Try To Spot Who Has Been Left Out

Here is Kevin Drum, where he quotes from an Op/Ed about a new Southern California "Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy"

The plan includes expansion of housing near public transit by 60%....and projections of more than 4 million new jobs — with public transit within half a mile of most of them. Amanda Eaken of the Natural Resources Defense Council praised it as "the strongest transportation plan" in the history of "car-loving Southern California."

.... SCAG's new plan is born of the realization that as a region, we have to grow up, not out. That doesn't mean Hong Kong skyscrapers in Whittier and Redlands. It does mean more apartments near light-rail stations and more vibrant mixed-use areas like the ones in downtown Pasadena, Ventura and Brea. It doesn't mean wresting the car keys from suburban commuters. It does mean making jobs and housing accessible via foot, bike, bus and rail.

Here is his comment on this:

In theory, a plan like this should have almost unanimous support. Developers like it because they can put up denser buildings. Environmentalists like it because it's more sustainable. Urbanists like it because it creates more walkable communities. City governments like it because it creates a stronger tax base.

There's really only one constituency that doesn't like it much: every single person who already lives in these communities and hates the idea of dense, high-rise construction near their homes. So there's going to be fireworks. It'll be interesting to see how the NIMBY bloc gets bought off.

Can you spot which group of people whose  preferences have been left out?   He considers the preferences of planners, developers, environmentalists, urbanists, and current community residents.  That's everyone, right?

Yeah, except for the freaking people who are moving in and actually shopping for a home.  Apparently if you are looking for a place to live in California, everyone except for you has a say in what living choices you will find.  Want a suburban home on an acre of land -- you are out of luck (unless you get an existing one that is grandfathered in, but those are really, really expensive because they are what everyone really wants but no one in power in California will allow to be built).  Your chosen lifestyle has not been approved by your betters.



  1. Brad Warbiany:

    "Want a suburban home on an acre of land?"

    Sure. A lot of people want that. But with existing population density here, you've got to be a multi-millionaire to afford it. I'm pretty well off, probably even upper-middle-class, all things considered, but I'm not wealthy. As it stands, a 1550 square foot home on a postage stamp lot here in Orange County cost me nearly half a million dollars.

    While some might state that costs are artificially inflated by government land use policies (and it's true), it's demographics that put a large home on an acre of land out of my reach, not government. If you want that sort of house, it's obtainable [still not cheap], but you need to move at least an hour outside of Orange or LA counties.

    I love blaming government, but I think it's misplaced in this case. Government policies make the issue worse, but the order of magnitude is dependent on demography, jobs, climate, etc. Government land-use policy is a much smaller factor than those.

  2. MNHawk:

    So where are the people stupid enough to move into California and create those 4 million jobs? In tax free Nevada?

  3. marco73:

    California has a huge pool of unemployed and underemployed construction workers, so labor shouldn't be a problem. Capital is the problem.
    This is a pie in the sky transporation plan. Since no private bankers would touch such a silly project, look for groups of rent-seekers to lobby for government loans and guarantees to put up high rise apartments and condos near the proposed rail lines. Maybe there can be a federal program. It has worked so well in the past. Someone get HUD on line 1!

  4. NormD:

    The good news about CA is that all the myriad restrictions on land use could be undone with a few simple changes in laws and this terrifies the planners and enviros. The land is all there and ready to be built on. Fly over CA and you will see vast stretches of open land, that is not part a park, that could be built on. Eventually politics will change.

  5. Johnson85:

    Seems like the more important group that has been left out is whoever will have to pay for it. I assume since it's a rail project it will be mostly federal taxpayers, but the fact that there is no mention or consideration of the costs as a reason some people might be against it seems to speak louder than the omission of people who want to move there.

  6. Hunt Johnsen:

    There are new town-houses and condos going up all over North County San Diego - we keep wondering who the hell is buying them in this economy - more government employees?

  7. Patrick Moffitt:

    Both MD's and NJ's smart growth plan justify dense development by quoting The 2011 Community Preference Survey:
    “ideally, most Americans would like to live in walkable communities where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within an easy stroll from their homes and their jobs are a short commute away….”.

    However, omitted from these Planswas the second half of the Survey sentence:
    “as long as those communities can also provide privacy from neighbors and detached, single-family homes.”

    The Survey actually goes further in stating:
    “61% choose larger lots and needing to drive over smaller lots and being able to walk to schools, stores, and restaurants.”

    The Survey additionally found:
    “Political views are predictive of what type of communities Americans prefer. Democrats and liberals tend to prefer smart growth-type communities, while Republicans and conservatives are more likely to favor sprawl-type communities.”

  8. MJ:

    @Marco73 They're already on it. Earlier in his term, Obama announced a "strategic" partnership (is there any other kind?) between HUD and EPA to promote federally-funded demonstration projects of development near public transit corridors. Apparently this combines the business acumen of HUD (who gave us urban renewal and public housing) with the sensibility and thoughtfulness of EPA (who still believes that fuel economy mandates are a free lunch).

  9. Mark2:

    It will be a problem. San Diego County is already being sued not for not implementing this state plan, but for not implementing it fast enough!

    Serious analysts say that the new rail projects that will be built all over the state will do little to reduce traffic congestion, and will probably make it worse by packing folks in closer together.

  10. JoshK:

    Why just predict 4m jobs? I predict $400m jobs. This new rail initiatives will create more jobs then people over the next 10 years and we will get to $15b jobs.

  11. Mark:

    What the Left seems to want for you is to live in a crappy little apartment crammed into thousands of other people's space, that is lit by a light bulb (maybe 2 if you are the right political tastes) that gives off a single ray of light, while you ride the smelly, stinky bus to work and back. Your heating is provided by power from solar and wind, so it is intermittent at best, controlled by the central authorities, cold inthe winter and boiling in the summer. And, they want you to give them elite status because they "provided" all of this for you.

    Cold, dark, and miserable. Is that the vision the Left really has? I cannot see any other altenative.