Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Just How Completely Useless Is Our Regional Planning Organization SCAG?

Hasan Ikhrata's sustainable plastic water bottle
One of the big challenges cities in the so-called "SCAG Region" face is the demand being made by this Regional Planning Organization that each and every one of them make plans to introduce a lot of new housing within their borders. And what this onerous demand is predominantly based upon are SCAG's projections that claim we are on the verge of being inundated with massive new population growth. And after all, or so the story goes, if we do not build all of this new housing, where are all these new people going to live?

In an April 4, 2012 press release proudly titled "Nation's Largest Planning Agency Approves Plan in Preparation of 4 Million New Residents by 2035"(link), SCAG laid 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 do you accommodate this supposed vast sea of projected new humanity yearning to experience their "professional and lifestyle choices" here in Southern California? In the de-evolutionary Golden State 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 jurisdictional borders into accommodating them in their General Plans. All backed up with the muscle of Washington and Sacramento, of course. Armed with draconian central planning mandates such as SB 375.

According to SCAG's "Final Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan" (link), 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 a whole lot of new housing here 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.

I suppose this all sounds hunky dory if you are the guy who will get to build much of this largely unneeded nonsense. And I guess the news that "emissions" will become less of a factor when electric cars become more prevalent in a few years has yet to cross Mr. Ikhrata's mind. Perhaps he has fallen behind in his reading.

But what if SCAG's population increase estimates are all wrong? Predicting the future can be a dicey proposition, you know. And, to be quite honest, I am not sure that SCAG's Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, a man who first learned his central planning chops plying this trade in the now defunct Soviet Union (link), could win any soothsaying contests with, say, a street corner palm reader.

Apparently I am not alone in my skepticism, and the L.A. Superior Court agrees with me. This from the always estimable Joel Kotkin in the December 27, 2013 edition of the Orange County Register (link):

Joel Kotkin: Build it, even though they won't come - The recent decision by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman to reject as “fatally flawed” the densification plans for downtown Hollywood could shake the foundations of California's “smart growth” planning clerisy. By dismissing Los Angeles' Hollywood plan, the judge also assaulted the logic behind plans throughout the region to construct substantial high-rise development in “transit-oriented developments” adjacent to rail stations.

In particular, the judge excoriated the buoyant population-growth projections used to justify the plan, a rationalization for major densification elsewhere in the state. The mythology is that people are still flocking to Los Angeles, and particularly, to dense urban areas, creating a demand for high-end, high-rise housing.

The Hollywood plan rested on city estimates provided by the Southern California Association of Governments, which estimated that Hollywood's population was 200,000 in 2000 and 224,000 in 2005, and would thus rise to 250,000 by 2030. All this despite the fact that, according to the census, Hollywood's population over the past decade has actually declined, from 213,000 in 1990 to 198,000 today. 

Not one to mince words, Judge Goodman described SCAG's estimates as “entirely discredited.” This discrepancy is not just a problem in the case of Hollywood; SCAG has been producing fanciful figures for years. In 1993, SCAG projected that the city of Los Angeles would reach a population of 4.3 million by 2010. SCAG's predicted increase of more than 800,000 residents materialized as a little more than 300,000. For the entire region, the 2008 estimates were off by an astounding 1.4 million people.

So just this last week the Los Angeles Times published an article about the sad fate of San Bernardino. Apparently the place is on its last legs, has been for a while, and now serves mostly as an example of what a modern failed city in California is all about. Here is what they had to say (link).

San Bernardino: Broken City San Bernardino, once a sturdy, middle class "All-America City," is now bankrupt, the poorest city of its size in California, and a symbol of the nation's worst urban woes - With a rake and a mask, the motel manager steps carefully into Room 107. This afternoon, Sam Maharaj will evict a couple and their 4-month-old baby for not paying their bill. The mother sits on the side of the bed, still twitching from slamming methamphetamine the night before.

Maharaj sinks the rake’s tines into an ankle-deep thicket of dirty diapers, hypodermic needles, crusted food, hot sauce packets, broken Tupperware and cockroaches, living and dead. A South African immigrant of Indian descent, he never expected that his piece of America would look like this.

Four decades ago, this motel boasted a cheery coffee shop, a heated pool, valet parking and palm trees that swayed in the hard wind coming over the Cajon Pass. Now it’s a way station for broken people in a broken city.

As other California cities lift themselves out of the recession, San Bernardino, once a blue-collar town with a solid middle class, has become the poorest city of its size in the state and a distillation of America’s urban woes.

