Monday, November 8, 2010

What Jerry Brown Could Have In Store For Sierra Madre

Now that Governor Moonbeam II (or is it III?) has been overwhelmingly elected, articles expressing some misgivings about what the state might be in for have begun to crop up here and there. And one topic that does arise is Jerry's scary reputation for rather ruthlessly enforcing the central planning edicts of AB 32 and SB 375 as this state's Attorney General. The harrowing fate of the City of Pleasanton being the most obvious example. But more on that later in the post.

In yesterday's Orange County Register there is a Mark Landsbaum opinion piece called "The Temptations of Jerry Brown." He discusses the Governor Elect's obsession with centrally controlled land use as a way of curbing greenhouse gas producing automobile travel while also promoting the use of mass transportation, among other things. The notion that Sacramento's lawmakers, who can't balance a budget or say no to a lobbyist, are going to somehow save the world from global warming by promoting condo and boutique bus station construction does invite skepticism. It's a bit like saying car thieves are going to save us from traffic congestion, or arsonists will rescue the San Gabriel Valley from having too much combustible shrubbery.

Mark Landsbaum:

Brown is extremely likely to feel justified in even more aggressively pursuing his obsession with things green. Principle among these temptations will be the urge to bring the full weight of his administration to bear in accelerating enforcement of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as Assembly Bill 32.

In his present job as Attorney General, Brown used the courts and threat of legal action to coerce local governments and private businesses to knuckle under to AB32's Draconian mandates, ostensibly to save the world from California's carbon emissions. In the wake of his substantial election victory, bolstered by voters' even more substantial rejection of Prop 23, which would have delayed AB32's implementation, Brown will be greatly tempted to accelerate more administrative control over local government's planning and businesses' collective carbon footprints in order to reduce carbon emissions to 1990's level by 2020.

Nowhere has Moonbeam II's "send in the troops" mentality on the issue of state control over local land use been more evident than in the case of the City of Pleasanton. Like Sierra Madre with Measure V, the good citizens of Pleasanton voted in Measure GG as a way of preserving their city. This measure, created in 1996, put in place a housing cap of 29,000 to keep the place from being built into just another generic California freeway exit. That people should want their picturesque town to remain in its current livable state being somewhat anathema to the Uber-Planners of Sacramento.

And according to an article cited on Planetizen (which is not a site exactly devoted to the dreams of small cities hoping to control their own planning destinies) Attorney General Jerry Brown wasn't going to stand for it. That Jerry was mixing his "sprawls" and "housing elements" metaphors didn't seem to matter.

Jerry Brown Sues Suburb Over Housing Element: In April 27, AG Jerry Brown joined an environmental law suit against fast-growing San Bernardino County because its general plan didn't take into account the greenhouse gas emissions that result from sprawl development. Now he has taken on the other side of the same coin - going after Pleasanton, a city of high job growth that is deliberately restricting its housing growth with 1996 Measure GG that prevents it from having a certified "housing element" (a state-required element in a city or county general plan).

"Urbanists" believe in the green superiority of high density inner-city living despite the fact that most of this country's ripest greenhouse gas "hot spots" are big cities. An urbanist website called the Transbay Blog goes into some depth on the Pleasanton situation. And in the process sheds considerable light on the thinking behind Brown's legal blitzkrieg. In particular the part linking housing development to greenhouse gas related concerns.

What continues to be interesting here is Jerry Brown's consistent emphasis on climate change. In this case, Pleasanton's General Plan just straight-up violates state housing requirements, and the City's housing cap could be invalidated on that basis alone. Indeed, in his formal challenge of the housing cap, Brown focuses on the state's Planning and Zoning Law to make the case.

