With Obama re-elected, we can expect an even stronger push for Smart Growth from the feds. The U.S. Department of Transportation says there will be no slowing on sustainable communities. This will come primarily through the Livable Communities Act, which I previewed here. In short, this is a preference for mandates over markets and central planning over property rights. Spend lots of money on transit and, oh yeah, push much higher densities … all represented in clever soundbites and catchphrases … but also bringing the very things we don’t want.continue reading
Good article over at Democracy Journal: Manufactured Housing: The Homeowners No One Thinks Of
“Most of us don’t think much about the people who live in manufactured homes, and when the culture notices them, it usually does so with derision. But there is an interesting and important asset-building story playing out here. The United States is home to some 50,000 manufactured housing communities with an estimated 2.7 million families who own their homes but rent the land underneath them. This housing stock—both in parks and on owned single lots—represents the largest segment of unsubsidized affordable housing in the nation. Two-thirds of these homeowners are low income.”
Gary Harrington had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater. Interestingly, the concern for water supply is growing in states like Florida, Georgia and elsewhere, and private reservoirs should be seen as a possible solution to the problem of overuse of a public resource. From the government’s view, it’s a threat.continue reading
Statism begins at home.
It begins with small things, often at the city or county level.
It begins with well meaning regulations on things like when you can take your trash to the curb for pick up — and regulations which can order you to return the cans to your house within a specified time frame.
Regulations which will force you to sell an old car you’re fixing up in your driveway — simply because the neighbors think it an eyesore — regardless of current insurance and tags.
For the most part we accept these little annoyances, perhaps with some muttering under our breaths or a bit of table banging blustering down at the local coffee shop after we get a ticket.
A few of the most vocal of us might actually call our city councilman and blister his ear with little or no expectation anything will change.
And year by year the regulations mount in towns across the country, becoming just as stifling as the myriad federal regulations which intrude into our daily lives.
Little by little, bit by bit we become habituated. We learn to allow the intrusions.
We get broken to the harness.
Back at Instapundit, Hoyt says, “Statism starts with the words ‘there ought to be a law’ for every small, pesky annoyance. Statism begins at home, and the fight to roll it back must begin in every town and city council.”continue reading
The Wall Street Journal is the latest in a new narrative developing that questions the value of homeownership.
“But the new realities of our increasingly mobile economy make it more likely that this transition from an Ownership Society to what might be called a Rentership Society, far from being a drag, will unleash a wave of economic efficiency that could fuel the next boom.”
It reads like the author was channeling by Richard Florida’s suspect views.continue reading
The Tampa Tribune brings attention to how the Tea Party is sounding the alarm over lost property rights, and yours truly gets a few mentions:
One of the people that Florida tea partyers look to for guidance on growth issues is Ed Braddy, who heads the American Dream Coalition. Braddy, a former Gainesville city commissioner, said he doesn’t see an Agenda 21 conspiracy driving growth management policies.
However, Braddy points to an outgrowth of a U.N. policy called the International Council for Local and Environmental Initiatives. He said the group provides local governments with templates for smart-growth ordinances. About 600 American cities are global members of the international council, including Sarasota.
“What we see is an overlap between what (tea party members) have seen in Agenda 21 and what you can find in the ICLEI,” Braddy said. “They have a website that mentions Agenda 21.”
Braddy said smart-growth policies don’t work and “restrict what people want to do, where they want to live and where they want to travel.”
“We’re skeptical of growth-management planning efforts by local and state governments, not out of some conspiracy, but because they tend to fail,” he said.
The general tone of the article was to paint Tea Partiers as activists driven by conspiracy theories surrounding Agenda 21:
“Tea partyers say the policy is an attempt to take away property rights in the name of smart growth and sustainability. They see conspirators embedded throughout the fabric of local governments, where they push for walkable communities, greenways, light rail and denser, urban communities.”
