Saturday, November 24, 2012

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. A warning to Wichata, KS

Toto, We are not in Kansas anymore.

Editor's Note: This article is by a leading urban planner and Portland, OR native, Randal O'toole who has witnessed the shortcomings of Smart Growth firsthand. 

Wichita should reject the fads Portland has followed

by Guest Author on August 10, 2011
By Randal O’Toole. From February, 2010.
Randal O'Toole speaking in WichitaRandal O’Toole in Wichita.
Urban planners say they can make our cities more livable, our downtowns more vibrant, and our traffic calmer. The problem is that urban planners do not understand how cities work, so all of their plans often turn out disastrously wrong.

Many urban planners are quite capable of planning a sewer line, a road, a bus route, or a school. But it is huge leap from “I can locate a water main” to “I should have the power to decide how every piece of land in your urban area should be used.”

That is the power urban planners want. But cities are too complicated for anyone to plan, so giving anyone this power is asking for trouble.
Take my former hometown of Portland, Oregon, whose planners say they are making streets “vibrant” and the city “livable” by encouraging walking and transit ridership and discouraging driving.

To stop “sprawl,” planners told rural landowners around Portland that they cannot build a house on their own land unless they own at least 80 acres and earn $80,000 a year farming it. To promote “compact development,” planners rezoned many neighborhoods of single-family homes for multi-family housing with zoning so strict that, if someone’s house burns down, they can only replace it with an apartment.

Planners believe your only property rights are the rights planning commissions decide to give you — subject to change any time.

Portland has spent well over $2 billion building light-rail and streetcar lines. To encourage transit ridership, planners allowed rush-hour congestion on all major freeways and streets to increase to stop-and-go levels. Doing anything to relieve congestion, planners feared, “would eliminate transit ridership.”

To further encourage transit and walking, planners zoned all the land near light-rail stations for high-density, mixed-use development, so people could walk from their apartment buildings to a cafe or grocery store. When nothing got built — developers said Portland already had a surplus of multi-family housing — the city started subsidizing it, and has so far given around $2 billion in public funds to developers.

The results are attractive if you like the idea of dodging trolleys as you wander through canyons of four- and five-story apartment buildings. But the practical effects on Portland residents are mostly negative.

Planners successfully increased congestion by more than six times since 1982, about the time most of these plans began. But that hasn’t gotten people out of their cars: the share of commuters taking transit to work declined from 9.8 percent in 1980 to 6.5 percent in 2007.

Planners more than doubled housing prices, so a $150,000 home in Wichita would cost well over $300,000 in Portland. But that hasn’t made high-density housing particularly successful: many of these developments have high vacancy rates and several have gone bankrupt.

High housing prices forced many families with children to move to distant suburbs, and the remaining childless households eat out a lot, so Portland has lots of restaurants. But it also has high taxes and urban services have deteriorated as funds once dedicated to fire, police, public health, and other programs have been diverted to subsidies to developers.

Terrible traffic, unaffordable housing, high taxes, and reduced property rights: those are the legacies of Portland planning. That’s the future planners want to bring to Wichita. I recommend you just say no.

Friday, November 23, 2012

ABAG, MTC chuckle as they plot to restrict public access to December 12 hearing

Never under estimate the sense of humor of bureaucrats and politicians.

It’s enormously instructive to listen to the audio file of MTC and ABAG’s boards at their 9-minute meeting Friday(11/9/2012) morning. Their words are saturated with their views about their plans to restructure every aspect of your life—plans you don’t know about—and with their views about you. See summary of transcript below.

December 12, 2012 Meeting Agenda

Audio file of the meeting

The meeting opens with the Chairman of MTC superciliously and gratuitously joking about MTC commissioner compensation for attending meetings. Mr. Chairman, it is not what you are PAID that concerns us! It is what you and your colleagues are DOING to us that raises such grave concerns about how boldly and brazenly you have arrogated to yourselves the power to radically and irreversibly restructure the lives, rights, and liberties of all 7 million residents of the Bay Area, with total disregard for the interests, inputs, or property rights of the cities, towns, counties, landowners, civic associations, and individual citizens.

