In an interview with Cities Alliance, Senior Fellow Paul Romer offers his views on “Making Room” and the work being done by the Urban Expansion team led by Solly Angel. Key insights include:
On the importance of the grid:
Cities are valuable because people can make connections. The connections they make require a surface area for a grid for those connections to be established. It could be a truck, a water pipe, a sidewalk. That grid is the responsibility of the government. The key is to take ownership of that land before expansion takes place, to keep options open and use public space for what is most important at a certain point in time.
On how this planning supports investment and job creation:
There is nothing about our approach to urban planning that explicitly plans for the economy....The important point about economic activity is that if you just let people work, they will find ways to work together and produce what they want. You don’t need to plan for jobs, you don’t need to have a government manufacture jobs. What you need though is to let people have a legal place to live, let them have transportation, so they can get from where they live to where there might be jobs and then let potential employers come in.
Romer also participated in the recent NYU Marron event, “How They Do It in Ethiopia: Making Room for Cities to Grow,” where he made similar arguments during his keynote address and the panel discussion.