That's the problem with planner jargon, it just wears out much too quickly. It lacks for sustainability, even when it is about sustainability. Words once fraught with deep meaning, or at least once fraught with the intention of appearing to have deep meaning, collapse under their own absurdity in time. Left naked and alone once the hype that sustained them no longer disguises the barrenness of all those failed promises.
Apparently the term "Smart Growth" is in the process of having its plug pulled by those who care. They have become very conscious that the freshness dating on it has now passed into a certifiable marketing decay curve.
But a replacement has been identified you'll be relieved to know. Are you ready for "Intelligent Cities?" Well, you probably should get yourself prepared. Because the same folks who bored us to death with the now unsustainable "smart growth" for the last 15 or so years are hopping on this new train like pilgrims heading to the promised land.
Here is how USA Today explained it recently:
Will 'intelligent cities' put an end to suburban sprawl? When the economy was roaring and housing booming, reining in suburban sprawl dominated the development debate under the name of "smart growth." Now that the economy and housing have tanked, prompting more people to stay put, growth is taking a back seat. But smarts still matter. The new buzzwords: "Intelligent Cities."
"There's a 15 to 20 year-cycle on urban planning terms," says Robert Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. "Remember 'urban renewal?' Smart Growth is near the end of its shelf life."
"Intelligent Cities," the new darling lingo of planners, reflects the times. It captures the essence of 21st-century technology that can help track when and how many people cross the street, water and energy consumption and peak hours at every transit stop. It also will soon allow bidding on a parking space via cellphone (the space goes to the highest bidder).
Honestly I don't know about all that, and anything complicating the parking of my car presents a problem as far as I am concerned. And "intelligent" is not quite the word I would use to describe the people putting me through so aggravating a procedure.
But I thought I should warn you about this terminology shift. I'm quite certain John and Joe will be using it very soon. When it comes to the use of development and planner jargon nobody is more trendy than they.
Update On Last Night's Gen'l Plan Update Steering Committee Confab
Perhaps yesterday's curmudgeonly article played a role, maybe not. I for one was not at the meeting and haven't spoken to anyone yet who was. But late last evening the following post was left here on The Tattler. It has the ring of authenticity.
The General Plan Committee agreed to discuss the Land Use Element of the Gen'l Plan on Sunday, Feb 13, from 1PM to 5PM. There will be a new EIR for the new plan. Everyone is encouraged to attend the meeting and give input. The Committee also voted to put the Gen'l Plan survey on line in the near future.
All very good news. The conclusions contained within the 1996 Environmental Impact Report to the current (and nicely aged) General Plan warns of near-exponential increases in Sierra Madre's population and "building stock" should certain GP96 items be triggered. Something that was actually attempted by the DIC with the Downtown Specific Plan 6 or so years back. Leading to its denouement shortly thereafter with the passing of Measure V by the residents of this occasionally aware town.
Deliberations on the Land Use Element portion of the new document could be the last act in this continuing drama. Or, if the festering remains of the '96 General Plan remain tucked in, probably not.
A very enjoyable CRA smackdown
Michael Hiltzik, writing for the L.A. Times, delivered a really choice body blow to the 400 or so CRAs that Jerry Brown wants to deep six. I have noticed this level of criticism in several news articles recently. The hue and cry from those well-heeled development types who benefit from this multi-billion dollar yearly state handout apparently is being disrespected by many commentators who no longer think they deserve the swag. Not when schools, hospitals and emergency services are suffering far more than they have.
Here are some of my favorite passages from Hiltzik's article, "Time to shine a harsh light on California's redevelopment agencies."
... local government redevelopment agencies lay claim every year to about $5 billion in property taxes that would otherwise go to school districts, counties and the state. But they've never had to show they're worth the money. In fact, they've never had to show that their efforts produce ANY measurable net gain in property values or employment in the state, which is the whole point of having them in the first place.
Putting schools before the development of car lots and strip malls would seem obvious to most it seems to me. But this is California where things do occasionally get a bit blurred. Especially when the glomming of our taxes are involved.
They (CRAs) now lay claim to 12% of all property taxes in the state. In some places it's even more: Fontana's redevelopment agency receives more than two-thirds of all property taxes collected in the Inland Empire city. Most of that money becomes unavailable for San Bernardino County services or schools.
With the massive teacher layoffs that are being implemented by cash-strapped school districts all across this state, do we really need to fund our CRA so that it can be decided whether or not we should buy new lamp posts?
These agencies are subject to virtually no outside oversight. Cases abound of apparent sweetheart deals between redevelopment bodies and private developers. State auditors have found some agencies consistently shortchanging their local schools and counties out of the small portion of their tax collections state law requires them to hand over.
The fiscal crisis is forcing state government to scrutinize and prioritize every expenditure. Programs shouldn't be exempt just because they've gotten a pass for 65 years now. Gov. Brown's implicit challenge to the redevelopment lobby is simple: "Put up or shut up."
And to think I didn't vote for Brown. What was I thinking?
Is Big Ed Roski getting dissed?
They might worship him like a God over at the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, but for the big city boys Roski is apparently just another Gold Line commuter tramp. This from yesterday's LAObserved.com:
The L.A. billionaire has proposed a nifty NFL stadium in the City of Industry, but I'm afraid it's no match for the well-orchestrated - and detail hidden - push for a downtown stadium. Tim Leiweke and his AEF+G juggernaut are holding a press conference this morning announcing their $700-million naming-rights deal with L.A. based Farmers Insurance, and the cast includes Eli Broad (on video), Magic Johnson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Council members Jan Perry and Janice Hahn.
I'm not sure who Ed Roski might have in his stable of celebrities to match that kind of star power. Besides himself, of course.
Maybe Paul Rusnak?