Monday, July 27, 2009

A Candidate For California Assembly That Actually Gets It?

I was checking out some of the articles on the City Watch site last night. City Watch deals with California politics from a City of Los Angeles perspective. And a lot of what is covered there affects us whether we like it or not. Act locally, think regionally might be one way of putting it.

I came across a piece written by a guy named David Coffin. David, as his City Watch article points out, is running in the 51st California Assembly District special election on September 1st. Something that really didn't excite me all that much, I must admit. But I plowed on, and I'm glad I did.

Turns out David Coffin isn't just another paid for Donklephant mouthing whatever meaningless platitudes you usually get from the major parties. He is a successful business owner and aeronautics engineer (he's worked on the B-2, F-18, C-17 and F-22 projects) who is running for Assembly as an Independent. And he is doing this because he is authentically concerned about what is going on in our crazy state. One of the big issues of concern for him is the insanity of pushing high-density development when there are not the natural resources in place to sustain it. With the resource of biggest concern being water.

I'm going to post a portion of the article here. David isn't running in our Assembly District, so I'm not sure how much we can do from here. The 51st A.D. covers the area from LAX and through Gardena. However, the guy certainly is a kindred spirit. And as we discover more and more people standing up and questioning the kinds of madness that pass for governance in this state, I think we have a duty to honor their courage. Because taking on the powerful folks who have a big economic stake in runaway development takes some guts. And it is nice to know we aren't alone.

Drought Cause: Poor Planning, Over-Development: Drought has many forms, but Mother Nature is only a bit player in today's water crisis. Our drought is caused primarily by poor planning and over-development. State Senate bill SB 610 was supposed to protect water supply but it contains a huge loophole that allows planners and developers to use outdated water management plans that promise sufficient water supplies for growth but never deliver.

So how does this happen? It happens because we ignore our resources when we set housing goals. Every seven years a Regional Housing Needs Assessment is handed down by the State that sets housing targets for Southern California cities to meet. Even when those cities don't have the jobs or the infrastructure to support it.

The California Department of Finance recently 'projected' that Southern California's population will double between 2000 and 2050 from 18.7 million people to 30.3 million! With those numbers in hand and without any real regard to water availability, the Southern California Associations ('SCAG') cited the need for 699,368 new housing units.

Pretty much sounds like what is going on around here, right? Sacramento's current push for huge new development in Southern California is based on population growth projections that have yet to pan out. Currently an awful lot of people are leaving the state, and far fewer coming in. This has led to the very real possibility that California will lose a seat in Congress for the first time in state history. Something which calls into question SCAG's suspect and probably BIA-driven projections.

Here is how these issues are spelled out on the David Coffin for California Assembly website:

Infrastructure & Our Water Supply: We have a water shortage because of California's insistence to meet population projections that they predict will double by 2050. State and local planning is out of sync with the realities of our regions resources and infrastructure. Southern California cannot be allowed to continue to grow unchecked to the point where growth strangles our quality of life. Nature has imposed limitations on our region that needs to be recognized by the State of California and its local government the Southern California Association of Governments ("SCAG").

Planning: STOP RUBBER STAMPING DEVELOPMENTS THAT DON'T FIT. No more accepting Sacramento's gospel that we need housing for another 15 million people that would double our population in Southern California and 30 million in the state when we KNOW that we do not have the infrastructure (water, streets, electricity) or services to sustain that kind of growth. California's planning policy needs to be based first of the availability of resources, not faith in projections.

Environment: Planning policies developed by the state and policed by SCAG that encourage doubling the region's population can only hurt the environment and our residents. More people, more cars, more solid waste, more sewage all challenge the efforts to create a green environment.

Here in Sierra Madre we have two City Councilmen who await the day when they would be put back into power and allowed to unleash things like SB 375 on this town. Something that would result in massive over-development, degrading both the beauty of this town and the quality of life we now enjoy. And while they cynically mouth nonsense about high-density development being a "Green" initiative, their true concerns are little more than creating an opportunity for their patrons in the redevelopment and realty industries to make money. After all, if these two characters were as Green as they claimed to be, wouldn't they have connected the dots between our limited water resources and the increased demand new development would bring?

As always, those apples never fall far from the Sacramento tree.


  1. The only way you can say those things and run for office is as
    an independent. Of course, if this guy does turn out to be a
    threat the big parties will pump hundreds of thousands of
    dollars into the district and crush him. Somebody who would
    represent the true interests of the people is a big problem for
    these folks.

