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Blaming the Planners

April 20, 1986

This is in response to Sam Hall Kaplan's "Citizens Want a Hand in Zoning" (April 6).

In case Mr. Kaplan is unaware, urban planners throughout history have been among the leaders in actively promoting better cities and the environment, regardless of the propensity to be criticized and admonished for all the ills of civilization, including being dismissed from employment.

The history of our cities is filled with cases of planners, once they have expressed their concerns for sensitive community issues, seeking other employment. In too many of those cases, the general public and media have remained silent. Unless the media and general public are more vocal and supportive of "good planning," as well as what they perceive to be "bad" planning, it is rare that public planners can effectively provide the necessary leadership in producing viable communities.

The media, including Mr. Kaplan, would better serve the public purpose of "good planning" by avoiding "cheap shots" at those professionals and laymen who devote considerable time and effort to the difficult and often thankless task of protecting the public interest.

Mr. Kaplan should also be aware that public planners do not work in a vacuum but conduct their activities within a political environment that includes listening and reacting to a multitude of special interest groups, which is healthy for the decision-making process. Finally, he should also take note that it is our elected officials who must bear the major responsibility for the negative conditions of our cities and environment.

JACK SEGAL

STEVEN LEVESQUE

Fullerton

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