Brown, Harris Attack Suburban Growth

MARCH 21, 2011


The Santa Clarita Valley, a pleasant enough suburb of 250,000 in northern Los Angeles County, has the dubious distinction of the place most often targeted by terrorists over the eight seasons of the television show “24” – including the detonation of a nuclear bomb there during the premier of the 2007 season.  Last Thursday, the Brown administration dropped its own nuke on the valley, trying to undo 10 years of regional planning in the name of saving the planet.

Kamala Harris, the former San Francisco DA who never saw a criminal trial she couldn’t lose (which apparently is enough to get one elected California attorney general nowadays), sent a letter last week to the Los Angeles County planning department saying the Santa Clarita Valley Area Plan violates state law.  She attacked the plan, which has been in development since 2001 as a blueprint for the Santa Clarita Valley’s future growth, because it doesn’t do enough to stop global warming by reducing the valley’s miniscule sliver of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Harris didn’t just send the letter – she publicized it through a news release and made sure it was posted on the Internet for all to see.  “I think it’s kind of unprofessional to address the issues with the press rather than directly with the office you’ve been working with,” sniffed Los Angeles’ principal deputy county counsel, Elaine Lemke.

The attorney general also lambasted the planners for not updating figures from 2008 of how many new housing units have been approved in the area, apparently unaware of the deep housing recession that hit California.  Even if only a couple dozen new homes have been built, the information is needed, she said, “to understand how much or how little flexibility there is to apply smart growth techniques to new housing developments.”

In other words, the Brown administration wants to dictate where you live and how you live.  Leaning on California’s global warming twins – AB32 and SB375 – Harris is carrying on where Brown left off in forcing “smart growth” on California.  Brown started the ball rolling when he sued San Bernardino County in 2007 over its growth plan because it didn’t do enough to appease global warming alarmists.

For the uninitiated, smart growth is what planners and progressives call taking choice out of home ownership.  It would replace suburbia with high-density development along railroad lines, devoid of open spaces and unfriendly to young families.  In the vision, people will shuffle from tiny apartments to crowded trains, no longer enjoying the freedom provided by the automobile, but rather, dependent on government to transport them huddled in rail cars with the rest of the masses. The fact that smart growth developments have not sold well and often have to be subsidized by government grants and redevelopment funds is no problem to Brown and Harris. To them, no idea can be worthwhile unless it needs a government subsidy to survive.

Harris offers no solution to the Santa Clarita Valley’s air pollution problems, which may be because solving those problems is a bit out of the scope of the valley’s new development blueprint.  It would require having Los Angeles fall into the sea, since it is the source of most of the Valley’s pollution.  It would also help if commerce ground to a halt, because Interstate 5, the primary truck corridor from northern to southern California, is the valley’s other main source of pollution. Against those two CO2 behemoths, it doesn’t really matter how the valley’s suburbanites get about.

There is one other alternative that is very present in Harris’ letter even if it’s unspoken:  Government could use its regulatory and legislative powers to drive up the cost and string out approval timelines for new developments in Santa Clarita, removing the valley as an option for most home buyers.  Then fewer people would be able to flee the mess that is Los Angeles for a better, safer place like Santa Clarita.

That’s exactly the vision that’s unfolding in Kamala’s hometown of San Francisco.  The “Initial Vision Scenario for 2035” just released by the Bay Area’s transportation agencies and cities shows two million more people living there by 2035, in 902,000 new homes built in already crowded San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, or in outlying cities – but only if they’re near rail stations, bus lines, walking paths and bike lanes.  Then, the planners say, there will be fewer cars in the Bay Area in 2035 than there are today. Two million more people and fewer cars – that means a lot of people won’t be getting around the way they’d prefer to.  After all, young kids dream of the day they’ll get their driver’s license, not their bus pass.

Good luck finding a better example of how government – especially California government – is using global warming hyperbole to increase its control over the people. No, wait. There’s also California’s ban on big-screen televisions, its costly diesel truck mandates that are putting independent haulers out of business, its forced greening of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that have made them less competitive … and the list goes on and on.

Laer Pearce, a veteran of three decades of California public affairs, is currently working on a book that shows how everything wrong with America comes from California.

Related Articles

Lance Armstrong should have kept fighting

Aug. 27, 2012 By John Seiler With a name like Lance-Arm-Strong, Lance Armstrong should have kept fighting the anti-doping charges

Court Dishes Overdue Justice to CARB

MARCH 23, 2011 In the matters of public relations and legislative maneuvering, Mary Nichols is a very smart woman. She

Backlash to CA police militarization extends across political spectrum

The acquisition of a mine-resistant armored vehicle by the city of Davis has drawn national attention and fueled a statewide outcry over