Tag Archives: smart growth

City of Norman’s Fifth Density Dialog Charade

Kaye Beach

August 14, 2012

I am completely frustrated with the City of Norman’s “community dialog” meetings on density development.  Last night was the fifth meeting.

(You can find out more about the meetings and see some of the materials from the meetings here)

Previous posts on the subject are here and here

We were told in the beginning that the meetings were for the purpose of discovering whether or not Norman residents even wanted high density development.  That question could have been answered in much less that the six scheduled meetings being held but then the planners would not have had the opportunity to manipulate the attendees into agreeing to the sort of development that they have in mind.

I am not opposed to the building of high density housing units.  If there is a market for it and it doesn’t harm the rights of property owners nearby, then why not?  But there is much more going on here than that.

Last night we really got down to the nitty gritty after we were instructed by City Planner Susan Atkinson on exactly what constituted “good design”  Good design, we were told, is three stories, built right up to the sidewalk, retail on the bottom, residential on top, meager parking, hidden in the back.  Good design means wide sidewalks and narrow streets.  Why?

I’ll tell you why.  Because public transportation REQUIRES high density development,( located right  next to the tracks) that discourages the use of automobiles.    The planners aim to take away your choices so that their goals are met.


The city is working on what is called Transit Oriented Development only they will not simply tell you that because if they did and we understood what they were really up to, many of us would not agree to it.

(Read the Central Oklahoma Transit Supportive Guidebook)

Transit Oriented Development  (also called New Urbanism or Smart Growth) calls for high density mixed use developments. link

Today, TOD means building high density projects at transit stops, such as a light rail stations. Providing places to live, work, and shop within close distance of a rail station helps drive ridership on the transit system. http://iqc.ou.edu/2011/09/28/urban-design-in-territorial-oklahoma/

Transit-Oriented Development — moderate- to high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods concentrated at transit stops and designed to maximize access to and use of public transportation. http://www.epa.gov/dced/codeexamples.htm

So, who really wants transit oriented development?  The federal government does.  And ACOG wants it because federal transportation dollars are contingent upon it.  The city wants transit oriented development because it is part of ACOG’s regional transportation plan.

Since when does the federal government dictate city planning?  The answer is they can’t, not directly anyways but by using the carrot and the stick method the federal government is doing it and ACOG and our city council rather than standing up to this travesty and letting the good people of Oklahoma who value their sovereignty and local control are working right along with them.  And this, we will be told, is what WE want.  It is OUR plan.

Here is just one example of new federal initiatives that have completely changed the game.

Obama Administration Proposes Major Public Transportation Policy Shift
to Highlight Livability
Changes Include Economic Development and Environmental Benefits

In a dramatic change from existing policy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on livability issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.

In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, the Secretary announced the Obama Administration’s plans to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts and Small Starts programs.

“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” said Secretary LaHood. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.” http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2009/fta0110.htm

If you are wondering what these “livability principles” are, you can click here to read them.

In an March 2012 ACOG transportation  meeting, Commissioner Mark Sharpton goes on record calling out the ‘Livability Principles” for what they are and his reaction to the suggestion of incorporating them into our region-wide transportation policies brought forth an entirely appropriate response form this red-blooded American;

You know, I actually feel for the city council and even ACOG.  They are between a rock and a hard place for sure.  But you know what?  I am more concerned about the people of this great state and what the future will look like for us and our children if this is allowed to continue.

We don’t get to vote for those who presume to represent us on ACOG (which is just one of a number of problems with the whole arrangement) but we DO vote for our city council members still even though they often appear to be being led by the nose by their staff.  They have to stand up for us or pay the price at the ballot box.  We should insist that our City Council put an end to this farce!

I am sending a copy of this post to my councilman.  If you have concerns, you should contact yours as well. You can find their contact info here

They said they just wanted to know if we want higher density development.  How about NO?!

The residents of Norman should know that the City cannot accomplish their hidden goals without our approval.  Do you think that they would bother to mess with all of these meetings to manipulate us into agreeing if they didn’t have to?

“Because the projects are routinely deemed illegal under local zoning laws and go against most conventional development practices, the new urbanists have pioneered new approval techniques (notably the town planning charrette).” Link

I have much more to say about this charade (I mean charrette!) the City is putting us through but for now I will leave you with this incredibly thoughtful speech made by Lolita Buckner Inniss, J.D., L.L.M. Associate Professor of Law, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law,  Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio in 2008.

. . .what I’m going to be offering here is a critique of New Urbanism in general and “form-based code” in particular and as a tool of New Urbanism. I also want to talk about the fact that form-based code, while it’s often touted as being more flexible than zoning and is a great method to overcome a number of the problems that we see in our cities—urban decay, segregation, economic downturns, what I began to see, however, particularly as I taught the first year on property, is that form-based code is not generally doing what advocates said.