Then the meeting moves to its only substantive item of business—extending the scheduled timeline for adoption of Plan Bay Area. This is the first time they’ve extended their extraordinarily aggressive timeline for promulgating this plan since they received their initial target date of April, 2013—undoubtedly from their handlers, whomever those powerful shadowy interests are—in 2010.

On the audio, you will hear the staffers claim they needed to extend their schedule due to their extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders [cough, cough!] and due to their use of super-sophisticated modeling software. These are the “magic models” through which they will find that mixing together 5 or 6 coercive, untested, and unworkable policy elements will turn into unicorns, rainbows and skittles for Bay Area residents when these toxic policy elements are put through those magic models.

Needless to say, the staffers and ABAG board members and MTC commissioners assiduously avoid mentioning the elephant in the conference room—the substantive and specific concerns expressed by a broad range of citizens throughout this whole kabuki theater exercise of “securing public input” as MTC and ABAG move their sham process towards its pre-determined conclusion.

You will also note that the staffers, and MTC commissioners and ABAG committee members repeatedly fall all over themselves to gush about the public input they’ve sought, and all the “stakeholders” they have met with. Expect to hear no end of this as they attempt to move this towards their pre-ordained outcome, against the wishes and interests of the average citizens who are aware of this plan. They are trying desperately to get this enacted before the citizenry of the Bay Area wakes up to the detrimental and irreversible sweeping changes to our way of lives that is being foisted up an unsuspecting public through two unelected, unaccountable regional government entities. Needless to say, they are doing so through these entities precisely because these kinds of coercive, job-killing, liberty-sapping policies could not be initially enacted at the local level precisely because local residents would say “no”—emphatically so.

And, in this remarkable 9 minute audio, the last minute from 7:41 to 8:43 on the tape is priceless, as the veil drops and the MTC commissioners and ABAG board members display their dripping disdain towards and animus against the average, ordinary citizens who have articulately and thoughtfully raised concern after concern over the substance of this plan, and the process by which it is being promulgated—in the face of stony silence from the commissioners, board members, and staffers themselves. People whose only legitimate function and role is to act as public servants, and acting in the public interest—and they are sadly not doing so, in any way here.

What is stunning and inescapably obvious is that for these unelected, unaccountable regional entities, public outreach and input are SOLELY to secure public quiescence to their radical, untested plan—and to these regional bodies forever replacing our local cities and counties as the decision makers about how we shall live in our own communities. They want assent, and gratitude for their anointed control over our lives, and for their restructuring and restricting every aspect of our existence—and are angered by any dissent or questioning of what they are doing, or of the lawfulness of their authority to do so. Rather than soliciting real input or wanting to hear what the citizens who are paying their salaries want, anyone who questions or who objects, is anathema to them.

Chilling indeed, and a mere foreshadowing of our future if our freedoms and form of governance are ceded to these unelected, unaccountable regional entities who answer to shadowy powerful interests, but who are neither responsive to the public they purport to serve, nor are they interested in acting in the interests of that public.

Again, for your convenience, here’re links to the agenda and audio of the meeting this morning, and directly below that, also for your convenience, is an unofficial transcript of the meeting:
Meeting agenda:

Audio file of the meeting:

