Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Story Thursday

The news is starting to pile up again, so today we're going to cover three items in one shot. Have to do that once in a while because, let's face it, if we're going to try and cover a lot of issues on this site we really need to take them on as they arrive. And some days they just all come at once. So here goes everything.

The Pasadena Star News is running with a story today that I think is pretty important. The City Council in Glendale has now put their City on record as opposing the 710 Tunnel. This in the face of considerable pressure from Caltrans, various Sacramento lobbyists, and the omnipresent SCAG. Here's the story:

Glendale officials vote to oppose 710 tunnel: City officials voted to oppose a proposed tunnel project that would connect the end of the 710 Freeway to the 210 Freeway at Tuesday night's meeting ... Glendale's vote puts it with La Canada Flintridge and South Pasadena as opposing the project ... In the resolution, which passed by a vote of 4-1, city officials cite increased traffic along the 210 Freeway north of the 134 Freeway as the main reason to oppose the project.

Since Sierra Madre is as much affected by traffic on the 210 Freeway as our 3 sister cities in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley, maybe we need to get this agendized during Public Comments at our next City Council meeting? Filling this already murky valley with increased airborne toxins from the huge potential increase in truck traffic coming out of the ports of Long Beach and San Pedro will do irreparable harm to both seniors and young children. Our stake is no less than any other city in the San Gabriel Valley. We need to make our voices heard.

And there is more to this Glendale story. The leading opposition voice there is a City Councilman by the name of Ara Najarian. And Najarian is also the new chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the very organization that will eventually vote on the project. This is a guy who is speaking out strongly on the issue, and his leadership is making a big difference. The Glendale News Press ran a story recently about a bogus poll run by Caltrans lobbyist Nat "The Police Poet" Read and his so-called 710 Freeway Coalition in an attempt to derail growing opposition to tunnel. This is how Mr. Najarian responded to the situation:

"I think his poll and his survey is a joke," said Councilman Ara Najarian ... "And to infer that the 710 Coalition needs to do a poll to tell us what our residents are concerned about is really kind of a desperate attempt for them to sell the tunnel to Glendale" ... "If the 710 tunnel people think that South Pasadena was the fly in their soup, they are going to be dealing with the residents of Glendale and its surrounding areas," he said. "We are going to be a force to be reckoned with on this matter."

You really have to respect a guy willing to speak out like that. Maybe we can get him to stop by a week from Tuesday to add his voice to an effort to get this issue before our City Council?

Meanwhile in Santa Barbara there is quite a debate on the issue of, you got it, high-density housing in mixed-use developments. Seems to be going around these days. The specific problem there seems to be something known by the acronym MODA, which stands for Mobility Oriented Development Area. The idea being that if you house citizens in MODA units they will also work close by and therefore not require automobiles. Automobiles, of course, being the only culprit in the global warming pantheon that high-density addicted city planners seem to want to consider. And so confident are these planners that new residents will happily sit in their boxes automobile-free that MODA units will come with no parking of any kind attached. This from the Santa Barbara Independent article Can't Get There From Here:

As part of the MODA concept, City Hall would have to seriously relax - "decouple" is the term favored by city planners - its current parking requirements. By eliminating the space developers must set aside for parking - roughly 300 square feet per parking space - the cost of land would presumably be reduced. And with a decent public transit system in place, cars would become optional and not necessities. That, at least, is the theory.

Seems to be the assumption of most planners attempting to convince our fine California cities to introduce vast new lower income high-density housing into the middle of their quaint boutique neighborhoods. And that all this disfigurement of their city will be worth it because these new people won't drive cars, thus saving the world from Global Warming. Here's an example of the resulting skepticism:

Critics of the MODA approach also worry that if the new "de-coupled" units are not required to provide adequate parking as part of a strategy to bring the cost of development down, then MODA residents and their visitors will park on public streets, thus creating a whole new planning nightmare.

