Regional housing plan splits elected leaders

by Gennady Sheyner : paloaltoonline – excerpt

Casa Compact aims to promote new housing while overriding local authority

A sweeping package of proposals to preserve and expand the Bay Area’s housing stock by passing new renter protections, loosening zoning restrictions and expediting the approval process for residential developments is making its way to the state Legislature despite a flurry of opposition from local leaders, many of whom decry the proposed policies as unfair, anti-democratic and potentially counterproductive.

Known as the “Casa Compact,” the plan was hashed out over an 18-month period by a committee created by the regional agencies Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which focus on housing and transportation policies. The Casa Steering Committee, whose roster includes area council members, developers, planners, union leaders and representatives from large employers such as Google, Facebook and Genentech, voted unanimously on Dec. 12 to approve the new document. The MTC board followed suit with its own approval, by an 11-4 vote, on Dec. 19. The ABAG executive board is expected to follow suit shortly…

The compact has won the support of some elected leaders, including Schaaf, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and San Francisco Mayor London Breed (all three sat on the Casa Steering Committee). Yet the push for more state regulations has also galvanized pockets of oppositions, with many mayors of smaller cities and towns submitting letters that bemoan their own lack of involvement in the discussion. By imposing these policies, critics maintain, the package of laws threatens to upend existing efforts by cities to promote housing… (more)

There are good and bad things about globalization. Many people are concerned about climate change and want to support logical, well thought-out government policies, but, nobody wants to be forced into changes against their will or blind-sided by backroom government deals, which is what the CASA Compact feels like to the few people who are aware of it. That is why the bills being pushed in Sacramento this year will face a stronger resistance than they faced last year.

We have seen the future in our backyards and many oppose it and the politicians who brought it to us. In San Francisco, the YIMBYs lost every district they ran to represent. People who live in the small high-rise units in the transit-rich zones, appear to hate those neighborhoods. “Everyone needs to share the pain,” does not resonate very well with non-masochists.

Once you have lost the trust and hearts and minds of the communities who are living with constant stress and fear of displacement, you can no longer represent the populations that see governments partnering with corporations at their expense.

Something has to change, and it is easier to replace a few government officials than to change society. Our problem is to find good honest people to run for office who will not be bought out by the corporate greed and a hunger for more political power and control.

The language has changed along with a demand for instant answers to complex solutions. Cities that used to sell homes, unique cultures, and lifestyles are now pitching jobs, housing units, public transportation and digital toys. What is wrong with a society that relies on digital identities and communication and data at the expense of real relationships and understanding?


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