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Op-Ed: We Don't Want 'One Bay Area'

Co-founder of Marin coalition says regional housing plan won’t solve the core problem of providing quality housing choices for those most in need.

These are uncertain times. But if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that no one decides to live in the Bay Area because it's "One Bay Area."

If anything, we’re the poster child (and the butt of endless jokes) for diversity of people, ideas and "place."

But lately, we’re inundated with guilt-giving Op-Ed pieces extolling the virtues of central planning and a dystopian vision called the One Bay Area Plan. It’s wrapped in politically correct phrases like “affordable housing” and “reducing greenhouse gases” and comprised of a truckload of contradictory laws, terms and agencies like SB375, AB32, RHNA, ABAG, MTC, TAM, BCDC, BAAQMD, PDAs, SCSs and APDs — enough to take a thousand lawyers a thousand years to comprehend.

This “nexus of nonsense” is the work of prominent politicians, backed by deep pocket development and construction interests, “ladder climbing” staff and local elected officials, and a non-stop chorus of shaming from brown-nosing, wannabe bloggers and agenda-driven, nonprofit academics, funded by anti-local control social engineers.

The only problem with this cacophony of "smart" growth advocacy is its complete lack of common sense and factual basis.

We’re told we can “build our way out of climate change” (SB 375), which, even disregarding for a moment its complete lack of scientific basis, defies even a 6th grader’s sense of logic. We’re told that “housing is the key to sustainability,” though all evidence points to the exact opposite.

Truth be told, housing has nothing to do with sustainability, economic, environmental or otherwise. Las Vegas, Denver and Atlanta all bore the worst of the housing bust because they overbuilt their real housing needs. Manhattan and San Francisco have never had enough affordable housing yet they thrive. The South Bronx and Oakland have always had an excess of affordable housing and they continue to struggle. From the Sumerians to the Mayans, the real cause of unsustainability has been resource depletion from too much growth, as will be the case with water in Marin.

And who’s to say it wouldn’t be better for the planet to build entirely new “green” towns hundreds of miles north, where a balance of development and impacts could be better achieved? I don’t know, but I do know it’s not Sacramento central planners who should decide.

But then why let facts get in the way of a good jobs program in an election year?

Still, even as ABAG pressures us to build, we’ve had the comfort of believing that as an unfunded mandate, very little development was actually going to happen. However, now comes SB 1220, brought to us by some of the same people who brought us SB 375 (Steinberg). It proposes a $75 tax on recording every document related to real estate transactions and sends its $700 million to $1 billion a year in proceeds into a bureaucratic black hole called the “Housing Opportunity Trust” in Sacramento. Decisions about how the money is spent will now be governed only by politicalcagendas and big money special interests.

SB 1220, combined with SB 375’s plan to “warehouse” the poor in high-density developments next to highways and rename open space “resource areas,” may represent the final nail in the coffin of local control of zoning and property rights. Generations of efforts to create Marin’s unique quality of life will be dismantled.

And in the end, my bet is that One Bay Area’s stillborn vision of homogenization still won’t have solved the core problem: providing quality housing choices for those most in need.

Bob Silvestri recently , which was formed in response to recent housing and zoning legislation such as SB 375 and housing allocations in the One Bay Area plan.

sherry April 06, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Marin Voice: We need a local 'Council of Governments' "ABAG's unspoken goal is to homogenize all the Bay Area counties, and the results would be devastating to Marin." http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_20335043/marin-voice-we-need-local-council-governments
Susan Clark April 06, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Pay taxes in Marin like the rest of us and you can have your say. It's absurd that people feel they a right to live in any town when they cannot afford it. A half hour drive is nothing and your sense of entitlement puts a bad taste in my mouth!
Amie April 08, 2012 at 03:07 PM
California Declares War on Suburbia - Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323353434618474.html
Al Dugan May 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
SB 375 is a flawed law based on false theories on centering housing in density around transportation corridors and has no scientific data to support it. This law was sponsored by and is used by developers, builders and institutional investors (the follow the money "triad") looking to build high density affordable housing that is currently the only way to keep the building industry going after the housing bubble broke.   SB 375, used to rationalize affordable housing calculated on flawed growth projections fortunately is often not built as it does not make sense except to the "triad" that benefits from it.  The elimination of the Redevelopment Fund by Governor Jerry Brown also brings reality to the affordable housings as it eliminated the 20% subsidy. Well buckle your seat belt...the same developers, builders and institutional investors "triad" have sponsored SB 1220 and the same politicians who proposed SB 375 have submitted SB 1220.  SB 1220 the proposed CA senate bill will add a $75 fee to each filed document of a property sale to fund a $1billion fund administered by the state of CA to fund affordable housing but in reality is a massive subsidy for developers, builders and institutional investors to build affordable housing based on flawed SB 375 assumptions and unsupportable growth assumptions. Please contact your CA senator and congress person to oppose SB 1220. Regards, Al Dugan
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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