Frug and Barron show that state law can make it much easier for cities to pursue a global-city or a tourist-city agenda than to respond to the needs of middle-class residents or to pursue regional alliances. But they also explain that state law is often so outdated, and so rooted in an unjustified distrust of local decision making, that the legal process makes it hard for successful cities to develop and implement any coherent vision of their future. Their book calls not for local autonomy but for a new structure of state-local relations that would enable cities to take the lead in charting the future course of urban development. It should be of interest to everyone who cares about the future of American cities, whether political scientists, planners, architects, lawyers, or simply citizens.
Gridlock presents a wide range of innovative ideas and policy recommendations for creating an effective transportation system—improvements that will increase our mobility and pay for themselves, whether it’s cars, buses, planes, or trains. At the center of O’Toole’s solutions are three core principles: those who use transportation facilities should pay for them; negative effects should be dealt with in a cost-efficient manner; and new technologies that will increase mobility at a low cost must be embraced. In Gridlock, Randal O’Toole brings energetic and unconventional thinking to transportation strategies that have, until now, only driven us into the breakdown lane.
The distinguished list of contributors includes the co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Economics, William Vickrey. The audience for the work are scholars dealing with the discussions concerning the economics and politics of privatization, business people who are likely to be interested in potential opportunities, governmental regulators and staff, and policy makers.
Combining theory with case studies to underscore his analysis, O’Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy-handed government regulation. The Best-Laid Plans is a powerful challenge to the conventional wisdom about public lands, urban growth, and government planning.