Monday, January 11, 2010

California Planning & Development Report: "The SB 375 Backlash will start to hit (in 2010)"

"The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem." - Milton Friedman

The California Planning & Development Report is where folks looking to figure out the happenings in the swinging (though somewhat obscure) world of urban planning get to catch up. Widely respected in its field, the CP&DR (for those of you who speak Acronym) has become quite the clearing house for planner information. And among its most noted articles is editor Paul Shigley's predictions for the new year.

Now for this year Shigley has made 3 predictions. The first one deals with redevelopment deadlines and how the crushing California budget deficits could cause delays for as much as 30 years. And the third one talks about how "housing production" will increase this year, but only because 2009 was at the lowest level ever recorded for this stuff, and can't possibly stay that bad.

However, what we're talking about today is 2010 Prediction #2.

The SB 375 backlash will start to hit. Truly reducing the amount that people drive is going to take enormous changes in land use development and growth matters. There's some acceptance of the needed planning changes. But reducing driving also is going to require aggressive measures that discourage people from driving - and that's going to necessitate very unpopular decisions.

We've all heard the pitch from true believers that cities should be designed for people, not for cars. Sounds great until you realize this notion means placing the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transit ahead of motorists. This, in turn, means dividing up the public right-of-way to provide more room for sidewalks, bike lanes, and light rail and bus lines - and a lot less room for cars. It means fewer and smaller parking lots. It probably means some form of "congestion pricing." Such ideas will start to come into tighter focus when the Air Resources Board sets regional greenhouse gas reductions targets in September. Good luck selling those ideas to millions of people who are used to driving everywhere.

One of the things that rings so false about SB 375 is it's so fiercely targeted on automobile usage and housing. While it is no secret that car emissions are a problem, what is rarely spoken about in SB 375 adoring circles is that high density housing is as well. There is no higher density city in the U.S. than New York, and it is a world class greenhouse gas hotspot.

And even if you move everybody out of their single family homes and into Transit Oriented Developments there is no guarantee it will result in any greenhouse gas reductions. After all, just because a condo complex is situated next to a bus station doesn't automatically mean people are going to surrender their cars.

Once people begin to wake up to the fact that SB 375 is going to mean less room for traffic, fewer parking spots, and that their pretty little towns are about to be force-fed the kind of generic looking high-density dreck you can find in many other California cities, watch out. You're talking about the breadwinner and voting class here, and they're not going to be very happy about government making their lives even more challenging than they are now. Much less lowering their living standards in the process.

One other thing. Some greenhouse gas emissions are the product of burning petroleum-based fuels. So why would anyone want to use this rationale for taking the wrecking ball to California cities when the internal combustion engine could very well be ten years from a well-deserved extinction? And what is the future of private transportation?

Please read here about the Honda FCX Clarity. A fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) that provides zero-emission hydrogen powered private transportation. Expensive now, and with a very limited availability, but within the decade that price will come down, this technology will go into mass production, and gasoline-free transportation will quickly become available to us all. Believe me, once cars like these become affordable you won't be able to pay people enough to take your gasoline burning clunker.

In an article entitled The hydrogen car fights back, available on the CNNMoney/Fortune site, this early adopter account is given:

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis lobbied to get one of the first available models for environmental reasons, but she has become a fan of driving the Clarity. "I am not the most light-footed driver, and this thing is like a rocket ship," says Curtis, who leases the car for $600 a month. When asked what she will do when her three-year lease expires, Curtis pauses a moment. "Cry," she says. "Sob uncontrollably, and beg them to extend the lease."

Goodbye air pollution, goodbye greenhouse gas producing cars, and goodbye the #1 rationale for SB 375. You can now leave our cities alone now, Sacramento. And your development and realty clientele are just going to have to find a more useful way to make a living.

57 comments:

  1. Thanks....here it is, the electric car.....remember the film "Whatever happened to the Electric Car"? and how the government tried to do away with the electric car....once again, thank you Sir Eric.

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  2. This is so much like Sacramento. Create a solution to a problem that is already well on the way to being solved, and by the time it gets done it will be obsolete. Get out of the way and let free enterprise solve the auto pollution problem.

