The Higher Duty of Local Planning Commissions in a Multicultural Society
David Allor & J. T. Spence
Within the larger processes of American urban planning, the deliberations of local planning commissions will increasingly reveal the continuing emergence of America as a multicultural society in three related dimensions. First, in their efforts to construct a value consensus by which to guide public decision-making, local planning commissions will seek to reweave the tapestry of American culture. This will require a continuing acceptance of, accommodation to, and integration with very diverse immigrant cultures. The current dominant culture, one largely Northern European-American, will give way to an expanding constellation of cultures within which it is one significant minority. In turn, the current minority cultures, most notably the Native American, Appalachian, African American, and Hispanic American, will have to reassess their position, contribution, and visibility within that expanding tapestry.
Second and inconsequence, there will be recurrent cross-pressures toward cultural homogenization and cultural pluralism. The deliberations of local planning commissions will center on four critical aspects of culture: religion, family, property, and aesthetics.
The third dimension is the character of the planning commission itself. Local planning commissions will struggle to reconstitute themselves as representative bodies in both formal and substantive aspects. Here, cultural cross-pressures will place great stress upon planning commissions to be more responsive to value diversity while assuring continuity and effectiveness of process. The success of local planning commissions will rest upon the ability of each of its members to attain a multicultural mentality as an essential component of conscientious service to an increasingly multicultural society.