By request, this is re-posted from an email listserv:
I've spoken with a few people privately about this, but every time this discussion happens about frustrations with developers I feel like we completely miss the point, and what we can actually do about it.
If there ever was an effort worthy of the CNU as a group to undertake it would be to shepherd the creation of 10,000 new developer/builders *that believe in New Urbanism.*
We've spent 3 decades trying to convince, cajole and browbeat sprawl developers into doing NU, and the net result is that most are even *more* reluctant today to dive in. So, why on earth would we waste a single breath more of energy in this arena?
Instead, why wouldn't we harness the many talents within the CNU to find, encourage, train and ultimately provide seed capital to 10,000 new developers all across the country? Preferably Gen Y (some Gen X'ers like myself may also apply), this group could focus their careers (or the rest of their careers) on creating the successful, alternate system to the developers that drive us all a little mad today.
There are no silver bullets in life, but I absolutely believe there's nothing that would make all of our lives better if we had such a group in place:
-we would have a powerful, private-sector constituency for change (elected officials listen to developers much more than designers or planners)
-the "it won't work" crowd and those who think we are anti-free market would be neutered
-the planners would find themselves empowered
-form-based codes wouldn't be a dirty word
-landscape urbanism would be irrelevant
-the skills to produce NU would find more emphasis in schools
My fear is we are a decade late in doing this. If we'd had a program in place before the crash, we would have had a path to point people towards who's lives were turned upside-down, whether they be students, builders, designers, or others. Even now there's still opportunity, but we are at risk of ceding the ground to ULI, and thus losing control of key principles. If we pull back completely and retreat to our corner, we'll have missed our true nextgen opportunity. I would love to see us jump up and grab the chance to take the lead now, while talent & enthusiasm is still available. It won't be for much longer.