. . .First and foremost, it tries to do by design what was ultimately spontaneous. What it comes down to, and I’ll talk about this in more detail, is that in the city as we have known it and have come to understand it in the United States, and certainly also in Europe, city growth was spontaneous growth. I think it’s problematic from the outset to assume that you can do now by design what it has taken us one hundred years to do in our urban areas. I think you would have to challenge any plan that purports to design something that didn’t come about by design. So that’s one of the first problems I’ve had with it.

. . .

Next, New Urbanism. As I’ll talk about in a few moments, when you talk about form-based code, you’re really talking about one of the principal tools of what’s called the new urbanism, sort of a way of getting back to the “old urbanism” and the old city. What I’ll discuss is the fact that the new urbanism, like the old urbanism—that’s deeply contested. The city that you and I may remember may be very different than the city that somebody else remembered. So again it’s problematic when someone purports to put together a plan that’s supposed to take us back to the old urbanism. We all remember and lived in different types of cities, and so there’s no way that we’re going to design something that reflects a vision. There is no single vision. There are multiple visions that could never begin to be incorporated in any one single vision, So that’s another problem.

Finally, the charette process, as Carol mentioned, relies on the “community” in order to sort of pull together form-based code plans. All too often it doesn’t work out as claimed, which is one of the things I talk about in my essay where I discuss the rebuilding of New Orleans that’s the basis for this talk. That’s a wonderful example of what happens when you claim that the community is going to be represented. All too often, form-based code plans end up representing the elites who put them together, who bring in the experts, who all too often monopolize the talk that’s going on. And it’s a wonderful way for a very, very small strand of people in the community to have their views represented as “what everybody wants.” All too often, that’s simply not the case.

Read more

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Tulsa Beacon: City of Norman Tactically Employs Ridicule to Sway Opinions

Kaye Beach

June 22, 2012

This article was published June 20 th in the Tulsa Beacon.  The author if the article is Randy W.  Bright, AIA, NCARB, a well respected Tulsa architect.

Bright immediately picks up on the the shaming tactics employed by the City of Norman in their framing of the the issue which is supposed to be about whether or not to allow high density development however the scheduling of six facilitated “community  discussions” on the issue plus the bent of the City’s presentation indicates that there is more to all of this than meets the eye.

The residents of the City of Norman are, once again, being ‘framed’.  As if we are children, the City will walk us through their ‘charettes’ (really charades!) and lead us to an outcome that limits our choices and further compromises our property rights.  Then,  we will be told that this is what we said we wanted.

Can we not build communities without over-regulation?

by Randy Bright

I don’t read Cosmopolitan, and never have, but when I’m in the supermarket checkout line and see the magazine I think about a story that came out several years ago about how they get the cover photo shot. The girl on the cover always looks perfect, but if you could get her to turn around, her clothing is pulled tightly to her body with dozens of clamps, pins and safety pins.
Sometimes perfection just isn’t what it seems.
Administrators in Norman, Okla., recently began the process of introducing the idea that form-based codes, Smart Growth, and high-density development are what their city needs.
According to an article by researcher Kaye Beach (axxiomamuse.wordpress.com), the city is holding meetings to see if they should codify high-density development.
The facilitated meeting began with a Power Point presentation explaining what Smart Growth and New Urbanism was, and how they related to dense developments.
Things became more clear when a slide entitled, “Pros and Cons of Density” was shown. It said, “It is promoted by those who value urban streetscapes, efficient infrastructure supply, walkable neighborhoods, and increased housing options.

Increased density is opposed by those who imagine ugly buildings, overshadowed open space, parking problems and irresponsible residents.”
In other words, those in favor of density have values, those who do not are ignorant and uninformed. Even if I did not already know about form-based codes and high-density development, I am always suspicious when ridicule is used to sway people. After all, who wants to be identified with the ignorant and uninformed?

Read the entire article here

Norman’s First High Density Development Meeting and Info About Form Based Codes

Kaye Beach

June 12, 2012

Last evening the City of Norman Oklahoma held its first community dialog on high density development. The issue is whether or not the City should codify high density development.  Presently, this issue is not addressed in any of the City’s planning documents.  A sudden spate of requests from developers for extremely high density (100 + dwelling units per acre) development is apparently what has brought this issue to the fore.

Attendees to last nights meeting were first given a presentation to inform us on the subject of high density development.  City planners were kind enough to put the presentation online.  You can access it here

The schedule for future meetings can be accessed here.

We were informed that future meetings would be facilitated and met the gentlemen who would be in charge of that task, Bob Thomas from the Xenia Institute, who gave us a few words of wisdom on the art of listening.

The presentation explains why the issue before the community, describes current use and density zoning, explains how density is figured, the pros and cons of high density development and defines terms like ‘infill development’ and ‘redevelopment’.  The presentation also touched on concepts like open space, sprawl, Smart Growth

and New Urbanism

accompanied by pictures depicting the various concepts covered.  Then the meeting moved to questions and answers.