But it’s not about conspiracies. It’s about a deceptive assault on property rights; it’s about a deceptive effort to push higher densities and curb suburban development; it’s about a deceptive effort to worsen driving conditions in the hope that we’ll shift to mass transit. The deception is not hidden memos or secret handshakes. It’s about buzzwords and catchphrases and the unwillingness of Smart Growthers to be honest with voters about what they really want.
Mark Sharpe, one of the elected officials mentioned in the article, does not campaign for office telling voters he wants to higher urban densities. No, he talks about “infill development.” He doesn’t tell voters light rail will require massive subsidies in perpetuity, carry very few passengers, cannibalize the bus system, and force the reduction in roadway capacity for automobile users. No, he talks about “transportation choice.”
Working with various Tea Party groups, I (and the ADC) try to help activists get to these issues and bring out the harsh realities of Smart Growth. There’s no honest rebuttal from the other side, so they condescend and talk about conspiracies.continue reading
All elected and appointed officials in Maryland are supposed to march in lock-step with Governor O’Malley’s coercive statewide growth management plan known as PlanMaryland.
If dissent is expressed, over-the-top measures will be taken to de-legitimize it. Back in October 2011, I participated with several other speakers at a public forum organized by Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild. “PlanMaryland: At the Crossroads” identified technical errors and faulty assumptions that undermine the plan’s viability. It was widely publicized and about 150 people were in attendance from members of the Governor’s cabinet to state senators to county commissioners to local activists. Additionally, the media was present and provided lots of coverage, even live-blogging the event. All the presentations were posted on the County website (available here). A nominal fee was proposed to cover costs, but only about 1/4 of the participants paid it proving that the fee was not an impediment to attendance.
There was no call to order, no motion set before the board, no votes taken, no direction given to staff. In other words, there was nothing at this forum that in any way could be confused with a meeting of an elected body set to take action.
But the hypersensitive environmentalist community was offended that a forum would be organized that challenged their precious assumptions, so they sought a ruling from the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board who has issued an absurd ruling that the event was a “closed meeting,” thus violating the state’s open meetings law. The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has posted a response on its website showing that there is at least some common sense left in Maryland.continue reading
I’m back from Maryland where I participated in a forum on PlanMaryland – Maryland’s plan for statewide growth management. Congrats to Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild for putting together an impressive panel and gathering so many impressive dignitaries, including members of the State Department of Planning, the Governor’s office, state delegates and senators, and dozens of local officials.
CityBizList of Baltimore provides a nice summary, and here’s its comment on my remarks:
Ed Braddy, executive director of the American Dream Coalition, brought up several problems he saw with the draft plan.
“It is unrepresentative of the people,” he said. “It uses inaccurate and skewed data, and it does not recognize trade-offs. It will lead to a diminished quality of life that is neither smart nor inevitable.”
Braddy said that the plan puts too much emphasis on “smart growth” – building homes in a contiguous area with restaurants and shopping within walking distance and close to transit. Based on calculations Braddy did using guidelines presented in the report, he said that this could mean the plan calls for more than 16,000 people living per square mile. Currently, there are about 3,000 people living per square mile in Baltimore.
He said that the report also makes vehicles appear to be much too expensive, and makes the benefits of mass transit seem much too great. The plan cites a AAA study for the costs of driving – about $8,600 per year – which Braddy said is only accurate for people leasing new cars and driving them 15,000 miles a year. People driving older cars at the average 11,000 miles that Marylanders drive each year, actually pay $2,566 to $5,300 per year to drive, Braddy said.
Richard Hall, the state secretary of the Department of Planning acknowledged: “I’m sure people can find something in the plan [such as] data errors,” but he goes on to question whether it was ” a math issue, or a policy debate masking itself as a math issue.”
He misses the point. PlanMaryland uses data (mostly derived mathematically) to make claims on which policy is based. If the math is wrong, then it’s fair to question the claims and related policies.continue reading