MTC Chairman James P. Spering: I’m not sure about the ABAG members but the MTC commissioners, we’re receiving a hundred dollars for this meeting, and we get a maximum of five hundred dollars a month—and so I just want to make sure that the public’s aware of that, and so there’s full sunshine here at MTC
[First agenda item, checking for quorum]
[Next item, consent calendar]
Next item is the Bay Plan area schedule update and Ken, are you going to introduce this and then turn it over to Carolyn?
Ken Kirkey, Staff Liaison: Yes I will. This should be a pretty brief item. This is the first time committee members that you’ve seen Plan Bay Area up on the screen. You’ll be seeing it a lot more in the coming months—alternative scenarios, the preferred scenario. We had a lot of local input. We had a lot of interaction with stakeholders in terms of developing those scenarios, and we’re at a point now where we need to extend things just a bit in terms of the schedule so I’ll turn it over to Carolyn Clevenger who will give you the details.
Unknown voice: Okay, Carolyn?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: Good morning MTC and ABAG committee members. I’m Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning, here to present an update on their overall schedule and work that’s been going on since your last meeting.
As you may recall you approved the initial schedule in 2010 which called for final approvals of the Plan Bay Area in April of next year. The revised schedule for you today pushes that final date out two months to June of next year.
As you know this is the first time we’ve developed an integrated transportation and land use plan, and given the complexities of this effort, there were multiple instances throughout the process where staff was directed to allow more time for discussions with local jurisdictions, communities, and stakeholders regarding elements of the land use and scenario development. We also worked extensively with stakeholders in developing two of the five alternatives that we’re evaluating, and the multiple rounds of scenario analysis, extensive public outreach, and our best alternatives analysis have all added time to this project.
Over the past few months, staff have been coding the recommended project you approved in July, and the alternatives from the EIR having land uses and transportation as well as policy inputs. The modeling work is taking longer than expected due to the complexities of the modeling technologies as well as the more detailed and varied inputs that we’re evaluating as part of the alternatives analysis. However, we do believe that the more robust modeling work will provide us with better analysis information in the long run compared to what we’ve had in past plans.
And, we’ve also, as of yesterday, launched the new Plan Bay Area website at It’s more user-friendly, interactive, and comprehensive. We’re currently in the soft launch phase. So, if you’d like, please take a look. We know that there are some errors that we’ll be working out as the site comes live, but we’ve got some more information on there about regional programs like the climate initiatives program and ABAG’s energy management program. So please take a look and let us know if you have any input on the website.
Our revised Plan Bay Area schedule is outlined in Table One of your packet as well as up on the screen behind you here today. We’re working towards a March concurrent release of the draft EIR along with the draft Plan Bay Area which will then kick off the public comment period. We’ll be doing public workshops and public hearings throughout the region.
Staff will be returning to you in a future meeting to provide more detail of the public outreach plan for the draft Plan Bay Area and the draft EIR. The environmental analysis together with the input from the policy discussions you’ll be having as a group, as well as our public hearings and public workshops will help inform Commission’s final approval—Committee and Commission’s final approval of the EIR and Plan in June of next year.
So, with that, I’ll take any questions.
Question: Can you walk through how we’re going to handle the comments on the EIR? Are they going to be posted? How will we have access?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: As part of the EIR we do make available publicly and to all of you every comment as well as every response to each comment. So, the comment period will be starting as soon as we release the draft EIR in March. Before you approve the final EIR and plan you will have the full set of comments and responses in front of you.
Question: Now, will they be posted on our website?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC staff: Yes.
Question: So the public or someone can go see what the comments are and the responses?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC staff : Correct. We post that as part of the documentation of the final EIR.
MTC Chairman Spering: Questions, other questions?
Question: Thank you very much for that presentation. Appreciate all the hard work to move this forward, and recognizing that one of our goals is to continue with a broad public discussion of this [huh???], so, in terms of the public hearings and the workshops on the draft plan and the EIR, do you envision those being both here as well as out in the counties?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: Yes, our plan is to do the public hearings as well as workshops throughout the region. And staff, I believe, will be back in December—is our plan right now with the updated full outreach plan with details of public hearings and workshops. For the EIR we’ll also have public hearings that are very specific to the EIR. But for the overall plan we’re doing a more robust public outreach.
Question: And then can you remind me of sort of the technology piece that provides for residents to be able to weigh in even though they can’t attend a meeting? Are we going to be including some of those tools in conjunction with the sort of public outreach process?
Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning: We will have—people can put email comments to us, and do comments through the website, and we’ll make sure to include some discussion about other ways for the public to be involved other than meetings that are—when we brief you on the public outreach—
Question: I wonder if it might be helpful to kind of publicize that as especially we’re doing the outreach to set up the local county meetings so that they can be focused kind of knowing its almost like an electronic neighborhood discussion as opposed to an email coming into the whole Bay Area—I just thought that might be another way to include and encourage input. Okay, thank you very much. Again, I really want to thank staff for your work over the last few years, especially reaching out to the public [huh???]. I know it’s a huge amount of work—an awful lot of evenings, a lot of ground work, and it’s really been helpful and a great thing to be able to give people the opportunity to participate in their local community [you have got to be kidding me!!!]. So thank you, all of you that have been on the front lines doing this.
MTC Chairman Spering: Have we—this reminded me of something. Are we revising how we hold those [laughs] public meetings? You know, we had a lot of them that were very disruptive. So, I mean, has there been some discussion about –
MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: Mr. Chairman, we will, and if you’re willing, we’d rather defer this discussion until December.
MTC Chairman Spering: That’s fine, Steve. Okay, I’d just want to make sure we’re thinking –
MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: It’s very much on our mind—
MTC Chairman Spering: Okay
MTC or ABAG staffer [Steve Heminger, MTC Executive Director?]: and I’m sure it’s on yours too. It was a very painful experience for all of us [laughs]. [OMG, you’ve got to be kidding me. Are you folks for real?]
MTC Chairman Spering: Yeah, okay. I just think that we need to take a little different approach, and I’m glad you’re thinking about it [laughs]. I’m sure all of us have felt enough pain in that process. [wow. This is just surreal]
Is there any other—yes, I’m sorry, Scott?
Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor and MTC commissioner and ABAG executive committee member: Yep, I’m sorry, I don’t know if I missed this or not, but are we planning on holding these meetings at night [when ordinary citizens are able to attend]? I think it would be more disruptive [than having it during the day when our captive environmental activist groups who are paid to attend can come and act as shills, while most citizens are have child care or work responsibilities, and are unable to attend].
MTC or ABAG staffer [Carolyn Clevenger, MTC Planning?]: We’ll have details of the public outreach plan—
Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor and MTC commissioner and ABAG executive committee member – Yeah, I really think—I know it’s probably not what we all prefer, but I think it might be a better idea if we do have these meetings at night [sic, meant to say “during the day”], but we can hold off that discussion, too.
MTC Chairman Spering: Okay. Is there any other comment? Okay, seeing none—Ken [Kirkey, MTC staffer], did you have anything else to add? Carolyn, thank you very much for that update, and, is there any public comments? Seeing none, and I have no speaker cards. Okay, with that our next meeting will be December 14th, and with that, this meeting’s adjourned.
Audio file of the meeting
They are planning on discussing their public “outreach” plan for input on the EIR and to sell the plan to an unsuspecting public at their meeting December 14, which will likely be held in the morning to effectively prevent the public from showing up and participating. And, as Heminger said at Friday’s meeting, MTC and ABAG staff will be prepared with a plan to make sure no citizens offer their opinions at these “public” hearings.
The idea that these regional bureaucrats are conspiring to shut the public out of the comment and participating process needs to be exposed. The citizens of the Bay Area should be made aware of this outrage.
December 12, 2012 Meeting Agenda