Here is the ‘Pros and Cons’ of density slide.  It is obvious that really cool people are for it and only those whose imaginations run away from them are against it.

Seriously?   There are many pros and cons to this type of development.  When you are doing a power point, you have to just hit the bottom line.  The City of Norman thinks this is the bottom line in this issue.  Awesome people on one side,  jerks on the other.  If you oppose high density development you oppose “quality of life” for your city.  Jerk.

If I were to assign a theme to the questions asked I would say that generally people were curious about what the purpose high density development served.  For example, the first question asked was from a lady who wanted to know where she could find out what high density development was really about.  Another lady wanted to know were we discussing just one high density development or many.

One of the Norman City Council members, Carol Dillingham,  explained that the City currently has no zoning ordinances to accommodate high density development at all and that the purpose of these discussions is to determine whether or not we want this kind of development and if so what we want our ordinance to look like.  Councilwoman Dillingham assured the audience that the City Council has no preconceived notions on the issue.

Here is a write up on last night’s city meeting from the Norman Transcript;

June 12, 2012

High Density development community forum

Another article of interest, also from the Norman Transcript is one published on June 9, several days prior to the first meeting to discuss high density development.

And another article also published in the Norman Transcript on June 9, 2012;

Creating a vision for Norman’s future

When I first read this I was unsure as to what to make of it because it dives right into the notion of a “new vision” for our city before we have even begun the discussion.   This particular vision, emanating from Mr. Blair Humphreys, an urban designer and  the executive director for the Institute for Quality Communities,  is one of form based codes.

The presentation given to Norman residents last evening included information on Smart Growth and New Urbanism and one thing these two concepts of city planning has in common is the use of form based codes.

Norman City Planners would deny that they were setting us up to inplement Form Based Codes but things like this make me wonder . . .The Urban Land Institute explains that, “Good intentions must be backed up by good regulations such as Form-Based Coding,”  and they held a training event to teach people like Norman City Planner, Susan Connors, how to back up their good intentions with Form Based Codes.

(Click on the picture to see just how many Oklahoma officials have been educated on implementation of Form Based Codes.)

So,  what is a ‘form based code’ anyways?

According to Mr. Humphreys, “form-based codes are more effective in guiding a vision than traditional zoning and land use regulations.”

According to others, form based codes are a nightmare;

‘I thought that Forms Based Code was supposed to be an easy, simple alternative but this is a freaking nightmare.’ link

What is this small business owners beef? Well, the new form based code prohibits many of the building features of his business.  His business is grandfathered in under the city’s new form based codes but he knows that no future owner will buy his property should he wish to sell because it does not conform to the form based code requirements and would cost the new owner a fortune to bring into compliance.

With only a little research, the problems with form based code becomes evident.

This article covers some of the  problems with form based codes.  Here is another one – Form-based code is problem, not answer  And one more take on the issue.

Remember that zoning allows the municipality to use its police powers to exercise authority over privately owned property so we want to very careful about instituting any new zoning.

Form based code is prescriptive meaning that rather than telling property owners what they cannot do on or with their property (which is difficult enough to accept) they are told what they must do with their property.  The purpose of this sort of zoning is to speed up the transition into “sustainable” cities.  That means 3 story buildings built right up on the sidewalks,  retail on the bottom floor and residential on top, high density, low cars (and carbon),  walk-your-big-butt-around-in cities.  If you want more zoning hassles, less control over your property, less choices about your lifestyle and tighter buns-then form based codes are for you!

Achieving sustainability using form based codes (click on picture to see the powerpoint)

A Look Behind the Green Mask Special Guest Rosa Koire on AxXiom For Liberty Live Friday Jan. 27th 6-8 PM CST

Kaye Beach

Jan. 26, 2012-

Friday Jan. 27, 2012 on AxXiom For Liberty with Kaye Beach and Howard Houchen- we will take a look Behind the Green Mask with our very special Guest Rosa Koire, author of Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21

Listen Live Online at Logos Radio Network

Listen to the Podcast with Rosa kiore

Rosa Koire

Rosa Koire, ASA, is the executive director of the Post Sustainability Institute. She is a forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation.

Her nearly 30 years of experience analyzing land use and property value enabled her to recognize the planning revolution sweeping the country.

While fighting to stop a huge redevelopment project in her city she researched the corporate, political, and financial interests behind it and found UN Agenda 21. Impacting every aspect of our lives, UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is a corporate manipulation using the Green Mask of environmental concern to forward a globalist plan.

Rosa speaks across the nation and is a regular blogger on her website Democrats Against UN Agenda 21 dot com.

More about Rosa Kiore

WHAT IS UNITED NATIONS AGENDA 21?  From the Post Sustainability Institute

And here is what it looks like-

One Planet, One Vision, One City at a Time

Your government is using similar names for all of these plans and they are all the same: Regional.  They are being rolled out NOW.

