City Journal Winter 2014

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Roger Valdez
Green vs. Green « Back to Story

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Roger, you are working with Smart Growth now. Property developer Dan Duffus is funding it. Your words are being used to maximize profits for Seattle developers and you know that. So I am a little confused on what your are going to get out of it. If you look to Portland or Vancouver BC. They have Smart Growth. Not Seattle's explotitaion of zoning loopholes which do not take into account the property rights of existing neighbors.

And why aren't you talking about some of the neighborhoods that have exceeded their density numbers according to the growth plan.
Apology--didn't show at first... (interface not easy to see)
Why didn't you post my comment?
Your article in inaccurate in a number of respects. Here are a few:

1. Not all neighbors opposed the LBPP amendments needed by the Stone34 project. In fact, my neighborhood council (FNC) strongly supported the project, and I provided some key analysis used by the City Council (Richard Conlin in particular) to justify the 9-0 vote in favor of the amendment. And I'm regularly cast in with the awful NIMBY crowd you consistently rant against!

2. You state that the LBPP amendment is a "modest additional exemption." While I supported the Stone34 project (because I think the project fits well on the site and will not cause significant adverse impacts on the neighbors), the amendments were not insignificant, and the South Wallingford neighbors who opposed them were well within their rights to complain about the City's process for making land use decisions. Maybe we can agree on that much, even if we disagree about the solutions.

3. You claim that neighborhood "intransigence is sabotaging housing supply in Seattle." Hogwash: seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2019251870_apartmentrentsxml html

4. You argue that Seattle "is a one-party city." Just because many (most?) of us are nominal Democrats doesn't mean we don't have other political fault lines. The very fact of a power struggle between downtown big-money interests and many people in the 'hoods means we are not a "one-party city." Similar struggles have played out in an even more "one-party city"; see www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/local/san_francisco html


You conclude "More markets and less regulation could make Seattle a truly sustainable city." You say something similar at your land use blog, where you also say your intent is "to promote sustainability and enthusiastically accept coming growth." "Sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. Or do you not think there are any limits to growth? Are you intentionally a servant of the "growth coalition" (Domhoff's term) that largely rules Seattle development and land use decisions, or is it just obliviousness to the consequences of the policies you promote?
Seattle commies and NIMBYs slamming each other? break out the popcorn! too droll for words.
Vancouver, BC is having very similar issues.
What happens in places like Seattle is that eventually the policies of Democratic politicians drive away commerce and destroy public education until you have a city like Detroit, or in my state, Trenton, Camden, Newark, Paterson et als. The city then becomes a drain on the surrounding areas, which is not what cities are all about.

It is a continuum, with places like Detroit and Camden the end result of Democratic policies. Without a media that points out what's really going on there is no check - the cities die slowly, painfully, with corruption taking the place of good government, and despite spending/wasting billions.

The point is this: you cannot have a thriving city in a place run by Democrats implementing Democratic policies - it just can't happen, it just won't work, it will never and can never happen - never. Those policies are far too detrimental in every aspect of governance and community life - education, economy, family the whole mishpucha.

In mu state the best example is Newark - most of this city died after the 1967 (68?) riots. Despite millions if not billions spent for sports facilities, for commercial and residential buildings, for education, for transportation, for everything you could possibly think of, the city is no better off now than it was 40+ years ago. All that money and you still can't walk down South Orange Avenue at 10 PM.

Furthermore, there is clear connection between Democratic policies and the failure of city government, the failure of communities, and all the rest BUT without a media out there reporting what any rational person knows nothing changes. There will never be a "Frontline" or "60 Minutes" or anything else detailing the failure of Democratic policies in the cities? (I'll leave off commenting on what Democratic policies have done to minority communities). Heck, you can't even find an acknowledgement that it was Republican Rudy Giuliani's policies (slavishly followed by Bloomberg)in New York City that saved New York from where it was headed under Dinkins and prior Democratic administrations - even though any New Yorker who was there knows that Giuliani prevented New York City from complete collapse. (New York will of course go right back to where it was once a Democratic mayor takes over from Bloomberg - it's inevitable). Giuliani's reward as a result of success at what has been called the "second hardest job in America" should have been a shot at the Presidency, but Democratic media prevented this using every mean trick possible, including attacking Giuliani's personal life - a dreadful irony given the same media's support of Bill Clinton, the admitted abuser of a young intern, convicted perjurer, disbarred attorney and accused rapist. The depravity of the the Democratic media is best illustrated by attempts to connect Giuliani's family to the mafia, which really illustrating the just how vile these people really are.

But I digress.

Without major media scrutiny the cities under Democratic control are doomed to a slow death, those who live in these cities doomed to impoverishment. The one party Democratic politics of most major United States cities make "change" an impossibility as these cities go from one incompetent leader to the next, while the communities are fed a constant stream of nonsense by a media that lost its ability to truly understand why conditions never improve - in fact, it's worse than that since major media has adopted a self censorship under the guise of political correctness.

The paragraph in the article on "good intentions" as to housing says it all, but I would dispute that these people have any good intentions - rather, they fully understand the effect of their policies, and also know that they will not be questioned about the effect of those policies.

More important, the cities under incompetent Democratic leadership will never know how much better it could be under more enlightened leadership. Aside from Giuliani, take the success of the 1996 (1995?) welfare reform law which stunned everyone. But, what was truly stunning was that no one in the media pointed the finger at those Democratic miscreants who had doomed two generations to impoverishment and dependence under the old law - and needless to say, the Republicans were never given credit for the vast improvement to people's lives under the new law. In short, you find few examples in the media of how good it is for cities lucky enough to escape Democratic leadership - the still very powerful Democratic media is studiously silent about those examples.

It's a depressing picture, and there isn't much hope for change - in fact, as I've argued in other contexts, change is precisely what Democrats fervently seek to prevent. By staying the course Democrats are fully aware that their policies drive out and silence those who question what is going on, who eventually leave, which consolidates and entrenches power in those remaining.

And when it comes to politics, power, ability to give out patronage, is what it is all about. The difference is that Democrats have no interest in bettering the community - power IS the goal. I challenge anyone to defend Democratic policies in the cities over the last 40 years without using the standard defense tactic of changing the subject.

Liberals are the craziest peoples, totally NIMBY.
If you word-processed 'Auckland, New Zealand' for Seattle, the article would be virtually ready to print.
Ironically, it is the 'green' mayor pushing for increased density, public transport, cycleways etc who is being accused by the establishment of pushing up housing prices dramatically (we are in the Economist's top three, if not top, globally)to price first-time buyers out of the market.
Developers, like chameleons, turn 'green' overnight as they push for prestigious sustainable structures which have city officials falling out of bed to accommodate and encourage,without any real thought on how and where they should be, and what type of space needs they should be meeting. So the market is both a carrot and a stick. Egos abound.
I will wager that it's not the "green" aspect of these projects that the neighborhoods object to.

In the area where I live, the Seattle has rezoned the neighborhood to add over 1000 new residential units within a 4-block radius over the last 3 years. There is no lack of development here.

Our infrastructure wasn't designed to handle this level of density, and nothing is being done to alleviate the problems.

All the newcomers bring cars, but the city allows developers to skimp on "costly" minimum parking spaces for the new units.

Existing homeowners feel their property values and quality of life are being destroyed, and rightly so.

Wealthy neighborhoods have hired full time advocates and attorneys to protect them from the city and its "Committee on the Built Environment" i.e., helping developers help themselves to the neighborhoods.

Lower and mid-income neighborhoods are blindsided, although the city does listen to residents before running over them.