Monday, May 10, 2010

News of Discontent Over SB 375 at La Quinta SCAG Fest Leaks Out

We're not seeing much coverage of the growing opposition to SB 375 in the fine family of California newspapers owned by the financially troubled MediaNews Group, which includes the Pasadena Star News. Particularly the intriguing information that cities are just fed up with Sacramento using their tax money for things they weren't intended for, which apparently now also includes the so-called "Anti-Sprawl Bill."

SB 375, as you might or might not know, is a law whose stated goal is to reduce car driving by parking high-density housing near bus and train stations. The hope being that those living in these places will abandon their automobiles and eagerly embrace the excitement of commuting to work by bus, which will somehow save the world from global warming. Something that will require massive levels of development industry enriching new construction, which some have interpreted as the real world goal here.

Now we don't want to jump to any unfair conclusions here. It could be that there have been a lot of bear sightings the MediaNews papers needed to cover lately, and they just didn't have the space. But coming as this does on the heels of their blown coverage of possible additional funding for the Pasadena Unified School District through the use of city redevelopment funds (which by embarrassing coincidence came to light during the Measure CC debacle), this does fit a pattern. It could be that they just don't want to publicize things that do not benefit certain of their sustaining constituencies. Some of which love to spend our tax money on privately owned redevelopment and "transit oriented" projects.

But fortunately the MediaNews Group doesn't own all the local papers in California, and stories of discontent over SB 375 at the SCAG La Quinta festival of dreams did leak out. This from a publication called The Press-Enterprise:

Amid funding miseries, Inland officials want state anti-sprawl law shelved until economy improves - LA QUINTA: Elected officials from across Southern California expressed frustration Thursday with the state's anti-sprawl law and a lack of funding to implement its goals. The officials questioned how they will cope with new requirements during a weak economy and as the state seeks to withhold more money from local governments.

"We know it is law and we want to implement it," said Hemet Councilwoman Robin Lowe, president of the California League of Cities. "But is it appropriate at this time? What are the cities supposed to do? How do you think we are supposed to do this without any financial assistance?"

Many local officials at the conference Thursday questioned how cities and counties could put in place SB 375's requirements at a time when the state is raiding local funds. The state wants to divert more than $2 billion in redevelopment funds to school operations. Fontana Mayor Mark Nuaimi said many cities are doing what SB 375 aims to accomplish without Sacramento's heavy hand. Fontana, he said, concentrated new senior housing near its Metrolink station. Nuaimi questioned where cities would get funding to meet the legislation's goal.

Another report coming out of last week's SCAG fest in La Quinta also reported on anger over the widely suspected notion that an impoverished Sacramento might attempt to force the implementation of SB 375 by using local city property and sales tax revenue. This from, a site owned by The Desert Sun.

(SB 375) has been a point of contention for some valley cities and other small towns in California, where officials see its call for smart planning as code for the kind of high-density, multi-use projects they feel are inappropriate for their areas.

"I think Sacramento has to get its own house in order before they start dictating to cities," said Palm Desert Mayor Cindy Finerty ... "With the economy where it is, it's not time for implementation of AB 32 and SB 375. It's further going to shut down our economy." she said.

Now apparently our favorite planner that is formerly of the Soviet Union, SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, had been feeling a little heat at this confab. So much so that he felt obligated to deny that SCAG is functioning here as little more than the enforcement arm of Sacramento's sprawl and greenhouse gas unfunded mandates. This only slightly bizarre quote from

"SCAG doesn't want to tell cities what to do," he said. "Cities are doing what SB 375 wants them to do. We need to incentivize them to do more, not give them more regulations."

Now the quaint anthropomorphism shown in discussing what SB 375 might or might not be wanting aside, the notion of getting cities to spend their own tax cash to bring this law to life is not in any way denied by Ikhrata here. But given the rhubarb over funding, he did come up with a more novel approach. What Ikhrata was actually advocating here is a contest to get city officials to do just that, spend their city funds on SB 375.

At least one incentive will be a SCAG competition on sustainability initiatives, with the winning city getting a $2 million cash prize, he said.

Now that is an interesting idea. Use our state and Federal taxes as contest prizes designed to coerce Southern California city officials into spending their local tax money on vastly unpopular high-density development schemes. Can free lottery tickets and a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's be far behind?