The adoption date is MID-2013.  ALL OVER THE US.

Most of us are unaware that the plan we are fighting is the same plan, with minor variations, being imposed in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding public transportation, and funding low-income housing.

•All plans include Smart Growth–high density housing with restrictions on personal space and car usage.
•All plans support high speed trains–the building block of Mega-Regions.
•All plans give power to regional transportation and planning boards (MPOs and COGs) through federal and state fund disbursements.
•In all plans housing and transportation are now linked.
•In all plans population projections are hugely inflated.
•All plans will go forward as planned regardless of your input.  This is a planning revolution.

Read This Book!!

Do you want every facet of your life scrutinized, monitored and controlled? Of course not, most don’t but the foundations are in place to do just that to all of us. Unfortunately they don’t announce that part of the “Vision” to us up front or we would, of course, reject it. Ms. Koire’s book will open your eyes to what is really behind all of this pleasant talk about “walkable cities”, “greenbelts” and “smart growth”  Everyone needs to read this book so that they can see what is really behind the Green Mask and stand up to it while there is still time.

Rosa’s videos

Sustainable Subversion! Guest Dr. Michael Coffman on AxXiom For Liberty Live tonight 6-8 PM CT

Friday July 1, 2011

Tonight Howard and I will be interviewing a very special guest, Dr. Michael Coffman.

Listen Live from 6-8 pm CT on Rule of Law Radio

Dr. Coffman has a Ph. D in ecosystem analysis and climatology and has been studying the United Nation’s Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development since it was first presented to the world in 1992 at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.

Dr. Coffman is probably best known for his Biodiversity map, the product of 2 years of research, which was delivered to the US Senate by Coffman and three other esteemed gentlemen just one hour before they were to vote on the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (often referred to as the “Biodiversity Treaty”) which aimed to set aside nearly 50 percent of US land for wilderness preserves.  That map and other documentation was responsible for exposing and thwarting the plan.

For more about the Convention on Biological Diversity , the Wildlands Project and Agenda 21, please see “Taking Liberty”

Taking Liberty is a comprehensive look at the lower 48 states showing, region by region, how the Environmental Movement is rapidly abolishing Private Property in America.

Link

Dr. Coffman is also a successful author and his newest book, Rescuing a Broken America: Why America is Deeply Divided and How to Heal it Constitutionally, is a one that should be on every concerned American’s bookshelf. (More books by Dr. Michael Coffman)

Central Oklahoma Going “Metro”?

Kaye Beach

May 30,2011

Regional Governance, also called “New Regionalism” or Metro Government,  is getting a boost from the federal government with the passage of the Livable Communities Act which made law a partnership between HUD, US DOT, and the EPA.  The Livable Communities Act  created a new office within HUD, called the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. This office is  distributing billions to local governments through Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants.

The Move to Regional Government

In most U.S. cities, the smart-growth coalition described in the preceding section has little political power over the suburbs. Most suburbs have a long history of resisting annexation or merger with their central cities. To overcome that resistance, smart growth advocates support regional government agencies with authority over both the central city and the suburbs.

Some writers are explicit that the purpose of regional government is to prevent local areas from democratically resisting smart-growth proposals.

Douglas Porter (1991) of the Urban Land Institute writes “about the gap between the daily mode of living desired by most Americans and the mode that most city planners and traffic engineers believe is most appropriate” (65), He supports “regional agencies [with] substantial powers to influence local decision making on land use issues”

. . .a regional government made up of local government representatives “can take controversial stands without making its individual members commit themselves to those stands. Each member can claim that ‘the organization’ did it or blame all the other members”

Is Urban Planning Creeping Socialism?  O’Toole

Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant

On October 14, 2010, HUD announced that it is awarding nearly $100 million in Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants to support more livable and sustainable communities across the country. Forty-five regional areas will receive funding through a new initiative intended to build economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.

HUD press release: HUD Awards Nearly $100 Million in New Grants to Promote Smarter and Sustainable Planning for Jobs and Economic Growth

In addition to helping to push sustainable development policies that run counter to the tradition and law of the US, the grant also makes it a point to reinforce regional governance mechanisms. Only “multijurisdictional and multi-sector partnership consisting of a consortium of governmental entities and non-profit partners.” are eligible.

Regional governance makes government more remote from the people and sets up numerous boards, councils and commissions of unelected bureaucrats.

Charlotte Iserbyte, in her book “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” writes,

THE DAILY WORLD OF NOVEMBER 8, 1975 CARRIED A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE ENTITLED “Planning Is Socialism’s Trademark” by Morris Zeitlin.

We have no regional government and no comprehensive regional planning to speak of. Regional government and planning remain concepts our urban scholars and planners have long advocated in vain….