As his rake claws at the debris of crumbling lives, he keeps his expectations low. This is Berdoo, a city his friends at the Hindu temple in nearby Riverside mock as “the ghetto.”

Look at the news, he says: the county assessor arrested on charges of meth possession, the city attorney challenging the police chief to fight at City Hall, one City Council member arrested on charges of perjury, another on charges of stalking, and a federal indictment of the developer who was supposed to transform the airport into a source of civic pride.

Of the 100 biggest cities in the U.S., San Bernardino, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, was ranked the second-poorest in the nation in the 2010 census, behind Detroit. Two years later it filed for bankruptcy. Last month the City Council approved a 77-page plan that it hopes will move the city toward solvency, in part by making residents pay higher taxes and fees while further cutting their services.

Pretty grim, right? So let me ask you this. What city do you think SCAG selected for one of its highest awards for planning and prosperity a few years back (link)? 


Just so you know, the Federal government recently announced that it is going whole hog into the local affordable housing planning business (link). Which will mean lots of mandated overdevelopment for cities all across the United States. Here is Southern California the regional planning organization that will be tasked with making this happen will be SCAG.

Prepare yourself.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

48 comments:

  1. San Bernardino needs to hire the Soul Taker and his freaky, earring wearing band of brain dead hipster pirates at 789 to explain its meth problem and general decay.
    Oh wait, they'll be too busy sipping lattes in Arcadia while justifying McMansions, trips to China and other ethical lapses in judgement.
    In truth SCAG is nothing more than a collection of morally bankrupt Southern California rearranging tents for the homeless while the middle class rides off into the sunset. Full employment for PR firms can't be far off.

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    1. 789. Do you think that could refer to the old kid's joke, why was 6 scared of 7?

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    2. 789 ate $70,000 last night.

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  2. Maybe meth could be repackaged as an energy drink? Then San Bernardino could be re-imaged as " The Health City." What ethnicity was that meth mom, anyway? The LA Times might be racist.

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    1. Get with it, 6:35. The meth mom can be any ethnicity she wants to be.

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    2. Whatever race she is, she is most definitely in hell. Hope child protective services is on it.

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    3. Agreed, CPS was the first thing I thought of when I read the article.

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    4. I think San Bernardino fired them all. Now all the kids stay at Motel Crack.

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    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Check out the big ad in the LA Times today, page A11, "Developers Target the Coachella Valley" sponsored by C.V.T. (??)

    "SCAG undertakes a variety of planning and policy initiatives on behalf of the region - Coachella Valley Association of Governments has predicted a population growth of 604,000 permanent residences by 2020." and goes on with a whole page of hype about the inevitable coming growth.

    Reference the website www.cvag.org to get info on this CV/Link plan that would connect all cities in the Valley. The Master Plan is at

    http://www.cvag.org/library/pdf_files/trans/CV%20Link%20Docs/CV_Link_Master_Vol_1.pdf

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    1. Where is their water from?

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  4. Just think... There could be another tax in the works to tax the residents of Sierra madre called the UUT tax or franchise tax or scag tax. I think 12.5% sounds good. It is in between the tax that we already pay

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    1. If 12.5% is good, 20% would be better. Full service city and all that Buchanan/Moran bullsh*t.

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    2. Would we also have to clean the toilets in city hall?

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    3. Yes, but only if you fill out the volunteer paperwork and undergo a security check first.

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  5. Affordable housing doesn't exist around here - and anyplace else people think of as desirable. The government really hurts itself by not being able to implement it. Developers are not known for their obedient natures, and when they can make a penny, you best stand aside. That's why there are these ridiculous agreements to be 'low-income' or 'working man' for a year. One year.

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  6. I wish state sponsored housing worked.
    It doesn't.

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    1. It does and it doesn't, 9:33. I think the estimate is 25% of the projects are dismal failures, but the other 75% actually provides homes, and there are lengthy waiting lists for them.

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    2. The problem is the mandate that people change the character of their towns to accommodate some centrally planned scheme. This doesn't work. Local control of development is vital.

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    3. 9:42, can you please give an example in LA County where state sponsored housing has worked?

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    4. The downtown prisons?

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    5. Ya got me, 2:15. You're right.

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    6. 9:42, lets' think, why is there a waiting list? Because it's subsidized by taxpayer's money. Duh.

      I'd go on a waiting list to get a cheap place to live in Sierra Madre. If Uncle Sugar, etc. will pay, I'd have to live with my family. Those guys who are supposed to take care of me in the first place. But if my family helped to take care of me, then their European vacations and fancy cars wouldn't happen.

