Politicians like to maintain a degree or two of separation between their glorious selves and the consequences of the grubby laws they pass. So that is why Hasan has a job. He gets to be the guy that enforces Sacramento's policies on housing and development. The ones that say we must do as Sacramento says in our planning or face some frankly harsh consequences.
The organization Hasan Ikhrata fronts is called SCAG, or the Southern California Association of Governments. There are two things that he and his colleagues are busy working on right now. The first is something called SB 375. What this state law says is that every city in California located near mass transportation must build a lot of new housing. And in particular densely packed apartments and condos. Lots of them. Right next to bus and train stations so people won't use their cars and therefore save the world from Global Warming. Or such is the rationale.
Seeing as how people now try to avoid living in such places or taking public transportation, and in droves, you can see how this one is working out. If you want an example, go check out The Stuart down on Foothill Boulevard some day soon. Jammed right up against the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station, it looks like a production set from the movie A Clockwork Orange. The future never looked quite this tacky before.
Their other busywork is Regional Housing Needs Assessment (or RHNA) numbers. This is where the state tells cities like ours how much new development they must accommodate. You know, all those apartments next to train and bus stations. Or at least on a pretend basis if those stations aren't quite so close. And while we haven't seen these new numbers yet, the word is they will be quite a lot. San Diego has already undergone its SB 375 makeover, and some communities have been hit with RHNA numbers that are literally astronomical.
And don't you think for one minute that Big Brother isn't just telling you to build just for the sake of building. Rather he is saving the world. Really. Apartments and condos apparently are the agents of our salvation from the coming permanent heatwave.
Hasan actually is from the old Soviet Union (click here). A place where social engineering and centrally planned mass development first became celebrated. There was little tolerance with those who refused to toe the official line, either. Social Equity, as they say up north, being the common goal. Everything the same for everyone, but usually not in any good way.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union our man Hasan had to go look for a job somewhere else. His skills were no longer prized in the former Worker's Paradise. That he found his new home in California doing pretty much what he and the old gang used to do back in Moscow is quite revealing. Can it be that we have become so very much like them? And when it comes to planning and Sacramento's role in it, can you honestly say we haven't?
But most people don't want what Hasan, Big Brother, various sneaky politicians and their business partners in the development and realty trades are demanding that we do. People prefer that things stay pretty much as they are. Which is why most folks went to the bother of buying their homes where they did, and pay mortgages to keep themselves there.
Over the years there have been many such campaigns to get people to level much of their own communities and replace them with such things as low income housing, transportation oriented development, mixed use, high density whatever. And the more determined locales (read: Sierra Madre) have pretty much laughed that junk off for decades. But apparently this time things are a little different.
Sacramento has now devised coercive punishments for those cities that do not listen to them. And in the process have removed local control over development from cities such as ours and placed it into the hands of both themselves and the people they do business with. Lobbyists love this stuff. They can finally really deliver for their development industry paymasters.
Here is how the state's enforcement of its planning will over us is described in a document known as the "RHNA Primer."
What happens if a local jurisdiction is late in submitting its housing element update to HCD, or does not fully address its site and zoning requirements to address its fair share of regional housing need?
Under SB 375 localities that are more than 120 days late in adopting their housing element update may revert to a 4 year housing element cycle and communities with 8 year housing elements that have not completed their rezoning within 3 years plus any new approved extensions to address RHNA land use planning targets may be subject to two new sanctions related to approving certain affordable housing projects and compelling rezoning:
1. "Builder's Remedy" - A developer of housing in which at least 49% of the units are affordable to very low, low and moderate income households can develop on any of the sites proposed for rezoning, as if the site had been rezoned.
2. Action to compel rezoning - Any interested party can bring an action to compel the city to complete the rezoning within 60 days, and seek sanctions for failure to do so.
In other words, control over development in any City, when cloaked in the language of affordability, reverts to the developer. Who can then take any City that does not please him to Court. At which time that Court becomes the final arbiter and will also become our Planning Commission. One that apparently won't turn down anything, and within a very brisk 60 days.
Now some will say that we have things such as Measure V and the Canyon Zoning Ordinance to protect us from such predatory development. But according to the "RHNA Statutes" (California Govt. Code Sections 65584 - 65584.05) the state has taken that away as well.
Any ordinance, policy, voter-approved measure, or standard of a city or county that directly or indirectly limits the number of residential building permits issued by a city or county shall not be a justification for a determination or a reduction in the share of a city or county of the regional housing need.
In other words, the people of the State of California no longer have much control over development within the borders of their own cities. We now live in the Dictatorship of the Handyman. Our once inalienable rights to control development within our own communities have now been confiscated by Sacramento and peddled to the highest bidders. You can only wonder how many re-election campaigns were funded by BIA and CAR lobbyists in exchange for legislative votes on something as awful as this.
We have been completely and utterly sold out by our elected officials.