. . .In socialist countries, metropolitan regions enjoy metropolitan regional government and comprehensive planning.

. . .The economic and functional efficiencies and the social benefits that comprehensive national, regional and city planning make possible in socialist society explain the Soviet Union’s enormous and rapid economic and social progress.

The Daily World (newspaper of the Communist Party USA) was formerly known as The Daily Worker and was founded in 1924.

The importance of this article lies in its blatant admission that regionalism, which is gradually becoming the accepted method of unelected governance in the United States (unelected councils and task forces, participatory democracy, public-private partnerships, etc.) is the form of government used in democratic socialist and communist countries.

(Page 134 of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Iserbyte)

On August 10, 2010 the City of Norman, Oklahoma passed a Resolution in support of ACOG’s (Association of Central Oklahoma Governments) application for federal money under the Sustainable Communities Initiative that would be used to create a regional plan for Sustainable Development.

In a paper entitled,  The Promise and Perils of “New Regionalist” Approaches to Sustainable Communities, Lisa T. Alexander writes;

“The Grant Program’s unique targeting of regions as sites for regulatory reform, as well as its multijurisdictional and multisectoral emphasis, make it an example of what scholars and policymakers call “New Regionalism.”

The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program is an attempt by the Obama Administration to resurrect federal incentives to facilitate regional collaboration as a condition to receive federal funding

Yet, other than the 1960’s housing and transportation programs mentioned previously, there is little precedent in our federalist system for this type of federal/regional regulatory cooperation.

 http://ssrn.com/abstract=1818030

Councils of Government and Metropolitan Planning Organizations

ACOG, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments applied for funds from HUD’s Communities Regional Planning Grant.

ACOG Seeks Partners for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Program

Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) is seeking regional partners for the new HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program

To kick things off, on July 19 ACOG hosted a Sustainable Communities Workshop on the Chesapeake Energy campus.

According to HUD, the regional planning grants will be awarded competitively to regional partnerships consisting of state and local governments, MPOs, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations.

Read more

The consensus seems to be that Metropolitan Planning Organizations are the natural choice as a vehicle for regional governance and that coordination of land use transportation, housing and economic development are the areas of society that must be integrated. 

“Responsible for planning and programming transportation investments, metropolitan planning organizations [MPOs] are the most widespread form of regional governance in the United States today”…. Myron Orfield  American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality, (The Brookings Institution Press,Washington, D.C., 2002), p. 137

ACOG is one of eleven regional councils of government in Oklahoma and one of only two that is a federally recognized as an MPO, a Metropolitan Planning Organization.

With only a few unique exceptions nationwide (such as the MPO in Portland, Oregon), MPO policy committee members are not elected directly by citizens. Rather, a policy committee member typically is an elected or appointed official of one of the MPO’s constituent local jurisdictions.

From Wikipedia

Of course, federal money will be provided for this endeavor and as shown above, federal money is contingent upon the regionalist approach to these endeavors which largely bypasses both the participation and notice of the average taxpayer.

From an editorial in the CHATTANOOGA NEWS-FREE PRESS of November 18, 1972, about the perils of accepting federal funding for local needs;

“Philosophically, local governmental dependence upon federal grants through revenue sharing lessens the independence of action and decision by local government, thus becoming… (a) threat to the degree of freedom we have experienced and should guard carefully.”

In the future, State and local governments will look to the federal government to provide them with funds rather than to their own initiative. As a consequence, they will become increasingly more dependent upon the federal government and increasingly more impotent themselves.

Forcing Change

Sustainable communities present three problems:

(1) the initiative for a community to become a sustainable community almost always comes from outside the community;

(2) the comprehensive plan through which a community is transformed into a sustainable community always infringes, and in many instances completely destroys, private property rights; and

(3) the local community rarely knows anything about the plan until it reaches the final stages of adoption

This process, of course, is by design. In communities that have been transformed, individuals may discover that they cannot build a house for grandma on five acres of their own land because the county’s comprehensive plan requires no more than one home per 40-acres. Many communities discover that their comprehensive plan includes a provision to incorporate by reference the entire set of 13 different codes developed by the International Code Council. Each of these codes amounts to government dictating human behavior.

These codes go far beyond building and fire safety codes. They include: residential, property maintenance, energy conservation, wildland interface, and other behavior modification codes.

. . .Sustainable development is coming to your community, or is already there. Your property rights have been diminished, or soon will be. The only way to protect your community and your property and profit is to reject the entire concept of government-dictated land use and behavior codes.

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing-change/010/11-sustainable.htm

Is Urban Planning “Creeping Socialism”?

Kaye Beach

May 21, 2011

The following paper deals mostly with urban and suburban physical planning and exposes some of the most glaring aspects of the flawed logic of smart growth.

It is one of the most coherent articles on the topic that I have found and I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to understand things like how in the world increasing density in a city is supposed to reduce congestion and pollution.

