Planning does what it's supposed to do when it’s part of a generally trusted process that goes beyond any one politician's term. That's both why it makes sense and why it doesn’t happen.
Planning should be required for public funding. But for a variety of reasons planning as a practical government function has become nearly invisible over about the last thirty years. As a consequence, the New Mexico Legislature's apportionment of capital money is a senseless special interest wrestling match. Think New Mexico's recommendations for creation of a capital planning board and comprehensive (capital) plan are great. But they're also complete reinvention of a wheel that should have been rolling all along. How this recommended state level planning work is integrated locally may determine it's acceptance and success.
It's got to be better than no planning at all.
Comprehensive planning should take place within a web of interconnected plans that look at different things on an ongoing basis. Plans identify issues, explore alternatives, recommend policies and set priorities at varying levels of detail - the Comp Plan for a city or region being the broadest.
I didn’t make this stuff up. (Pauses to glance angrily at trolls.) But democratic city planning ideals are relatively recent. Regional planning as it was applied in this country sort of came of age in the thirties in New York State. It was fought then by Catskill developers who saw it as the potential constraint to profiteering it was. Most cities we consider “planned” cities were designed by architects or urban designers and built by an emperor, king or single rich guy.
New Mexico's uniquely invisible and toothless planning was shaped by a long rich history of exploiting people for land. That meshed nicely with national trends favoring a go, go, go housing market. The near mythical pursuit of "highest and best use" has kneecapped all but the flawed dull duo: subdivision and zoning ordinances.** At this point in our limited civil civic discourse we don't really even know what planning is supposed to do. The planning profession largely serves to either administer those development ordinances for public entities or wiggle around them for the private ones.
Connected reasons promote not planning or anti-planning views. One is a simple lack of data. Limited truths and half-truths are easily exploited without information. Development of land has huge attendant public costs that are seldom accurately assessed. The overarching assumption is that growth pays for itself regardless of location and characteristics. Logic says the land itself is the correct determinant of public cost share, not who owns it and the depth of their pocket.
Planning has also been a little unpopular with the civic boosters for the usual inclusion of a "no-growth" scenario in the alternatives framework some plans use. Talking no growth what-ifs just doesn't sit well with the mainstream. So never imagine that's been thought through with any public bond financing either.
"Growth management" planning efforts in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County in the 1980s and 1990s were a threat to the real estate golden goose egg and everyone who sucked on it. Work to quantify infrastructure needs and set priorities in plans was routinely constrained or ignored by important allies of developers in government. Sympathetic elected officials insisted that existing methods of apportioning costs were fair before the Planned Growth Strategy, including determination of those costs, even began.
Lastly and importantly, planning is constrained by the wild card of capital infrastructure project funding from the New Mexico State Legislature. Legislators are unburdened by any required connection to local plans and policies. Planning without a capital component is meaningless, enabling detractors to sideline the planning process completely.
*What I would have said at the panel thingy only I would have gotten sweaty. So read this like you're me, sweaty.
**Even so, NM didn't even have state subdivision law until the 1980s. Governor King, not coincidentally a huge landowner, vetoed the legislation a couple of times.