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  3. It is a fact that people commute from where they live to where they work. Cities and government should give tax breaks and incentivies to business that locate and relocte in regions such as San Bernidino, Ontario, Ventura etc. That way those commuters would be able to work near their home and have a shorter commute. Cities such as Glendale, Los Angeles, and Pasadena should by law not be able to add any more housing, retail, or office space. Yes the rents and housing would increase. Eventually peole would seek housing and JOBS in other areas and would work closer to their homes. The state has plenty of land. Start building/planning new urban centers in far away places.

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  4. Why does everybody think there needs to be all this new housing when the subdivisions are emptying out and there's not enough water to go around?

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  5. Where do I send money for the campaign of SMT?January 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Sir Eric, I appreciate your observation on the transit centers, while they benefit the city and transporations coffers, who in their right minds, would live in a gas/diesel/dust clogged/ enviornment. It is like slow death by fumes, but just look at the little lake in the middle say the developers. Look at the money the city will make, lots of little shops okay, but forcing residents to live in/around the generically boring profit laddened little condos over the gaseous stew magnified by the heat of your close and loud neighbor the transit object, they should be renamed final transit centers.

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  6. It seems to be a function of government to come up with reasons for building. It is a big industry in the this state, and not in the best shape. 5 years are we supposedly had to allow for the construction of massive new housing projects because population was supposed to skyrocket. It actually went down, which in part explains why so many are now empty. If the DSP had been built here in Sierra Madre, those condominium complexes would be in about the same situation as the Skilled Nursing Facility. Now we're being told that building lots of condos is supposed to stop global warming. Obviously they're shameless in Sacramento.

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  7. The State, w/ the help of the Feds are working on a pay to drive the 10 FWY program as we speak.

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  8. If the pay is by the hour we'll all get rich.

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  9. What is strange about their logic is that is all sounds very expensive and pro-development. They are using the issues of pollution and over-crowded freeways, to push an agenda that offers, as Sir Eric says, little relief for these problems, and merely pumps a whole more cash into the developer's pockets.

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  10. Some of the conditions that people state here that they would in no way tolerate, due to comfort zones, entitlement complex, delusional projections, in regard to living conditions, eg. congestion, air pollution, proximity to freeways are their own opinions and are entitled to them. Their is a tremendous amount of people that would view these so called degraded living environs as a godsend compared to what they have experienced in the past. Release the blinders once in a while, your experience is unique, to you. Jus' sayin'!

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  11. Can't Sierra Madre get some kind of Landmark/Historical city protection? (forgive me if this has been clarified on the Tattler before and I am unaware of it).

    Sierra Madre is a beloved hamlet in Southern California, loved for what it IS. Why can't the elected officials there fight in Sacramento for some sort of legal protection for the city, to stay that way?

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  12. Does anyone think that if the state were to pay people to take public transportation ridership would increase? When you consider the incredible sums of money that are put into unwanted and financially unfeasible development, all being budgeted to encourage public transportation use, the equation just doesn't sum out. My idea is that we cut out the development angle altogether and give that money directly to bus and Gold Line riders. That way the end result is achieved without destroying anybody's city.

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  13. Virginia,

    Our elected officials in Sacramento actually voted for SB375. So, asking them to introduce a landmark/preservation bill for Sierra Madre is not going to go anywhere.

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  14. Towns like Sierra Madre are the rewards they hand to development lobbyists for their generous support.

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  15. A much bigger and nearer-to-home problem than our elected officials in Sacramento are our elected officials in Sierra Madre.

    I'm speaking, of course, of Council Members Buchanan and Mosca. Both were proponents of a downtown specific plan promoting over-development and more particulary, condo construction in our downtown.

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  16. And let's not forget to give Buchanan his credit for demolishing large areas of the hillsides.

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  17. At two recent council meetings, Councilman Buchanan criticized the appearance of the Howie's property and even suggested that for purposes of an anti-blight ordinance that it might be considered "vacant."

    I for one am glad that we have a local market on the property. What is Buchanan up to?

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  18. So, the Dirts only have 2 candidates running? Joe Msca and Sue Walsh?

    Since, only one of them has a chance of winning, I guess they're content with a 2 seat minority on the Council, then.