In supplementary materials, however, Brown has embraced a policy discussion that goes beyond simply pointing out the literal legal problem. In his January 2009 comments on the General Plan DEIR, he criticized the City for not adequately considering climate change impacts of the Plan. This is an environmental issue, not a housing issue. More recently, Brown explicitly tied the housing cap to its effect on travel patterns and air quality - adding his voice to the chorus chanting about how focused growth and smart land use are a critical component of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Pretty much knocks the whole argument into a cocked hat, y'know? The notion here being that because affordable housing in Pleasanton is hard to come by, many people have to commute long distances to get to jobs there. The solution, in the central planner think embraced by the likes of Jerry Brown, would be to wedge in some high density infill redevelopment so that commuters won't have to drive their cars so far. Thus furthering the somewhat absurd notion that cramming people into high density housing projects will somehow save the world from global warming. Which anyone familiar with highly densified and greenhouse gas rich cities like New York and Los Angeles (I've lived in both) can tell you is fairly ridiculous.

In case you are not yet aware, Pleasanton now owes close to $2 million in legal fees from fighting the state. Standing up to Sacramento and its vast - though mostly borrowed - resources does not come without a risk.

There are those cynics among us who believe that both AB 32 and SB 375 have much more to do with enabling development and realty companies to build in desirable locations such as Sierra Madre and Pleasanton than actually saving the planet. And that the whole thing smacks of being little more than a very typical Sacramento payoff to some especially favored lobbyists. The rest of us being just a marketing problem.

It will be interesting to see if the Gang of Four will try and use Jerry Brown's approach to repeal Measure V in Sierra Madre. Could restricting building height and density downtown have the effect of restricting "transit oriented development" here, thereby denying those who commute far distances from affordable living closer to their jobs at the urban core? I'm certain none of the G4 would have any problem with bringing in the full power of the state to upend the slow growth aspirations of the people of Sierra Madre. A prospect that I suspect would have some of them positively giddy with purpose and anticipation.

But perhaps all is not lost?

One thing that I have always found to be very Californian is voters wishing for wonderful things to happen on the one hand, while ruthlessly voting down any possible funding for them on the other. It seems to happen a lot.

We can see this regional peccadillo in last week's election results for Props 23 and 26. On the one hand the voters proclaimed their support for perceived greenness by overwhelmingly voting down Prop 23, while at the same time making it very difficult to enact the fee and tax hikes necessary for AB 32 to happen by passing Prop 26. Being a concerned and caring person apparently should never come with any real costs or sacrifices attached.

On the San Francisco Chronicle's site, the 23 vs. 26 dynamic at work here is carefully laid out. For diehard NIMBYs such as myself (though I much prefer the acronym St. Foomt myself) this is all extremely heartening news.

Prop 23 celebrations turn to fears over Prop 26 - Has the popping of Champagne corks been premature? We're referring to the defeat of Proposition 23, which has been hailed as the game-winning home run for California's climate change law.

But celebrations have turned to fears about the impact of what some have called its "evil twin" - Prop 26, which passed Tuesday. That's the initiative relabeling environmental mitigation and other fees as taxes, requiring the virtually impossible to get two-thirds vote, thus starving state and local treasuries even further.

"In effect that will stop (AB32, the climate change law) with this," said Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California, who supports the law, "along with many of us in the business community." Hauge was referring to San Ramon's Chevron Corp. (which was "neutral" on Prop 23) and the California Chamber of Commerce, both of which poured millions of dollars into Prop 26."

So can it be, as I'm sure some of the more conspiratorial folks on yonder side of the rainbow are saying, that those big bad oil companies tricked them? By focusing all of their attention on Prop 23 and those sinister Texas oil guys, were the anti-Prop 23 people behaving just as predicted? Were they made fools of? Can it be that California's very own oil corporations like Chevron were actually placing their hopes on Prop 26 all the while? And knew that Prop 23 was just a decoy designed to send the posse off in the wrong direction?

If so, it was quite an ingenuous ploy. Those oil fellows must be laughing loud and long.


  1. Can that be the reason why the G4 has rushed through the
    water rate hike? They knew Prop 26 was coming? That "fee
    to taxes" change could have an enormous impact.

  2. They haven't raised the water rates yet, Early. Maybe they
    now have to put it to a popular vote?

  3. Just crazy about Linda RonstadtNovember 8, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    Don't through out the baby Moonbeam with the bathwater just yet, Sir Eric. Gov. Brown's environmental track record is okay.