And I do have to ask, there can't possibly be local elected officials anywhere who would be simple-minded enough to sign on for that one, right?


  1. Oh my. SCAG is now running its own version of Wheel of Fortune? Compete for big cash prizes?

  2. Interesting. Maybe since the Morongo and Pechanga Tribes are officially members of SCAG, perhaps they could run this approach through their casino operations?

  3. State Capitol for saleMay 10, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    This whole state is morally and fiscally bankrupt. Maybe Meg Whitman can pick up the tab?

  4. Well gang, we were just ahead of our time last year when we were screaming about SB375 and AB 32. I also believe that Don and Maryanne opened the eyes of some SCAG cities. Isn't it great to be able to say "We told you so." Since the new duo in Sierra Madre follow like sheep, perhaps they will have a change of heart.

  5. Can't you hear a breathless Joe Mosca at some upcoming City Council meeting breathlessley proclaiming, "C'mon Sierra Madre! I know we can win the $2 million dollars!"

    To which John Buchanan woulkd reply, "You know what, Joe? I have just the consultant that would bring home the bacon for us."

  6. Mosca's statement about "regional partners" keeps reverberating in my head. I believe I know how he'll come down on SB375 and AB32 and it'll be a tap dance (can't you just see the Moscateers in top hat and tux?) around the fact that he's selling us out.

  7. Get involved when and where you can on this one, citizens. It's important we stop this type of government abuse.

    Thankfully, John Crawford, MaryAnn MacGillivray and others are on top of this situation and this blog, will keep you informed.

    We have lots of others in cities around California who are also very concerned.

    We must all band together and fight. It will only happen if we do nothing.

  8. I prefer to mentally implode their heartsMay 10, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Those Dastards! Torches and Farm Tools may not be enough to stop the blood suckers.

    We savvy Tatts know, the salvo offered to the cities will be leech like bonds underwritten by the red sheild collective.

    The cities are seeing they are being set up, handled and sold out.

    I was glad to see our Margaret "Maggie"
    Clark and Joesph Gonzales asking lots of questions, in the April SCAG meeting video, but I haven't recovered from seeing Ikharta in action. I bet a lot of the SCAGGIE attendees are not feeling warm and fuzzy thoughts from him either.

    Arnold wants to be President, he wants to accept chinas offer to build a rail line here, if this money shortage begins and ends with the Department of Transportation, already mortgaged to Wall Street and it's synthetic synthetic CDO's or bondage underwriters, they will think nothing of crushing local politicians and city councils. 2 million dolars is like twenty bucks to them.

  9. This looks like pretty good news to me. The AB32/SB375 pipedream could very well be on its way to a much deserved demise. Of course, there will still be some cities that won't pick up on that obvious fact immediately.

    Ironically Sierra Madre, which led the charge against this madness up until recently, could be one of them.

  10. Sacramento hoovering it inMay 10, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    If businesses have to pay their previous share of property taxes that shifted under Prop 13, then housing would no longer be the cash cow. The split-roll issue is back. Unfortunately that only kicks in upon sale of the property.

  11. Bad Newspaper AgendasMay 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    There is a story about Montebello being so broke it is borrowing a million a month from its redevelopment agency.

    It will not let me comment on any get rid of the redevelopment agency sunset it out type comments, did you read it? SGV tripe vune.

  12. Anon @8:20, I agree! MaryAnn & Don had a big impact on SCAG and member cities:
    "Did you hear about Sierra Madre?
    "No, what?"
    "They are withholding the dues! Ikhrata & Edney went to make a special appearance!"
    "You're kidding! Weren't the Sierra Madre reps sued and thrown into jail?"
    "No! Ihkrata & Edney tried to schmooze them!"
    "Did they jack up Sierra Madre RHNA numbers?"
    "No! They accepted lower employment estimates, though John Buchanan tried to argue for SCAG and against Sierra Madre on that, and the lower future employment projections helped the city stay small."
    "Well OK, but Sierra Madre just swallowed whole a smear campaign against the former mayor who accomplished that, and voted for the guy who loves SCAG."

    Oh well.
    MaryAnn & Don made their decisions from integrity.

  13. Mayor MacGillivray and Councilman Watts were like little pebbles that start an avalanche.
    You bet they were important in this sea change.

