Metropolis against Itself

Metropolis against Itself

Metropolis against Itself

Metropolis against Itself

Excerpt

"Metropolis Against Itself" by Dr.Robert C. Wood is the second Supplementary Paper to be published by the Area Development Committee of CED. As a companion study to Raymond Vernon "The Changing Economic Function of the Central City," this paper considers the role of local government--past, present and potential--in responding to the public problems of metropolitan development.

Dr. Vernon's paper focused on the rapidly changing pattern of economic activity in our large urban areas and identified critical policy issues which will have to be faced in connection with this transformation. Professor Wood's analysis deals with the impact of these changes on the public sector of metropolitan economies and with the capacity of the local governments to solve the problems Dr. Vernon described.

In his analysis Professor Wood does not cry "crisis" or predict catastrophe for the present structure of metropolitan government. He documents the expansion of public programs which has enabled these jurisdictions to maintain orderly community life in an urban environment. He details the ways in which local governments have responded sometimes with ingenuity and resourcefulness to the increasing demands upon them. He also explains how small governments established in a pre-metropolitan age may continue to provide the array of community services and facilities modern circumstances demand. Metropolitan residents will, in his view, continue to have schools for their children, roads for their automobiles, hospitals, libraries, water reservoirs and the other public installations necessary for their well-being.

Yet, fundamentally, Professor Wood's conclusions are no more reassuring than those of Dr. Vernon. To him, the central issue in metropolitan government is not whether or not local jurisdictions can provide a sufficient volume of the traditional public services. Instead, the issue is whether or not a large number of essentially service-oriented governments can come to grips with the new public problems Dr. Vernon emphasized. Can they, for example, make comprehensive plans for the provision of regional services in transportation, land use, and redevelopment? Have they any effective mechanism for determining priorities among these services? Can they effectively guide the extraordinary . . .

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