One man's Mobility Oriented Development Area is another man's Transit Village I suppose. My personal take is that people fortunate enough to be housed in low-cost housing will begin to experience the happy sensation that comes with having some discretionary cash to spend. And like any other red-blooded Americans the first thing they will want to do with it is get themselves a fine new automobile. Just because they live near a bus stop is no reason to assume that they're going to fall in love with the idea of taking one to work everyday. This being is the cognitive flaw at the heart of all these kinds of projects.

Take it from someone who rode New York City public transportation for 10 years, cars are much nicer. And people will not give them up that easily. If more planner advocates of high-density development actually took the public transportation that they see as being the panacea for the world's ills, they might understand that.

And then there is this:

The debate over density has roiled Santa Barbara's once solid coalition of slow-growthers and environmentalists for more than ten years now, with both sides casting aspersions on the other's motivations. Critics of high density development have been derided as racists, while affordable housing and "smart growth" advocates have been dismissed as developer stooges, whether wittingly or otherwise.

My my. Makes you wonder if the sudden resurgence of "Green issues" in our little town has more to do with a divide and conquer political strategy than anything else. Considering the two developer stooges pushing it here, I'd be inclined to say yes.

Now in the past few weeks we have discussed the greenhouse gas producing potential of both automobiles and high-density development. With both producing quite a bit of the stuff. But apparently there is something else that is also contributing to Global Warming. And I can't for the life of me figure how I missed it. This from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars? Surprise! According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent - 18 percent - than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

So there you have it. And as far as we here at The Tattler can tell, the world's worst greenhouse gas producing polluter could very well live within shouting distance of here. Yep, and we think we now know who the guy is. Because he has been spotted coming out of his condo at Monrovia Commons, getting into his 8 cylinder Honda Ridgeline pickup truck, and then heading over to T-Burger for two big all beef half pound cheeseburgers.

The veritable triple play of world ending behaviors.


  1. Sir Eric!
    I love your column today! Not only interesting, but highly entertaining! Two thumbs up!

  2. That there are now 3 cities standing in the way of the 710
    Tunnel is quite a development. But shouldn't Crescenta
    Valley also be on that list? I personally find it hilarious that
    SCAG is pushing for it. Aren't they supposed to also be on
    the SB 375 anti-global warming bandwagon as well? So
    how is packing vast amounts of new truck traffic into the
    SGV going to help accomplish that? Maybe Green GTO Joe
    can explain that contradiction.

  3. By all means, Sierra Madre should join with the 3 cities in this fight. The evil doers will think we are weak if we don't stand together with our neighboring cities.
    I would like to see a coalition of cities fighting SB375! It's an outrage and shouldn't just slide by everyone.

  4. All the cities here need to start talking about things like the 710 Tunnel, SB 375, the loss of CEQA review rights, and increased state control over what goes into General Plans. They are connected issues.

  5. I believe Cresenta Valley is an area. Part of it lies under the jurisdiction of Glendale and part under La Canada Flintridge. They are served by the LA Sherif. They have their own Chanber of Commerce. Great area to live.

  6. Here is the link if anyone wants to sign or collect signatures to RECALL ADAMS. Sierra Madre is in the 59th district and all residents can sign the petition.

  7. Been there, done thatJuly 30, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    Low income in Santa Barbara? Even junky places the size of a closet start at $800 a month. If there is any affordable housing, the turn over is rapid. Poor people move in, & then discover that they can't get work or buy food or clothes, and there they are, 2 hours away by car from any cheap deals. They have a sizable homeless population, that moves (gets chased) to Oxnard, to San Marcos, and back to SB. Is that who they are planning to move into the MODA stuff? Or maybe it is for the servants who work in Montecito.

  8. Three cheers for the Glendale City Council!
    I heartily agree with the Tattler and the posters above that we need to join the fight. In our country it should be that one truthful voice matters, but there's a much better chance of being heard if we stand together.

