Robert Moses follow-up

ATTENTION CONSERVATION NOTICE: The real lesson of the Power Broker isn’t about urban planning or even centralized planning, both of which have their own internal problems and contradictions the way everything in grown-up life has. The lesson from Robert Moses’ career, and The Power Broker book that details it, concerns public institutions and the power of the state, which anybody associated with the state would do well to approach with fear and trembling if they want to be an ethical practitioner in ANY of the public-serving professions. (That means…all the professions.)

So I got people unsettled over the weekend about Robert Moses by noting that his academic background was in political science, and by putting some fighting words out there:

The whole narrative strikes me more as a lesson power and rationality: If something goes wrong, then the planners did it. If something goes right, the engineers/city managers/real estate developers/economists/architects/community did it right, despite all them dadgum planners.

Well screw that. Robert Moses wasn’t ours and it’s time another intellectual tradition took responsibility for him.

The post had the predictable effect with Twitter debates ensuing, with people telling me that Moses was a planner because he “functioned as planner” and assertions that “Caro or no Caro, Moses was a planner!”

And the debate was the point. People are awfully emotionally and intellectually invested in the idea of what Moses stands for in planning.

But not a single argument convinced me, and I stuck to my guns. Why?

Because my major goal here was to shake people up by exploiting the theoretical ambiguity that surrounds planning to do the *opposite* of what people usually do: reject blame cast on the planning profession rather than project blame onto the profession (Aaron Wildavsky, any one). My argument is that people use the field’s indistinctness to make it into anything they want, and if they want to cast all of government’s and market’s ills onto the profession, there is precious little to keep them from doing so. If something goes wrong with development, it was an urban planning problem–not a problem inherent to liberal progressive politics and managerialism, not a problem with capitalist real estate development, not the wholesale abandonment of the welfare state functions of government institutions that people now expect unregulated markets to provide even though they have never done so in the past (solutions for externalities, for one).

So if a PhD in political science becomes the chairman or director of a bunch of powerful commissions in New York with precious little public oversight, then that must be planning. (BTW, the title of Chairman or Director is a signal to me that you’ve moved into public management. It doesn’t mean there is a Grand Canyon of distinction between planning and public management as they are plenty connected, but still, exploring the connections between public management and planning is a fruitful exercise.)

The argument: he drew lines on a map and planned projects. He didn’t manage or build them.

The response: Engineers, architects, and developers also draw lines on maps and build projects. And they also manage them. So did he.

The argument: He traveled and consulted on planning and infrastructure projects. That’s planning.

The response: If that’s what makes a planner, then there are an awful lot of engineers drawing an engineering salary doing planning all over the place all the time.

The argument: Planners promoted his ideas…

The response: Planners promote Andres Duany’s ideas. Does that mean he’s stopped being an architect and has become a planner? Planners promote Don Shoup’s ideas. Does that mean Donald is no longer an economist? (I’d argue that Donald’s intellectual life, moving from economics and delving deeply into planning produces exactly the sort of fruitful insights that interdisciplinary research should.)

The argument: But planning has become even more technocratic (sends me a link to a gillian-page EIR)

The response: The planning profession is hardly technocratic anymore, and that gillian-page EIR likely employed 10 engineers for every 1 planner, optimistically on the planning side. Engineering has rolled forward out of urban renewal and highway-building (something else blamed on planners rather than engineers) largely unchastened by the failures of the era to market themselves as the *competent* technocrats, unlike planners. Reflexive modernism in play.

The argument: Jane Jacobs was against central planning so planners must be wrong to plan.

The response: Okey dokey, Jacobs-follower, then stop planning. Go right ahead on. Don’t do it anymore. Swear it off, like donuts and cigarettes.

The argument: Have YOOOUUUUUU read the entire Jacobs corpus?

The response: Yes, yes, I have. And I still challenge you to go ahead and start your urban libertarian utopia. Go get ’em, Tiger. Far be it from me to hold anybody back from bold social experiments. But in the end when all that goes ‘phut’ you might find Hobbes was right and Jacobs guilty of exactly the blame projection that I described above. (I think Jacobs wrote very fine books and made really important contributions. I think she was right about a bunch of stuff. I also think she was wrong about a bunch of stuff, too, that people seldom talk about because they are too busy cherrypicking what they like. That’s fine as far as it goes, but plaster saints bore me.)

