by Dr. Michael Sanera
Director of Research and Local Government Studies
My Local Government newsletter this week documented how Raleigh’s planners fall short of American Planning Association (APA) code of ethics. I also wondered how the APA might respond to an ethics complaint. My newsletter drew this email response from Mitch Silver, Raleigh’s Director of Planning and current APA president.
File your complaint. The [APA] Ethics Officer is Paul Farmer. Please have the courage to print the results, but I already know you won’t.
I can see the headline now: “APA’s ethics officer clears APA president Mitch Silver of all ethics charges.” Surprise!
I have been around the political block enough and witnessed the operations of planners in NC enough to know that they don’t take Section A, “Principles to Which We Aspire” of their code of ethics seriously.
As I point out in my newsletter, the APA code of ethics commands planners serve the “public interest,” respect the “rights of others,” present “timely, adequate, clear and accurate information…to all affected persons…,” and have “a special responsibility to plan for the needs of disadvantaged and to promote racial and economic integration.” These requirements are routinely ignored by planners across the state. The food truck issue in Raleigh is just one example.
What is clear is that planners use their special status as paid city professionals to control the flow of technical information to elected officials and their code of ethics to cover for the fact that they are a special interest group that lobbies for its ideological agenda. See this glossary for translation of the Orwellian terms used by planners to obfuscate the policies that they are lobbying for. For example, see the term “density bonus system” which translates to a system which planners use to extort money from developers to pay for public amenities.
I am still waiting to see a planner or consult report that provides elected officials balanced information by including any of the following information:
Rail transit will not solve Raleigh’s congestion or pollution problems because in 21 US cities rail carries less than three percent of the motorized passenger travel and of those 16 carry less than one percent.
High density housing, required by Raleigh’s comprehensive plan, ignores the approximately 80 percent of housing consumers who want single family homes.
Restrictive smart growth land use policies implemented in Raleigh and other cities harm low- and moderate- income families by driving up housing prices.
I would appreciate it if Mr. Silver or another planner would direct me to official reports that include this information or any other information that contradicts planning ideology and fads.