Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Rebuttal to "Forceful solutions to Regionalism"

A Rebuttal to the San Francisco Gate Opinion piece. 

A need for Regional Thinking

Editor's Note: A reader sent me the following rebuttal to the opinion piece published in the the SF GATE HERE.   The commentary is published in bold type and the original article in italics.

"A giant tunneling machine dubbed Elizabeth is burrowing under London, part
of a $25 billion regional train line scheduled to open in 2018. The finished
product is intended to alleviate suffocating traffic, ease pressure on housing
costs and share growth across a booming urban center, not just the inner core."

London has a vast network of surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software, voice recognition,  cellular and digital surveillance.  Do we want to imitate London?
What works for London, doesn't necessarily work for us.

"Those problems, if not the solution, should get the Bay Area thinking. Our
locale shares London’s anxiety about the future and the next steps to improve
livability."

I have no anxiety about London's problems.
"Costly housing and inadequate transit are concerns that occupy Bay Area
residents nearly every day, topics taken on in The Chronicle’s “City on the
Edge” editorial series. As the expansive London plan shows, these
shortcomings can’t be isolated to the big-city center. They’re regional
concerns, taking in dozens of communities."

Anyone who understands regionalism sees it for what it is, an end run around
our representative government and our democratic process. Never a good thing
even if you think you're solving a problem.


"Other areas — notably the vast region surrounding New York that includes
New Jersey and Pennsylvania — are moving in the same direction as London.
It’s time there, as well as here, for serious improvements that move beyond
the normal boundaries and levels of planning."


This language appears to be an attempt to create a reality that does not exist. I
hope your readers don't fall for it.


"An emphasis on commuter lines that reach deep into the areas surrounding
city centers is one element."


Who asked we the people if this is what we want?

"Another is regional government that oversees and enforces policies on a
broad scale." 


Regional government is unrepresentative and is a shadow government to our
own. A very dangerous thing as those who have studied history know.

"Portland, Ore., has a wide-angle lens on development over an area taking in
the city and its suburbs."


Please look at the problems with this Portland plan before extolling its virtues.
It sets limits and directs growth, breaking down barriers between small
towns that ring the larger urban center.  (See article HERE )


This regionalism is about breaking political jurisdictions which take away the
political power of we the people to determine for ourselves how we want to live.
This is nothing less than Soviet Russian planning which didn't work there and
won't work here. This is the United States of America, land of the free, home of
the brave.
Ugly stucco "big box" apartments replace quiet neighborhoods.


"After years of public battling, Seattle overcame misgivings about in-fill
projects and pushed ahead with new buildings in older neighborhoods where
NIMBY wars often raged."

At whose expense?

"The Bay Area has all the elements of these solutions in place. BART handles
400,000 riders daily, its highest passenger counts ever, and has proven so
popular that it needs bigger stations, more rail cars and possibly a second


transbay tunnel. Caltrain on the Peninsula also fits this pattern, with plans
now under way to upgrade service and run trains farther into San Francisco."

While there is nothing wrong with improving mass transit, there is a problem
when you pursue planning to the exclusion of everything else.


"Also, there’s the semblance of regional government structure in the form of
three agencies — the Association of Bay Area Governments, Metropolitan
Transportation Commission and Bay Conservation and Development
Commission — which, respectively, represent local governments, divvy up
transit money, and meter growth along the bay shoreline. Each has an
important role but only in the area it controls."


ABAG/MTC/BCDC in no way represent anyone, nor do they represent city or
county government. They may be the link to globalization rather as local has no
political significance therefore no political jurisdiction therefore no political
power for we the people who live here. MTC is a metropolitan planning
organization (MPO) which gets federal transportation money bypassing the
State. Not a good thing. All of these agencies are implementing sustainable
development more an ideology than any real solution to our problems.


"It’s time to take these ingredients to the next level. There are already
important steps being taken, such as former Oakland mayor now Gov. Jerry
Brown’s move to encourage housing in that city’s downtown. Berkeley Mayor
Tom Bates deserves plaudits for zoning changes that have drawn fresh
development to his city’s downtown."


Don’t know much about this, but would like to know who is being displaced and
whether any of this zoning will help the people who live there.

"But for all the talk of regionalism, much of the Bay Area hasn’t delivered." 
Best news yet.
"There are 27 transit agencies in nine counties. Oakland residents resent
descriptions of their city as Brooklyn to San Francisco’s Manhattan. The South
Bay, including San Jose and Palo Alto, hardly feels any urban kinship with
cities to the north or east. When was the last time mayors met and discussed
the future, beyond an Olympic bid or plea for money from Sacramento or
Washington?"


No need for these mayors to get together and discuss these issues. Cities are
incorporated government under the general law of the State. If Olympic bids are
to be discussed, we have State and County governments in place for these types
of issues.


"The idea of regional planning comes with politics that inspires doubt. Plan Bay
Area, adopted last year by regional planning groups, tries to bring
development in line with a state law, SB375, a largely unbinding measure
designed to curb sprawl and lessen pollution."

How can anyone say SB375 is unbinding? Plan Bay Area is a very dangerous idea
and plan.


"Whether these goals are achieved is unclear because local lawmakers resent
outside controls on decision-making. As a way to overcome these obstacles,
it’s time to offer incentives, not just restrictions, in dealing with climate
change and transit availability."


How about giving the public some real facts about climate change.
Local lawmakers don't resent outside control, they resent top down Soviet
planning. This is not Soviet Russia it's the United States of America.

"Forceful steps are needed to knit together the Bay Area." 
What is the author proposing as "force" to encourage urban development and regional solutions?


When people like this don’t get their way, they always resort to some sort of
force. The nature of power is on full display in this line in the article. This
language isn't about housing, transit, jobs or climate change, it’s about power.

"San Francisco’s troubling housing costs can be reined in if workers are
convinced that attractive neighborhoods served by speedy, reliable transit
exist beyond nearby suburbs." 

Such a good idea, it has to be mandatory.

"Higher-density buildings, confined to the right locations, can help. Dragged
out approvals and open-ended protests by neighbors should be curbed."

Those "open ended protest" are the people exercising their freedom of speech
and self determination. This concept seems to be outside of the author
understanding.


"A recent book, “The Geography of Jobs” by UC Berkeley economist Enrico
Moretti, highlights both this area’s dilemma and its opportunities. Clusters of
specialized workers and employers are forming in urban centers such as the
Bay Area. The closeness, competition and capacity for reinvention are all
defining features of greater Silicon Valley, which the Bay Area has become.
Spin-off jobs in construction, retail and business services are created.


But this dynamic produces strains, and these tensions will only worsen
without forceful actions. The Bay Area’s population is due to grow to 9.3
million from 7.2 million over the next 25 years, an increase of nearly a third in
one generation."
Rulers have long used oracles and "futurists" to justify their actions.  


How these planners can predict the future so far in advance has always been a
mystery to me.


"This is why cooperation and shared responsibilities are required. Regional
planning has never been more needed."

Who is going to do the requiring and who has this authority? This is the very
attitude that is counter to concepts of freedom to choose. People like power
when the government is operating in a way they agree with. They will have a
very difficult time if the government operates in ways they don't agree with. This
is why the government needs to stay out of these types of activities and let we
the people come up with our own plan to address our problems.

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