If Robert Moses was a planner by the standards of “functioning,” Jane Jacobs was, too. She made big normative claims about how cities should be. Planners do that *all the time.* And people like me argue that those normative claims are central to the profession and to the practice (two separate things).

Does it ultimately matter if Moses was a planner? Or Jacobs? I do not know. Labels really are not important, except to the degree that they come with a set of assumptions, and it’s those assumptions that make me squiggly.

That said, if you get a Robert Moses question on Jeopardy! you should say “urban planner” just to be safe.

I think the real lesson of the Power Broker isn’t about central planning, which has its own internal problems and contradictions the way everything in grown-up life has. The central of the power broker concerns institutions and the power of the state, which anybody associated with the state would do well to approach with fear and trembling if they want to be an ethical practitioner in the public professions.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #16: Stephanie Frank

I’m a bit behind with ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014, but I will keep going. I’ve always been a slow worker. What are you going to do besides keep plugging away at it?

This week I discuss the work of Stephanie Frank, who is one of my students, which means the work is brilliant and perfect in every way and anybody who says otherwise gets a knuckle sandwich. Stephanie has left our beloved USC, and she is now an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The paper of hers I am going to highlight is:

Frank, S. (2012). Claiming hollywood: Boosters, the film industry, and Metropolitan Los Angeles. Journal of Urban History, 38(1), 71-88. doi:10.1177/009614421142064

The year is 1937; the place is a then-small, but rapidly urbanizing, region in southern California. There is money being made in film industry, and by selling the idea of “Hollywood.” Culver City boosters get the smart idea to rename themselves from the prosaic–and, frankly, Midwestern-sounding, Culver City to Hollywood. (Not accidental: Culver City took its name from an early pioneer from Nebraska.) Even today, Hollywood is a district or a neighborhood. Despite multiple pushes for secession, Hollywood is part of the larger city of Los Angeles. Culver City, however, is not. My use of the present tense is a spoiler: boosters failed, and to this day, Culver City remains plain old Culver City, though it is a very nice place to live with lots of wonderful things to do.

I let you read the manuscript for the full story of how and why the boosters attempt failed; let’s just say it’s a story of big-fish elite of one type, and bigger-fish elites of another type, and one (of many ways) the movie industry made its spatial impact on the geography of Los Angeles.

Stephanie wrote her very fine dissertation on movie studios as land developers under the direction of David Sloane, Greg Hise, and Bill Deverell, and she should have a book coming out shortly. Keep your eyes peeled for it, and for future work. My auntie-like bias notwithstanding, she really is a fine young scholar.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #13: Ella Howard

This week’s entry is definitely in the “urban” rather than in the “planning” component of my challenge, as Ella Howard is a historian at Armstrong Atlantic State University. I read and used her book in my class on the Urban Context this year:

Homeless: Poverty and Place in Urban America, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

and I am thinking about using it in my class on urban social policy and planning in the spring. It’s framing in Chapter 1 helps illustrate the social welfare approach to housing: “The institutions that address poverty embody the values of their creators.” For my students thinking about how to state a strong argument you can spend the rest of the book supporting, here it is.

Dr. Howard’s book centers mostly on the Bowery, and I particularly like how the book uses that perspective–i.e., looking at the Bowery–as the place where federal, state, and city institutions attempted to reform and regulate homelessness. Her time period focuses predominately on the Depression onward, though she starts us at around the turn of the city in New York–1890s onward–in their attempts to figure out what to do with homeless men and women. The history deepens from the Depression era onward, and then goes decade by decade as there are important shifts in public policy that, nevertheless, always seem to be motivated by two internal tensions: 1) the desire to be humane to those in need, but not too humane, because, you know, dependency, and 2) the need to deliver services in place with the pressures to make sure the homeless move on, not be there, move somewhere else. Chapter 2 explores the treatment of the transient homeless during the Great Depression. The Depression was a game changer in multiple ways. First, economic hardship meant that more people than ever before struggled to maintain housing, and second, it saw the shift of policy response to homelessness to federal housing programs rather than, simply, local relief.