  4. It's OK if you like Sacramento suing cities into compliance with development the people living there don't want, Crazy. Of course, that is if you actually buy the argument that building condos and trollies has anything to do with improving the environment in the first place.

  5. to the Mod: La la la la , la.

  6. Jerry Brown, Joe Mosca and John Buchanan are all on the
    same page. And Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh are certain
    they agree with them.

  7. Ms. Ronstadt, All the feel good greening of Southern California simply is a hollow shell of an argument if you look at the players, all are developers, realtors AND POLITAL HACKS like the G4, looking to make green that fits into bank accounts$

  8. Thanks for posting this today, Mod.
    If we ever save Sierra Madre, save California, it will be guys like you who help do it.
    Perhaps you should repost a Tattler report on the amount of "greenhouse gasses" produced by these huge buildings.
    I believe environmentalist, blogger and poster on occasion on this website, Laurie Barlow wrote a good article on this very subject?
    Perhaps you could reprint the link to that again for us?

  9. Lar. Lar, Lar, you La, La, La, leftoverNovember 8, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Ms Ronstadt you are 64 years old, Mr. Moonbeam is senile and over 70, The banks are being sued by investors and the common folk. You live in Arizona, and back the anti immigration law. Mr. Brown is married give it a rest, I never liked you or your music. I am sure Geriatric Jerry is saying "Linda Who?

  10. Good post 8:54

    Jerry Brown is goofy as ever,it would be comical if not for the fact that this man is a lunatic and very dangerous to us all.

  11. I hope Agenda Man encourages us all to attend the city council meeting Tuesday.

    The bobblehead regime intends to shove this water rate hike at us, and will do it.
    We need to show them, we do give a DAMN and we will fight.
    Show up or give up your rights, Sierra Madre.
    These "bobbleheads" are very serious about securing OVER DEVELOPMENT of your town. That's what it's all about.

  12. In The Still Of The NightNovember 8, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    Notice on the agenda the water rate increase "request for direction" is
    item #9 out of 9?

    Maybe we should call it the Midnight
    Water Rate Hike.

  13. Oh, Brown isn't as goofy as you think. He sat around not spending any money campaigning then in the last few months ran as if he was the new face in town -- since most Californians were not here when he allowed collective bargaining to public-sector employees including pensions that California cannot sustain. Those who think Brown's track record is good for the environment should look long and hard at that record. You'll see that Brown has put "environment" and "green" over people and business every time.

    Great oped in the WSJ today titled "California: The Lindsay Lohan of States"

  14. California's the basket, Jerry's the case.

  15. How about those of you that have never spoken to the Council do it now? We need new faces or they will continue to ignore those of us who do speak. If you don't speak up the council will go on it's merry way putting the city in more debt just like Brown will do for California.

  16. Does anyone know when the newz media circus started using blue for communist states and red for republican states? Probably about the same time they started confusing "green" with development. The only thing between green and greed is the D-eed to your private property rights.

  17. Seniors who wear SketchersNovember 8, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Oh Gawd, Allysia Finley, go smoke your birkenstocks.

  18. Q) How do you sell massive amounts
    of stacked development in California?

    A) Tell them its green.

  19. indeed:10:13, do you think you own property free and clear from out side in fluence.You get to your dreamland via public roads do you not!

  20. unsustainable sustainabilityNovember 8, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I can see love beads and Nehru shirts comming back. Jerry Brown handing bouquets of flowers to the newly arrived extra terrestrials. The CIA will become "Capitalists In Action" and out of the closet. The real green is the new staph and streph molds brought to you by chemtrails. A death panel will decide at what age we will go to the fusion center to have our organs harvested and sold due to the federal debt to pay back China. Our body water drained for the National Water Conservancy program ala Dune. What is left of you will be dehydrated, minced up and sold as soup ingredients to another alien race who still has water on their planet and did not overdevelop and sell massive enslaving bond debt.

    Yeah, better go to the watered council meetings and talk as fast as you can.

  21. Soylent Green is people, you know.

  22. Wow, 11:39 you sound like Hail Hamilton during the election accusing Crawford et al of "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!

