I had the privilege of working with planning legend Ernest Bartley to put together the application to honor Fred Bair, Jr. with APA's Distinguished Leadership Award in 2000. Letters supporting the nomination were also submitted by Norman Krumholz, Israel Stollman, Perry Norton, Sam Casella, Earl Stames, Peter DeVries, Jesse Martin, H.M. Chuck Place III, J.D. Wingfield, Patrick Cusick Jr., George Action Jr., Marvin Hill, Edward Mack, and Fred’s former partner Dan Abernathy.
The document that follows was the “Explanation Demonstrating How the Submission Meets the Stated Criteria.” It does a pretty good job of explaining why so many of his colleagues supported honoring Fred for his “sustained contribution to the profession through distinguished practice, teaching, or writing.” — Daniel Lauber, AICP President 2003–2005, 1992–1994
Since the mid–1950s, the written and spoken words of Frederick H. Bair, Jr. have taught generations of planners how to plan with the social equity APA has only recently embraced, and with the humanity that so many of today’s faceless bureaucrats seem unable to grasp. His concise, wise words have taught generations of planners how to address new issues in a rational and comprehensive manner. If you haven’t experienced the magic of Fred’s leadership, just read his articles included in this submission. You’ll find the work of a professional planner who proposes solutions that address actual causes of a problem rather than offer band–aid cures. You’ll find the work of a professional planner who has consistently been ahead of his time. And you’ll find the work of a professional planner who has led his profession by the extremely high quality of the innovative work he has produced.
“In 1960 Fred was pushing for techniques and ideas that are only now beginning to be talked about and accepted nationally….
Fred has been helping our profession overcome the landowner sentiment so often voiced when he first started as a planner with the Soil Conservation Service and National Resources Planning Board in 1937: “Nobody is going to tell me what I can do with my land.” After planning positions in New York and Wyoming, Fred headed the Florida Community Planning and Industrial Development Division before embarking on a distinguished 30 years of consulting. It’s during these last 30 years that Fred Bair produced the distinguished practice and writings that have increased the understanding of planning principles and practice to further the cause of sound planning throughout the nation.
Most planners simply enjoy the fruits of Fred’s work without realizing that it was Fred Bair, Jr. who set our planning dinner table. Just take a look at the broad scope of the Planning Advisory Service Reports he wrote listed in his enclosed one–page summary of his qualifications for this honor. The enclosed table of contents from Planning Cities, one of two collections of his writings, illustrates not only the breadth of his work, but his pioneering influence. As the foreword to Planning Cities notes, “In 1960 Fred was pushing for techniques and ideas that are only now beginning to be talked about and accepted nationally…. Fred is still writing and talking about things that some younger planners, academicians, and faddists have dismissed as simplistic. But to the vast majority of practicing planners — those out on the front lines doing planning every day and facing difficult problems — Fred Bair is an Olympian. He writes to them and for them, and what he has to say helps them in their work.”
Fred’s many articles, Planning Advisory Service Reports, and books have taken the planning principles he espoused in practice and helped shape how planners understand planning principles and the planning process. For example, the enclosed chapter from Planning Cities entitled “Is Zoning a Mistake? Thoughts on Performance Standards for Performance Standards for Non–Euclidean Non–Zoning” called for a “long overdue” major overhaul of both the intent and method of land–use regulation called zoning. Long before consultant Lane Kendig and others turned performance zoning into an industry unto itself, Bair provided the intellectual and practical framework on which today’s planners have built their versions of performance zoning. Without Fred’s groundbreaking treatments of performance zoning, it would be virtually nonexistent. Even APA’s “Growing Smart” project owes much of its direction to Bair’s early work on this aspect of zoning as well as many of his other writings and consulting projects.
Fred’s Text of a Model Zoning Ordinance continues to serve as a guide for any planner ever charged with writing or updating a zoning ordinance. Many of its provisions seem advanced today, even though he first wrote the text decades ago.
Well before APA ever heard of Paul Davidoff and his substantial efforts to curtail exclusionary zoning practices, Fred Bair, Jr., exposed the damage it does and called for planners to help bring an end to exclusionary zoning in his article Planning for Protection Against Difference? Fred did not become focused on this lone issue; instead he sought to incorporate the elimination of exclusionary zoning into everyday planning practices. The influence of his pioneering work is still felt today in the PAS Reports on exclusionary zoning, APA’s amicus briefs in exclusionary zoning cases, court decisions outlawing exclusionary practices such as Mount Laurel, and even in the AICP Code of Professional Conduct which prohibits professional planners from engaging in exclusionary practices.
The annual Zoning and Land–Use Clinics that Fred and colleague Robert Leary conducted at APA’s national conference influenced the thousands of planning commissioners who attended them over 30 years. Long before APA institutionalized its concerns over educating planning commissioners, Fred Bair was on the front line teaching sound, legal zoning practices to the nation’s appointed planning officials.
For decades, Fred Bair, Jr. set the standards for the land–use regulation of manufactured housing including mobile homes (PAS reports 265, 360). See the enclosed letter from the Florida Manufactured Housing Association.
But Fred’s influence on the understanding of planning principles and the planning process go far beyond what has be recounted so far. Take a gander at the enclosed Table of Contents from Planning Cities to get a better idea of the breadth of Fred’s work and influence. Look at the Planning Advisory Service Reports Fred wrote listed in the “Summary of Qualifications.” Thirty years ago he was devising the open space net, the foundation for so much open space planning today. Thirty years ago he was setting the standards the profession still follows for establishing special public interest districts and intensity zoning to accommodate townhouses, apartments, and planned unit developments. Thirty years ago he was writing about developing a regulatory system for use, development, occupancy, and construction which helped lay the foundation for the Model Land Development Code devised by the American Law Institute in 1975 and for APA’s current “Growing Smart” project .
Yet throughout his career, Fred also set standards for such unglamorous planning issues such as regulating storage of major recreational equipment and regulating service stations — and most of today’s zoning regulation is still based on Fred’s work.
Throughout it all, Mr. Bair has maintained his sense of perspective, perhaps most widely known through the captions he wrote for the cartoons in And on the Eighth Day.
As the enclosed letters attest, few planners have influenced the course of our profession during the past 40 years as much as Fred Bair, Jr. He’s been a pioneer, often raising planning issues long before they were even a glimmer in the eyes of the rest of us. Read those letters. They will give you a good idea why Fred has been honored by two APA chapters and the Florida Planning and Zoning Association and why he more than merely meets the criteria for APA’s Distinguished Leadership Award for a Professional Planner.