One major factor in serving those without homes concerned changing perspectives on alcoholism and mental illness, with religious and secular approaches to problem coming more into conflict as the century progressed. Organizations like the Salvation Army downplayed therapy or other, secular solutions, at the same time that homelessness became the object of social scientific study.

In the 1960s, the focus became increasingly spatial with urban renewal and ‘slum clearance.’ Most of my students can recite urban renewal history (more mindlessly than I care for) about how communities of color were destroyed to make way for highway projects, but few people ever think about the homeless men and women targeted by the program. Here is where the federal involvement in urban policy gets even more dicey, as local officials came to the conclusion that while homeless men and women may have to exist ‘somewhere’, skid rows were both unsightly and unhygienic. The feds put $5.4 billion into urban renewal programs from 1949 until 1966. As Howard points out, Eisenhower epitomized the federal problems: many people, like Eisenhower, favored urban renewal projects, believing them tickets to urban growth that would ‘lift all boats’ and yet viewed public housing with extreme suspicion. The result is a whipsaw we still live in: the desire for urban growth and population increase without the commitment to increased supply of affordable shelter, and by the 1980s, more affordable units were being destroyed than created in urban centers. Homelessness became viewed as something to be fixed:

Throughout the twentieth century, urban residents by and large did not want homeless people living in their neighborhood ,nor did they wish to fund residential programs to offer continued housing assistance. The homeless were to be returned to “normal” life rather than being placed in supported living conditions.

p. 122.

The Bowery escaped urban renewal due to widespread resistance to it in New York, including Jane Jacobs and others, who viewed urban renewal for what it was: a state-sponsored real estate development strategy that selected easy political targets for private commercial gain with specious public interest rationales. The plan for Cooper Square would have removed 4,000 beds; the plan failed, but eventually, efforts to redevelop the Bowery will win out. It will just take real estate markets a few more decades to make this happen.

Before we get there, however, Howard treats us to yet another means of dressing up old wine in new bottles in the neotraditional, punitive ways in which social science and media constructed narratives around men and women without homes and the neighborhoods that served homeless populations, like the Bowery. Here you get a strong flavor of American studies in Howard’s background as she connects older, more overly judging frames for impoverished people with the lurid, exoticed narratives constructed in particular media outlets. These are old ideas about danger and lack of hygiene dressed up for the spectator world of mediated imagery. Social science approaches were little better, framing individuals according to mainstream values of functionality and–a shocker–always finding their homeless subjects wanting. Nonetheless, good research conducted out of Columbia also began spending real time and energy with people living in the Bowery to understand how social life functions in homeless districts.

The later chapters of the book, like the earlier ones, are excellent, but they felt like less of a revelation to me as I had lived through many of the policy changes and conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s. I remember the federal and state withdrawal from homeless programs, particularly the deinstutionalization of those with serious mental illnesses. That policy move prompted the very public conflict between New York Mayor Koch and New York Governor Hugh Carey, whereby Koch viewed his city’s increasing number of homeless people as a direct result of the state making homelessness into a city problem. As Howard notes:

The Koch and Reagen administrations and the advocates for the homeless agreed on a single point: each supported the expansion of the private, religious-affiliated homeless shelters. p. 208

And thus nearly a century later, theories about serving homelessness return back to its religious, voluntarist roots. By then, the Bowery had become, like many places where poverty exists, the spatial exemplar of ‘edginess’ that nightclubs, musicians, and other artists exploited as a means to commercial success. In the end, New York’s real estate boom will erase the Bowery, and Mayor Guiliani will capitalize on security narratives as a means to simply regulate homelessness out of New York so that, as in most contemporary cities, homeless people are simply expected to slide through the shadows of the city, in perpetual motion.

I highly recommend this book both for its subject matter and as an exemplar of just how good a dissertation book can be.


