I fear that the answer to that one has to be yes.
We started to look into El Monte Transit Village because of the connection a few involved in this project have to Sierra Madre. It was basically a gotcha exercise designed to let some folks know that we haven't forgotten what it is they tried to do to this town, and that we are still watching. But as the details of what they're up to now became more clear, it brought with it a deeper understanding of not only how obviously rotten the redevelopment world is, but also how much this is part of a larger way of doing business. One that involves cynically conceived ploys based on false promises of societal improvement, the tendency of many elected officials to prioritize the desires of lobbyists and pressure groups over ours, and lots and lots of money. The fiscal heart of America has in some ways passed from private industry to government, and there is now a whole new class of people who are amassing considerable wealth tapping public resources for no other reason than personal aggrandizement. And this thing in El Monte now strikes me as being an unfortunate example.
Last December the San Gabriel Valley Tribune ran an article entitled "El Monte transit center gets boost from federal grant." Here is part of what it had to say:
"With a $43 million grant from the federal government in hand, a much anticipated new El Monte Transit Center is expected to go from dream to reality in 2 years ... The project is the anchor of a half-billion-dollar transit-oriented development the city plans to build around the new transit center. Known as the El Monte Transit Village, the development is expected to bring nearly 2,000 new homes and stores to the area adjacent to the bus station ..."
"Before any development can begin, the city must also shift areas of parkland on the site ... To do this the city will use a $26.5 million grant it was awarded by the state from funds approved voters for high-density, transit-oriented development."
We do know that the $26.5 million mentioned above was pulled back by a cash starved Sacramento. At least temporarily. How this will effect the project is unclear. Later in the article:
"Once all phases are completed, the 65-acre development would include 1,850 residential units, 500,000 square feet of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, 500,000 square feet of office space, a movie theater, a hotel, and other facilities ... Approximately 20 percent of the residential units would be considered affordable."
Now we can identify here nearly $70 million in government money being spent to finance this thing. And God only knows how much more is involved. But what is the real rationale? While it is fine to improve an existing bus station and make public transportation for El Monte more efficient and pleasant to use, what exactly does that have to do with building what will be 10 story office buildings, shopping pavilions, a luxury hotel, and for the most part high-end condos?
"City officials are confident the new transit center will make development viable. 'It's next to one of the busiest bus hubs in the country,' Gondek said. 'Proximity to economic activity does matter in a world with scarcer resources and climate warming up.'"
So there you have it, build a million square feet in new office space and shopping areas, and for the most part luxury condos, and you're helping to save the world from global warming because they'll all be near to a bus station.
"'We think this timing works to our advantage. As the market starts to pickup, this inventory will start to be online,' Titan Group Chief Administrative Officer Barry Sedlick said."
Like I said, I do fear for this country sometimes.