  14. What percentage of news print costs are covered by realtors? Realtors live and die by advertising, and no matter how much they like to present themselves as "community creators"and "neighborhood friends", they are an indispensable part of the building industry. Developers take the bite, construction companies digest it, and then there's the realtors. It would be nice if we could respect our local papers, but as each miss goes by it becomes harder.

  15. Funny how that works, eh 11:55? And now SCAG has been reduced to offering cash prizes to get cities to play their version of Wheel Of Misfortune.

    Maybe some of these cities actually believed SB375 meant that they were going to get a lot of Sacramento money to build a Quiznos next to a bus station?

  16. So here is what the Pasadena Star News is listing as "the latest" on their website:
    - San Gabriel Boy Scout fixes up former elementary school
    - Police talk jumper down from freeway bridge in Azusa
    - Young man shot to death in West Valinda
    - Bob Burdette had many careers before becoming Pasadena's beloved toastmaster and preacher
    - El Monte shooting probe becomes homicide investigation
    - Local Temple City eighth-grader wins essay, art contest
    - Two Pasadena teens paint fiberglass cows for "Taste of Moo-sic" art contest
    - Superintendent's Corner: Duarte Unified, a hidden gem
    - Man's 100-year life filled with both tragedy and joy
    - PCC forensic students bring home contest wins
    - Annual Monrovia golf tournament aids kids camp program
    - Dozens of Ferraris to be displayed at Pasadena's 'Concorso'

    Yep. A regular steady diet of nothing.

  17. Use our taxes to reward the city that rolls over the fastest?
    Mr. Ihkrata, take that 2 million and put it in California food banks.

  18. "SCAG doesn't want to tell cities what to do," but we will

  19. You know what carrots and sticks usually are used on, right? Jackasses.

  20. Remember the All America City hoopla of a few years ago? The cheer leading, the purple balloons and hats for that, um, honor?
    Get ready for more of that.

  21. "If we could win the All-American City Award, then there is no reason why we can't win that $2 million dollars from SCAG!" - some nitwit, and probably tomorrow night.

  22. still read the papersMay 10, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    Hey 12:42, there's one story in that list that is very much something - it's the 100 year old Armenian man. The recognition of the Armenian genocide is necessary and long overdue, & an important event in congress.

  23. You know, you're right 12:58. One item below the "Taste of Moo-sic" art contest.

  24. Watch out for that damn 2 mill prize. Could be the front the BIA uses to spiffy up the howies/SNF properties. All green of course. All sustainable. Just a few little adjustments to Measure V & there ya go.

  25. Tattler, you're right. This is VERY weird that the La Quinta rumblings are not the headline in the Star News! Don't they get how much these matters will impact where their readers live? How about the Sacramento Bee? Any new SB375 revolt coverage in that?

  26. Isn't Sacramento's MPO ABAG? Or SACOG? Or something? SCAG doesn't go that far north I thought.

  27. What I want to know is are there term limits on the 4th of July Parade Chairman? And, how is the 4th of July Committee chosen? Is there a conflict of interest with Dr. Bosse being chairman when he is the acknowledged partner of Joe Mosca?

    What we are going to see, I think, is four years of volunteers being chosen for Mosca support as opposed to being selected from the community at large.

    Forget being appointed to a committee or commission or even an event if you aren't four square behind Team Mosca.

  28. I know some Sierra Madreans who have lived here for many decades, who found the pep rallies for the All American City stupid. They went to city functions to honor friends, or for other commitments, and were expected to participate in childish gushing.

  29. 1:18, the Sacramento Bee might be interested in SB375/AB32 reactions here?

  30. No idea, Faithful Reader. Have you looked?

  31. I didn't find anything. Another disappointment.
    And another reason to say Thanks Tattler.
    Big story, big impacts, too little coverage elsewhere.