  23. Looks like Jerry is bringing the cosmic back to politics.

  24. Could be, 12:48
    What he is bring back, is already here. Right here in Sierra Madre. People like Mosca, Buchanan, Doyle, and other bobbleheads that are all directed by entities from a lower astral realm. They do not act in our best interests, either, only their own...and they aren't good.

    I knew and old lady who knew Brown as a child, and when he got elected Gov. of Cal for the first time, she was surprised, because he was a very strange child. The only boy in a family of girls and he used to sit in the corner, very sullen and pouted a lot. His mother was also very strange, a very cold woman, not at all like her husband, the late Gov. Pat Brown, who was a very likeable, friendly guy. Jerry Brown was a lot like the mother, not the father.
    Jerry Brown has "issues". Unfortunately, so do we, now that he is back, it only makes it worse.

  25. The development community thrives because it attracts people who like to be bullies.
    If you don't let us exercise our God given property rights, we'll sue you broke.
    If you don't let us build in your hillsides, we'll bankrupt you.
    And through the state, through the mouthpiece of organs like SCAG,
    If you don't cram a bunch of high density housing into your city, we will take away you ability to decide any development issues at all,
    and from Brown, the ascetic bully, if you don't submit to my ideas about what will be good for you, I'll bankrupt you.

  26. Dear Modette, if you feel that way please remove 11:39. 12:26 saying my post sounds like Hail Hamilton is a terrible insult.

  27. People who are convinced that they are right, and that they are right for everybody, are always bad news.

  28. Sir Eric, I disagree:
    "There are those cynics among us who believe that both AB 32 and SB 375 have much more to do with enabling development and realty companies to build in desirable locations such as Sierra Madre and Pleasanton than actually saving the planet. And that the whole thing smacks of being little more than a very typical Sacramento payoff to some especially favored lobbyists. The rest of us being just a marketing problem."
    That is REALISM, not cynicism.

  29. One of the toughest things in Sierra Madre politics is seeing dishonest people win (Mosca) or fake people win (Buchanan) or incompetent people win (Moran and Walsh). But they have.
    This governor and validation of AB32 is a big win for the bad guys - and I bet they they are deeply satisfied.

  30. first stanza, Yeats, The Second Coming

    "TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

  31. Has there ever been a question of the CC-1 dismissing the water rate increase? Only for those brief moments when Mosca and Buchanan thought there were more protest letters than were subsequently found to be valid, that's the only time.

    We're gonna get an increase; probably tonight. They showed weakness and appeared to be listening to the people. Then their handlers jerked their chain...

  32. So why has the city council scheduled their water rate hike for midnight?

  33. 2:39, There was a brief moment when the CC-1 was uncertain. But once the protest letters were judged to be insufficient, it was all smugness.

    They were never listening to the people. They think they are the people.

    For them, leadership means marching us into greater and greater debt.

  34. It took months for them to get their damned rate increase to where it is now. How are they going to get their additional water, paving and sewer bonds done if they can't even get a little water rate in place? And why did they tell us it was about fixing pipes when it was really about bond debt?

    Mosca never tells the truth about anything.

  35. City hall and councils have long realized that the later an item comes on an agenda, the fewer people will see it, either in person or on TV.

  36. I can hardly wait to see what Agenda Man has to say about the water rate hike! Agenda Man, you will be blogging tomorrow will you not?

  37. Begging the pardon of the "Patch" for lifting their postNovember 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    "A parolee suspected of numerous burglaires and thefts in Sierra Madre was arrested early Sunday morning by Sgt. Abbott of the Sierra Madre Police Department. The arrest was made at 99 North Hermosa Avenue, according to Police Chief Marilyn Diaz.

    "This was Sgt. Abbott making a good early morning "on-view" arrest of a parolee suspected of committing burglaries and thefts in Sierra Madre," said Diaz.

    The arrest took place at 3:14 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 7.

    Few details have been released about the suspect except that he is thought to have committed burglaries and thefts in Sierra Madre in the past.

    The suspect is being detained pending further investigation.

    "We are still gathering details," said Chief Diaz."

