The article is entitled Envirowimps: LA's Big Green Groups Get Comfy. And while you really should click on the link I've provided and read the whole thing, I will reprise a couple of passages because of their relevance to what we are seeing here in Sierra Madre. Watching the likes of Joe Mosca and John Buchanan cynically pushing their BIA high-density redevelopment agenda as somehow being "green" in city council meeting after meeting as if it was received wisdom from some almighty source kind of demands at least a bit of discussion. And if you put these two gents into the context of this LA Weekly piece you will see that they are just a couple of garden variety LA County pols pushing the same tainted nonsense as the rest of the rotten bunch. And apparently there are a lot of these characters out there.
The first of two topics that we have raised here recently are SB 375, the Sacramento enacted law (thanks Anthony Adams!) that, while claiming to be a measure that will cut greenhouse gases and the global warming they cause, is actually little more than a license for redevelopers to push high-density development upon unwilling communities now stripped of the legal protections to resist them. The other one being transit villages like The Stuart in Pasadena, or the now apparently endangered El Monte Transit Village. An equally cynical concept, and one that can cause considerable health damage to the small children living in them.
First let's deal with the Orwellian concept that building huge generic condo complexes in LA County will save the world:
Under the current crop of politicians, developers have marketed, or "green-washed," huge buildings to the Los Angeles public as "sustainable" - meaning healthy for the environment over the long term - when critics say they actually create more traffic congestion, more pollution and a plainly lower quality of life ... In Hollywood, the political turf of green-friendly City Council President Eric Garcetti and 4th District City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Bob Blue saw one proposed skyscraper or giant condo complex after another come before the community group he chaired, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. Outsize projects that ignore local zoning restrictions are now peddled by developers as good because they are "LEED" buildings, meaning they offer such features as low-flush toilets, on-site renewable energy and improved indoor-air-quality standards ... lost in the push for LEED certification has been the pressing question of whether the environmental benefits of these buildings outweigh the negatives. Do these big structures cause more emissions by attracting increased traffic and encouraging congested streets filled with idling cars, for example, than they claim to reduce? In truth, nobody knows - including the many cities such as L.A. whose development approvals now require LEED standards. "But if you have a project that would normally be four stories high and now has 20 stories," says Blue, who supports the concept of LEED design, "it still adds enormous weight to the infrastructure." There is a "net increase in power, water, sewer, traffic, pollution and impact to the immediate surrounding area." The community activist adds, "I think that this is being missed by everybody."
We have seen similar pro-development sentiments pushed by the two Sierra Madre Councilman whose names I mentioned above. One of them, Joe Mosca, actually heads the SCAG/SGVCOG associated committee tasked with enforcing the high-density housing edicts demanded by SB 375 here in the San Gabriel Valley. That this would be dressed up as somehow being Green because the toilets are low-flow and some of the power produced by solar panels can be seen as representative of the general hype. The devastating traffic increases and demands on such fragile resources as water, power, plus the overall negative impact on the quality of life here, makes all of this a fool's bargain.
The LA Weekly continues:
Blue's hardly alone in his criticism. Rex Frankel, a widely respected independent voice in L.A.'s environmental movement and director of the think tank ConnectingCalifornia.org, says, "If you're using LEED to justify greater density, it's a false tradeoff ... we'll still face more time in traffic, increased smog and other impacts. It's just another example of green-washing."
The other issue that concerns this typer is that of so-called Transit Villages. Sold to many cities across the country as being somehow environmentally helpful, in practice they have become something quite different. And this article covers those concerns as well.
One example can be seen in the new trend of land speculators and developers proposing apartment and condo complexes near freeways,in many cases arguing that the buildings are "sustainable" because they bring workers closer to jobs. The developments often get the blessing of L.A. City council- to the horror of health experts. The University of Southern California and other research institutions now know for certain that children living in these projects are burdened with serious, often lifelong lung and respiratory illnesses caused by a relentless stream of traffic nearby. "They are putting individuals at risk," says USC professor of preventive medicine Jim Gauderman, of the politicians, developers and greens. His 2007 study made that clear.
Friends of ours took up temporary quarters at The Stuart while the house they just bought was being refurbished. They described the experience as being horrible. Most notable to them was the steady roar of the traffic on the 210. And as the parents of young children they understood the dangers and couldn't wait for their month there to end. And as I saw when we visited, this complex is in no way permanent housing for anyone. Most of those living there are only in place for a short period of time, and the management is constantly not only in search of new tenants, but also trying to keep the ones they already have.
The perspective that we need to take here in Sierra Madre is that none of this really has very much to do with creating "sustainable" buildings designed to save the world from global warming. Instead it is just the latest con ginned up by a development industry hungry for building space in places such as the highly profitable LA County market.
Previously we were told that high-density housing was something we were obliged to accept in our community because it would create affordable living quarters for the less provident among us. And when that didn't work, the BIA and CAR types concocted an entirely new sales pitch, that building big condos complexes will some how save the world from global warming.
It's time some folks grew up a little and recognized this for what it really is, marketing designed by powerful interests to sucker in the gullible.