I'm starting to believe that in the eyes of Sacramento there are two distinct tiers of responsibility on the Green thing. That is, when the changes that are being called for are assigned, it apparently won't be those shelling out the patronage to our fine elected officials in the state capital that will be making any of the sacrifices. No, apparently the honor of saving the world is destined to fall on our sturdy shoulders alone.
Now we have talked about SB 375 a lot on this site. This being the bill, signed into law by the Great Arnold himself, that he believes will long serve has his legacy and gift to the people of California. And what this bill claims to do is reduce the amount of time people spend in their greenhouse gas emitting automobiles by rebuilding our cities in such a way that will put the jobs right there next to the places where people live. The goal would be to end suburban sprawl, move people into vast warrens of condos and town houses closer to the urban core, and get people out of their cars and into public transportation. Which, if you're into science fiction ala The Jetsons, probably seems like a wonderful solution. Because that is pretty much what the notion of building our way out of global warming really is. Science fiction.
But who would the brunt of this massive social engineering scheme fall upon? The middle class, of course. All those people currently living in their single family houses and driving their cars back and forth to work. And what SB 375 means in is massive new development in middle class neighborhoods, with much of the purpose being forcing commuters out of their automobiles and onto such things as the Gold Line or, heaven forbid, buses. That this would mean a drastic decline in the quality of life that we were long told was our right to enjoy goes without question. Life in densely packed neighborhoods with small and noisy apartments along with crowded city commuter conveyances being the kinds of things people fled to the suburbs to escape in the first place.
But apparently these kinds of sacrifices are not something everyone will be called upon to share. Because when burdensome environmental considerations come into play and your name is Ed Roski Jr. of Majestic Realty, you can just call the Adonis of the Alps, the world celebrated Mr. Green Legacy himself, and be absolved of the burden.
As you know, billionaire developer Ed Roski Jr. was facing some inconvenient opposition from the people of the City of Walnut. This small city, not that different from ours, and situated right next to the City of Industry site where Big Ed wants to build a NFL stadium, had some concerns. Environmental concerns. Because in addition to this stadium Big Ed wanted to also build a huge shopping mall along with some other "suburban sprawl" kinds of things. And as anyone living next to such Eisenhower Era meccas can tell you, this would cause a whole lot of new traffic. And with traffic comes bad air, jammed freeways, and a lot of that greenhouse gas stuff. Just like SB 375 says.
So the people of Walnut did the one thing anyone interested in defending their homes and quality of life would do, they turned to laws that our state, in apparently better times, enacted to protect them from just such a thing. In this case that law is the California Environmental Quality Act.
But you see, times have changed. Because in Sacramento Ed Roski's money speaks far louder than any laws designed to protect the environment or middle class enclaves like the City of Walnut. And once Ed started calling in favors, the very people who proposed and enacted SB 375 yanked any possibility of a CEQA environmental review away from those who dared to stand in his way.
The result being this very sad story published by the Pasadena Star News.
INDUSTRY - About 150 of Southern California's most powerful people gathered Thursday on what was once a cow pasture ... Under a bright blue sky and taking in a panoramic view of the San Gabriel mountains, they stood among the sun-dried weeds and witnessed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sign legislation paving the way for an NFL stadium ... Separated from the action by a chain-link fence and armed deputies, a group of less than a dozen protesters from nearby Walnut held up signs and decried the action ... The group, led by Walnut resident Brigid Bjerke, consists of eight citizens challenging developer Edward Roski Jr.'s plan to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles ... Earlier this month the group refused to settle its lawsuit against the project ... The State Legislature stepped in and sent a bill to Schwarzenegger exempting the project from the California Environmental Quality Act, nullifying the citizen's lawsuit.
Now I don't know how you feel about bringing the National Football League back to Los Angeles. Honestly I prefer things to stay the way they are now because we get much better games on TV when we don't have some godforsaken loser franchise here in town. And you know that the team that decides to come here will be one of the bad ones. After all, if they weren't why would they need to move? We could be facing a future of having to endlessly hear about something called the "City of Industry Lions."
But the point is a Lion of Patronage like Roski doesn't have to follow California environmental law. Rather, as someone with a lot of money and influence in Sacramento, he called his friends and got the problem fixed. Will we be able to do the same when we try to fight off the environmental damage SB 375 enabled redevelopers could do to our city? Not a chance.
Oh, and get a load of how our fine elected public servants regard those who would attempt to use California environmental law to defend the quality of life in their city.
"These people presented an $800 million wish list of demands that have little to do with the environment," Schwarzenegger said. "I'm here to terminate the frivolous lawsuit and start construction."
And then there is this from a true loudmouthed idiot:
State Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, who authored the legislation, went a step further. He termed the lawsuit "abuse" and "extortion." He went on to say that the state legislature doesn't take CEQA laws lightly, but added these are "extraordinary times."
One other point that needs to be made. Did you know that SB 375 states that when redevelopment is being arranged for some big time building in areas designated as a "transportation corridor," CEQA review rights can also be pulled should the developer so desire? Perhaps a developer just like Ed Roski Jr. of Majestic Realty?
Looks like a trend.