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  19. Oops...I meant Nancy Walsh.

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  20. Hmmmmmmmmm, Buchanan was a big proponent of the DSP, which encouraged multi-story condo construction on that property.

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  21. Why do you think Nancy Walsh is a "DIRT"?

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  22. According to Bill Coburn's site, Pat Alcorn has pulled papers.

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  23. ...don't know if nancy is a dirt, but apparently she has been sipping kool aid with john b...

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  24. "Blight" is a condition required to exist before CRA funds can be used for redevelopment. The reason the Downtown (Dirt) Investors Club (D.I.C.) keep the Skilled Nursing Facility and the Howie's Market properties under utilized and unkempt is in order to justify using tax dollars to subsidize their redevelopment projects.

    Given that Buchanan is the D.I.C.'s representative on the Council it is not surprising that he would marginalize Taylor's while claiming the property is blighted.

    "Blight" has a very specific definition under CRA law, and you can bet the D.I.C.s know it word for word.

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  25. 1:42, I know! How dare Buchanan dismiss Taylor's as though it doesn't exists! Shame on him. Again.

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  26. The only thing that would have been blight
    in that part of downtown right now is the
    DSP had it been built.

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  27. I am sure that Ms. Walsh is a good Sierra Madrean and a person who cares. It's not necessary to call her a dirt. What is necessary is to evaluate her comments. The last speech she made before the city council was not accurate. She complained that the letter sent to SCAG gave out the message that Sierra Madre was not a healthy, vibrant town. This could only have come from a misunderstanding about SCAG, RHNA numbers, and a mistaken trust in the pro-development pleas of Mr. Buchanan made in the name of prosperity.

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  28. Curly, right you are!
    That disgrace at the top of Baldwin has been going on for what, 3, 4 years now.
    Just imagine if our town was ripped up all along the boulevard - and that damn dsp would have done just that.

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  29. I remember Nancy Walsh speaking during public comment a few months ago, stating that she was adamantly opposed to Measure V and wanted the City to find a way to get rid of it.

    Can Neuroblast find that, by chance?

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  30. Good memory skillsJanuary 11, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    2:18, Ms. Walsh supported Measure V. She signed the petition and told the community in her last remarks during community communications that she voted for it.

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  31. Grace Under PressureJanuary 11, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    I don't think Nancy Walsh is a "dirt," though I do believe she has fallen under the influence of people who are trying to use her good name for bad purposes.

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  32. I agree Grace Under Pressure. And 2:18, if you spread that kind of disinformation, you add to the confusion voters have to deal with. Maybe that was your intention.

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  33. The poor woman is facing a campaign for office where she will be linked to Joe Mosca! Isn't there any way we can do some sort of emergency intervention to save her from such a terrible thing? Call an exorcist, maybe?

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  34. Poster 2:09, you state that Ms. Walsh misunderstood SCAG and RHNA numbers and mistakenly put her trust in Buchanan's pro-development pleas.

    Assuming you are correct, you have just enumerated very persuasive reasons -- i.e., her misunderstanding of the crucial development issues and blindly trusting John B. -- why we should never vote for her.

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  35. My greatest fear is that people will vote for Ms. Walsh because she is a nice lady and not look at where she stands on the issues including development, police relations and the UUT.

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  36. I'm sorry Kurt is not running and wish him the best. I do hope, however, that he takes the time to endorse some of the candidates.

    I trust him and am keenly interested in learning who he will endorse.

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  37. That's always our biggest problem in this nice, little town, isn't it 3:27? People not really following the councils and their decisions, not really knowing the candidates positions. That's how someone like Joe got elected.
    I plant to talk to all my friends and neighbors, and present the facts.

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  38. "I'm nice" is Joe's whole political career strategy.

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  39. People should be forced to take a political literacy test before being allowed to vote.

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  40. 3:36 -- If you look at some of the videos Neuro Blast has up, Topsy shows a very different side.

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  41. Remember how Sarah Palin said that the ethics inquiry in Alaska found her innocent, when actually they found her guilty? That's the same kind of flat out lying Joe does. Look at the Tattler just a few days ago, and Joe's denial of saying "Get a Life," when you can listen to it yourself. Crazy gulf between what's true and what some of these politicians want us to think is true.

