Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Current RHNA Numbers Are Based On Criteria SCAG No Longer Supports?

You might recall that special evening when our $50K Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) consultant Karen Warner walked into our lives and informed us that we really shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that we have any real say in how our town should be developed. And that the very best we can hope for is a peaceful surrender to Sacramento and SCAG. We should work with their numbers, maybe shave a couple units off here and there, but by and large plan for as much development as they want us to plan for, and then basically forget about it.

But where Karen got tripped up was on the population increase question. And here she adamantly stood her ground. Despite all the rumblings that Californians are leaving the sinking ship as quickly as their Toyotas will take them, the doyenne of Karen Warner Associates doggedly stuck to her guns and proclaimed the state's population is going up, SCAG's RHNA numbers are unassailably correct, and that we need to plan for an influx of new residents. And how could she not? SCAG's numbers are the cutter responsible for the stale cookies she serves up. Not just to us, but every other city perplexed enough to hire her. To deny a population increase means she'd have to do all that work all over again. As if she doesn't have enough on her plate already.

Now in June of 2001, on their peerless Compass site ("Charting the course for a sustainable southland"), SCAG's "Growth Visioning" forecasts had this to say about our soon to be arriving millions of new residents:

Population Growth in the SCAG Region: Southern California has grown into the nation's second largest metropolitan area. More than 17 million people call the Southland home and still more are coming. Over the next 25 years another 6 million people will be added to our large and diversifying region ... Immigrants are attracted here because of jobs and the hope of a better life ...

And it was these kinds of projections that led to SCAG saddling us and our many sister cities in the region with RHNA numbers that many felt were, for lack of a better word, crazy. But SCAG maintained that because millions of new residents were on the way, all of these cities should plan for the creation of vast new amounts of housing. Here in Sierra Madre the number was originally over 270. And nobody had the foggiest idea of where to put them all. That is, unless you took the wrecking ball to our downtown area and turned it into something resembling the traffic choked mondo condo parts of Pasadena. Which some disreputable people did try to do, much to their later financial despair.

And the influence of SCAG's crystal ball also showed up in the Sierra Madre 2008-2014 Housing Element Update. Here's how that good old shuck and jive reads on this document:

Why Does Sierra Madre Have To Plan For More Housing? California's population has continued to grow by approximately 500,000 each year, translating to an annual need for about 220,000 new units ... The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the regional agency responsible for defining the fair share allocation among its 6 counties ... Based on economic and demographic forecasts, the State has determined that SCAG must accommodate 699,398 housing units between 2006 and 2014 to meet housing demand.

But it turns out there is trouble in paradise. You know that Compass report I cited above? It no longer exists on SCAG's website. The link supplied goes to a site owned by the company Laurie Barlow heads, where this document is preserved for reference. And if you try to link to the attached "Growth Visioning" report that has had so much influence in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area? That domain name vanished on 12/21/09. You see, the problem is California's population is now actually declining. Apparently the bold predictions SCAG made about population increases and a need for massive new development are no longer happening. Which probably explains all those unsold zombie condos out there. You know, the ones the banks own and the taxpayers are covering.

I guess being a fully funded government agency made up of incompetent planners and half baked prognosticators means never having to say you're sorry. And besides, they now have SB375 to peddle. (Something Joe Mosca is hard at work on these days as part of SCAG's CEHD/RHNA Committee.) Since vast hordes of new residents are not on the way, the now operative message is we need to build large quantities of new housing here to stop - get this - Global Warming. You got it, big condo complexes are going to save humanity from extinction. Which is no less of a crackpot theory than anything else Sacramento and SCAG have put out there. I'm sure that within the Kool Aid confines of their offices it all makes perfect sense.

Here are a couple of recent articles that have shown up on the web detailing California's population and jobs decline, and by inference just how far off the mark SCAG was. The first comes from CNNMoney.com. They put together a list of the Top 10 States they describe as being the Biggest Losers. And California is #1.

