Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tea party activists disrupt long range planning meeting in California

From "Tea party activists interrupt regional planning meeting in Santa Rosa" in the Santa Rosa (California) Press-Democrat:

The activists appeared to oppose public transportation and to hold a general mistrust of government.

“We're tired of being pushed around,” said Mary Anne Black of Petaluma. “They want to force us, but I don't want a bike path in front of my property.”

Also see "COURSEY: This meeting was no tea party" "Santa Rosa hosts Bay Area land-use workshop Monday," and the editorial, "Keeping a civil atmosphere at civic meetings." From the Coursey piece:

The psychology of this group is fascinating. Their fantasy-based creed is that America is in the thrall of a United Nations/Socialist/Progressive conspiracy that is using the specter of global climate change to force all citizens to live in high-density slums, ride bicycles and vote for Democrats.

Or Republicans. Or something like that. For background, Google “Agenda 21” and read not just the UN documents, but the stuff from the conspiracy theorists, too. It's an education. ...

I wasn't at the meeting, but I've heard the arguments. The people who sit on the boards of regional agencies are not elected and don't represent the public. (Most of them are elected city council members or county supervisors appointed by their peers to serve on the regional boards). The planners want us all to live in high-density apartments next to train stations. (But who will live in those many hundreds of thousands of single-family homes that already sprawl across the region?) We're being forced out of our cars and on to buses, trains and bikes. (Last time I looked, the freeway was being widened, and a lot of people actually would like to be able to get around without getting in their cars.) ...

The fact is that the majority of people in the Bay Area, and particularly in Sonoma County, have said over and over again that they prefer new development to be focused close to city centers and transportation networks, they want to preserve open spaces and they want to expand transportation options.

That's what those evil bureaucrats at MTC are trying to do – just what the public has asked them to do.

Just because a few members of the public are willing to shout louder than the rest doesn't mean we should stop working toward a better future.

While I am the first to admit that public planning meetings can and are manipulated too, in how they are organized, and in the too often constraining of options to be considered, without a plan, you have nothing.

The Growth is going to come regardless, and your ability to deal with the changes are limited when you have no plan.

According to one activist website, here are the Soviet style planning initiatives that are reprehensive:

One Bay Area/Plan Bay Area Objectives

Performance Targets
- Equitable Access
• Decrease by 10% share of income spent on transportation
- Transportation System Effectiveness
• Decrease trip travel time by 10%

Equity Analysis
- Economic Vitality
• Average travel time for low income should be 19 minutes
• Average travel costs for low income should be $2.79 per day
- Transportation Effectiveness
• Decrease travel time by 10%
• Average per trip travel time 24 minutes

-- Plan Bay Area
-- One Bay Area sustainability planning initiative
-- 2 hour youtube video about the One Bay Area initiative as part of a UN conspiracy

One of the comments on the youtube video:

Why do we have to do Regional Plans in built areas that get in ways of other people's business?

Why not have regional plans that are marketed, offered, and not coded with new laws in VAST MILES EMPTY VACANT AREAS ?

To everyone who wants new high-density to large-lot single family housing let us all build them in new vast empty lands outside of the urban areas instead!

Let competition and flexibility rule!

What is frustrating in these arguments is not just the pro-sprawl bent, but also how the basic view is that what we have now was produced as part of some kind of natural order, rather than by a policy, legal, and financial system that found it advantageous to "sprawl" based on automobile centric transportation systems.

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