Razin, Eran. “District Plans in Israel: Post-Mortem?” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (early view; online first).
In this paper, I qualitatively examine the rise and possible fall of statutory district plans as a major tool of regional planning in Israel. Rigid statutory regional plans are a top-down means, and the Israeli case demonstrates that their days are not necessarily over in an era of ‘soft spaces’ and complex governance networks. The swing of the pendulum in attitudes toward these plans is not associated with centralization–decentralization trends. Rather, it reflects power relations between two centralized coalitions of stakeholders. The one led by elected politicians favors proactive-developmental goals, aiming at state-led open-ended or non-statutory planning. The other coalition, led by central state bureaucrats, favors strict regulation. NGOs, assumed to form the core of soft horizontal governance networks, paradoxically support top-down ‘hard’ modes of regional planning, in the name of environmental sustainability that is not necessarily best served by bottom-up soft approaches.