This truly is a staggering effort if you think about it. And that government officials would actually envision the leveling of entire low density sections of a town so that they can plan for its inclusion in the building of shiny new mass transportation corridor cities, all in the hope that maybe, just maybe, its residents might decide to walk to the nearby train station rather than drive their cars is, well, mind boggling.
And the catalyst for this in the San Gabriel Valley is the 210 Trolly? Heaven help us.
It would seem to me that creating low or no emission vehicles would be a far more agreeable solution to the greenhouse gas problem. Honda is investing billions of dollars in the creation of a hydrogen fueled engine, a proven technology that now only needs to be made affordable. Once that hits the road and the global warming issue starts to fade as an effective weapon in the war against personal transportation, what will SCAG's rationale for massive population relocation projects be then? That high density living gives people greater opportunities for social networking?
Why can't these people realize that most folks don't really want to live in a stacked box and walk to a bus, and given their druthers would choose a home with a yard and a car parked out front? Has there ever been a modern society that has gambled so heavily on a social engineering scheme with as little chance for success as this one? Or one that so obviously flies in the face of the wishes of those it hopes to involve? Southern California is now littered with failed attempts at this very sort of thing. Monrovia Commons, Rosedale, The Stuart, some place called Pasadena. Why the need to go on?
Now don't get me wrong, I honestly do not care where other people want to live or how they get to work. It is entirely their own business. What I am concerned about is those folks who are working rather hard to force feed a mandatory mass transportation lifestyle into MY town. I didn't move here because I wanted to live in a place reengineered to accommodate some state salaried planner's concept of a peoples' public transportation paradise. Complete with block after block of cookie cutter pastel flat-topped condos and minimum wage mini-marts. I moved here because I wanted to get as far away from that sort of thing as I possibly could. That might not be a fashionable lifestyle concept in some urban interior quarters, but I'm not all that concerned about it.
Believe me, 10 years of living in New York more than cured me of the romance of life as a straphanger. And that some here in L.A. County would attempt to portray such an existence as being cutting edge or a form of city-style cool is a source of great amusement here. I've done hard time in that world, and now I wish to live as a free man.
And finally, someone writing for a major publication has broken through the ubiquitous bunk and gotten it right. David Lazarus, commenting in the business section of the Los Angeles Times, identifies in a delightfully unsentimental way what it would take to turn a bucolic low density community such as ours into a sector of mandated mass transportation and stacked box living.
"It can happen," said Martin Wachs, director of transportation, space and technology for Rand Corp. in Santa Monica. "But it will only happen over a long period of time and will require a number of policy changes." ... Specifically, it won't be enough to just lay down lots of track and hope people will leap aboard trains and subways. You'll also have to discourage the use of cars -- which most Americans won't stand for -- and make our cities considerably less comfortable. Good luck with that.
Indeed. This is what David Lazurus suggests it will take to make the public transportation dream work, and convince us to abandon our current lifestyles for the brave new world:
1) Make driving highly expensive through jacked up gas taxes and road tolls.
2) Make parking costs prohibitive and spaces harder to find.
3) Redevelop our cities and suburbs to make them denser and more crowded.
4) Discourage any transportation options that are not a form of public transit.
All of which might lead you to believe that an entire generation of politicians and urban planners wants to do whatever they can to harsh your lifestyle, limit your choices, and generally make your existence as miserable as possible. Or, as Lazurus put it:
I hate to be cynical, but I simply can't imagine political leaders at the local, state or federal level telling voters that they support a big increase in gas taxes, sky-high parking fees and high-density neighborhoods.
Apparently David has never been to a SCAG or SGVCOG confab. Those boys drink that Kool Aid by the bucket.
One other article that needs to be chatted about today. It comes from Planetizen and is entitled The MTA As Stealth Development Agency. The authors, writing what is basically a positive article about L.A.'s proposed "Subway to the Sea," makes a point that to me seems like a dubious blessing.
Scarcely known to the public, or even to local urban planners, is the fact that the MTA has the power of eminent domain, in addition to its legal authorization to buy land. Indeed, not only does the MTA obtain land for subway stops, it must buy surrounding parcels for 'staging areas,' so that the heavy work of building underground can proceed.
I can't imagine the people who are losing their property for 'staging areas' are always all that excited about it, but I guess that is not to the purpose of this article. So what happens to these areas once the subway is built and they are no longer needed?
These staging areas become surplus when the subway stops are finished, creating a perfect opportunity for dense, omni-use development.
Now isn't that something? Rather than redevelopers creating high-density, transit dependent housing and businesses, it is public transportation that creates the opportunity for such redevelopment by first clearing the land through eminent domain.
You do know that there are neighborhoods within L.A. that are fighting all this, right? One of them is Windsor Park, another Park Mile. And it would appear that they are winning.