Wichita downtown plan to be considered by county commission


Next week the Sedgwick County Commission will consider its approval of the Goody Clancy plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. In December, the plan was passed enthusiastically by the Wichita City Council. There, not even self-styled conservative members like Sue Schlapp, Paul Gray, Jeff Longwell, and Jim Skelton could muster even one tiny bit of doubt as to the wisdom of this plan, with its centralized planning and calls for massive spending of public money.

At the county commission, things may be different. Here are a few articles commissioners may want to consider as they prepare to endorse — or not — this plan.

Wichita should reject Goody Clancy plan for downtown. Mr. Mayor, members of this council, there are many reasons why we should reject Project Downtown: The Master Plan for Wichita. I’d like to present just a few. … First, consider the attitudes of Goody Clancy, the Boston planning firm the city hired to lead us through the process. At a presentation in January, some speakers from Goody Clancy revealed condescending attitudes towards those who hold values different from this group of planners. One presenter said “Outside of Manhattan and Chicago, the traditional family household generally looks for a single family detached house with yard, where they think their kids might play, and they never do.” … David Dixon, who leads Goody Clancy’s Planning and Urban Design division and was the principal for this project, revealed his elitist world view when he told how that in the future, Wichitans will be able to “enjoy the kind of social and cultural richness” that is only found at the core. This idea that only downtown people are socially and culturally rich is an elitist attitude that we ought to reject. Click here to read the article.

In Wichita, who is to plan? In presenting the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, Wichita’s planners routinely make no distinction between government planning and private planning. In their presentations, they will draw analogies between the wisdom of individuals or businesses creating and following a plan and government doing the same. … An example is Wichita Downtown Development Corporation President Jeff Fluhr, who told the Wichita Pachyderm Club that the development of downtown is like the planning of an automobile trip, so that we don’t make major investments that we later regret. … But government and the private sector are very different, facing greatly different constraints, motivations, and access to information. As a result, the two planning processes are entirely different and not compatible. Click here to read the article.

Tax increment financing: TIF has a cost. Tax increment financing, or TIF districts, is slated to be used as one of the primary means to raise money for the “public investment” portion of the costs of the revitalization of downtown Wichita. Touted by its supporters as being without cost, or good for the entire city, or the only way to get a project started, these arguments make sense only to those who see only the immediate effects of something and are unwilling — or unable — to see the secondary effects of this harmful form of government intervention. Click here to read the article.

Wichita’s vision, by the urbanist elites. Why are some in Wichita so insistent on pushing their vision of what our city should look like, and why are they willing and eager to use the coercive force of government to achieve their vision? In the article below, Randal O’Toole, using a work by Thomas Sowell, provides much insight into understanding why. Click here to read the article.

Wichita downtown planning, not trash, is real threat. A recent plan for the City of Wichita to take over the management of residential trash pickup has many citizens advocating for the present free market system. While I agree that a free market in trash pickup is superior to government management of a cooperative, it is, after all, only trash. There are far greater threats to the economic freedom of Wichitans, in particular the planning for the future of downtown Wichita. … While the downtown Wichita planners promote their plan as market-based development, the fact is that we already have market-based development happening all over Wichita. But because this development may not be taking place where some people want it to — downtown is where the visionaries say development should be — they declare a “market failure.” Click here to read the article.

Government is not business, and can’t be. As Wichita begins its implementation of the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, stakeholders like to delude themselves that the plan is “market-driven,” that the city will make prudent use of public “investment,” and that the plan’s supporters really do believe in free markets after all. It’s a business-like approach, they say. But government is not business. The two institutions are entirely different. Click here to read the article.

Eminent domain reserved for use in Wichita. As part of the plan for the future of downtown Wichita, the city council was asked to formally disavow the use of eminent domain to take private property for the purpose of economic development. The council would not agree to this restriction. Click here to read the article.

At Wichita planning commission, downtown plan approved. At last week’s meeting of the Wichita Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, members were asked to approve the Goody Clancy plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. I appeared to make sure that commissioners were aware of some of the highly dubious data on which the plan is based. In particular, I presented to the commission the Walk Score data for downtown Wichita, and how Goody Clancy relied on this obviously meaningless data in developing plans for downtown Wichita. Click here to read the article.

Wichita downtown plan focused on elite values, incorrect assumptions. One of the themes of those planning the future of downtown Wichita is that the suburban areas of Wichita are bad. The people living there are not cultured and sophisticated, the planners say. Suburbanites live wasteful lifestyles. Planners say they use too much energy, emit too much carbon, and gobble up too much land, all for things they’ve been duped into believing they want. It’s an elitist diagnosis, and Wichita’s buying it. Well, we’ve already paid for it, but we can stop the harmful planning process before it’s too late. Click here to read the article.

Some Goody Clancy Wichita findings not credible. Last week Boston planning firm Goody Clancy presented its master plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita. As this plan is now part of the political landscape in Wichita, we ought to take a critical look at some of its components. Click here to read the article.

Good intentions, and planners, can sap a city’s soul. The following article by Kansas City writer Jack Cashill, courtesy of Ingram’s Magazine, explains some of the problems with city planning of the type Wichita is undertaking at this time. Click here to read the article.


4 responses to “Wichita downtown plan to be considered by county commission”

  1. A Nony Moose

    The above fine examples by Mr. Weeks are exactly why we need to depose the current mayor of River City and elect a pro-liberty/pro free market candidate such as Darrell Lefew. I am a resident of District 2 and so glad we have term limits in Wichita! Goodbye Sue Schlapp! Go Charlie Stevens go!

  2. Anonymous Mike

    Unfortunately Sue Schlapp was one of the better ones (comparatively speaking). Not that she was GOOD, just better than the other ones.



  3. […] Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider policies relating to the award of subsidies for development in downtown Wichita. While the policies have the sheen of government authority, that the policies are government policies means that downtown development is certain to miss out on the benefits of free markets, capitalism, and the dispersed knowledge that only markets can generate and channel. In its place we’re left with a form of social engineering that seeks to remake Wichita in the vision of planners and their supporters. […]

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