As of June 1, 2013, The United States had a total resident population of 316,077,000; as of 2012, 83% of those citizens lived in urban areas. The growing number of urban dwellers has called for increased attention on the importance of urban management and planning in America. Many different professional roles take part in urban management, including that of public administrators, who work toward defining urban environment infrastructures, plan growth to create more successful and healthy living spaces within urban areas, and develop or implement policies that will ultimately affect the lifestyles of citizens.
Urban management roots can be traced as far back as the Greek philosopher Hippodamus (5th century B.C.), who is viewed as the first “town planner” and the creator of the first urban layout. The planning and organization of cities has since become a more refined process. As the number of those living in urban areas overshadowed those living rurally, the importance of urban planning and management has become a critical part of society’s structural organization.
The origins of urban planning existed on simple principles and ideals, including the planning of roadways and building organization. Today’s complex societal demands call for more intricate management systems, and each city in America has its own needs.
Urban management encompasses each facet of a city’s design, including construction and planning, the implementation of socio-economic factors and conditions relating to housing projects, traffic and transportation, and biodiversity and sustainability. Urban management takes each of these and provides an analytical and quantitative approach, developing plans and policies to push the city forward in growth and harmonious living.
Public Administration in Urban Management
The public administrator’s role in urban management is to develop policies, plans, and programs to validate the pairing of a city’s population growth with access to basic organization, shelter and employment.
Urban Growth Management
One primary goal of urban planners is to efficiently control urban growth. Long-term planning for cities includes strategies for housing, infrastructure, employment and social services. These are all crucial for establishing affordable, sustainable, well-serviced communities that afford access to employment opportunities and community resources.
Public administrators’ involvement in urban growth management is focused primarily on the implementation of related government policies. These policies include:
- Public acquisition of land for the management of urban growth and open space preservation – In large urban areas where skyscrapers and sidewalks dominate the landscape, urban planners are working to bring some green back to the scenery, which involves acquiring public lands for the sole purpose of environmentally-conscious areas, such as gardens and parks.
- Regulatory tactics for the management of urban growth and urban space preservation – Limiting the expansion of urban areas can help to protect the outlying areas from development. Policies and regulations strive to control the growth of cities, ultimately ensuring that parts of the country remain free from urban development. This includes National Parks and other public areas that promote a natural eco-system environment.
- Incentive-based methods for the management of urban growth and open space preservation – Taxation incentives are being employed to encourage the continuation of farmlands and other rural areas. For example, In Oregon and Washington, farmers and foresters are being encouraged, through lower taxes, to continue a natural resource-based economy and avoid selling lands for urban development.
- Informational and Educational campaigns for urban growth management and open space preservation – Public crusades, such as the Hold the Line Campaign, encourage the preservation of public open spaces.
In recent years, the importance of sustainability has become a critical piece in managing urban development. Most large urban areas were not originally constructed with the environment in mind, and have therefore evolved into concrete jungles that lack eco-friendly attributes and often live under a cloud of pollution.
National focus has been given to revitalizing urban areas with the environment in mind, and public administration has taken part in implementing changes that strive to make urban areas more sustainable and healthier for their inhabitants. The control of carbon dioxide emissions (through more environmentally-conscious transportation options) and the creation of ‘green’ buildings that have the ability to produce a portion of their own energy are the first steps towards more eco-friendly urban areas.
Public administrators are finding new ways of working to develop a better America, specifically in urban areas. Whether working in urban growth management or helping to develop policies that promote a sustainable environment for urban inhabitants, the quality of life is being raised through proper administration and policy implementation.
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