And if you ask the planners,  they tell you things like this;

Myth: SmartCode increases traffic congestion.
Truth: SmartCode uses narrower (but straighter) streets and on-street parking to slow traffic. While you might think this would increase congestion, just about everything you need on a daily basis would be in/near your neighborhood, so why drive to, say, the grocery store when you can walk or bike safely to it? Having neighborhood schools and reliable public transit to employment centers could eliminate the need to drive on a daily basis altogether

Link

Now this is how I used to handle my kids when they would ask questions that I would  rather not answer. Redirection and suggestion are powerful tactics when you are dealing with children.  I don’t know how long that is going to  hold with taxpaying adults but let me venture a guess.  About as long as it takes for the nonsense to come to their neighborhood.

Trying to understand “smart growth” has made me about as frustrated as trying to understand how spending money keeps you from going bankrupt

or how the tax system is voluntary but not really.

I guess that’s why we need to leave all of this complicated stuff to the experts.

Is Urban Planning “Creeping Socialism”?

by Randall O’Toole

Socialism is commonly defined as government ownership of the means of pro
duction. With the exception of a number of services that are viewed as natural
monopolies, such as sewer and water supplies, socialism in the form of government ownership has never achieved prominence in the United States. Instead, governments here have relied on regulation as a way of obtaining the same goals that socialists claim to seek: efficiency, equality, and control of externalities. If this approach is socialism, then urban planning has represented creeping socialism since around 1920. But it has recently accelerated and is now running rather than creeping.
Moreover, it has such a head start that lovers of freedom may not be able to halt it, much less turn it around.

Read More

Private Property Ownership in Oklahoma Barrier to Sustainable Development

Kaye Beach

May 9, 2011

If you are looking for some clarity regarding the confusing cacophony surrounding “Sustainability” efforts in Oklahoma, you should read this.

In 2004 The Oklahoma Academy set their sights on Oklahoma’s Environment: Pursuing A Responsible Balance, a 208 page compilation of essays, opinions and ideas given by experts covering sustainability issues mostly in the context of gaining acceptance for Sustainable Development practices.

The Oklahoma Academy report addresses the definition of sustainability in the second essay, Moving Toward Sustainable Progress by Will Focht

The most commonly cited definition of sustainability was offered in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”


The Brundtland Commission is the unofficial name of the World Commission on Environment and Development, which was chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland , a former prime minister of Norway. Created as an independent commission in response to a United Nations General Assembly resolution of 1983, the body was given the general mandate of proposing ways in which the international community could achieve sustainable development that would both protect the environment and fulfill the aspirations of the poorer countries for economic development.   From Answers.com

For the truth about Sustainable Development, I recommend Understanding Sustainable Development For the People and their Public Officials by Freedoms Advocates

www.freedomsadvocates.org

Sustainable Development has become a “buzz” term that refers to a political agenda, rather than an objectively sustainable form of development. Specifically, it refers to an initiative of the United Nations (U.N.) called Sustainable Development Agenda 21. Sustainable Development Agenda 21 is a comprehensive statement of a political ideology that is being progressively infused into every level of government in America.

Taken from Understanding Sustainable Development For the People and their Public Officials

Further into the Oklahoma Academy report, the problem of private land ownership is addressed.  The problem is, according to this report, is that too much of it is privately owned in Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma, which ranked number forty-two in 1995 among the fifty states in percentage of land owned by Federal and State governments (National Wilderness Institute 1995). Only eight states had more land under private ownership than Oklahoma. “

Beth Schaefer Caniglia, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sociology at Oklahoma State University and member of the Board for the Oklahoma Sustainability Network gives her advice to overcoming  the  “long-standing sentiments regarding private property rights as symbols for democracy and freedom” held by Oklahomans.

“Many landowners resist the perceived slippery slope of conservation mandates and retreat behind constitutional takings provisions, . . .”

 

The Constitution protects property rights mainly through the Fifth Amendment’s Takings or Just Compensation Clause: ‘‘nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.’’

link

Drawing upon her experience as a “consultant for the NGO Steering Committee to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development”, Ms. Caniglia offers some suggestions to overcome the problems that arise from the friction between sustainable development goals and the rights of property owners.

 

“These recommendations flow from my scholarly and professional experience as an environmental sociologist studying sustainable development policy making at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and in various sectors of society.  They are also informed by my involvement in Oklahoma sustainability-related organizations and initiatives”

Oklahoma, according to Ms. Caniglia, need some work on its “cultural framework”, noting that

“Recent decades have witnessed increasingly heated debate over efforts designed to harmonize environmental protection mandates with private property rights.”

Ms. Caniglia comforts sustainable development enthusiast by pointing out that,

“Oklahoma is not unique in its need to reconcile sustainable ecological management with private property rights, since Texas, Nebraska and Indiana, among others have even higher percentages of land under private ownership.”

