California's guiding governmental lights have also claimed the right to tell us what portion of our city property taxes we're allowed to keep, and what part they feel is theirs to use. And then when even that doesn't quite put a dent in their rapacious appetite for our cash, they've reserved for themselves the option of sending us our tax refunds in the form of an IOU. Good luck finding a bank that will cash it.
But now our beloved state leaders have taken their genius for pissing off the citizenry one banana step farther. Apparently our State Senate yesterday passed a law that will financially incentivize cities to do away with free parking. I kid you not. Here is how the L.A. Times puts it:
State lawmakers take aim at free parking - State lawmakers are taking aim at what some of them see as a menace to California's environment: free parking. There is too much of it, the legislators say, and it encourages people to drive instead of taking the bus, walking or riding a bike. All that motoring is contributing to traffic jams and pollution, according to state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), and on Thursday he won Senate approval of a proposal he hopes will prompt cities and businesses to reduce the availability of free parking.
Ah yes, the old "getting people out of their cars" routine. Courtesy of California State Senators who drive around in late model automobiles paid for by we the taxpayers. This from a 2010 ABC News report on that personal transportation perk they all enjoy:
While the state is wallowing in a $28 billion deficit over the next 18 months, newly-elected lawmakers got new cars. From $32,000 hybrids to $46,000 Cadillacs, their new rides will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.3 million. It is a perk included in lawmakers' six-figure salaries.
Sweet. No smelly old buses for these guys. Apparently in their opinion that world saving option is something only folks like us should have to deal with. Their vital out of office work can only be accomplished in a state funded Coupe De Ville.
There is a fascinating article up on the New Geography site that is getting a lot of comment across the internet. Entitled The War Against Suburbia, it details the growing perceived animosity of the Democratic Party to the interests of suburban America. Which paradoxically (in a political sense) also happens to be where the vast majority of the people in this country live. Here are two paragraphs from this excellent article that illustrate my point:
Suburbanites may not yet be conscious of the anti-suburban stance of the Obama team, but perhaps they can read the body language. Administration officials have also started handing out $300 million stimulus-funded grants to cities that follow "smart growth principles." Grants for cities to adopt "sustainability" oriented development will reward those communities with the proper planning orientation. There is precious little that will benefit suburbanites, such as improved roads or investment in other basic infrastructure.
But ultimately it will be sticks and not carrots that planners hope to use to drive desuburbanization. Perhaps the most significant will be new draconian controls over land use. Administration officials, particularly from the EPA, participated in the drafting of the recent "Moving Cooler" report, which suggested such policies as charging tolls on the Interstate Highway System, charging people to park in front of their homes, and steering some 90 percent of all future development into the most dense portions of already existing urban development.
So in light of these kinds of national initiatives, a mere California State Senator going after free parking for cars would make perfect sense. After all, in our California SB 375 world it is the suburbs that are responsible for the degradation of the environment and greenhouse gases. And while the larger cities are just as responsible if not more, they currently have the political cover in Sacramento necessary to avoid such unkind interest. No, in this case it is small residential towns such as ours that must serve as the whipping boy, and bear the brunt of this unwanted attention coming from the state.
But will there be political repercussions for the political party most closely associated with these kinds of policies? According to this New Geography piece, retribution has already begun.
A year into the Obama administration, America's dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future. Scott Brown's huge upset victory by 5 percent in Massachusetts, which supported Obama by 26 percentage points in 2008, largely was propelled by a wave of support from middle-income suburbs all around Boston. The contrast with 2008 could not be plainer.
Or, as in-house blogger Zennie62 of the San Francisco Chronicle's "SFGate" site puts it:
It's this - wanting to take away free parking - that's the kind of stupid squeezing of Californians during what is now a jobless recovery that will doom Democrats in November ... The bill reportedly provides financial incentives for cities and counties to stop providing free parking on the street.
Of course, there is one silver lining here. While SB 375 and the issues associated with it might seem kind of difficult and arcane to many citizens, taking away free parking is quite easily understood. Once people catch on to that it could provide a kind of breaking point, and might very well be the event that wakes a lot of people up to some of the other bizarre things that are going on in our state.
No news yet if Joe Mosca or John Buchanan have gotten us any state grant money for the installation of parking meters on the streets of Sierra Madre yet. I'm sure we'll hear all about it if they do.