  32. Interesting take on the SB375 & AB32 from Ed West in the wine country:

  33. This tasty post appeared when I googled SB375 + News. Always out there, the Tattler. Didn't see any Mtnviewsnews or SMWeakly or

    The Tattler: News of Discontent Over SB 375 at La Quinta SCAG Fest ...May 10, 2010 ... News of Discontent Over SB 375 at La Quinta SCAG Fest Leaks Out. We're not
    seeing much coverage of the growing opposition to SB 375 in the ... -

  34. Great link, 1:39.
    Funny that ABAG has to remind folks like SCAG does, Don't kill the messenger.

  35. The All American City designation is boosterism personified, a part of the League of American Cities headquartered back east. If you look back to see who it was in the forefront of seeking this designation for Sierra Madre you will see the former City Manager and several well-know real estate personalities, some City Council members past and present, and residents-- members of the pep club. Good for the bottom line. Fun to note: in the self-agrandizement of being selected as an All American City is how many "cities were in the competition" that you out matched: the count starts with all who download the application, then narrows to a count of those cities that ask for additional inforamtion, narrowed further, but the boost to the winner's ego keeps the "selected from" number with the first group, to the real applicants who fill out the application and send it in. Not such a selective group after all.

  36. I was back east recently and I went to a Yankees game. I was surprised to see that we have something in common with The Bronx. They are an All American City as well.

  37. The shame about SB375 & AB32 is that the green guys aren't even in the room anymore.
    The idea was to help the environment. The building industry said, oh yes indeed, we'll help the environment. It's what we live for.
    No more green guys.
    They were muscled out of this process a long time ago.

  38. I'm posting this from TPM because it mirrors our own experience in trying to get information and coverage.

    "No One Around To Mind The Store?
    We're getting anecdotal indications that the decline of the newspaper business, particularly the withering of the size of newsrooms, is having a practical impact on the 2010 congressional election campaigns. I'm curious to know if you're seeing evidence of this, too.

    I was talking to a candidate last week in one of the high-profile 2010 races. Campaign coverage has just about evaporated in this candidate's state, I was told, because there are so few reporters left, and those who are still around have bigger priorities, especially this far out from Election Day. As a result, it's hard for the campaigns to get any traction with messages or story lines, and voters are much less engaged.

    That's not the first time we've heard this complaint from campaigns. It's happened often enough now that I wonder if it's part of a larger pattern. Intuitively it seems plausible enough, but I'm very curious how broad the pattern is.

    I'd love to hear from our readers who are local journalists and editors. But I'm especially interested in what campaign consultants and political types have to say. Are you seeing this too? How are you adapting to it? What changes has it forced you to make in how you campaign? Shoot us an email to the tip line at the top right of this page. As always, it will be confidential.

    --David Kurtz"

  39. N.A.C.
    The Bronx and Sierra Madre
    All American Cities, What a great throw your head back and laugh out loud piece of news!!

    Every great Mafia movie story coomes otta da Bronx! Da Bronx is full of graft and corruption, pay off and scandals, Dirty dames and low lives.
    Trash collectors and guys who drive big Benz's and smoke biiig ceeegars.

    People disapea and end up under cement who usta live in da Bronx.

    The Bronx. Ruled by fear and ignorance.
    Yankee Stadium is beautiful. The subway is smelly and dirty.
    Ya get out and move to Sierra Madre?

    Yes, Riverdale is lovely,
    and the Sopranos was filmed in Jersey,
    the Bronx and Westchester....

    Thanks for this great comparison.
    We gotta keep an eye out!

  40. Remembering the liesMay 10, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    To 11:13
    It is not the news they cover but the news they do not cover.
    That is the scarry part.

    MOSCA: The lies before the election!

  41. Interesting post from Kurtz. Big difference here though. There was coverage - for the winning side. The slow growth side only had this admirable blog and some lucid mailers.
    The Downtown Investors had 2 papers and their lowest-common-denominator mailings.

  42. Thieves In Sierra MadeMay 10, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Did a double take when I picked up a copy of the Looney View News, the headline "Thieves Target Sierra Madre" was placed next to the photo of Mosca, Moran, Walsh and Buchanan - how appropriate.

    Then I tossed the paper in the trash.

  43. The economy has always paid a weird part in all this. If the economy is bad enough, you can't build. Boo hoo. If it's not that bad, then you can build, but you can't sell. Ghost town. Very scary decision time.

  44. Hang around TPM, The Tattler might teach you somethingMay 10, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    David Kurtz, TPM has already been very helpful to our local area. It kept one of us alive, by accepting documentation regarding the Titan situation two years before Mr. Leung was finally arrested. Ask Seymour, I understand he is moved on. Although the tale was a bit much for TPMuckraker, it did accept the documentation and provided a witness to a very dangerous situation.

    Thank you TPM. Seymour said he was not indined as to active coverage at the time but as we know it isn't conspiracy if it turns out to to real.