Tuesday, July 6, 2010


A lot of what makes human societies work is the way in which things are balanced against each other, in a democratic process. This concept is central to our Declaration of Independence and the amendments to the first Constitution, the Bill of Rights. We've celebrated this on the Fourth of July for over 235 years, now.

It's hard for us to remember some of these fundamental things in these days of corporate takeover of the United States government and its states, not to mention its local and regional governments. The most recent example of this is the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of the limits on campaign financing by corporations. It's now essentially unlimited in its influence on politics.

How do these corporate structures impact local governments in California? This control is exerted via the regional organizations through their connections in Sacramento. In order to goose development in Southern California, regardless of the lack of demand or the limits of resources, the regional agencies are railroading a housing requirement in order to capture funding via AB 32 and SB 375. This is the RHNA formula, which local cities are not allowed to contest in any kind of legal forum. It forces development into cities that can sometimes exceed 150% of the supportable city resources, essentially an unfunded mandate for development, dictated by specious "population projections". This creates a burden for the local cities that drains their resources for infrastructure and public services (Police and Fire), and obliterates local planning that addresses the needs of the residents. It's a State takeover for profits for developers and more revenue under the Proposition 13 formula that exempts established businesses from fair-share property taxes. It also generates the greatest impact of greenhouse gasses from construction development, while trying to sell a reduction in vehicle miles traveled as the greenwash in all of this.

A prime example of how this is manipulated at the local level is laid out here at the Sierra Madre Tattler. It gets pretty ugly.

Control of local governance paves the way to the takeover of the General Plan and regional planning by these County and regional agencies in order to generate development revenue out of monies available from State and Federal Government funding sources. Regardless of need, regardless of the lack of capacity to supply the needed infrastructure and water, regardless of the environmental decimation that this creates.

This goes hand in hand with the undermining of CEQA being proposed by both parties, under the leadership of Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem leader Darrell Steinberg, author of SB 375. Developers and corporations in the driver's seat as usual. Can Justice prevail?