#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #5: Jenny Schuetz and transit-oriented commercial development

Professor Jenny Schuetz is one of my favorite colleagues here at USC. She’s in the real estate group, and her work focuses on urban economic geography. She gave a seminar Wednesday for Metrans on work she has done on the commercial real estate effects of transit investment. You can see a draft of her paper, entitled Do Rail Stations Encourage Neighborhood Retail Activity, here. Jenny’s contributions to the literature are careful empirical analyses of urban economic theories of location. Her contributions stand out because she works incredibly hard to get the detailed data that she needs in order to answer questions well. Data on the commercial real estate sector can be hard to get, and planners tend to pin pretty high hopes on transit’s transformative power while not systematically testing their claims.

The question tested here are straightforward: Does new transit investment prompt more retail activity within a buffer of the station area?

But just because it’s a straightforward question does not mean getting a good answer is easy. Why not? Because like just about all aspects of urban research where we’d like to see cause and effect, there are many possible explanations for why we might see an effect if we do, in fact, see an effect. If I do a great job with route planning, for example, it’s likely that I’m targeting places that are already growing. So investment there may simply be a continuation of the existing trend. We need to see some change in the trajectory, and that’s hard. For places in decline, we have to show that, post-investment, there’s some slower decline or turnaround. And that’s hard to show when you are just looking at data at one point in time and noting that land values are higher near rail stations. That’s good, but it’s not the sort of evidence we need to be able to say that the investment was a game changer.

Jenny contends with this problem by looking at the conditions from 1992 to 2009 both case and control areas surrounding train stations in four California cities: San Francisco/San Jose, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego. Her controls are tracks outside the normally accepted walking area around stations. If trains are really making a difference in retail, you should see higher performance in the tracks within the station capture area than for those outside. Granted, this is an arbitrary boundary, but the research shows that the capture area commonly used around transit stations is pretty sound. There are so many weirdos like me who will walk 2 miles to a station. (What else am I going to do for exercise? A nightclub?)

Anyway, the resulting model includes some information about the station characteristics, locational metrics (station density, proximity to highway, distance to CBD (a combo of variables I very much like)), and some local population statistics we would normally associate retail attraction. (Retailers like areas with moneyed folk in them.) Her dependent variable is retail employees per square mile and she’s got about 500 station areas in the study.

She finds no statistical difference between rail-accessible land compared to the controls in San Francisco and San Diego; in Los Angeles and Sacramento, she does a find a significant difference, but negative: that is, rail-accessible areas lost retail employment compared to controls, save for suburban station areas. Rail development seems to offering suburban locations a chance to get more retail in two of the cities.

I do have some questions, since this is a draft paper. One question just concerns the dependent variable as a measure; retail employment. I’ve been skylarking (skylarking = thinking unencumbered by either theory or data) about changes in the retail sector over that time period, and its possible that there is something going on with the type of retailer that gets attracted to station-areas. Planners have great faith in local small businesses, and I’m sure that, when aggregated, they create a lot of employment. But it’s entirely possible that you might see new small businesses start of up in a station area (whee!) but on the whole, those employ fewer people in the retail sector than a big box located off a highway. Or there might be something technological going on, where employment in the retail sector is systematically declining, and those places without investment have what retail they have and those linger for awhile, but those new opportunities for retail don’t really blossom particularly fast around new commercial land supply around train stations.

50 books to add to Brent Toderian & Planetizen’s standard, white city-making books

The risk of critiquing book lists is that a) it’s easy to kvetch about others’ lists, and b) you risk insulting the many wonderful writers who do appear on the original list, including the person who took the time to put together the list in the first place. But at the risk of doing both a and b, I have to say I am disappointed in Brent Toderian’s list of 100 best books on city-making for Planetizen. We can go around and around about this: I guess it depends on what he means by city-making. And a lot depends on what a person reads. But if you are going to go around labeling something “the best”, you’d better be well-read, and this list just doesn’t strike me as being that broad or that open to different perspectives on cities. Then, in his addendum, he adds some fiction, including the rapey The Fountainhead, which he does include as a ‘negative’ example, I guess. But does that tiresome book really need more press? At least he included Calvino and China Meiville in the addenda. But this list and his addenda are standard white urbanist fare, with a lot of echoing of the same ideas from one white urbanist to another. It make me sad that our “best of” lists are still doing this. That said, Jan Gehl’s book is very fine, and you could spend a long time reading the wonderful books on this list.

