Op-Ed: It's Dangerous to Trust Those with Crystal Balls

If you can count up the new ABAG numbers, thank those — such as Sharon Rushton — who protested the old ones.

Kiki La Porta’s Marin Voice column in the (“Planning for a Future We Can Live In," June 3) cites critically Sharon Rushton’s Marin Voice of April 29 ("It is Time for Marin to Challenge ABAG's Planning"). "Kiki La Porta of San Rafael is president of Sustainable Marin, an organization comprised of Sustainable Fairfax, Sustainable Novato, Sustainable San Anselmo, Sustainable San Rafael and other affiliates," according to the IJ Op-Ed identifier. Sharon Rushton is chairperson of Sustainable TamAlmonte.

Beware when the president of an organization starts out with "We of (blank) were puzzled ..." as Ms. La Porta does, referring to another similar organization. Ms. La Porta maintains that she is puzzled at Ruston's stance, which seemed to equate sustainability with "opposition to sound regional planning."

Ms. La Porta is not only puzzled, she is confused about Ms. Rushton's points. The confusion stems from believing that sustainability is copyrighted and patented by her organization's view and that Ms. Rushton's criticism of the Association of Bay Area Governments voids her organization's legitimacy to call itself Sustainable TamAlmonte.

Just because there is a large, protective, political and economic framework around ABAG's planning policies and utilized by Sustainable Marin does not in any way confer the description of sound regional planning to the agency (ABAG) or to the nonprofit (Sustainable Marin). Ms. La Porta's definition of sustainability through the orthodoxy of TransForm, Greenbelt Alliance and the building industry lobby voluntarily blinds her to inconvenient truths that more construction and more people bring more greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms. La Porta quotes: "Ms. Rushton and others have strenuously objected to the Association of Bay Area Government's One Bay Area process, say its 'unrealistic jobs and population growth projections will mandate unsustainable housing development.'"

Rushton actually says the One Bay Area Plan and the Region Housing Needs Allocation "use unrealistic jobs and population growth projections to mandate unsustainable housing development." I checked the quote. Where's the crime?  Change a few words here and there ... where's the harm?

The BIG difference is that it has already happened and is likely to continue with or without "the process." The Regional Housing Needs Allocation is already well on its way for 2014-2022. The Preferred Scenario has already been adopted.

Ms. La Porte lists several concessions that ABAG made to Marin County, which ABAG made late, under pressure, and which are still in danger of being rolled back. Remember the old saying: "If you can read this, thank a teacher!" Well, if you can count up the new ABAG numbers, thank those — such as Sharon Rushton — who protested the old ones.

Ms. La Porta further states "We quickly get lost in reaction and debate about numbers, but lose sight of the types of communities we will need and want in the future."

I would alter the sentiment to: We cannot afford to get lost in reacting to the numbers (housing allocations, transportation dollars, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) and we should not put all our faith in those claiming to forecast the future. We certainly cannot continue to substitute economic stimulus programs and slogans for good research and careful decision-making.

Ms. La Porta puts forth her argument that "In reality, ABAG mandates nothing but wise planning." Oh, would it were so that ANY government entity could mandate nothing but wise planning!

Pam Drew is chair of the Novato Community Alliance.

Bob Silvestri June 07, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Well said, Pam. To add to that here's a link to PART I of a special 4 part series on planning and affordable housing that will run every Thursday through the month of June. http://millvalley.patch.com/blog_posts/the-best-laid-plans-part-i-a-brief-history-of-planning As the Plan Bay Area initiative moves forward, this discussion is more important than ever.
Lloyd June 07, 2012 at 04:01 PM
In other words do not take as gospel anything from names like ABAG or Sustainable Marin or its many offshoot organizations as what they say may be exactly the opposite of what they mean. As Ronald Reagan would say "trust but verify". Try using common sense to what is logical and sustainable. Never substitute platitudes and vague notions/excuses given by higher density development interests nee sustainable xxxxx for good intelligent long term planning. If you don't believe me try looking at the results of almost every social engineering project/plan to date by the state.
Tina McMillan June 07, 2012 at 05:36 PM
DeSaulnier proposes making ABAG a commission with elected board members by BGR on May 3, 2012 http://www.halfwaytoconcord.com/desaulnier-proposes-making-abag-a-commission-with-elected-board-members-2/ "State Senator Mark DeSaulnier today touted SB 1149, which, among other things, creates a directly elected Bay Area Regional Commission to replace ABAG/MTC that operates under a joint powers agreement that appoints 25 board members. In effect the move from a decentralized unaccountable agency to a centralized body with elected politicians could produce its own pluses and minuses. If passed, SB 1149 would give the new Commission increased authority over regional planning. The new Commission would provide a regional policymaking process for transportation, housing, air quality, sustainable community strategies, economic development to ensure that regional policies are developed within a consistent framework. No news yet on how representatives will be elected or who gets to draw voting district lines, which will identify who has the real power." We are at a crossroads with regional agencies attempting to usurp local control. Senator DeSaulinier voting base is both the construction industry and the non profits that develop affordable housing throughout the bay area. Only new housing is being considered to fulfill ABAG numbers and with One Bay Area is concentrated with infill development along transportation corridors to eliminate the need for cars.
Tina McMillan June 07, 2012 at 05:47 PM
If DeSaulnier succeeds ABAG will have the ability to control local planning. Read through the text of SB1149 http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB1149 DeSaulnier earlier this year sponsored SB1220, the Affordable Housing Bill that would levy taxes on multiple real estate transactions to create money in place of the lost RDA money to build affordable housing throughout California. SB1220 failed to get a 2/3rds majority vote. SB1149 only needs a simple majority. It would give regional agencies the power to impose state mandates on local communities by creating a board of "elected officials." DeSaulnier is supported by both the construction industry and the affordable housing industry. He is determined to get legislation in place to take control over local planning. He knows there is no money with Brown removing the RDA's. He is not trying to rewrite affordable housing mandates to include second units or Habitat for Humanity homes. This is all about new construction throughout the bay area. There is nothing in his legislation about jobs for the people living in these new homes. Yes, there will be short term jobs for folks in the construction trades but once these projects are built, without jobs, there is no money to maintain them.
Katie C. September 12, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Another Developer Trojan Horse: Marin Voice: Choosing the future we want for Marin http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_21520187/marin-voice-choosing-future-we-want-marin


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