Besides, you really need not worry yourself about this stuff. Centralized control of development is now all-knowing, and the master planners at SCAG have just the high-density designs your town needs to make you feel, well, a part of all the excitement. These are gentlemen of great skill, led by a man of considerable achievements in the field. His name is Jon Edney, and he is the President of SCAG. So c'mon, let's get on the bus and take a ride.
Now you'd think that a man who could take the reins of a government funded regional development confabulation like SCAG would have racked up an incredible record of success in the planning field. And that only someone who has made a big difference in his own world would even be considered for so important an office. After all, he is presuming to tell every city in the six county Los Angeles area how to run their affairs, so certainly his own bailiwick should be extra special. And Jon Edney, as a two term City Councilman from the sunny border city of El Centro, located just 113 miles east of San Diego, surely must have made a big difference down there.
Which is why I was a bit stunned to read the following information on Yahoo Finance:
El Centro holds position for highest jobless rate - (Wednesday, December 2, 2009) El Centro, Calif, held its position of having the highest unemployment rate among the nation's metropolitan areas, with the jobless rate at 30%, according to government figures released Wednesday. While the figures fell from a revised 32.2% in September, it climbed from 26.8% a year ago and is staggering even against the nation's 10.2% unemployment rate, which is at a 26-year high.
Not exactly the kind of thing you'd expect in a city run by a gentleman who presumes to tell us how we should run ours. If California is going to a centralized planning state, with those powers traditionally held by cities having been confiscated through SB 375 and sent north, you'd think the guy tasked with enforcing this effort here would come from something just a little more distinguished.
So I began looking around for more information. Forbes.com is offering an on-line slide presentation called In Depth: America's 10 Most Impoverished Cities. In it they detail what they believe are the most economically tragic locales in the nation. El Centro comes in at #10. Here are the stats:
#10 - El Centro, Calif.
El Centro, Calif., Metro Area
Per Capita Income: $15,840
Income of bottom one-fifth: $9,511
People earning below 50% of poverty line: 7.2%
Food stamp recipients: 17%
Public health care recipients under age 65: 43,426
Rather than an example of California's bright new centrally planned future, El Centro, Councilman Edney's area of responsibility, looks more like a prime candidate for an intervention by the United Nations.
And there is more. KXO Radio News (AM 1230/FM 107) out of El Centro reported this disturbing information during April of last year:
El Centro Cracks Top 20 In U.S. Auto Thefts - El Centro has climbed one spot in new national rankings for the highest rate of auto thefts. This according to new figures recently released by The National Insurance Crime Bureau and shared by Allstate Insurance Company. El Centro is ranked 17th in auto theft rate, up from 18th.
Better be sure to lock your car door and hide the key when visiting California's visionary metropolis of the future.
The California Building Industry Association, an organization whose support for SB 375 was instrumental in getting it enacted by Sacramento, declared the following:
In the third quarter of 2009, El Centro ranked 125th in the nation as the least affordable metro area on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.
Now correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't housing affordability one of the keystone rationales for SCAG's existence? And isn't this one of the considerations they use to justify their remaining on the taxpayer's dime? According to this report from KGTV in San Diego, the housing situation in El Centro is about as bad as it gets.
Housing Crisis Turns El Centro Into Virtual Ghost Town - Two years ago, El Centro was considered the place to buy a new home at an affordable price. Home buyers who were priced out of the san Diego market moved to developments in the El Centro area.
"I came down here and found this lovely neighborhood, and fell in love with it," said Mike Sangi. Sangi moved to El Centro from San Diego two and a half years ago. He has watched foreclosure after foreclosure turn his neighborhood into a ghost town. "The toll that it's been taking is on the property values," said Sangi.
The decreasing values and foreclosures put a huge dent in tax revenues for the city. El Centro has lost close to $14 million over the past two years -- a 50 percent loss that will take time to recover when property values start to increase. "As things get better, it can only increase by two percent under the state constitution. So you can drop 50 percent but it will take 25 years to crawl back up," said El Centro city manager Ruben Duran.
You want to know something? I am not too sure that Jon Edney's expertise and opinions on how we should run our city are something we really need. I'd say his vision might be just a little too apocalyptic for Sierra Madre right now. Can't we just take a pass?