California Net Loss: 98,798 residents. For years more people have fled the Golden State than have arrived. In the year ended July 1, California was the country's biggest loser, with nearly 100,000 more residents leaving the state.

The other place reporting these new estimates from the U.S. Bureau of the Census is a site that I find fascinating (so I'm a geek), New Geography.com. In an article entitled The Decade of the South: The New State Population Estimates, they point out that California is indeed at the very rock bottom in the population loss category. And then they offer this piece of sad information:

What comes next after the chaotic decade of the 2000s? As is suggested above, much of the variation in domestic migration is explained by differences (in) housing prices and trends. Indeed, the price of housing may be a surrogate for the cost of living, which varies principally between areas based upon housing cost differences. This is likely to continue. In coastal California, house prices remained above historic norms, even at the largest "bubble burst" losses, and there are recent indications that unhealthy price escalation has resumed. Much of the West and most of the country is far more affordable. This would suggest that coastal California's domestic migration losses will continue and rise in the future.

You can only wonder how SCAG got it all so terribly wrong. The damage caused by their rank incompetence continues even now. And it has cost the City of Sierra Madre a fortune.

38 comments:

  1. That is quite a system. If you get something wrong, you just
    make believe it never existed. Too bad I can't do that with my
    taxes.

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  2. We need to follow common sense, maintain the Council majority in April, and continue to tell SCAG, Sacramento, and people like Joe NO.

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  3. Follow the money! Pay very close attention to development lobbyists who will be on your ballot next April.
    DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM, if you value your way of life here in Sierra Madre. If you value the beautiful hillsides we look at everyday, if you value the small town ambiance we have here, DO NOT VOTE FOR these lobbyists, heading their ticket will be Joe Mosca, lobbyist, SCAG flunky and liar.
    Pay attention, Sierra Madre.
    Be sure you stay informed, this website will give you the true facts.
    Be sure and read the CnnMoney report Sir Eric links for you in today's column.
    Then ask yourself if you can believe ANYTHING these DIRT APOLOGISTS try and spin you.

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  4. Of course SCAG was wrong. mankind has been trying to predict the future for centuries, and nobody has done it yet. What would make these guys any different? The big problem here is Sacramento claimed to agree in order to push development for the benefit of clients like the BIA and CAR. Just one more big fat lie from our horrible state government.

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  5. Off topic, but there hasn't been a new Mountain Views News since 12/19. So much for advertisers getting the word out on their post-Xmas sales.

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  6. Here we go again....like a t**d that won't flush, bad check Harriet will be back to spread her bs.

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  7. If Woozie Suzie acts up during the election I think somebody should put a postcard in everyone's mailbox detailing her "interesting" past. Getting canned from the #2 Democratic Party job in California for using the party AMEX card to make purchases at Victoria's Secret should interest some people. And there is something about all that resume' fibbing? People need to know!

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  8. Pasta is RIGHT, but why wait, why do/did we have to wait. Mayor MaryAnne has told Joe the Baby NO beautifully, but not enought! He and John definetly have thier agenda and they lie right in front of us!!

    SCAG did not get it wrong, they got it right, right on for them to twist and lie and scheem enough to convince SM to hire KAREN WARNER in spite of objections. WHY did not anyone listen to the objections, when people who objected KNEW she was set up by the side who was condesending and sent to fool us ONCE again?

    How many more times are we going to have this conversation where we have been fooled? Why is this still happening? We know we talk about so many people like her, when will we simply say NO and NO means NO NO NO!!!! When? And, we knew we had no money to be fooled and lied to AGAIN???

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  9. So let me get this straight. Scagramento's population predictions turned out to be horribly wrong, and the RHNA numbers we're working on have no validity in the real world. But because those numbers have been assigned to us, we still have to work with them It is no matter that the basis for them has been discredited because Scagramento has spoken.

    And people wonder why California is going down the tubes. Welcome to the new Soviet Union.

