While we are watching Osama Obama insanity and Trump or no Trump speculations, our local governments are busy trying to pull a fast one right in our own backyards. The 'fast one' is the adoption of plans from "supposed" consensus, without public referendum, and without the voters realizing the serious implications of these plans.
Next week there will be a local vote by our city council on a 2020 Vision Plan for our city. If you look online there is a 2020 Vision Plan for cities in all states across the nation. It may be dated 2030, or 2015, or 2035. It may be called a "Comprehensive Plan, or a Vision Statement." This "Plan" is showing up in small cities and big cities all across the nation. And they all say pretty much the same things. And the fact that they all promote nearly identical guidelines and principles should be a red flag to any red-blooded American.
The Vision Statements or Comprehensive Plans are written deliberately with vague language that sounds like an environmentalist's wish list. All of them, without fail, include language derived from the EPA and Smart Growth. For instance, you will see phrases such as "best management practices." Where does that phrase come from? Smart Growth. What is Smart Growth? It is a theory of environmentalism developed by central planners based on the United Nations' plan for global control of sovereign nations called Agenda 21. It has been adopted as the preferred Federal money granting tool of the EPA, DOT, and HUD. Smart Growth is a plan to create high density mega-cities using infill development practices, thereby limiting the supposedly evil practice of "urban sprawl." The infill high density development practices are intended to create wildlife corridors where human activity is limited. What it actually does is create limited living space for humans, make open space off limits to human development, and restrict automobile travel by funding light rail rather than roads, create precedent for takings of private property, among other things.
The catch phrases are many, including "sustainability, livable cities, walkable communities, connectivity, stakeholder councils, consensus statements, mixed use development, regional governments," and more. The proposed benefits are supposedly clean air and water, lower ozone, green environments, equality, affordability, and lots of other nice sounding promises. Envision people jam-packed in high density housing piled on top of each other, higher taxes, and higher costs of living, The actual outcome of Smart Growth is far different than is advertised. The actual outcome is more like your worst nightmare with draconian zoning restrictions, more traffic congestion, less available land, and lots of money spent on indoctrination "educating" people on how great Smart Growth is.
What does this have to do with the Gastonia 2020 Plan - A Vision For Our Future? The Gastonia 2020 Plan explicitly cites Smart Growth as the guideline for the Plan. By passing a 2020 Plan drawn up by central planners, our council is basically deeming itself irrelevant. How is that? Because the 2020 Plans are written to be compliant with regional governments who are unelected by local voters. Regional governments are all on board with Smart Growth. By turning over local responsibility for local planning to a central planner from a regional government, the door is wide open for the States and the Feds to walk right in with Smart Growth laws. The 2020 Plan is written by planners who are all on board with Smart Growth. Our council has turned over its elected responsibility to do its own research and planning by handing over their jobs to some unelected boards and councils. All our council has to do is sit there and listen to the proponents of Smart Growth and pass the plan, thinking the grant money will start rolling in. The council has not asked for alternative plans from any other independent planners who might have a different vision to present. In short, our council is about to pass a Smart Growth Vision Plan for our city as a guideline for every aspect of our lives and use that plan as a regulatory tool, without referendum from the voters, without explanation of the consequences to property holders, and without concern for Constitutional liberty. The Gastonia 2020 Plan, just like the Carolina Thread Trail agreement, gives the mayor and the city council free reign to stomp all over private property rights and local voter control using Smart Growth as the jack-boot.
Council members will tell you the 2020 Plan is not written in stone. They will tell you Smart Growth is not yet law. However, the 2020 Plan and Smart Growth are what is called "soft law." What that means is the 2020 Plan is used as a regulatory tool to be used by the council until they, or the State, or the Feds, decide to pass "hard law" based on Smart Growth, i.e. the 2020 Plan. The 2020 Plan is the proverbial "camel's nose under the tent." If it can be implemented locally, without referendum, without voter consent, it can be used as precedent for more draconian laws passed in the legislatures or by local councils as the public loses more and more say in the issues.
For a glimpse into how Smart Growth has worked out in Portland, Oregon, read below:
Smart Growth Plans Are A Failure in Portland, by Randall O'Toole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
"Smart-growth planners believe that Americans live the wrong way, and they use land-use regulation to impose on others what they believe is the right way to live. Surveys consistently show that all but 15 percent to 25 percent of Americans want to live in single-family homes with a yard, but planners think we would be better off if a much higher percentage lived in high-density apartments or condos."
"After the first high-density developments saturated the demand, planners supplemented land-use mandates with tax breaks, below-market land sales and other subsidies to developers who built high-density housing. This means Portland neighborhoods continue to be invaded by mid-rise and high-rise developments, even though there is no more demand for dense housing."
"Increased densities destroyed the small-town atmosphere that once made Portland attractive. Congestion is worse, housing and consumer costs are high, and urban services such as fire, police and schools have declined as the city took money from these programs to subsidize high-density developers."
I urge the Gastonia City Council to step back from this 2020 Plan and begin doing the real work they are elected to do by researching and presenting to the public real plans that include the voters consent, not just some hand-picked "stakeholders." I also urge citizens of Gastonia to let this Mayor and Council know that we will not be turning over our liberties to an unelected regional government or central planners from the Federal government or the United Nations.
“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.
American Planning Assoc. Smart Growth Plan Is Just Plain Dumb