Specifically she recommends work in three areas to aid in adjusting Oklahoma’s faulty cultural framework.

Recommendation #1:Facilitate Place-based Environmental Education for All Citizens in Oklahoma

Recommendation #2: Increase the Scope and Authority of Citizen Engagement in the Creation of Oklahoma Sustainable Land Management Policies

Recommendation #3: Calibrate the Creation of Collaborative Comprehensive Plans and Implementation of Land Use Standards

But education alone is not enough…

“Unfortunately, education alone is not enough to overcome the adversarial character that often pervades discussions of private property rights and sustainable ecosystem management trade-offs, . . .”  (See some of Ms. Caniglia’s other work below)

Understand that “citizen engagement” is not for the purpose of giving you a voice-you already have one.  It’s called the US Constitution which guarantees your natural right to own your property.  This is the law (bastardized though it has been)

Citizen engagement is to give them the chance to change your mind.

“There is an oft-heard adage that planning is neither a highly respected nor a politically powerful field in our state. Such an argument deserves consideration, since comprehensive planning is cited by the World Health Organization, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 as central to the achievement of sustainable development, including public health, profitable industrial growth, and ecosystem integrity.”

Ms. Caniglia correctly recognizes that due to the high percentage of private property ownership in the great State of Oklahoma, there is no way around the citizens.

“With the ownership of our lands predominately private, we can best foster sustainable ecosystem management by engaging our landowners in the process.”

Ms. Caniglia proposes to “surmount the radical flanks of private property rights” by  educating,  visioning, dialoging,  and facilitating  the people of Oklahoma into  a more “balanced” perspective of their natural and legal right to ownership of property which really means behaviorally engineering you into fatally compromising an essential human right that undergirds all others-the right to work, acquire and own and use and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

“Given that citizen landowners continue to be engaged in the comprehensive planning process more than many other citizen engagement opportunities, they should be a focus of our efforts to harmonize private property interests with sustainable land management.”

Here is what the proponents of sustainable development always seem to miss;

“One of the most fundamental requirements of a capitalist economic system—and one of the most misunderstood concepts—is a strong system of property rights. For decades social critics in the United States and throughout the Western world have complained that “property” rights too often take precedence over “human” rights, with the result that people are treated unequally and have unequal opportunities. Inequality exists in any society. But the purported conflict between property rights and human rights is a mirage. Property rights are human rights.”

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PropertyRights.html

I encourage everyone to read Ms. Caniglia’s short article.  It begins on page 74 of the Oklahoma Academy’s Town Hall publication of 2004.

http://www.okacademy.org/2004_research.pdf

You may also want to become familiar with the Oklahoma Academy as they are involved in many interesting projects aimed at policy development and have been since the 1980’s.

http://www.okacademy.org/

The Oklahoma Academy’s paper came out in 2004.  Overall, I would bet that they are pleased with the progress on “sustainability” since then.  The federal government is working hand in glove with non-government organizations all over the state giving the whole movement in Oklahoma a real boost.

Here is just one example;

ACOG Association of Central Oklahoma Governments

ACOG is one of 11 Councils of Governments in the State of Oklahoma, and one of several hundred planning organizations across the country.

http://www.acogok.org/About_ACOG/

Board of Directors

http://www.acogok.org/About_ACOG/Board_of_Directors.asp

“. . .regional sustainability planning is ACOG’s latest project!”

Grassroots to massroots

OKC Downtown Monthly – October 2010

. . It takes brave, fearless leaders to tread into the collaborative world of sustainability planning. One such remarkable group is the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). ACOG is a voluntary association of city, town and county governments within the central Oklahoma area, including Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan Counties

. . .This kind of coordination among so many member municipalities is really very cool. Also, ACOG’s structure, functions and level of partner participation make it the perfect mechanism for coordinating regional sustainability efforts. And regional sustainability planning is ACOG’s latest project!

. . .In the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress provided a total of $150 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a Sustainable Communities Initiative.

. . .But how do we get some of that $100 million, you might ask? Well, ACOG is writing a grant application, of course! ACOG’s regional sustainability planning will mean that citizens from ACOG member cities such as Luther, Jones, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma City, Moore, Slaughterville and Newcastle will leave their comfortable city “bubble” to meet and greet citizens from other municipalities to collaborate in developing sustainable plans to benefit us all.

. . .ACOG’s work on these planning efforts folds perfectly into the ongoing efforts of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and our municipal sustainability commissions.

Read more

ACOG is a member of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)

“The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) serves as the national voice for regionalism.”


National Associations Congratulate HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Awardees

WASHINGTON, DC (October 14, 2010) – The National League of Cities (NLC), National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), Smart Growth America (SGA), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) congratulate the cities, towns, communities and regions which today were awarded Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

One last thought.

“The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.