  38. It's OK lifting Patch posts. They lifted the election results one posted here on Sunday.

  39. Did the police find a cello at 99 North Hermosa?

  40. 2:23 - not sure if you are aware, but Hail
    recently changed his last name to "Bopp."

  41. The only way the average resident will sit up and notice, will be when they get the first billing. Too late to do anything..

  42. Wish it weren't so, but I think you're right Oblivious.
    Vigilance has to be not just eternal, but also pro-active.

  43. 'I'm certain none of the G4 would have any problem with bringing in the full power of the state to upend the slow growth aspirations of the people of Sierra Madre.' The answer to the G4's fondest hopes.

  44. Sorry to be a dimwit, but could you connect the dots for me about Prop 26 and implementing stuff-your-city-up density? Developers don't give a damn about local controls of any kind. Remember their motto:
    I can't see it from my house.

  45. Proposition 26 as a successful end run around Proposition 23.
    Now that strategist is worth a consultant's fee.

  46. Everytime I hear about John and Joe siding with the state and against Sierra Madre I think about Norway during World War II. There were people there who sided with the germans, and when the panzers rumbled across the border they greeted their "liberators" with little waving red and black flags.

    Probably an uncivil metaphor I know, but it is there for me.

  47. Hey, Machiavelli, there's stooges in every setup! All through history and around the globe.

    That's why propaganda works.

  48. That's the process for you. 10% planning
    and mechanics, the other 90% inventing plausible stories.

  49. 9:48 A very appropriate suggestion. I have spoken to the CC on the Water Tax and the Prop 218 shell game 5 times, and am willing to do it again. Josh Moran seems to be the CC spokesman for "spinning" the water and Prop 218 protesters as a "few malcontents" that show up repeatedly and do not represent the majority of Sierra Madre residents. He asserts that those who do not show up and speak against the Water Tax as being in favor of it. It is the same logic as the "no protest to the City means a yes vote" on Prop 218. Moran glosses over the 2,000 plus signators who derailed the tax at least temporarily.

    If a hundred new faces showed up and mearly said "I am really really opposed to any tax increase" on my water bill, and nothing more it wouild send a strong message to our Council. Try it. It gives you a good feeling and then you can leave the meeting knowing a new face meant a lot.

  50. Solyndra, the Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturer, is closing their California
    plant it was announced today. The recipient of $500 in Federal money has decided they need to set up shop in a cheap labor state. Both Arnold and Barack visited the pace in the last year.

    So much for green jobs!

  51. Looks like Josh has been reading the Richard Nixon playbook with that silent majority stuff.
    What's next? I am not a crook?

  52. I have tried to encourage people to speak. There is a very strong public speaking fear that is widespread. One guy told me he felt like he was going to die, even though he knew that wasn't true.

  53. I think it is that room. It's very cold
    and inhospitable looking.

  54. This is a global fears top ten:

    1. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia)
    2. Fear of death (Necrophobia)
    3. Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia)
    4. Fear of darkness (Achluophobia, Scotophobia or Myctophobia)
    5. Fear of heights (Acrophobia)
    6. Fear of people or social situations (Sociophobia)
    7. Fear of flying (Aerophobia)
    8. Fear of open spaces(Agoraphobia)
    9. Fear of thunder and lightning(Brontophobia)
    10. Fear of confined spaces(Claustrophobia)

  55. I have Buchanababblephobia, fear of expiring while waiting for Buchanan to get to the point.

  56. All those folks in high school that couldn't speak in front of people? It's still just as scary for them. It's hard. But if you can, please please please do.

    If you can't, then just show up and be in the audience.

    Thank you.

  57. Sometimes it helps to send in a letter signed by 100 people for the Council packet, and just show up for the meeting. Too late for tomorrow's meeting, but next week should work OK too.

  58. Stand for something or get knocked overNovember 8, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Motivation can overcome fear or difficulty in speaking. Did you ever hear the joke about the woman who told the man she was with that she would make love to him if he took the top of the car down? It took him five minutes and the car wasn't a convertible.

    Trust yourself, trust that the spirit inside you will guide your words.