  2. Everyone who votes should take the responsibility to check out the policies and/or voting records of candidates.
    If their voting records do not fit your conscience, you have the moral obligation to vote against them.
    As we are well aware of in Sierra Madre, it is not the political agenda with the most "campaign contributions" that is the best for us. When a major political party endorses or knocks one of our candidates for city council or city clerk......CAUTION AIN'T THE WORD.
    People need to stop following politicians like sheep or lose all your freedoms in this country.
    I used to feel I was wasting my vote (a common argument) voting for an "independent" candidate.....I no longer feel that way.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention Sir Eric.

    Old Kentucky....who urges all Tattler INDEPENDENT thinkers to register as independent (DS) voters.

  3. Many thanks to everyone who drafted and supported Measure V. As one can see from reading the Times article, Measure V indeed saved Sierra Madre from the condo glut that other cities are now facing. The article ends with the following quote. "It's greed." "People are always quick to look the other way when they think there's money to be made." Continue to support Don, Maryann, and Kurt. They are the ones who care about this community.

  4. These SCAG numbers work hand-in-hand with the objectives of the MWD, which is actually a consortium of engineering/construction firms that build and maintain the water infrastructure: Diamond Valley Lake and other reservoirs, California Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct. They're in the business to sell water to development, and this cooperation is done through the County Supervisors. The Supes are largely funded by the construction industry via various mechanisms. Board of Equalization is an extension of the County finance system, as well.

    It's nearly impossible for anyone not part of the system to go up against this whole thing. The sheer scope of the money channels, as well as the available "slush funds" to the Supes is where the real political action is. That's why candidates have to raise so much money from special interests. After they're done, their hands are effectively tied.

  5. Indeed people are leaving the state and they are leaving Sierra Madre also. Census data for Sierra Madre.
    1970 12,140
    1980 10,837
    1990 10,762
    2000 10,578
    The population is about 1,500 LESS than in 1970 and yet we have more houses and more police. Still the state says build and Diaz say we need more police.

  6. Good discussion and photos about Seattle's experiment with "Granny flat" legislation

  7. can't figure out why ex and current council members are so jacked up concerned about housing for future residents instead of doing what they were elected for - the concerns of the current residents

    oh, it's about money or a supposed legacy or career move isn't it?

    shirtless pete is one of the same ilk

  8. I think it is fairly obvious that both Joe and John have political ambitions way beyond Sierra Madre. And the way to move forward in this corrupt mess of a state is to do the bidding of the powers that be in Sacramento. And that includes the BIA, CAR, and the legislators that live for their patronage. That is who these two birds work for. It certainly isn't us.

  9. Sierra Madre, You mean John actually works? I sure don't know when. He is always in town during the day.

  10. Pasta, I think that is his work. Schmoozing for condos. That's what he does.

  11. Sir Eric, I find it ironic that you and your posters are extolling the political virtues of some candidate running for the 51st Assembly District. Instead, why don't we encourage somebody closer to home to challenge that pro-development Assemblyman Anthony Adams. Adams, as you may recall, agreed that his name could appear on the "No on Measure V" flyers. It would be a nice for a change if there was somebody in Sacramento, who was a real preservationist and could actually find Sierra Madre on a map of California

  12. It's one thing to encourage candidates, it's another thing to support them with contributions. When it comes to political contributions, Sierra Madreans are just plain cheap. The Yes on Measure V campaign is a really good example.

    There were lots of foot soldiers who collected signatures on the petition to put the initiative on the ballot. However, most of the money spent to pass the intitiative, including the costs to defend the lawsuit brought to strike the ballot arguments, came from only three people.

  13. No irony intended. It is just that such people are exceedingly rare. What is even harder to find is such an individual belonging to either of the major parties. The preservationistslow growth ethos not being something the established parties and the entities they serve really want to hear much about. The reason being there just isn't any money in it. Now I do think that this wouold be a splendid issue for the GOP to exploit. And judging by their extremely weak poresence in this state I don't see what they could possibly lose. But I'm not holding my breath. When it comes to the needs of residents in California's small cities, we don;t have a lot of friends in Sacramento these days.

