frame my approach in opposition to.

    Second, the examples you give about NIMBYism are a failure of power distribution more than a failure of consensus. The issue with the public beaches isn’t that the planners want them but committed urban activists do not. It’s that the poor and middle class want them and the rich do not. It’s a more fundamental problem – essentially, you want to distinguish cases of genuine LULUs from prejudice. A few solutions, all partial and unsatisfying, include,

    1. Jane Jacobs-style district-based governance. This solves some but not all of the problems – it dilutes the power of small gated communities or very rich people, but instead empowers upper-middle-class neighborhoods.

    2. An approach that emphasizes intense, long-term civic participation. This again empowers the upper middle class and disempowers the very rich.

    3. A market-based approach, letting consensus only take care of things that have to be done collectively, such as provision of public services, but minimizing collective decisionmaking about e.g. zoning. This is essentially the only way to empower people not yet living in the neighborhood who’d like to move there.

    4. Frequent referendums on issues and a less individualist lobbying structure, diluting the ability of the rich and connected to have outsized influence.

    To be honest, I don’t think much of silent majority-style appeals. Authoritarian politicians love them, because it’s easier to manipulate someone who thinks his civic duty consists of casting a ballot once every four years than someone who takes the time to be informed and active about an issue and to gripe publicly and demand better services.

  16. John Morris says:


    Yes, as far as I know, it is standard planned shrinkage, but this process helped bring people on board.

    In the time since, Youngstown has not seen the kind of bitterness like Detroit has. A large number of people seem to have accepted the general concept.

  17. John Morris says:


    I do think autocracy in a small city state does have very different effects than than in a large country.

    Remember that one of the biggest flaws of all central planning is that leaders are not making the right decisions.

    In the case of a small, city state, with no easy natural resources or mass of foreign aid cash, there is a pretty strong loop of market feedback.

    If Lee Kuan Yew had made really bad moves, the results would have been obvious, very quickly.

    One of the huge problems with state and federal funding in cities is that it creates a pot of cash not connected to local market feedback which can result in very poor decisions.

  18. John Morris says:

    No time to go into this, but a huge problem in NYC is a lack of connection between decisions and the market.

    Even though, Manhattan is the economic heart of the region, decisions are still far too influenced by a peanut gallery of state and suburban interests.

    At least half of these problems could be solved by breaking up NY into a number of individual cities. This would reconnect decision making in the outer boroughs to the marketplace.

    NIMBY borough presidents and ignorant political leaders might have to explain why homeowner property taxes are so high and support rational cash flow positive zoning.

    Mahattan should leave NYC or at least make a serious threat.

  19. John Morris says:

    I mean, homeowner property taxes or other taxes would shoot through the roof in the outer boroughs if they were not leaning on Manhattan’s tax base.

    People right now don’t feel the real effect of their poor land use.

  20. George Mattei says:

    Frankly, I don’t see one answer to cities’ issues. Some cities need the authoritarian to break through layers of red tape or grass-roots opposition which are choking the system. Others need a more consensus-driven approach to change to activate the grass roots which are under-represented. The beauty of Democracy is that all of these approaches get tried, and at times they happen to be applied to a situation in which they are completely appropriate. In these cases, they stand out as success stories. You just need to make sure you don’t assume your city is in the same position and needs the same solution (although it may be).

  21. Alon Levy says:

    New York funds itself out of income and sales taxes. Depending on how income taxes were levied, a break into boroughs might not be so favorable to Manhattan; Manhattan would have to be able to impose them on people commuting from out of borough. Recall that New York used to do this with the commuter tax, and suburban interests scuttled it – and that was against a city that’s 45% of the state’s population, rather than one that’s 8%.

  22. John Morris says:

    A)New York also gets a very large amount of money from real estate taxes, which are heavily tilted towards the big Manhattan, office and apartment buildings.

    B)Manhattan generates a lot of the sales tax dollars.

    C)A very high percent of NYC’s highest income residents live in Manhattan, a number that seems to be growing.

    A simple comparison between residential property taxes in NYC and surrounding suburbs tells one how strong the Manhattan tax base is.

    Of course, if Manhattan were a separate city, it would likely also pass congestion pricing. (Which would only make the case for moving into Manhattan stronger.)

    Anyway–the city vs suburban conflict as we can see in many cities has less to do with the internal dynamics of he city and more to do with statewide political power.

    It’s not an accident that Jersey City moved towards high density development faster than waterfront Brooklyn and Queens. It was simple math. Brooklyn and Queens saw no urgency to use their land better because they were riding on Manhattan’s tax base.

  23. John Morris says:

    “Recall that New York used to do this with the commuter tax, and suburban interests scuttled it – and that was against a city that’s 45% of the state’s population, rather than one that’s 8%.”