And he does have some women on the list, but the ones chosen are not exactly writing from non-dominant perspectives, and there are some terrific books by Asian authors on the list, including work from my wonderful colleague, Tridib Banerjee. It’s not that I want to erase the people from the list. It’s that I really wish urban planners would read more widely and take seriously their job to understand and promote more than one perspective on cities, not just focussing on a perspective that simply creates an echo chamber of the wonderfulness of white urbanism and planning with its bike lanes and its downtown retail. The latter is like an endless diet of FoxNews or MSNBC.

You are not educated until you get off your butt and start learning to see the world from a perspective other than your own.

City-making is not the exclusive purview of planners or self-declared urbanists.

So here are some to add to the list, in no order because I’m bad at order. I don’t claim these are ‘the best’–just books I have read that reflect cities and how they are made, that were worth reading, and that represent an effort to read what people from different perspectives have to say:

1. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Much of what you need to know about how ineffectual city government is in governing black neighborhoods appears here in the first few pages as Morrison riffs on “Not Doctor Street.”

2. There Goes the ‘Hood by Lance Freeman. Contemporary gentrification debates.

3. The Truly Disadvantaged by William Julius Wilson. This book should be required reading.

4. The First Suburban Chinatown by Timothy Fong

5. Homeless: Poverty and Place in Urban America by Ella Howard. The first book from a very promising scholar.

6. Off the Books by Sudhir Venkatesh I don’t like his other, much higher profile books as much: this one tells the stories about how people make a living despite city regulation.

7. Promises I Can Keep by Kathryn Edin. Read anything by Kathryn Edin. Just do it. This book focuses mostly on impoverished women in Philadelphia.

8. Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila There are some great books on Baltimore, but this one is a good recent one.

9. Gay New York by George Chauncey I wish I could assign this book more often; it’s long, and it’s not easy to chop up. But it is worth your time.

10. Barrio Urbanism by David R. Diaz I like David Diaz’s work a great deal anyway, but this is my favorite.

11. Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak by Bettina L. Love Young black women talking about the role of art and expression in their coming of age in Atlanta.

12. Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism by Rebecca Solnit

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

13. Jesuit Garden in Beijing and Early Modern Chinese Culture by Hui Zou So interesting.

14. Snow Drops by A.D. Miller A novel set in post-Socialist real estate in Moscow. Harrowing.

15. Kinesthetic City: Dance and Movement in Chinese Urban Spaces by SanSan Kwan

16. Harlem Nocturne by Farah Jasmine Griffin

17. Sento at Sixth and Main by Gail Dubrow and Donna Graves This book made me cry.

18. 18. The Hiawatha by David Treuer Urban Indians in Minneapolis. A haunting, haunting novel.

19. Cities of God and Nationalism: Rome, Mecca, and Jerusalem as Contested Sacred World Cities by Khaldoun Samman

20. Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora by Martin F. Manalansan IV

21. Tunnel People by Tuen Voeten

22. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, who did dystopian Los Angeles like nobody else.

23. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, by Samuel Delany. Oh, and read some of his novels, too.

24. Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys by Victor M. Rios

25. Graceland by Chris Abani a wonderful novel about post-colonial Lagos

26. Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 By Heda Kovaly

27. Factory Girls by Leslie Chang Follows the story of young women who move from village to metropolitan China.

28. Black, Brown, Yellow, & Left by Laura Pulido

29. Young and Defiant in Tehran by Shahram Khosravi (Author)

30. Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde by Doryun Chong, editor. (Yes, I’m including edited volumes)

31. Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans By Emily Landau

32. Daily Life in Victorian London (an anthology) London of Dickens and Sherlock Holmes was a terrible place if you weren’t rich.

33. The Messiah of Stockholm by Cynthia Ozick Good fiction, with a strong sense of place.

34 In The Land of Isreal by Amos Oz A wonderful book about people, politics, and territory.

35. Aztec of the City–these Comic books are cool, about an urban superhero in San Jose

36. Season of Migration to the North By Tayleb Salih a terrific novel about the influences of east and west and city and village in a globalizing context.

