I guess this is how they did it where SCAG premier Hasan Ikhrata came from. Back in the
Soviet Union where he got his start in the urban planning game no small cities or towns would be permitted to make demands on the central government authority, or dare to expect and then receive what they wanted. It just wasn't done. And now it isn't done here in California, either. After all, there is a new and glorious 25 Year Plan in effect, and government development quotas must be fulfilled. Kulaks be damned.
How did it come to this in the United States of America? How is it that bureaucratic central planning organizations, funded by both federal and state money, could be granted unlimited power over individual municipalities? To the point where it is not the towns themselves that have control over how their planning affairs are conducted, but government planners who most likely have never even set foot in those towns?Some of whom are not even from this country?
The Southern California Association of Governments, also known by the ugly acronym of SCAG, is currently conducting a media blitz in support of it's so-called Sustainable Communities Strategy. Here is how one of the many sock puppet websites (click here) supporting this vastly expensive boondoggle echoes SCAG's praise of its own plan:
SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata told Andrew Dalton of the Associated Press that "this plan looked at land use for the first time since we started doing planning." That's fairly amazing for the largest metro planning agency in the country, but Ikhrata and his colleagues deserve our praise and thanks for doing so. Dalton summarized the moment:
"The government group that oversees transportation for Southern California voted Wednesday to approve a $524 billion agreement that aims to make train tracks, bike lanes and clear skies as much a part of the region's image as boulevards and freeways.
"The unanimous vote from the Southern California Association for the 25-year Regional Transportation Plan provided a moment of consensus and celebration for the government officials and advocates who worked on it for four years, a feeling that could fade as it now needs to be put into play by local agencies and paid for by citizens.
"Still, the plan, a blueprint of priorities created by the group's 191 cities based on the federal, state and local funding the region expects to see, represents a huge shift in emphasis."
I guess the more than half a trillion dollars that would be needed to fund this "25 year plan" does sound impressive. Of course, where that money is going to come from now that trillions of dollars in new government debt are being piled up on a yearly basis is anyone's guess. Under the circumstances it is a lot of dough for some new trollies, bus stations and bicycle paths.
And wouldn't just waiting the 10 years or so for private industry to bring in its new generation of low and no emission personal transportation accomplish the same goals? After all, it would be 15 years shorter, half a trillion dollars cheaper, and you wouldn't have to rip up nice low density communities like Sierra Madre to build so-called "transit villages" that nobody will actually care to live in.
But that isn't how it was done in the Soviet Union that Hasan Ikhrata comes from. Instead we have 25 year plans, central planning that is completely out of touch with the needs of the communities it is designed to save from various threatened disasters, and vast sums of precious capital resources squandered on things nobody actually wants.
And then there is the implied lie in the use of the term "Sustainable Community Strategy." How can this strategy be sustainable when things such as the regional water supplies are incapable of adequately meeting any new needs that would be created? Or even that many of the transit villages built to date remain only partially filled? If you need an example, head down to Foothill Boulevard and check out the plentiful sun bleached "For Rent" flags and signs at The Stuart.
Of course, the most ridiculous claim being made here is that the 191 cities in the "SCAG Region" all happily worked together to make this happen. Because if that was true, why would so many of them be begging to opt out of their Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers? After all, isn't that the coercive bureaucratic mechanism SCAG requires to cram transit village-style development into places like downtown Sierra Madre?
And that is what is happening. A number of communities, including Sierra Madre, went to a SCAG/CEHD meeting recently to discuss the ridiculous housing demands being made upon each of them. All in the name of the high density development SCAG's sustainability plans require. Sierra Madre has been ordered to present proof that we would cooperate in the planning for 55 new "housing units" in town. This on top of the 138 we were ordered to allow a couple of years back, or 193 total.
Now where in Sierra Madre would you put 193 new housing units? After all, the town is built out. There are not 193 empty lots around that I know about. Whose home would you take down to make room? Nor would we have adequate water to supply these things. But despite a most eloquently argued case for taking this awful burden off of our shoulders by MaryAnn MacGillivray (which was received with applause by the other cities in attendance at this awful meeting), SCAG shot us down.
And there were numerous other cities in the house with similar requests for SCAG's nonexistent mercy, and they were all denied as well. You see, SCAG has a new half a trillion dollar 25 year plan to fulfill, and just because the cities being forced to knuckle under to it can neither sustain nor afford it's demands, and stated their cases with the most convincing evidence, the central planning authority did not care to listen. Apparently for them it is all numbers on paper.
After all, this is how they did it in the Soviet Union that Hasan Ikhrata comes from. And today in California as well.