Please pardon my reckless overgeneralization as I share a theory -Related: Is there anything that you all don't know better than the people who are professionals? Doesn't matter if they're architects, city planners, or (god forbid) transportation engineers -- they apparently don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Poor benighted, souls who have to please a broad range of competing interests and meet a budget...
I'm going to guess MNdible is a Gen X'er (i bet he'll correct me if I'm wrong!) and the folks "who think they know better than the professionals" are millennials. Gen Xer's are generally said to have much more trust in institutions, professionals, and credentials. Millennials are more likely to be skeptical of institutions, place less importance on formal education and credentials, and place faith in those who personally demonstrate compentency and good faith, rather than those experts sanctioned by institutions.
Is it possible part of this disagreement we are seeing is indicative of broader generational differences?
MNdible has a point about layman armchair quarterbacks sniping from the sidelines. Surely we don't feel the constraints faced by the actual professionals in the field as we're kicking around ideas.
However, as a quintessential slacker Gen Y'er, I tend to side with the iconoclasts. Surely, I trust the architecs and engineers to build safe buldings and sturdy bridges; I don't want to see folks from outside the profession interferring with their best practices. However, I'm not willing to outsource decisions regarding values to city planners and transportation engineers.
As our scientific knowledge has grown we've made impressive advancements, yet we run a risk of specialized silos where professionals and whole professions start to miss the forest for the trees. Thus, we end up with 50 years of transportation policy that focuses on the narrow goal of moving as many cars as fast as possible, to the detriment of other values. Sometimes it takes an uneducated heretic like Jane Jacobs to 'pon de walls' of the prevailing thinking of the day. Another example may be Michael Pollan's compelling (but nonscientific) attack and food science and nutritionalism.
I think one could make an argument that marginal gains are made within the confines of a profession's silo, but sweeping advancements come from an outside offensive on the assumptions of the silo itself.
Maybe some people's opinions on this board sound like uneducated sniping because they're talking out of school. But its also possible that our values are so different from those these professions have internalized, nothing short of radical change will right the course. From this perspective the slow, careful, marginal change to which institutions are prone seems trivial. Hence the frustration and "overwhelming negativity about our region."