Some of these guys are way too much. They really are. You really have to wonder if they actually believe their own malarkey, or it is just what they do for a living. A kind of an approximation of work without going to the trouble of ever getting the real truth about things. Just write it up, incorporate all the current trends in planning and its connected jargon, beef it up with whatever you can find on the internet, and wait for City Managers to throw huge sums of money at you.
The last time we heard the name Bill Fulton around here it was when he handed in the Technical Background Report for the General Plan Update. Bill, as you may have guessed, is a consultant, and a very well paid one. His fee for putting together this so-called technical report was a cool $250,000. You could have repaired a lot of pipes for that sort of money. But back in the John Buchanan era they spent sick money on things like that. For no apparent useful reason.
Smart Growth Billy's quarter of a million dollar General Plan Update report has become the stuff of legend around our little town. Mostly because it appeared to be thrown together by persons whose knowledge of Sierra Madre extended about as far as what they could find on Google. Orange Grove was called Orangewood, Eastwicke Village Gift & Gallery was identified as an emporium that sells the works of local artists (it doesn't), the Howard Whalen Sculpture Garden was described as something permanent when it had actually been closed three years earlier, and Kersting Court was lauded as being the home of our sparsely attended weekly Farmer's Market.
There was a lot more along those lines. We posted an article about all that last November called "Our $250,000 General Plan Consultant Doesn't Know Very Much About Sierra Madre." If you wish to relive a truly golden moment in our City's history, you can do so by clicking here.
Yesterday a William Fulton published an L.A. Times op-ed piece entitled "The bankruptcy-sprawl connection" (click here). The author, identified in a footnote to this opus as "Vice President of Smart Growth America," was none other than Billy, the same fellow who laughably screwed up our technical background to the General Plan Update report. The one we paid $250,000 for despite the fact that it was a bit inaccurate.
So what was Smart Growth Billy's L.A. Times op-ed all about? Besides drumming up some new business? Here it is in a nutshell:
By contrast, responsible "smart growth" development - in both urban and green-field areas - can offer cities a way out of this financial box. By placing things closer together, smart growth reduces the amount, and cost, of roads and other infrastructure. By reducing the miles all those public vehicles have to travel, compact development lightens the load on taxpayers to provide those neighborhoods with public services. And by using land more efficiently, compact development generates more tax revenue - in some cases more than 100 times more tax revenue than suburban sprawl.
Fascinating stuff. And you really do have to wonder whether there are any worldly woes that stack and pack redevelopment won't solve. We have heard from the Green Committee that transit village style smart growth will help solve the problem of global warming. And SCAG has informed us that it will provide homes to the millions of new residents it somehow believes want to come here, and will be arriving soon.
But now it will also solve the problems some cities are currently having making ends meet, budgets last and getting the bills paid? That is certainly a new one.
Who knows, maybe we will soon begin hearing even more exciting new applications for stack and pack "smart growth." A remedy for up until now incurable diseases perhaps. Or a way to bring the world together in a way that will make the dreams of all come true.
It really is the wonder of our time.
Bill Bibbiani writes in
There was a pretty good letter in yesterday's Pasadena Star News (click here) from former Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education member Bill Bibbiani. And he was kind enough to offer share some comments regarding my op-ed piece in the Star News last week. In particular regarding how Sierra Madre was unfairly denied equal representation on the Board of Education until 2015, or two years later than a majority of the PUSD's brand new sub-districts will enjoy.
Bill was a leader in the failed effort to defeat Measure A, the decidedly undemocratic effort to take away the right to equal representation on the Board of Education from persons such as ourselves. I quoted Bill extensively here on The Tattler, and his lifetime of experience in local education served us all very well.
Bill's letter isn't perfect, however. As an example, he doesn't seem aware that a majority of Sierra Madreans voted against Measure A.
But I am not going to quibble here, because he also hits us with such cold hard facts as the following:
In fact, the newly approved method of electing board members by sub-district will further erode Sierra Madre's voting power as a community. While Sierra Madre once elected one of its own (Lisa Fowler) under the old at-large electoral system, it lost its disproportionately large influence on all seven board seats following the approval of Measure A's sub-districts.
Given its greater propensity to turn out to vote than other parts of the PUSD, and the typical margin of victory in most board races - rarely greater than 5 to 7 percent - Sierra Madre used to have significant influence in every election, on every board, on every seat.
Under the new sub-district electoral system, Sierra Madre will have absolutely no effect on six of the seven seats and is likely to be outvoted in its own sub-district by a factor of 2 to 1 by the more numerous sub-district voters of East Pasadena, Chapman Woods and the Rosemead/Michillinda corridor.
Measure A was a terrible blow, not only to education in Sierra Madre and our right to participate through our vote, but also to anyone who cares about good government. That two former mayors of this town helped enable this blatant rip-off of our basic American rights as a community is beyond comprehension.