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  10. Scarlett t is for tattlerDecember 28, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    Who wrote the housing element update? The consultant? See they are tweaking the figures..

    Look at "The el monte transit center", by SCAG blueprint compass and STRATEGIC ECONOMICS, (Bush and chinese 1987 agreement) look at their pie charts, it says white alone 28 % asian alone 25 %, it claims to be from the u.s. census "american community survey" put that alone in and search it,(whole different animal) but I found another more official document, by searching el monte population by race called Table Dp-1 Profile of general demographic characteristics, which reflect more accurately 7.4 percent white with no mention of asians!!! as the true population breakdown. Scag was off a whopping 21 % as to white and 25% as asian, (censtats.censu.gov/data/CA 1000622230 PDF) so now in retrospect looking back for the more politically astute, regional immigration investor programs seemed to be the target and victims of the tweaked pie charts, that now include the people of el monte themselves, and lets not forget the poor asians brought into this by constructive fraudulent pie chart compliation as a safe place to live.
    Beware of men or consultants with pie in the sky charts bearing gifts

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  11. Rule #1: When the government tries to run
    everything, nothing works.

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  12. All the number projections are baloney. What's interesting is that the State can force development into cities based upon legalized baloney. That's the horrific thing about SB 375 and RHNA numbers.

    Remember when homes, condos and apartments were built because of the demand? It was a response to market forces, not legislated quotas, until these RHNA numbers came into existence from somewhere (SCAG). Now development is on steroids because Federal legislation makes the funding available, and housing advocates can sue to force these developments to be built.

    Works just like ADA, the whole thing is a lawsuit nightmare that targets everyone.

    Tort reform, anyone?

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  13. Maybe we could replace SCAG with the palm reader on Baldwin? She has a $20 special going right now. Which would make her a most reasonably priced consultant.

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  14. I don't get why Karen Warner and SCAG didn't fess up to this when they were making their appearances here in town. It wasn't all that long ago, and everyone had heard abut the numbers of people and businesses leaving California. During the SCAG letter discussion I remember an exchange between Developer Services Director Castor and Councilman Zimmerman that sounded like something out of Waiting For Godot, about imaginary hypothetical numbers that couldn't or didn't exist, but did, or some such absurdity. I think what we are seeing is the domination of the building industry by the worst people in it, and they are desperate, because they will have to change the way they make a living.

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  15. Didn't the consultant say that the population increase numbers, the numbers that translate into developers' dreams come true, came from the State Department of Finance?
    And that department is this much out of the loop.....maybe not surprising, but certainly depressing.

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  16. Developers have pretty much wrecked all the available cities with their poorly designed cookie cutter buildings. So now they have no choice but to turn to those towns that had the good taste to freeze them out in the past. They're a destructive force, but they pretty much own Sacramento.

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  17. You're right 6:23, that the worst people in the building industry are calling the shots now.
    There are many good people who have honest careers in development and building, and even in realty, but they are mowed over by the greedy jerks like Roski.
    Did anyone see the picture of Roski with the governator in the San Marino Tribune?
    Bunch of smarmy cheats.

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  18. Any population projections coming out of the Babylon on the Sacramento River have to be suspect. U.S. Census estimates have got to be problematic for our local thugs because they are relatively free of the lobby axis controlling our state government.

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  19. Arnold and Roski. Now there's a fun couple. I wonder how much political influence Arnold's dad had on the boy back there in his Alpine days? He does seem to have an unhealthy love for strongman government.

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  20. Developers admit that they are desperate. At least, one did during the One Carter hearings. He was a young 'expert' hired by the bad guys to say One Carter was a safe site for development. In one of his answers he was being too talkative, and said "All developers in California are desperate for land." They know that they are on the way out, and instead of finding constructive solutions, they're just grabbing whatever they can. Pretty disgusting.