Audio file of the meeting

story originally published on halfway to concord

Beware of Strangers bearing Gifts

Private meetings quiet PUBLIC dissent.

Bay Area planners attempt to meet secretly with opponents of Smart Growth

 Editor's Note:  Opponents to ABAG mandates are from all political points of view. One of the most vocal is Rosa Koire from Democrates against U.N. Agenda 21- a group in Santa Rosa that was formed as a result of Smart Growth redevelopment.  The followers trace the genesis of the aggressive ABAG plan back to UN Agenda 21, an environmental protocol crafted in 1992 mandating radical changes property rights through central planning for environmental reasons. 

I do not subscribe to the same analysis.  I am a believer in  "follow the money and power" to understand the whys of Smart Growth.   Smart Growth developers have co-opted the environmental movement to build highly profitable, high density housing and gaining access to billions of dollars in development funds, grants and special government help in the name of "saving the planet".  We taxpayers are asked to pay for this folly.

The letter below is instructive as to the beaucratic shuffle that opponents face when trying to create true conversation and accountablity from the politicians and central planners. ABAGs goal it seems, is not to engage in true open debate but to quell all dissent.

Democrats Against U.N. Agenda 21, posted today about attempts by Bay Area planners attempts to meet secretly with opponents of its less than transparent One Bay Area planning process. The One Bay Area planning process is a charade of self-fulfilling outcomes designed to reign in growth, suburbs, and private use of automobiles. See the letter sent to Rosa Koire, from ABAG planners, and responses from Koire and East Bay Tea Party activist Heather Gass.
See the PDF on the APA playbook on how to handle opponents of Smart Growth
In addition to Koire’s response on her site see same from Heather Gass
Ms. Bullock,
I still don’t know what this meeting is about and how it would benefit me to attend. An informal meeting, with unelected officials and no agenda, to discuss “issues, matters and dissent” doesn’t warrant my time. The “issues and matters” I care about are the same as those expressed by hundreds of others who attended the winter workshops.
As a member of the public and a tax payer I expected the “open dialogue” you are now requesting and a robust conversation to have occurred at the open meetings held in January. Sadly that did not occur. To now ask for an informal, private meeting with a handful of private citizens and no agenda is puzzling. Hundreds of people dissented at these meetings. Hundreds of tax payers showed up to ask questions and got NO answers!! The questions were all written down and to this date NONE of them have been answered.