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  42. Sierra Madre business ownerJanuary 11, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    3:45, manners please.
    We avoid national political references because we are trying to work together on the local level.

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  43. Thanks SMBO. We do NOT want national politics to wreck the unity we have. The slow growth group in Sierra Madre is made up of people from every political persuasion you can think of - including anarchy.

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  44. Anon @ 2:45

    That's an important point you make. No matter how nice and well-intentioned someone is, if they are easily mislead and/or easily reactionary before having all the facts, then (in my opinion) they are not a good candidate for City Council.

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  45. I think the last few posters are missing the point. The comparison to Palin was not about her policies, but her propensity for stretching (I'm being polite here) the truth.

    It seems that Council Member Mosca has a silimlar propensity.

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  46. No throwing around 50 cent Psych 101 terms! We're open to reasonable discourse in the search for truth and we believe it can be done in a civilized post!

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  47. Enough people will vote for the best candidates. Watts, Crawford and Alcorn, securing three seats.
    These are the people who are going to tell the voters what their platform concerning Sierra Madre's future is. Unlike others who represent everything that will hurt, even destroy Sierra Madre.
    I'm pretty sure both Mayor MacGillivray and former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman will endorse these honest people...they are people who will NOT BETRAY THE VOTERS. They will be candidates with no ties to SPECIAL INTERESTS and these special interests include major national POLITICAL PARTIES that have been interfering in our city council elections since Joe Mosca brought in dozens of them in the 2006 election to support and go door to door for him. They all lived on the West side of LA or the San Fernando valley.
    This is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE.
    It's dirty politics. NO OUTSIDE SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY
    I can guarantee that Don Watts, John Crawford and Pat Alcorn work for the people, not special interests and their campaigns will be financed by the people in Sierra Madre who will be opposed to Sacramento governing our little town.

    I urge posters on this board to please not post about national politics during this election.
    While Sierra Madre is at WAR with SACRAMENTO on this power grab by certain special interests.....that's the only thing we should be concerned with.

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  48. Looks like the Tattler's Central Committee members have a soft spot for Sarah Palin.

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  49. Oh, we're all over the damned map. That's why we can't go on about national politics, we'd all stop talking to each other.

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  50. National politics is boring.

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  51. Teary eyed patriotJanuary 11, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    The way I see it my vote still counts in Sierra Madre; I can stand in front of the microphone at a council meeting and be heard. I may not get my candidate elected; I may not get my motion passed, but I have a better chance in a town with 11K people than in a nation of 300mil. So I'm going to talk about John C, Pat, and Don to anyone who'll listen and a bunch who'd rather not! I'm voting the honest ticket in this election not the democratic or republican or decline to state, or green, or indpendent! I'm voting for for people I know who want the best for all of us. Join me and we'll make a difference.

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  52. Our ticket is very balanced, not that political party has anything to do with this election, but:

    John Crawford - Registered Democrat
    Pat Alcorn- Registered Republican
    Don Watts- Registered Independent.

    How's that. Now lets get off the National politics crap.

    Sierra Madre issues matter
    The future of Sierra Madre matters
    Our independence from Sacramento matters.

    Watts, Crawford and Alcorn for the protection of the sovereignty of Sierra Madre.

    Let Sierra Madre be governed by the people of Sierra Madre, not by Sacramento special interests.

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  53. National politics are for people who are just too simple to understand local politics.

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  54. I want to know who Zimmerman and MacGillivray endorse, that will tell you a lot.

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  55. The gasoline burning clunker needs to "plug in" to an electric power source that's not fueled by coal-fired power plants. Feedback loop here.

    Smart Grid is beginning to take hold (Google that) and so distributed power sources of many kinds can feed into the grid that powers electrical plug-in devices, including the cars. Did you know your car will be an iPod?

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  56. Yep. Better start building more of those windmills. But "Smart Grid?" Just another way to distract the attention of the public from the sad fact that most electricity is produced through the burning of coal.

    Rule of thumb. Anything pertaining to transportation or development with the word "Smart" in front of it is most likely an oxymoron.

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