Envirowimps: L.A.'s Big Green Groups Get Comfy-- Activists leave the street-fighting to the little guys
By Patrick Range McDonald, Published on July 01, 2009http://www.laweekly.com/2009-07-02/news/envirowimps/1
we got quoted:
"Rex Frankel, a widely respected independent voice in L.A.’s environmental movement and director of the think tank ConnectingCalifornia.org..."
A message from the Editor of Rare Earth News:
Thank you, Patrick.
We non-corporate funded environmentalists are very grateful for your story.
Urban Growth is all about money: money for politicians’s campaign funds, jobs for construction workers, and windfall profits for land owners. But it also means a fake boost in tax dollars that is erased by all of the services needed by the residents of that growth.
Local elected officials for years bought the builders’ baloney that mega development was the solution to local government’s budget woes. It’s not so. This faulty and unscientific belief was repeated unquestioned for years by the mainstream press. It’s been up to us, the independent activists and the independent press, to show that the growth emperor was not only naked, but he was drunk and blowing all of our money.
A landmark study debunking the claims that development equals prosperity is at this link:
On average, the study found that for every $1 that residential development brings into the government, the government then has to shell out $1.16 to service that development.
Basically, if development was the salvation to California’s budget woes, California’s mega-growth since year 2000 would mean our budget would be fat and our taxes would be low. But California’s run a massive budget deficit for this entire decade even when the economy was “good”, when the stock market and “credit derivatives” were not bad words.
Growth never pays for itself. If it did, we would have the lowest taxes in the country, not the highest.
An underlying theme in Patrick Range McDonald’s article was that by working-with developers and polluters, some enviro groups think they can make a difference. Usually, they get worked-over, and the public gets the bill.
We call it greenwashing because the developer still gets a massive project and we still get the traffic jams, but we also get feel-good billboards telling us that we wrecked our neighborhood in a green way. It’s like telling us that cancer is good for us because it’s “growth”.
Growth is not always good, no matter what urban planning theorists tell us.
The biggest problem with smart growth is that in L.A., at least, the decision to curb L.A. city’s sprawl can be erased because L.A. County and the city of Santa Clarita still approve big projects on our borders. We can concentrate growth in downtown L.A., and we can reject Rancho Las Lomas (sprawl in north San Fernando Valley), and then Kern County still intends to cram the Tejon Ranch project down our throats. That’s why we need to fight the entire 30,000 home wildlife-killing traffic jamming Tejon Ranch deal, no matter how many corporate enviro groups they’ve bought off. See http://savetejonranch.org/ for more,
Smart growth works elsewhere, but only when all the local governments agree to it. Ventura County has a great voter-created system of greenbelts around their cities. These are very effective urban growth boundaries. In the San Francisco Bay area, most of the counties have these UGB’s. UGB’s have even spread to the developer-friendly Central Valley. This keeps the growth from escaping from one less developer friendly city to another.
(Read more here:
Coupled with these UGB’s in most places that have them are local land trusts and tax-dollar funded park purchase agencies that buy up the greenbelts that the voters put off-limits to development.
This means that growth, if it must occur at all, is forced to stay in our downtowns.
L.A. has been the worst player in urban sprawl and destroying the natural environment, but most of the rest of our state has learned from this lesson and does everything possible to avoid becoming like us.
Even some of L.A.’s politicians are trying to turn this town around. Mayor Villaraigosa has been light-years better on green issues than any mayor before him.
I consider Bill Rosendahl, our Westside councilman, a good friend. Compared to the openly hostile relationship we had with his predecessors Cindy Miscikowski, Ruth Galanter and Pat Russell, Bill is open, friendly, and not bought-off.
The rubber is about to hit the road with two mega projects in Bill’s 11th district which are coming to the planning commission soon: the Howard Hughes Center on July 23rd and Playa Vista phase 2 later this summer or fall. Do we need another 3000 luxury condos? Do we need to let our yards turn brown so these towers can go up?
Are the politicians going to fall for the usual developer B.S. again or will they really make L.A. the greenest city in the nation? If they don’t, we’re here to drag their asses into court…again.
http://connectingcalifornia.org/ and http://rare-earth-news.blogspot.com/