The public was promised that their questions and the answers to those questions would be posted on the MTC website, but to date there is no evidence that this has happened. May I suggest that MTC/ABAG staffers spend their time answering the “issues and matters” that were raised by ALL the taxpayers at the winter workshop meetings and post them on the website rather than waste more tax payer money holding private meetings with me.

When MTC and ABAG decide to hold real town hall forums with the public the process will be meaningful. Hiring paid meeting facilitators is a waste of tax payer money and clearly does not adequately provide a forum for the public to participate. The phony virtual workshop is a sham meant only to boost your public input numbers. Without identifying who or where these online votes are coming from they are meaningless. And with predetermined choices the online workshop is merely a rigged video game.

I suggest you post the questions and answers from the public forums to your website now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Open Letter to all of Marin concerning Affordable Housing Plans for Marin

We cannot be sheep before the slaughter.
The Board of Supervisors is making the most radical change in land use policy for  since the 1970s.

Dear Marin,


Whether you agree or disagree, there is a need to become informed and take action.


Last Tuesday, the Marin Board of Supervisors approved 3 amendments to the Countywide Plan:  Upon application, the developers of 100% affordable housing developments (Grady Ranch) no longer have to have


1.    secured water supply ! (so, we are forced into and have to pay for desal?)

2.    determined sewerage capacity !  (capacity is regularly exceeded at this time due to aging infrastructure)

3.    build without setbacks (out to the lot lines is fine.  Lucasfilms/Grady Ranch plans encroached 50' into the stream setback area along its 600' length and this was never mentioned)




Doesn't sound sustainable to me.  I don't know anyone against affordable housing, e.g., 20% of every new development should be restricted to affordable, not market, levels.  There is a 50% increase in autism and asthma in those who live next to a freeway or major arterial.  71% of the OneBay Area Plan allocation (ABAG) of affordable housing in unincorporated Marin is slated for Lucas Valley, the last best place (with 2% of Marin's population).



Please create the time to learn more about the facts and the spectrum of opinion on these important land use/transportation/environmental issues.



The Best Laid Plans:  Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin.  Bob Silvestri.


Have a fine wet weekend,


Carolyn Lenert

Editor's Note: Carolyn Lenert is the 2012 recipient of San Rafael's "Citizen of the Year", an honor bestowed on outstanding citizens for the tireless work on behalf of the community. She is also a representative for the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents and lobbied successfully for Safe Passage for Lucas Valley Rd.

How Plan Bay Area views the Marinwood Priority Area

The Marin Priority Development Area
Editor's Note: The follow is excerpted from Visions for Priority Development Areas published in May 2012 for Plan Bay Area. As Marinwood-Lucas Valley is primarily a bedroom community, it is difficult to understand why we were chosen as a Priority Development Area.

Visions for Priority Development Areas

The Jobs-Housing Connection Strategy builds upon a rich legacy of integrated planning in the Bay Area. For over a decade, the region and its local governments have been working together to encourage growth of jobs and housing production in areas supported by amenities and infrastructure.

In 2008, ABAG and MTC created a regional initiative to support these local efforts called FOCUS. Through FOCUS, local governments identified Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs). These Priority Development and Conservation Areas are the implementation framework for the Jobs-Housing Connection Land Use Strategy.

In PDAs, new development would support the needs of residents and contribute to a pedestrian and-transit friendly environment. While PDAs were originally established to address housing needs in urban settings, they were later broadened to address employment centers and rural settings.

Local jurisdictions have defined the character of their PDAs according to existing conditions and future expectations as regional centers, city centers, suburban centers, transit town centers or rural centers, among other place types.

PCAs are regionally significant open spaces for which there exists a broad consensus for long-term protection. PDAs and PCAs complement one another because promoting compact development within PDAs takes development pressure off the region’s open space and agricultural lands.

