We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
During the twenty-first century, more urbanization will take place than during all of human history. Both the global population and the fraction of it living in cities will reach their peaks, as 3 billion to 5 billion people join the 3 billion who already call cities home. That staggering urban growth will be strongest in the developing world. If the existing cities there simply grow by accretion, many people will end up in dangerous slums.
That's what every city was like about 100 years ago. While planning and effort has reduced these slums significantly, one could argue that it has also created massive deficits. That is, we could've regulated and managed the cities in a way to achieve what we have - but once you do that, people start ASKING FOR MONEY. And politicians, being what they are, believe money is free.
Sometimes the best way to get from there to here isn't the way we did it, particularly if a culture isn't ready for it. You can't pave the road, only to discover that people have cut a different path after you've spent the money - but that's what we do all the time.
Cancun was also planned. Ever been there? A visitor, there for a good time, may enjoy himself. Frankly, I prefer Cozumel (relatively unplanned) - but the funny thing is the "success" of Cancun led planners to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel....and basically ruined both. They blew up reefs in Cozumel so MORE cruise ships could come in - ruining perfectly good diving spots. Interestingly, diving was what drew people to Cozumel. While there is still plenty of good diving, it's clear there is no commitment on the part of the government to support anything but development.
Playa del Carmen was a sleepy town. Its draw was pristine beaches, lazy hammocks, and cheap meals/drinks for a relaxing time. Today, it's overdeveloped, overactive, and while the beaches are OK, it's simply another cookie-cutter tourist trap. Which is OK, if that's what is desired. But the problem is the old Yogi Berra problem - nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded. What made it interesting and desirable for many before is making it undesirable today (but "desirable" for so many more because it's got a Senor Frog's, a TGIF, and various other chain restaurants in the area).
Cancun is a huge "success". If you forget all the environmental problems. I won't swim there. I doubt they've fixed the piping, but basically the waste was all dumped out in the channel. Even if they fixed it, I'm still not sure they check for fecal coliform the way we do here in the States.
Belmopan is my favorite. Built by Belize, it was meant to be the new Capital City - thriving and growing - after a hurricane demolished Belize City. It's inland and relatively protected. Basically, it's a ghost town. People do live there, and people do work there. But it's really a commuter city. Meanwhile, San Pedro on Ambergris Cay is a community that sprung up from dive and art enthusiasts. It was popular, thriving, clean, and well maintained. I haven't been there in many years, now, but I've seen pictures.
The planners arrived. It's a "success". But at what cost?
There is a need for planners. They should set minimum standards and oversee development. But they shouldn't be promoting growth or guiding growth, or picking winners. Sadly, when this happens, and it inevitably does, money goes down the tubes, culture is lost, and we move away from what made a place interesting.
This isn't a rant against change. I love change. In fact, change makes places interesting. A recent trip to London confirmed to me why I love that city so much. The changes in the 12 years between visits have only made it more interesting to me. But change in a thousand year old large city is a slow, deliberate process.
Change in lovely towns which have value can be good too - but when it is government promoted and managed, it's usually garbage. Why go to Cancun? Fort Lauderdale and Miami have all the same stuff....and it's cheaper.