Other works of Ms Caniglia;

Informal Alliances vs. Institutional Ties: The Effect of Elite Alliances on Environmental TSMO Networks  http://www.mobilization.sdsu.edu/articleabstracts/061caniglia.html

“Caniglia  found that transnational environmental organizations with informal ties to international agencies played more central roles in transnational social movement networks by helping channel information and pressure among disconnected social actors.”

Handbook of Social Movements Across Disciplines pg 47

Globalization and Resistance: Transnational Dimensions of Social Movements

(As a contributor)

http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com/Catalog/SingleBook.shtml?command=Search&db=^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742519899&thepassedurl=[thepassedurl]

Holt It! Donna Digs into Sustainable Devopment

Donna Holt is working on stopping damaging sustainable development policies in VA. She covers the history of this movement and demonstrates how foreign policies find their way into US policy and implementation at the local level.

Here is a segment of her very well laid out research;

The History of Sustainable Development – Connecting the Dots

Sun, 10/17/2010 –  Donna Holt

Sustainable development was brought to America when President Clinton (initiator) initiated the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. This decision-making committee began with Agenda 21 as its proposal. Its goal was to translate Agenda 21 into public policy.

An early achievement of the council was the development of 16 “We Believe” statements among which is No. 8.

“We need a new collaborative decision process that leads to better decisions, more rapid change, and more sensible use of human, natural, and financial resources in achieving our goals.”

This new collaborative process is the “consensus process”.

The PCSD operated from 1993 – 1999. Their first major publication was “Sustainable America – A New Consensus”. It contained more than 150 policy recommendations taken directly from Agenda 21.

At the eleventh meeting of the council, after the recommendations had been developed, then Secretary of the Dept. Of Commerce, Ron Brown, said that his agency could implement 67% of the recommendations administratively using rule making authority. Other department secretaries reported similar numbers.

The recommendations covered a wide range of public policies. Among the most important are land use policies. Sustainable America says:

“Private land use decisions are often driven by strong economic incentives that result in several ecological or aesthetic consequences… The key to overcoming it is through public policies…(p.112).”

The 1990’s saw an expansion of government control of land use. In 1997, the federal government already owned about 1/3 of all the land in America. State and local governments owned another 10%. The federal government designated and expanded 21 National Monuments, designated 43 million acres of “roadless” areas, and appropriated millions in grants to states and local governments and land trusts for the purpose of acquiring more private property. These activities were promoted by the land management agencies, all members of the PCSD.

Millions in grants were awarded to the American Planning Association between 1997 – 2000. The EPA and other agencies issued millions more in challenge grants to local governments and organizations for “visioning” projects.

During the 1990’s there emerged a rash of visioning projects in towns and cities across the nation. They were typically called something like “Yourtown 2020”. They were all the result of the PCSD and funded by grants by an agency of the government who was a member of the PCSD.

The EPA, for example, would issue challenge grants for visioning projects to NGO’s (non-government organizations) and to local governments. The grant recipient would designate an initiator who would select the visioning council. Those selected would be politicians, agency bureaucrats, bankers, NGO leaders, and Businessmen. Those selected would be known in advance to support the goals of the initiator and most stand to gain financially from the implementation of the goals.

To spread this process across the country, the EPA coordinated a Smart Growth Network consisting of dozens of non-government organizations which included:

• American Planning Association
• The Conservation Fund
• The Natural Resources Defense Council
• The Sierra Club

All of these organizations have promoted government control of land use since the 1976 U.N. conference.

In each of the communities where visioning councils were established, their starting proposal was the recommendations of the PCSD. Their objective was to:

• Present PCSD recommendations as local goals for the community
• Through the consensus process, remove any objections that might arise
• Develop specific recommendations to achieve goals

The result became the “Yourtown 2020 Plan of Action”.

This process takes typically 12 – 18 months during which the local initiator begins to issue press releases and to involve local media to introduce the idea of building a sustainable community. The idea is to build so much public support for the sustainable community as defined by the “Yourtown 2020 Plan of Action”, that elected officials will have no choice but to rubber stamp it.

Funding continues to flow from government agencies to local governments and non-government organizations for the purpose of implementing sustainable development. For example, HUD’s Sustainable Community Regional Planning has recently awarded nearly $100 million for innovative regional planning proposals.

Hundreds of NGO’s were funded to launch the “visioning process” in communities across the country. An NGO (initiator) will begin the visioning process by carefully selecting representatives from various stakeholder groups (environment, business, education, agriculture, government) to serve as the visioning committee or council. Those chosen to serve on this council are well-vetted and known to support the goals of sustainable development.

Read the whole report

Smart Growth – meaningful mandates for people with too much freedom.

The American Dream Coalition presents;

Happy Smart Growth

Featuring Biff Fantastic – national pitchman for Happy Smart Growth!

“Hi, Biff Fantastic here for Happy Smart Growth – meaningful mandates for people with too much freedom.

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