On Principle and Pragmatism

16 Jul

Nothing gets done when pragmatism cedes to principle. The political paralysis at home and abroad has demonstrated this all too well. But even in times when idealistic grandstanding is typically followed by inaction, there are advocates, policymakers, philanthropists, and private sector groups that are showing us what can happen when pragmatism (informed by principle) rules the day.

This month we look at emerging ideas that aim to tackle thorny problems in practical ways. As Assembly Bill 1484 solidifies the dissolution of California’s redevelopment agencies, new legislation has been drafted to resuscitate elements of redevelopment for the purpose of creating sustainable transit-oriented districts. As governments work to comply with the Clean Water Act, they’re developing new funding mechanisms to implement cost-effective, sustainable infrastructure improvements to mitigate the harmful effects of urban runoff. And in an era where large transit expansion projects typically take decades to complete, metropolitan areas across the U.S. are tapping into newly available federal loans to accelerate timelines.

Things are getting done in spite of a challenging fiscal and political environment.  From building parklets in San Francisco to creatively reusing an old Wal-Mart store in Texas, it seems that an ethos of pragmatism has begun to take hold. But let us remember not to lose sight of the principles that inform decision-making.

Sincerely yours,

Cecilia V. Estolano | Jennifer LeSar | Katherine Aguilar Perez

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