The most important compelling message of this chapter to me is to engage people directly in planning to prevent unchecked sprawl which is a major cause to diminish and destroy good places. Unchecked sprawl generates negative impacts on all of three elements to be sustainable for cities: environment, economy, and equity. To prevent such unchecked sprawl, people’s involvements in planning should be required. Beatley defines one of the important ways to combat sprawl as promoting higher-density development. One of the significant elements to encourage many European cities such as Copenhagen, Stockholm, Barcelona, and Amsterdam to realize high-density development is stronger public planning and control of the land development process. Decision that citizens of these cities make are high-quality, strong, and flexible because many more citizens involve in planning, provide many perspectives, deliberate them, and collaborate each other to invent more desirable ways of planning in each place. Using variety of tools, techniques, and strategies, they realize a number of high-density areas to develop along the spines of public transit and limit the chance to develop outside of existing cities, towns, and designated development areas.
Strengthening public planning requires planners to know about people in each place and encourage them to get more involve in planning. Smart growth would be one of possible strategies to prevent community-destructive sprawl. Beatley introduces “confronting head-on many of value issues” as a key to make a success of smart growth initiatives in the long run. He points out that people tend to underestimate value of lands even though these lands have value environmentally, economically, socially themselves. Also, people tend to be suspicious toward proactive government roles, stick to individualism, and personalize lands for the sake of their personal wealth. In addition to these value issues Beatley states, planners also need to know about people’s attitude toward planning. In many cities, many people might still think that they should not involve in planning because they believe it is a job for planners and they should do a good job. Financial collapse by sprawling possibly occurs because people believe planners and uncheck their decision makings as if economy crash occurs because vast majority believe market principles and entrust their economy to the principles. Since attitudes toward planning or values of lands people have vary from place to place, it is important to know about them at each place and empower them to involve in planning.