    You are right, there is almost no chance Manhattan could impose a commuter tax and congestion pricing might also be nixed.

    The problem is clearly much more about political than economic muscle.

    If one was talking about just economics, Manhattan right now holds most of the cards.

  24. John Morris says:


    From the Wikipedia

    Manhattan — “2005 per capita income above $100,000.”

    Queens “The per capita income for the county was $19,222”

    Queens is not the poorest borough. It would be pretty hard to make a case that Manhattan’s, property, sales, corporate and personal tax revenues in relation to it’s expenses are not pretty favorable. (Remember that many very wealthy Manhattan residents, pay for but don’t use the public schools)

    Don’t get me wrong. I was a lifelong Queens resident. All I’m saying is that the sprawling development pattern would have been much more quickly reconsidered if the borough had to pay it’s own way.

  25. Alon Levy says:

    Manhattan’s per capita income is not above $100,000. It’s $42,000, per Wikipedia on the demographics of Manhattan. It’s still really high, but you need to compare the tax base with the infrastructure needs. Most of the subway subsidy would have to come from Manhattan, Manhattan has more police and firefighting needs because of its high daytime population, etc. Manhattan would probably benefit economically, but not by all that much, and the political loss coming from turning the rest of the region’s dense urbanity into economic basket cases would be too big.

  26. John Morris says:

    Ooops, it does look like the 100,000 per capita number was wrong.

    “As of 2002, Manhattan had the highest per capita income of any county in the country.”

    “Manhattan would probably benefit economically, but not by all that much, and the political loss coming from turning the rest of the region’s dense urbanity into economic basket cases would be too big.”

    The risk is higher that one or two boroughs like The Bronx and particularly Staten Island would suffer from the huge loss of tax transfer, Manhattan is providing, but this would also provide the right incentives for development and land use.

    Both Brooklyn and Queens have vast areas of underzoned and underdeveloped land along their transit lines. within a few years, they would be capable of making it on their own-creating a relationship with Manhattan that is more synergistic and less parasitic.

    Only Staten Island, is in a position that makes high density development more difficult.

    The need for any kind of “subway subsidy” comes from poor land use along the lines–in the outer boroughs.

    A good case could be made that the subway system would remain jointly funded.

  27. John Morris says:

    As far as any political loss.

    Right now-what Manhattan would most benefit from is a larger and more vocal base supporting it’s type of walkable and transit oriented development.

    What we have now is a situation in which there is just too small an incentive for this in the outer boroughs.

  28. John Morris says:

    Yes, there might also be a bigger incentive to control spending too. On average, the results would likely be better.

    Right now, being a borough president or politician in the outer boroughs gives one a piggy bank of other people’s money. The array of goofball, stadium, tennis center or other wateful absurd projects advocated by borough presidents is amazing.

    A very small number of swing voters in deep Brooklyn and Queens have far too much influence on city policy.

  29. Nathanael says:

    Consensus is great, until you reach a *fundamental* disagreement on something which matters. Then there can be no consensus. But you still have to get things done.

    At that point you have to work out who is right, and the people who are right have to win the support of the “mushy middle” — and steamroller the people who are wrong. Because otherwise the people who are wrong will steamroller the people who are right.

    Global warming is the key example here.

  30. Nathanael says:

    Alon writes:

    “A few solutions, all partial and unsatisfying, include,

    1. Jane Jacobs-style district-based governance. This solves some but not all of the problems – it dilutes the power of small gated communities or very rich people, but instead empowers upper-middle-class neighborhoods.

    2. An approach that emphasizes intense, long-term civic participation. This again empowers the upper middle class and disempowers the very rich.

    3. A market-based approach, letting consensus only take care of things that have to be done collectively, such as provision of public services, but minimizing collective decisionmaking about e.g. zoning. This is essentially the only way to empower people not yet living in the neighborhood who’d like to move there.

    4. Frequent referendums on issues and a less individualist lobbying structure, diluting the ability of the rich and connected to have outsized influence.”

    Is it just coincidence that Switzerland does ALL FOUR of these, consistently? I don’t think so.

    I also think that #2 is key here, as I don’t think #4 works without it, and I don’t think #1 works without it, and #3 can be massively abused (think hydrofracking) without it.

  31. Nathanael says:

    Regarding the time when you have to give up consensus, school boards provide numerous examples; you don’t, for example, find consensus with the people who want to remove evolution from biology classes and teach the Book of Genesis instead. They’re there to make trouble and you fight them until they lose.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

About the Urbanophile


Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

Full Bio


Please email before connecting with me on LinkedIn if we don't already know each other.



Copyright © 2006-2014 Urbanophile, LLC, All Rights Reserved - Click here for copyright information and disclosures