      Government has NO money except that it takes from taxpayers.

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    7. I don't know, 2:15. Isn't that where Tanaka and Baca beat the crap out of the prisoners?
      http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-deputies-verdict-20140702-story.html#page=1

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    8. 3:35....where do you think we get our money from, they print it, stamp it, disperse it, regulate it, dispose of it,design it...wow!

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    9. When you vote for president you select the executive who runs the dictatorship.

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  7. Our own RHNA expert, the consultant who did the state mandated Housing Element of the General Plan, explained that the population estimates come from the State Department of Finance.

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    1. Could be. That would put SCAG into the position of being the mindless enforcer.

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    2. This whole thing is simply about a push for development being carried out at the regional level by SCAG via its origin in Sacramento as Steinberg's SB 375, under cover as an emissions reduction strategy. I've laid it out here. Population numbers are total blue sky, and now Jerry Brown is worried about running out of water for development. The developers got control of the legislature and this is what happened.

      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2010/01/laurie-barlow-acronym-minefield.html

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    3. It all has to do with the money they spread around in Sacramento. All that sustainability nonsense SCAG spreads around is just to sucker in the naive.

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    4. And you would be right. DOF -> HCD -> SCAG -> YOU.
      http://droughtmath.com/2015/06/10/californias-challenge-to-reliable-water-isnt-infrastructure-its-rhna/

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  8. Isn't Hassan Ikrata the original "Soul Taker"?

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    1. Either Ikrata or Petey Dreier. Although they may be the same person.

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    2. Hasan Ikhrata wants to put a black box in your car and track your every move.
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-head-of-scag-hasan-ikhrata-wants-to.html

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  9. The city wants E Montecito as a transportation corridor. The street comes with a bus stop to the gold line, homeless shelter that the City Manager wants on the street next to downtown and apartments for section eight with low income residences mixed in.
    We need a City Manager that will fight for the rights of the citizens. We do Not have that person.

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    1. Elaine is a SCAG alumnus. Bart and Johnny B woukdn't have it any other way.

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    2. In case you missed it, the Obama admin just announced that we need high density Section 8 housing everywhere. Remember how you worked like crazy to live in a nicer neighborhood. Too bad.

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    3. SCAG goes national. I'm sure it is being done to save the world from __________. (Fill in the blank)

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  10. Well the people living in the Arcadia Highlands sure got their heads handed to them on a pole last night at the city council meeting.

    I and many others spoke in support of the Arcadia Highland Homeowners Association’s request for code changes in their area to protect them from McMansions and to include the Highland area in the city’s historic survey.

    All five of the council members did vote rescind the prior, closed door, vote to exclude the Highlands from the survey and to not make any code changes to help preserve the area. This was done only to undo the violation of the Brown Act when they did their dirty work in secret.

    After that they votes 3 to 2 to not make any code changes or include the Highland area in the historic survey until all pending law suits are settled. This is just a delaying tactic to allow countless applications for tear downs and McMansions to be build, thus destroying forever the charm of the area.

    Mayor Kovacic and Council Member Beck made a valiant effort to help in the preservation effort for the Highlands, however Council Members Chandler, Tay, and Wuo were beyond listing to any pleas from the people living in the Highlands and Chandler was particularly belligerent with his “In-your-face” superior, arrogant attitude. I was shocked at the way Chandler spoke. Tay and Wuo had a different strategy; they just voted against the Highlands every chance they got.

    I think the moral of this story is that we the people of Sierra Madre can never rest in our effort to preserve our little village of the foothills. In my opinion the developers own Arcadia, this is obvious to me. They want to own Sierra Madre. Let’s not let that happen.

    Barry Gold
    Supporter of the Preserve Sierra Madre Coalition

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    1. Thanks,Barry for the report.
      There is an article on the oped page of the Wall Street Journal today titled "Obama wants to pick the Clinton's neighbors" regarding HUD wanting to import the poor into non-integrated neighborhoods. Coming soon to your community.

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    2. Sorry to hear that outcome from the Arcadia council, but not surprised.
      The Highlands are going to have to sue if they want any protections.

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    3. Once developers get their teeth into something, court is the only thing that can make them back off.

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    4. 3 members of the Arcadia City Council are developer poodles.

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  11. What kind of water is Hasan drinking? Is it Evian, backwards for Naive?

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  12. SCAG is as useless as those in SM who supported it

    John Buchanan, Joe Mosca, Josh Moran

    now apparently Gene Goss and John Harabedian

    why would anybody support an organization that wants to double the population density of SM?

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