The planning processes for these key infill, transit-oriented neighborhoods are local efforts informed by a range of community members that involve hard work to address a unique and complex range of local goals and issues. The Jobs-Housing Connection Strategy is designed to connect these efforts and advance dialogue around a sustainable regional growth pattern that recognizes local aspirations and the distinctive characteristics of our region’s neighborhoods and communities. This is not a simple compilation of local proposals; rather it is the result of an ongoing dialogue on enhancing community and regional qualities for future generations.


If you are having trouble understanding what the above means,  you are not alone.    It seems to suggest that Marinwood Priority Development Area will host high density housing and undergo "suburban renewal",  that will fundamentally transform Marinwood to an urban neighborhood with multifamily homes, and high density apartment buildings.

Did anyone ask YOU if you wanted Marinwood Priority Development Area?  Did they tell us in 2007 that they did this to us?  You would only know if you were a politician or one of their "Neighborhood Leaders" meeting behind closed doors.

This is not how Democracy is supposed to work.  Do not let them exploit our home for THEIR financial gain or political aspirations. 

Get involved.  Just say "No" to Marinwood Plaza Low Income housing.  Say "No" to the Marinwood Priority Development Area. 

Say "Yes" to a beautiful, green and prosperous future .  Save Marinwood-Lucas Valley.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Darrell Steinberg wants you in an ant farm

"You will love your new apartment near the bus station my busy little workers. Mu ha ha ha ha!"

May 2, 2012
By John Seiler
The second most poweful politician in California is Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento; after Gov. Jerry Brown. Steinberg’s background is with labor unions. And he represents the state capitol — that is, state workers whose jobs, wealth, perks, pensions and power depend on having the biggest, highest-taxing, most-regulating and most-bullying government possible.
Today he detailed his political philosophy in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. He was responding to a Journal article attacking SB 375, the 2008 bill that he sponsored, and which then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law. According to a summary by the Southern California Association of Governments, which implements much of the bill, SB 375:
“SB 375 (Steinberg) is California state law that became effective January 1, 2009. This new law requires California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regional reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and prompts the creation of regional plans to reduce emissions from vehicle use throughout the state. California’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have been tasked with creating ‘Sustainable Community Strategies’ (SCS). The MPOs are required to develop the SCS through integrated land use and transportation planning and demonstrate an ability to attain the proposed reduction targets by 2020 and 2035.”
Steinberg began his letter:
“More unmitigated sprawl, more smog, more cars on our already congested freeways—is that tarnish what Californians really want to see for the future of the Golden State?”
What contempt he has for regular, middle-class families:
* By “More unmitigated sprawl” he means nice suburbs in which to raise families, instead of the high-rise projects he want to shove us into like ants.
* “more smog” is a red herring. Smog from cars has dropped more than 95 percent in 50 years, and keeps declining as cars get cleaner.
* “more cars” means individual freedom of transporation, instead of being squeezed into uncomfortable buses or mass transit that takes three or four times the minutes to get someplace. In any case, cars are here to stay. SB 375 won’t change that much. And does Steinberg take mass transit?
* “already congrested freeways” are congested because, beginning with Gov. Jerry Brown’s “era of limits” administrations in the 1970s and early 1980s, the state has not built enough roads, instead wasting highway funds on mass transit, or general-fund pork. Moreover, the easy way to relive congestion is to privatize the freeways, which then would become toll roads charging more during rush hours.


