Transit Village Development being our current local burden to bear. Something parroted with a Stepford-like precision by local persons of note wishing to become a commission. All so that their voices can speak with an authority most people in this town will never have, and done because certain invested parties of influence want to cash in on your birthright while making you believe it will be good for you.
I guess you could call the phenomenon Greedhead Gases.
There used to be an environmental movement, you know. Back in the 1970s or something. It spoke about the need for clean air and water, and taking care of nature by keeping it pristine and just the way God made it. And this movement developed its own language and ways of looking at things, much of which seized the popular imagination and became a part of the daily lives of millions of people.
But now all of that is apparently the fodder for selling the very things once recognized as the antithesis of sane environmental management. Even that symbol of egregious global destruction itself, the McMansion, has now been proclaimed both green and sustainable.
On the always informative City Watch news site, Dick Platkin, teacher of city planning at USC's Price School of Social Policy, shares the following in an article titled, "Debunking LA's Urban Legend: Green McMansions" (click here).
New York might have alligators roaming its sewer system, but LA can now boast of its own urban legend: “green” McMansions. Yes, that’s right; in Los Angeles, McMansions, those boxy, oversized, energy-demanding suburban houses plopped into the middle of older neighborhoods are officially considered to be sustainable development.
How could this be? After all, McMansions require huge amounts of energy to assemble their building materials and move them to job site. Furthermore, the houses themselves are massive, which means enormous heating and air conditioning bills, even if their windows are double-paned, their walls padded with extra insulation, and their restaurant-sized refrigerators and stoves Energy Star rated.
Then we need to consider their multiple bathrooms and heated outdoor pools and spas, the most energy intensive features of modern houses.
Other McMansion features also have their detrimental environmental effects. During demolition they release dust and asbestos into the air. After construction, their large patios, pools, spas, and double driveways reduce natural open space. Combined with their elimination of parkway trees and landscaping for driveway cuts, the cumulative result is a heat island with less penetration of rainwater.
Given this environmental profile, some advanced jurisdictions, like Marin County, require a full energy audit of all new houses larger than 3,500 square feet. Many other cities, like West Hollywood, simply restrict the size of R-1 homes to prevent McMansions.
But, certainly not in Los Angeles where the treatment of McMansions has raced in the opposite direction. Our city government offers a “green” incentive to contractors so they can super-size their McMansions. Finally, all this is done through a misnamed ordinance, the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. It purports to stop mansionization, but, in fact, does exactly the opposite.
Just like the Patriot Act, that curbs civil liberties, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, that stops the regulation of derivatives, and the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 that bars the EPA from regulating soot, the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance -- despite it name -- is deliberately filled with enough exemptions and bonuses to permit McMansions to still be built by-right in most of Los Angeles.
Moody's looking at a new round of debt rating cuts
Perhaps you recall that not too long ago Sierra Madre was forced to accept a reduction in its water bond ratings. This was after our water rates had been increased because we needed to prevent our water bond ratings from being reduced. Which, of course, they were. It's how things work around here.
Now water rates have to go up again because we need to repair infrastructure. Which was supposed to be the reason why they were raised the last time. At least it was before it turned out that it wasn't. Later, of course, it turned out this was to help keep our bond ratings from falling. Which, as we've noted here, they did.
As complex as the City of Sierra Madre's finances may seem to some, apparently we are not among the only "agencies" (adding that one to the bad word list) facing the wrath of Moody's. A place where they lack the civility to go along with whatever version of reality our City Hall happens to be pumping at the moment. And after all, the government of the United States of America had its debt rating cut not that long ago. So certainly we aren't the only financial Titanic on these stormy seas.
And just to back that bold statement up, here is a report from Bloomberg titled, "California Cities Face Downgrade On Debt" (click here). There is a whole list of famous city names on the list, including those of a couple of our neighbors.
The debt of 30 California cities, including Oakland, Fresno and Sacramento, has been placed under review for downgrades because of economic pressures in the state, Moody’s Investors Service said.
The examinations may affect $14.3 billion in lease-backed and general-obligation debt issued by the municipalities, the New York-based company said yesterday in a statement.
“California cities operate under more rigid revenue- raising constraints than cities in many other parts of the country,” Eric Hoffmann, who heads Moody’s California local government ratings team, said in a statement. “Combined with steeply rising costs, these constraints mean that these cities will likely recover more slowly than their peers nationally, even if the state’s economic recovery tracks the nation’s.”
Communities in California have struggled to stay afloat by cutting staff and services to make up for a drop in sales and property tax revenue in the wake of the recession. Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes have gone into bankruptcy court since June.
Moody’s said it identified the credits as part of a broader review started in August of 95 rated cities in California.
The general-obligation bond ratings of Los Angeles, now Aa3, fourth-highest, and San Francisco, Aa2, third-highest, are on review for upgrades, Moody’s said.
Cities with debt under review for downgrades include Azusa, Berkeley, Colma, Danville, Downey, Fresno, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Gatos, Martinez, Monterey, Oakland, Oceanside, Palmdale, Petaluma, Rancho Mirage, Redondo Beach, Sacramento, San Leandro, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Sunnyvale, Torrance and Woodland, Moody’s said.
In addition, the pension-obligation bonds of several issuers were downgraded, Moody’s said, including Downey, Fresno, Oakland, Oceanside, San Leandro and Santa Rosa.
Happy Monday. And please, don't run with scissors. Things are bad enough already.