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  21. The thing that is so sad about development in California now is that the buildings they throw up are just so generic and uninspiring. It's like every city that suffers their presence ends up looking exactly the same. The same plans used over and over to save money. It's no wonder these buildings sit half empty.

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  22. The loss of creative architecture is a sad, ugly fact of modern life.

    Sir Eric, please keep us posted about any announcements coming from SCAGian realms that try to backpedal. Can't you just see the erstwhile Ihkrata and Ender having an all nighter on how to spin it?

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  23. Sacramento and SCAG have an almost Orwellian/1984 approach to message changes. They just act like whatever came before never existed. And then all the hacks and politicians just play along. It's like they view the taxpayers of this state as more of a marketing challenge than actual constituents.

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  24. Yes, yes, yes, Anonandon, and it is freaky indeed.
    You did not see or hear what you thought you saw and heard, you saw and heard whatever the state wants you to think you saw and heard.

    Very bad juju.

    What is that mental illness when it happens in an individual brain? Schizophrenia? California's government has schizophrenia.

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  25. 6:33, good point about an unhealthy love for strongman government. Arnold, Ikhrata, ouch. Rumbling voiced dictators with too much confidence.

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  26. The cynicism of these people is mind boggling. They just do not think we're capable of figuring things out. So they invent fairy tales. "If we build more condos it will stop global warming." And then the claque joins in and echoes this nonsense until it becomes an accepted message. But it is still a lie created to benefit a Sacramento favored constituency.

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  27. Anonymous X, it might be more accurate to say that the government of California is in a state of psychosis, in which contact is lost with external reality.

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  28. The government of California has bankrupted all of its traditional resources, and now it is wandering the countryside devouring everything in sight. The only needs it answers to are its own. Then when there is nothing left to suck into its maw it will implode. The first failed American state.

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  29. Development is a "diktat" in California, no market forces any more. What's not to love for an Austrian?

    There's more to this than Ahhnold. Check out the money half, Thornton.

    USC's Population Dynamics Group came up with the rationale for the RHNA numbers.

    Capisce?

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  30. Dreadful state of affairs, and reminiscent of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, in which he described the communist state as eating everything it could, and then turning to devour itself.

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  31. Development is dictated by our state government, and enforced by the same. And like everything else government touches, the end result is business failure. But then what did anyone really expect when they turned the state over to a guy whose ticket to fame was that he used steroids before the stigma had set in? Of course he was suckered into this damn fool scheme. Arnold thought he'd look good in green.

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  32. The Roski's and Steinbergs of this world plucked Arnold like he was a fat duck.

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  33. Hocus Pocus, do you mean Grant Thornton LLP?

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  34. Looks like Hocus Pocus disappeared in a puff of smoke.

    Must be happy hour.

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  35. Why are we so gullible to the snakes?December 28, 2009 at 8:12 PM

    NO MORE CONSULTNTS, NO MORE CONSULTANTS NO MORE CONSULTANTS. NO MORE CONSULTANTS. WE DO NOT HAVE MONEY WE DO NOT HAVE MONEY WE DO NOT HAVE MONEY

    Would it be unfair to say that these people who know they are stealing money and setting us up for failure and bandruptucy, and laughing at us are TERRORISTS of the worst kind because they operate with a religion of hire me/elect me/ me me/ AND I KNOW I AM SCREWING YOU AND I DO NOT CARE IF I LIE AND MAKE UP ANYTHING TO GET YOU TO GIVE ME $$$$$.

    It is always about the money.

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  36. Of course it's about the money, what, you think you live in a democracy?

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  37. California is a democracy. Just like Paraguay is a democracy.

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  38. The Flora L. Thornton Foundation, heavily connected to USC among other Universities, is a funding source for USC's thinktank activities, which have been co-opted by development interests. Follow the money, as always. That's why Roski is the Chair for that Thornton fundraiser. Ahhnold is a sideshow wannabe. The Kennedy dynasty is burning out, particularly in California.

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