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.


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  1. Barbara Decker
    Barbara Decker 22 March, 2011, 16:25

    This is another part of United Nations Agenda21- Sustainable Development that has seeped into all of areas of government. ICLEI, International Council for Local Environment Initiatives, is the local enforcement part of Agenda 21. Check out for ways to kick ICLEI out of your city or town. I live in San Diego and it is here. Carroll County, Md. just kicked ICKEI out and other cities/towns will follow their lead.
    Non elected boards control resource policy on a “regional” basis, e.g., air, water, transportation, coastal zones, mountain zones and watersheds. American is being changed before our eyes and must be stopped but people need to be informed to begin with to start the change.

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  2. Ron Kilmartin
    Ron Kilmartin 22 March, 2011, 21:17

    Great article Mr. Pearce. Get that book finished soon, it needs to get wide distribution. I heartily second Barbara Decker’s comment. Sustainable Development, & Smart Growth & Biodiversity are UN buzzwords that have come with UN Agenda 21 and have permeated the entire American government structure without any debate in Congress. ICLEI is the UN offspring “International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives”, and it has infiltrated its methodology with the precise intention of bypassing the governmental processes of our republic. The idea of ants living in hives next to transit facilities is the UN’s idea of how we should all live in the 21ist century. The fundamental foundation of all this is the mendacious man-made global warming – CO2 canard. ICLEI has bulldozed our country’s mayors and our state planning agencies, including in California CARB, Energy Commission, PUC, Caltrans and all the rest. California voters last November decided their state should be the national Petri Dish for the grand attack on CO2. We shall reap what we have sown. The people of Santa Clarita should arch their back and tell Sacramento to go …fishing. Bay Area Tea Parties are gearing up to fight this and kick ICLEI back to Europe. Santa Caritans should get with SO CAL Tea Parties, 9/12 groups, and gear up to push Agenda back out of our lives, out of Sacramento and out of the United States. This is really serious and people need to get informed. Barbara Becker’s note recommended a good place to start.

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