37. The Havanna Quartet by Leonardo Padura. A police procedural set in Havanna.

38. Smeltertown by Monica Perales–the story of the Mexican residents who live in El Paso’s company town.

39. The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York by Suleiman Osman

40. Anything written by Walter Mosley . Anything.

41. L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

42. Paul R. Williams, Classic Hollywood Style by Karen Hudson

43. City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa by Adam LeBor (wonderful prose style and an intimate look at individuals and the contestation over urban space.

44. All Souls: A Family Story from A Southie
by Michael Patrick MacDonald

45. Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic City by Rudolf Gaudio

46. Black Manhattan by James Weldon Johnson

47. The Rise of Abraham Cahan by Seth Lipsky If you have an interest in migrants and the global reach of NYC media, here you go.

48. Chavez Ravine: 1949 by Don Nomark

49. Urban Planning and the African American Community: In the Shadows edited by June Manning Thomas and Marsha Ritzdorf
Another terrific edited volume.

50. The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City 1976-1996 by John Robb

Paul Romer’s Alternative Narratives about Chinese Urbanization

Paul Romer does a much better job than I could of discussing the NYT piece on Chinese urbanization. Here’s my favorite quote:

Alternative Narratives about Chinese Urbanization | Urbanization Project:

The narrative about forced migration — with its charged language about “top down” approaches (not once but twice,) its reference to the “disastrous Maoist campaign to industrialize overnight” — has an obvious emotional appeal for a popular audience that is comfortable with narratives about good guys and bad guys.

The alternative narrative — one about governments all over the world that are trying to cope with the billions of people who want to move to urban opportunity — better captures the deepest and most important undercurrent in the global economy the we and our children will face.


A Terrific Review of Martin Krieger’s Urban Tomographies

My delightful colleague, Dowell Myers, brought to my attention that this issue of the Journal of the American Planning Program has terrific review by University of Texas Dean, Fritz Steiner of
of Martin Krieger’s Urban Tomographies

Dowell selected from terrific quotes from the review:

Some quotes that give Steiner’s frank opinion about the Krieger book:

“He presents a a fresh, well-identified, yet also open-ended method for reading urban landscapes through photography.”

“He is a terrific writer.”

and concludes with this final comment about

“…. the keen intelligence, careful observational skills, and sincerity that Martin Krieger exhibits in this excellent book.”

Understanding the Growth Machine From the Inside Out

The new issue of City and Community has a nice manuscript by Sharon Kimelberg:

Kimelberg, S. M. (2011), Inside the Growth Machine: Real Estate Professionals on the Perceived Challenges of Urban Development. City & Community, 10: 76–99. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6040.2010.01351.x

The abstract:

The growth machine framework maintains that coalitions of elites work together to promote and adopt policies and practices that best serve their economic interests and propel cities toward growth. While numerous scholars have subjected the growth machine to theoretical and empirical tests, we know little about the beliefs and perspectives of individual actors within the growth machine. To address this gap in the literature, the present research uses in-depth interviews to examine the subjective views of one segment of the growth machine—real estate professionals. The findings demonstrate that these practitioners see the exercise of power at the local level to be less coordinated, consensus-driven, and growth-oriented than the growth machine thesis suggests. Specifically, they see their own power and capacity to act to be constrained by four factors: the (re)-election interests of politicians; the professional interests of municipal economic development staff; bureaucratic procedures and zoning regulations; and mobilized community members and groups. I conclude with a discussion of the implications for urban political theory and suggestions for future research.

Two things: perhaps it is my time as a practitioner, but these results are hardly startling, even though it’s a nice idea to try to get an in-depth perspective from real estate professionals and b) one of the weird, and unfortunate, things about power is that people seldom recognize what they have of it. So we wouldn’t necessarily expect real estate professionals to think any other way than as they appear to.

One thing that might have been useful here would have been to sample some of the other groups: the bureaucratic staff (oh, the power there! not) and the community members to see what and whom they think the constraints and barriers are. I suspect that you would see exactly the same listing as the real estate professionals’, only with whatever referent group taken out an real estate professionals swapped in for it!