  14. Exactly 10:42!
    Adams will never get my vote!
    I think it was Pasta who posted the names if the
    legislators who voted in that horrible SB 375.
    None of the people deserve our votes, and the people who voted against it....they would have my support if in my district.
    Sir Eric,
    it would be a valuable service to us all if you posted the names of politicians who consistently vote for big DEVELOPMENT.
    We know several here in Sierra Madre:
    Joe Mosca
    John Buchanan
    Enid Joffe
    Rob Stockly
    Tonja Torres
    Glenn Lambdin
    Doug Hayes
    GRIFTERS.....every single one of the above
    and all the people who may run for office in the future who support and fund these politicians.
    We know all of them. Let's make sure everyone in Sierra Madre does as well.
    If everyone who cares to preserve their town and keep it free from these "progressive" politicians be they Republicans or Democrats, we would not have these issues to fight.
    Please everyone, DO NOT just VOTE for a candidate because they have a D or an R behind their name....UNLESS they support your values.
    Vote these professional politicians out of office, and let's see how difficult they find it to get a "read job".
    Politicians come in two catagories:
    The "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" types who want to reform. OR the GRIFTERS whose only motivation is "what's in it for me".

  15. 10:52 - I think if you take out all the BIA and CAR money contributed to the No On V effort, you'll find the resident contributions to these causes pretty much equal. Measure V was a classic example of big corporate power backed up by venal politicians versus the people of a small city.

  16. I think SMRRD raised around $10K from the residents and I think the No on V crowd raised only about $6k from residents.

  17. Sir Eric, your comment that politicians like Mr Coffin are "exceedingly rare" is true. But, don't we have three living in Sierra Madre with the initials MM, DW, and KZ?

    I don't know about MM or DW, but I think KZ could win a statewide election if he had some financial support.

  18. I'm afraid that Zimmerman's support for Measure V killed his political career. After all, no good political deed goes unpunished. It's too bad, because he has the resume, is a persuasive public speaker and is honest to a fault.

  19. Kurt would probably have to run as an Independent. I believe that he is a registered Democrat, but they're so deep in the BIA's pocket any Zimmerman candidacy would probably have those scoundrals barking and snapping like overbred collies.

  20. Zimmerman is a Democrat and the Democratic party has done nothing to advance his political career. In fact, the party did not support or endorse him when he ran for the City Council in 06.

    Kurt should jump the Democratic party ship. I'm sure the Republicans would welcome a Stanford educated, former federal prosecutor into their fold.

  21. Decline to StateJuly 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    12:35, your suggesting Zimmerman jump out of the frying pan and into the fire; or, if you prefer, out of the fire and into the frying pan. Either way, he has too much integrity.
    Remember that great movie about American politics, The Candidate? Even the true hearted get shellacked. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

  22. Decline to State, it's true that it's a rough road, and sincerity does seem to be an early casualty in politics, but America is good at producing brave people. As Sir Eric wrote:
    " we discover more and more people standing up and questioning the kinds of madness that pass for governance in this state, I think we have a duty to honor their courage. Because taking on the powerful folks who have a big economic stake in runaway development takes some guts. And it is nice to know we aren't alone."

  23. Poster 1:00 p.m., The Candidate! I think Zimmerman looks like JFK and not Robert Redford.

  24. Decline to StateJuly 27, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    Great movie, whoever the actor.
    By the time he wins, he's lost.

  25. Unfortunately for both parties you have to sign off on a ton of BS. The GOP demands you sign a blood oath on their fundamentalist family agenda, while the democrats require that you turn your city into a warren of rat hole condos. There is not a lot of middle ground in this state.

  26. Very interesting blog from Dailykos about alternatives to fire departments.

    Maybe a bit too avant garde for Sierra Madre but others are thinking as well as us!

  27. Anonymous at 11:50

    SMRRD raised close to $30K from residents of Sierra Madre.
    The NO on V people only got a few hundred dollars in local donations.......they got ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THOUSAND ($170,000) in donations from out of town, Building Industry Association and the California Association of Realtors. $30K from local folks in town for SMRRD, $170K for No On V by out of town building industry and realtor lobby special interests (their own).
    SMRRD WON ANYWAY, thanks to Kurt Zimmerman, Don Watts and Kevin Dunn.
    Mayor MacGillivray remarked to me once that she would vote for Kurt Zimmerman for President of the United States! So would I.
    Kurt is a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" type of guy, who is integrous and committed to truth and reform. An extremely RARE species of politico.

  28. Mr. Coffin is the same guy that doesn't believe that people should be able to vote for their representative in their own neighborhood council district and supported huge developments like Playa Vista up until this year.


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