And whether we want it or not doesn't matter to them. They just take a big number, arbitrarily divide it up among a hundred or so cities by using some sort of rudimentary formula that is completely divorced from popular reality, and then stick us, along with everyone else in the "SCAG Region," with unfunded planning mandates that would wreck the place should they ever actually result in anything getting built.
Of course, they have all sorts of crazy rationales for this. A decade or so back SCAG claimed that California was about to experience a huge population boom, and that if we didn't build vast quantities of new housing, and quick, we'd be inundated with eager new arrivals having nowhere to live. Of course, population didn't increase, the economy tanked and headcount flat-lined instead. And if you go and visit those unfortunate towns that actually built what is now known as "SCAG Housing" (vast swaths of cookie cutter condo sprawl), you will see hundreds of these sad things, mostly sitting empty and unsold. Many now owned by the banks that were dumb enough to finance them.
Nowadays SCAG Housing is being peddled by the usual pack of professional prevaricators as, believe it or not, a solution to global warming. Sacramento's specious rationale being that if everyone lives close together, folks won't have to drive so far to see each other, thereby cutting down on the greenhouse gases produced by automobiles. Even better in their minds, people would use mass transportation, or even walk. Which is hilarious. Nobody walks in L.A. County.
SCAG's demands are contained in something called Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers, or the acronymic RHNA. Every unfortunate City living within their Southern California suzerainty is arbitrarily assigned a RHNA number, which indicates just how much new SCAG Housing it must accommodate. All backed up by draconian state laws.
Each city is allowed to challenge their RHNA number of course, but the results are predetermined and appeals are almost always rejected by SCAG. The reasons for challenging might be good, as ours were, but the satraps at SCAG just don't care. They have orders from various central government planners, and honestly they just want to get it all over so they can go home, mix some drinks, and watch TV game shows.
If you visit SCAG's website, you'll be able to find a good indication of just how vapid and meaningless the RHNA appeals process can be. And a great example of their raging bureaucratic indifference can be found by clicking here and visiting a page called "Regional Housing Needs Assessment Subcommittee." There you can read all about their bizarre take on Sierra Madre's RHNA appeal. Check this out:
4.5 Appeal from the City of Sierra Madre: Ms. MaryAnn MacGillivray, representing Sierra Madre, stated that she was accompanied by Sierra Madre's Councilman John Cappoccia (sic), City Manager Lane Aguilar (sic), Development Services Director Danny Castro, and Public Works Director Bruce Zimmerman (sic).
Ms. MacGillivray stated that the current RHNA allocation given to Sierra Madre is partially unfair because it does not take into consideration factors that are unique to Sierra Madre. Ms. MacGillivray described three factors, water supply constraints, job-housing balance, and land use constraints that were particular to the City. Ms. Liu responded that, based on information supplied by the City, no decision was made by the water supplier board indicating that the supplier would not be able to sustain any future growth. Without evidence of such, staff cannot make a recommendation for a reduction to the City's allocation.
Ms. Liu stated that out of the three factors the City pointed out, she wanted to respond to the most crucial one, the water supply issue. Staff spent a lot of time reviewing the letter from the Sierra Madre's water supplier and did observe some statements about the potential decline in water supply. However, there is no decision made by the water supplier board indicating the supplier would not be able to sustain any future growth. If there is no evidence regarding that, staff cannot make recommendation otherwise.
Having reviewed the City's appeal and staff's recommendation, the RHNA Appeals Board completed its discussion. A motion was made (Kuenzi) to approve staff recommendation to deny the appeal request for the City of Sierra Madre.
While it was good to see that City Manager Lane Aguilar and Public Works Director Bruce Zimmerman were able to make it to this meeting, there doesn't seem to have been a lot of concern shown for Sierra Madre's appeal by SCAG staff. Sierra Madre's water problems are quite real, yet rather than asking for more information or clarifications or anything approximating real work, SCAG punted. There was no recognition that Sierra Madre is actually its own water supplier, and therefore might have additional evidence to offer regarding the claims made in this appeal. Either didn't even know, or didn't care enough to ask.
And they could have asked Public Works Director "Bruce Zimmerman" his opinions on the matter since he pretty much is the "water supplier board," but they didn't care to lift a finger quite that high. Rather they read a letter supplied by the City, decided it didn't meet its largely unstated criteria, and rejected everything.
Which means that should the SCAG Housing called for in this "RHNA process" ever actually get built, there is the very real possibility that there would not be adequate water available to meet the needs of the poor souls living there. But apparently SCAG doesn't care about that. They just went through the motions and then moved on to the appeals of any number of other cities. Almost all of which they also summarily rejected.
But maybe we shouldn't care, either. SCAG has been assigning us outlandish RHNA numbers for years now, and has a single house or condo ever been built here because of this? Not really. It would appear that this "process" is really little more than a futile bureaucratic exercise. And judging by the total indifference shown by SCAG to any appeals topics at hand, or the remarkably dismal quality of the reports available on their website, even they know it.