Journal of the American Planning Association
Volume 79, Issue 3, 2013
The Actions of Discontent: Tea Party and Property Rights Activists Pushing Back Against Regional Planning
Problem, research strategy, and findings: The Tea Party’s effects on local and regional planning efforts, given the movement’s fierce support of property rights and equally fierce opposition to sustainability goals in regional planning efforts, have received little study. I wanted to understand how Tea Party and fellow property rights advocates became involved in regional planning efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta, GA, and how planners perceived and dealt with their objections and tactics. Interactions between the two groups were marked by philosophical differences over the role of government and the necessity and value of regional planning. However, these actors were also deeply divided on plan content and the authenticity of the public outreach process. Tea Party and property rights activists were not the only ones with substantive and procedural concerns about regional planning efforts; tactical -coalitions of unexpected allies emerged, aligning on plan viability, finance methods and funding, project costs, impacts, and process. My research shows that common ground can be negotiated between -opposing groups on matters of content and process. The concerns of the various stakeholders involved parallel questions often addressed by scholarly planning research, providing evidence of continuing challenges and flaws in planning.
Takeaway for practice: The planning community should not dismiss the opposition of Tea Party and property rights advocates; these activists could catalyze new coalitions of opponents if planners do not attend to the substantive and procedural concerns of participants.