Custodians of Place

Custodians of Place: Governing the Growth and Development of Cities

Paul G. Lewis
Max Neiman
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Custodians of Place
    Book Description:

    Custodians of Place provides a new theoretical framework that accounts for how different types of cities arrive at decisions about residential growth and economic development. Lewis and Neiman surveyed officials in hundreds of California cities of all sizes and socioeconomic characteristics to account for differences in local development policies. This book shows city governments at the center of the action in shaping their destinies, frequently acting as far-sighted trustees of their communities. They explain how city governments often can insulate themselves for the better from short-term political pressures and craft policy that builds on past growth experiences and future vision. Findings also include how conditions on the ground-local commute times, housing affordability, composition of the local labor force-play an important role in determining the approach a city takes toward growth and land use. What types of cities tend to aggressively pursue industrial or retail firms? What types of cities tend to favor housing over business development? What motivates cities to try to slow residential growth? Custodians of Place answers these and many other questions.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-590-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: Contingent Trusteeship and the Local Governance of Growth
    (pp. 1-28)

    Although most students of American political institutions and policy focus on the activities of the state and federal levels, it is often the politics of everyday life that is most important to citizens. Whether neighborhoods are safe, whether it is possible to get around in a predictable and efficient way, whether water is drinkable, whether utilities are available at reasonable prices, whether schools prepare one’s children for competing in the world of work or in the entrance battles to top universities, whether local and regional conditions ensure that an investment in homeownership is protected or enhanced—these are matters of...

  6. Chapter 2 The Context for Local Choices: Growth Pressures, Fiscal Incentives, and the California Setting
    (pp. 29-50)

    City governments confront growth—and often agonize over development policy—because they must. Like it or not, population increase is an inexorable fact of life for communities in much of the United States. The nature of development is, moreover, not simply a matter of aesthetics or lifestyle; rather, the built form of the nation’s cities is linked to their fiscal health and the resources available to support public services.

    With respect to sheer growth, in no state has population increase been as massive in numbers and as sustained over time as in California, which has been a growth powerhouse since...

  7. Chapter 3 What Type of City to Be? Evaluating Different Kinds of Growth
    (pp. 51-82)

    During the high-technology boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, a proliferating number of Internet startup firms were seeking space throughout the high-priced real estate market of the San Francisco Bay Area. With traditional office spaces having few vacancies, many of the dot-com firms moved into warehouses, industrial spaces, and even retail storefronts in San Francisco and its suburbs. This expansion of high-tech firms in areas once intended for other uses led some Bay Area cities to clamp down on the proliferating office locations of Web firms. Such restrictions emerged in spite of the success of the then-lucrative Internet...

  8. Chapter 4 The Vision Thing: Pursuing a Future Ideal
    (pp. 83-106)

    In chapters 1 and 2 we argued that city governments retain, to a substantial degree, both the authority and the motivation to exercise real self-governance and, thus, possess at least the potential to steer their communities’ development in particular directions. Chapter 3 described how city governments’ orientations toward specific types of new growth tend to vary in ways that are consistent with this “steering” metaphor.¹ But do city government officials have an explicit vision of what they wish their communities to become? Or are local officials more akin to caretakers and clerks, with the long-run trajectory of community change largely...

  9. Chapter 5 Firm Ground: Competing for Businesses and Jobs
    (pp. 107-129)

    In November 1993, Lego Group, the Danish company that makes the popular plastic block toys, announced that it would build a Legoland amusement park in Carlsbad, California. This decision was the culmination of a particularly intense competition between Carlsbad and an out-of-state economic adversary, Prince William County, Virginia. And in this instance the combatants were not only local governments; this well-publicized contest for a high-profile amusement park drew in the two states’ governors, who arranged for state-level commitments of regulatory relief, tax benefits, and infrastructure subsidies worth millions of dollars.

    The quest for Legoland is but one example of competition...

  10. Chapter 6 Hustle or Balancing Act? Regulating Residential Growth
    (pp. 130-160)

    In the late 1990s, Pamela Miod, in her own words, was so angry she “snapped.”¹ So much construction and development was taking place in her rapidly growing Southern California community of Temecula in Riverside County that her seven-mile drive across town took a half hour. When the City Council did not respond adequately to her questions about growth, she contacted another private citizen, Sam Pratt, who had made a name for himself locally as an opponent of growth. Before long, she was managing his campaign for City Council—and in 1999, he won a seat.

    According to the journalist Paul...

  11. Chapter 7 Custodians of Place: Systemic Representation in Local Governance
    (pp. 161-184)

    After years of research regarding local policies in such areas as the adoption of municipal reform, police response times, school de-segregation, fluoridation, equal opportunity in municipal employment, transportation, air quality, and homelessness, among others, a kind of consensus has emerged among social scientists that the core policy domain for local governments is development policy. Certainly in the United States, the mix of land uses—between residential, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, and public enterprises—has a profound impact on the fortunes of communities and their residents. From the point of view of cities, the built form that development takes systematically shapes the...

  12. Appendix A: The Consistency of “Visions” with Other Officials’ Views—Comparing Responses across Surveys
    (pp. 185-188)
  13. Appendix B: Detailed Results of Multivariate Analyses
    (pp. 189-194)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 195-226)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-240)
  16. Index
    (pp. 241-247)