  9. No 11:12, they live in Carpinteria and steal your ice chest when you take a surf/fish vacation and stay at the lovely state park there!
    Truly, Local Yokel

  10. Social engineering through condo development is quite a concept. And while it is extremely easy to poke holes in, you really have to give the BIA some credit. Now that the "everybody is moving to California so we need to build build build!" argument is floating face down in the swimming pool, where else could they turn? Build lots of MODA/Condos/Transit Villages/Low Income Whatever because people with cheap housing would NEVER even think of wanting to drive a car. Of course, HI-D development has its own greenhouse gas issues as well. But that isn't really the issue here, right?

  11. used to love ice creamJuly 30, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    Yeah, the hippies had the consequences of cattle farming figured out a while ago. The heir to the Baskin Robbins fortune, John Robbins, a health advocate, has done a lot of research and public outreach about it. There's also that movie, Supersize Me.

  12. Supersize Me is great, and it's on youtube.

  13. LA Times Poll shows support for SB375 ("The Greenhouse Gas Law") dropping. People are starting to figure it all out it seems.,0,2739721.story?track=rss

  14. BT,DT @ 11:12, $800/mo is a deal! A 2-bdrm duplex on the third floor on Woodland Dr is $1750; a 1-bdrm shared house a few doors south (with the owner living on the roof) is $1200. Rental housing has not gone down in LA County; housing starts may be off, home sales depressed, and real estate prices down, but rentals are harder to find and more expensive due to the housing market.

  15. Been there, done thatJuly 30, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    1:09, $800 for a closet - no joke. One tinsy room. As bad as rents are here, there much worse in charming SB.

  16. I'm starting to think, "instead of fight them, join them!". We need to expand this affordable housing thing. You see, I would love to live on the coastal cliffs of Del Mar, but I can't afford $7-10M. But, I can afford $2.5-3M. So, I'm thinking the law should be expanded, so poor folks like my wife and I can afford to live there. It's only fair.

  17. "Live where you can afford" is an outdated concept. "Live where you want, and have others subsidize you" is the New Paradigm.

  18. True Freedom
    I'm with you but I would like Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach.

  19. You wouldn't like Del Mar TF, it's really crowded down there this time of year!
    I used to live down there every summer. It's really sad how over developed that place got.
    Traffic is worse than in Pasadena and the taxes on utilities are the highest anywhere, I think....oh wait, we just had a tax hike in Sierra Madre!

  20. OK, I want to be subsidized too. How about if I have the J Paul Getty villa in Santa Monica for town trips, and Yosemite for year round living.
    That sounds good!

  21. Sir Eric, what's up with the council meeting tonight?

  22. Interesting train of thought. How about this? Seize existing homes under Eminent Domain, but instead of tearing them down to build something new, just turn them over to low income persons as is. Save a lot of time, government funding, and building supplies. And there is a precedent. Russia did just that in 1919.

  23. 5:24 - I've heard the SMPD is going to grieve to the City Council about their problems. What in the private sector would get you tossed out on your round duff is apparently AOK in the world of government.

    Tune in and toss up.

  24. Mikhail Bakunin, you haven't noticed that the new program that allows foreclosed owners to rent their former homes is exactly the same program? Saves on moving costs, even, for the new poor.

  25. I'm with anonymous at 7:51. The whole pathetic situation is that people are losing their homes and then they qualify to low income housing that has to be constructed for them in the center of town? It just boggles my mind. And it's just another land developer exploitation of people with little or nothing to be exploited. I wish the legislature would put some serious effort (probably beyond their capabilities) into coping with the serious problems of income disparity, homelessness, congestion, etc. instead of just ordaining that new development should take place. Get real!! How stupid can it get? Why do we stand for this?

  26. Doc, the pols in Sacramento are as bad as Bart Doyle, same type of corrupt bums as most of the dirts.
    Most are all in the pocket of the BIA and lobbyist groups like them.
    They don't care about the little people.
    We are trying to get a coalition together to fight them. We have to try.
    We know you'll help if you can.

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