In an April 4, 2012 press release entitled "Nation's Largest Planning Agency Approves Plan in Preparation of 4 Million New Residents by 2035" (click here), SCAG lays out the wonder of it all.
The Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) convened the 47th Annual Regional Conference and General Assembly and, without objection, adopted the 2012-2035 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) and certified the Program Environmental Impact Report.
The 25 year plan is an investment plan for our region's economic viability that provides people with transportation and housing options that meet their professional and life style choices while supporting the business community's need to compete nationally and internationally. "Today's approval of the 2012-2035 RTP/SCS was a historic decision made by Southern California elected officials on SCAG's Regional Council. This action establishes a roadmap to welcome four million new residents and 1.7 million new jobs into our region by 2035," commented Paul O'Connor, SCAG President.
So how are we to accommodate this vast sea of new humanity yearning to experience their professional and life style choices here in Southern California? In the de-evolutionary Golden State of 2012 you have a government-run Regional Planning Organization such as SCAG cook up population and housing growth numbers and coerce each and every city within their jurisdiction into accommodating them. All backed up with the muscle of Washington and Sacramento, of course. Armed with draconian central planning legislation such as SB 375.
According to SCAG's "Final Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan" (click here), that number of new wickiups comes to just under 700,000 "units" for the region. Which, at the time this little item was cobbled together, called for 139 new housing units in little Sierra Madre. In a town that is virtually built out like ours, this would require that currently standing buildings be razed and replaced with high density condo complexes, thus radically changing the character of our community.
Oh, and just so you know. In SCAG-think, condos are more "sustainable" than single family homes. Especially when they are near a bus stop.
"This year's theme is 'Towards a Sustainable Future in Southern California.' Sustainable has many meanings; providing for a future where the population will grow but we can expect a reduction in per capita emissions, supporting the construction of new homes and businesses but with a plan to connect the dwellings with multiple transportation options, preserving the natural beauty of the California landscape for today's recreation and our future generations enjoyment, and ensuring that businesses remain in the Golden State and prosper," said Hasan Ikhrata, SCAG Executive Director.
All very carefully executed language, and inspiring in an uber-bureaucrat meets the Jetsons kind of way. Though that line about businesses remaining in California might seem somewhat ironic to some.
Again, all of these housing demands and plans are dependent upon one thing - the bold prediction that 4 million additional people are on their way and will be living right here in our portion of Southern California.
But what if SCAG is wrong? What if we raze downtown Sierra Madre as required, put in several blocks of 6 story mixed-use condos, and then nobody shows up to live in them? Do we end up like all those other towns that knuckled under to the SCAG Utopia, built that stuff, and are today the permanent home of thousands of brightly colored (though fading) "Now Showing" signs and flags?
This from Science Daily (click here):
New California Population Projection Shows Massive Slowdown - A massive slowdown in California's population growth means the state likely won't reach 50 million residents until the year 2046, a new USC analysis just released shows.
That's a far slower rate of growth that the latest projection released in 2007 by the state Department of Finance that shows the state reaching 50 million residents 14 years earlier, in the year 2032.
The population slowdown may bring reprieve to a fiscally strapped state under pressure to keep up with infrastructure needs, said report co-author Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography with the USC Price School of Public Policy.
"This is surely good news for local governments and taxpayers who are struggling to keep up with the costs of growth," Myers said. 'These projections suggest there is more time to plan a much better future for California."
Certainly we could plan for a much better future for California than SCAG's rather blunt sledgehammer approach of forcing housing into towns with a non-existent demand, or desire, for it. Especially now that those phantom millions of new residents aren't exactly rising from the ground and heading into their nearest Podley office looking to buy something.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a great article entitled, "Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus" (click here). An article so good that 3 people forwarded it to me. And what this essay reinforces for us is the idea that population increase projections such as those being flogged around our region by SCAG are a lot of cooked up and, at very best, out of date nonsense.
Now, however, the Golden State's fastest-growing entity is government and its biggest product is red tape. The first thing that comes to many American minds when you mention California isn't Hollywood or tanned girls on a beach, but Greece. Many progressives in California take that as a compliment since Greeks are ostensibly happier. But as Mr. Kotkin notes, Californians are increasingly pursuing happiness elsewhere.
Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. This is a sharp reversal from the 19080s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving. According to Mr. Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the ages of 5 and 14 or 35 to 45. In other words, young families.
Honestly, the best thing we as a City can do with SCAG's so-called "Regional Housing Needs Assessment" (RHNA) demands is just ignore them. And if other towns join us in this noble endeavor, what options will these apparatchiks have? Send in the National Guard?
SCAG's numbers are based on old and faulty 2007 population projections, backed up by the failed 1930s notion that central government can predict housing market demand by merely dicing up some erroneous data from a grid and then forcing cities such as ours to adopt their conclusions. Despite what the people living in those cities actually want, or need.
America needs to cut the crap and get back to get back to being America. Let's get out of SCAG.