Steinberg wrote:
“Wendell Cox, in his April 7 Cross Country [article in the WSJ]: “California Declares War on Suburbia,” indicates that’s a favorable path, while mischaracterizing the intent and impact of a bill I authored in 2008 that will provide California residents exactly what they want: more housing options, greater access to public transportation, shorter commute times and an average savings of $3,000 per household per year on transportation and energy costs.”
Ever hear of a government program that saved money? And notice the “will provide California residents exactly what they want.” But Steinberg contradicted himself in the very next paragraph:
“The California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) is a rational approach that serves as a blueprint for other states on how to turn inevitable growth into smart growth. Its provisions provide regions with a thoughtful framework to minimize expanding development, relieve roadway congestion, provide housing and working alternatives to Californians confounded by gridlock, and improve air quality. That is why it earned the support of a broad coalition including the California Building Industry Association, the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and environmental and affordable housing advocates.”
By “rational approach,” he didn’t mean you decide, rationally with your family, where and how you will live. He meant “rational” in the sense used by political philosopher Michael Oakeshott in a famous essay, “Rationalism in Politics.” In that sense, “rationalism” means an ideological scheme that is not based in reality. In one summary, ”Oakeshott argues that the rationalist, in awarding theory primacy over practice, has gotten things exactly backwards: The theoretical understanding of some activity is always the child of practical know-how, and never its parent. In fact, he sees the dependence of theory on practice as being so unavoidable that not only is the rationalist incapable of skillful performances guided solely by theory, he is not even able to stick to his purported guidelines while performing poorly.”
In housing, “rationalist” projects are the Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago, which were supposed to bring nice living conditions for poor folks, but ended up being gang- and crime-infested, and were torn down. Another “rationalist” project is the whole city of Detroit, which has been run by Steinberg-like liberals for 60 years, has lost half its population and is a byword for urban disaster.
Consider again this sentence of Steinberg:
“Its provisions provide regions with a thoughtful framework to minimize expanding development, relieve roadway congestion, provide housing and working alternatives to Californians confounded by gridlock, and improve air quality.”
That’s pure, controlling, elitist “rationalism”:
* “minimize expanding development” means destroying your property rights to build a house where you wish, with your own money, after paying a market price to a willing seller.
* “relieve roadway congestion” doesn’t mean private toll roads, but slamming you into a crowded bus.
* “provide housing” means forcing you into Cabrini Green-style projects.
* “working alternatives” means government dictates not only where you live, but where you work. Assuming you even have a job in a state where Steinberg, Schwarzenegger, Gov. Jerry Brown and others have spent a decade destroying jobs.
He continued:
“That is why it earned the support of a broad coalition including the California Building Industry Association, the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and environmental and affordable housing advocates.
But these supporting groups he listed are either a building association in tight with the government and eager to get political contracts in an ultra-politicized state, government entities or ideological activists wanting a piece of the manipulative action. Naturally “environmental…activists” would support SB 375, because it advances their goal of making the earth a nice nature preserve without any people.
And get this. He wrote:
“Housing choices and preferences are changing, and those who imply otherwise have their heads in the sand. Market research reported in this paper just last year reveals a shrinking market demand for single-family homes.”
Yes, that’s because people are broke from the anti-jobs policies impose by him and such Republicans as Schwarzenegger. You can’t live in a nice, single-family home home if you’re standing in an unemployment line.
“Yes, SB 375 incentivizes higher densities, but it uses a carrot, not a stick.”
Right. It uses a giant carrot to hit people over the head.
“And while developers content with their standard formula for sprawl may hem and haw, the fact is that people who want single-family homes will always be able to find them.”
Yes, if they’re rich. That’s a point I have been making, as has Joel Kotkin.
Steinberg even said:
“The general belief that smart growth policies are driving California’s people and business investment to other states is just plain wrong. The numbers don’t lie. The National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers recently reported that California gained $14.5 billion in venture capital last year. That’s more than half of the country’s $28 billion in venture capital investments and almost five times the amount of the second-ranked state of Massachusetts. And while people relocate for any number of reasons, California’s population has increased 10% from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
That’s a bait and switch. We get so much venture capital because computer nerd geniuses keep coming to Silicon Valley with companies like Facebook; or start them there. But if your IQ is lower than 160, forget it. As Joseph Vranich has reported, businesses keep exiting California at record rates. That’s why the state unemployment rate rose in March, to 11 percent statewide.
As to the state’s population growth of 10 percent, that was the lowest decade-over-decade performance in the state’s history. As recently as the 1990s, growth was 25.7 percent. The growth the past decade mainly was from other countries. But now even that has ended, as Mexicans are fleeing unproductive California of Steinberg-Brown-Schwarzenegger for the booming, pro-growth Mexico of Presidente Felipe Calderon.
Steinberg concluded:
“California is a desirable place to live and our population will continue to grow. We’re diverse, innovative and our economy is good at producing high-wage jobs.”
Just not many of them.
California will not have the “smart growth” future Steinberg promises because it won’t have any growth at all.

This article originally appeared in Cal Watch dog