The article is basically a lament about how difficult it is for low- and middle-income people to buy a home in Orange County, about the inadequate supply of affordable, blah, blah, blah.
Why doesn't the Times write a story on why that is so? Because it would 1) require that the reporter have some grasp of basic economics and 2) call into question the wisdom of public policy decisions that elevate wildlife above the human need for home ownership -- the latter being an bedrock of stable, civilized society.
It isn't rocket science. There is only so much land upon which to build homes. When that supply dwindles, the value of the remaining land increases -- especially when it is located in an area as dersirable as Orange County. When vast tracts of land are set aside as open space, wildlife corridors, greenbelts, amber waves of grain, whatever -- that diminishes the supply of land on which homes can be built, and at the same time increasing the value of that land.
In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The only thing these NIMBYs who want to "Save The (insert previously ignored natural feature to be exploited to block housing development)" accomplish is to make it harder for young families to enjoy the blessings of home ownership. It's the developers' land, anyway -- right? It doesn't cost the public anything if they are forced to set aside their land for open space, right?
Much as I dislike organized environmentalism as anthithetical to property rights and individual liberty, the fault lies not entirely with the nujobs who jump and scream anytime anyone wants to turn a few hundred scare feet of scrubland...excuse me, "wilderness"...into a home for an actual human being. It lies with the ordinary citizens who support setting aside thousands of acres of perfectly good land as "open space" -- and then complain about high home prices and small lot sizes. [NOTE: when exactly did Americans decide wilderness was something to be preserved instead of tamed?]
It's comical to read quotes from affordable housing activists in articles like this one, calling for more low-cost housing. I agree with their goals -- enabling more families to own their own home -- but shake my head at their child-like belief that government can simply mandate such housing into existence. This, in turn, belies their own ignorance of such immutable factors as the law of supply and demand, the costs imposed by environemntal laws, local government builder fees, the extortion practiced by local governments upon developers, etc.
These activists seem to view developers they same way they view government -- as a bottomless pit of money, organizations upon which endless demands for money can be made, without jeopardizing their solvency.
The odd thing about this wooing is the Lincoln-JuarezCenter gives nary a hint that it is affiliated with the GOP. According to the article, the only visible links to the GOP are some presidential portraits and a reference to "The Party of Lincoln" (which assumes immigrants to this country know which party that is). How do you court an ethnic group if they don't know they are being courted? Isn't that a bit like asking for a woman's hand in marriage without ever actually proposing to her?
Call me crazy, but this strikes me as a waste of half a million dollars. If these New Majority and Lincoln Club guys want Latinos to join the Republican Party, a good start would be to stop acting like they are embarrassed about being Republicans themselves.
Time to plow through the blog backlog.Job has been too too busy to allow blogging, and been too too tired to blog when I get home. So here we go.
Yesterday, the OCTA Board, on an 8-3 vote, re-affirmed its fear of letting the people it purports to serve have any say on the CenterLine project for which they are paying hundreds of millions of dollars.Keep that in mind next time OCTA light rail zombies maintain that polling shows Orange Countians support CenterLine – or, as OCTA now calls it, the CenterLine “starter” line (because there is more light rail insanity to come!).
Jim Silva voted against an advisory vote, which pretty much precludes the Board of Supervisors from voting to schedule such a vote. This is disappointing, since Silva last week raised hopes he might give the voters a say. I’m still scratching my head over how Silva explains his vote yesterday with his comments last week that "It's quite obvious that CenterLine has four flat tires and a dead battery." Too bad. Silva’s a good man. I’ll keep my fingers crossed he’ll change his mind.
Anyone who believes the laughable notion that CenterLine will relieve congestion or come even remotely close to meeting readership projections should read this story from today’s Left Angeles Times, in which the reporter explains why he is abandoning the LA Metro’s Gold Line and returning to his car for the Pasadena to Downtown L.A. commute. That route makes much more sense in terms of light rail than a trolley down Bristol Street, yet Gold Line ridership is only 50% of projections.
Instead of CenterLine, I think OCTA would have as much or more impact on congestion if it contracted with Mr. Scott and the crew of the Enterprise to build a series of transporter beam stations throughout the county – and I say this even though Scotty was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
On a side note, the Register once again buried the CenterLine story in a tiny Page 2 blurb in the Local section, while the Times gave it the coverage it merits on B3.Story size aside, what I want to know is why these reporters never tell which elected official voted which way? Do they not think it is important for readers to know whether their elected officials think they deserve to a vote on CenterLine?For the record here’s how they voted:
Unafraid to let the voters have their say on CenterLine:
OC Supervisor Chris Norby
Orange Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Cavecche
Laguna Niguel Councilmember Cathryn DeYoung
Afraid Voters Will Tell Them They Can’t Have CenterLine for Christmas:
Drudge has posted a must-read transcript of the Bill O'Reilly-Michael Moore interview set to air today. If there is anyone who doubts Moore is a pathological liar, historical ignoramus and generally despicable egomaniac, they should read this interview. I haven't seen his propaganda piece "Farenheit 9/11," but then I've never seen "Triumph of the Will" either -- both of which are apparently sparkling cinematic lies.
Jim Silva seems poised to vote in favor of putting CenterLine on the ballot for an advisory vote.I disagree with Silva’s support of CenterLine, but at least he is honest enough to realize that it can’t be built right without federal funding, and long-term federal-funding will not happen unless OrangeCounty voters go on record in support of the project.
But this was obvious a year ago when Silva voted against putting CenterLine on the ballot. I’m curious as to what has changed his thinking on the matter.
Property rights ain’t what they used to be in this country. Not so many years ago, if you wanted to build on your property, you did so – as long as you didn’t break the law or violate the property rights of your neighbors. Otherwise, it was nobody else’s business.
Now, it is not only everyone’s business, but everyone thinks they have a right to sue you if they disagree with how you exercise your property rights.
It looks like “developer” Michael Harrah is the latest victim of this pernicious trend (I put "developer" in scare quotes because the word has been stripped of all virtue and moral standing, and is used by enviro loonies as shorthand for untrammeled-greed-at-the-expense-of-all-that-is-good-and-virtuous).He wants to build a 37-story business tower in downtown Santa Ana.God knows, Santa Ana needs it. The City Council just approved it.Unfortunately, NIMBYs are every now, even in Santa Ana, and some of them are vowing to sue over the usual litany of EIR nit-picking and an ostrich-like desire to stop time and keep things just the way they are.
Cool. OC Blog made The Buzz today (thank ye kindly, Martin Wisckol. Just for that OCR stays at the top of our helpful link list). Guess that means I should do some blogging. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let's talk about...OCTA!
Some of you may be thinking, "Hey Jubal. You've been kinda harsh on OCTA. What gives?"
Funny you should hypothetically ask that, because I'd like to make it clear, right here and now: I am not anti-OCTA. Quite the opposite. In some ways, OCTA embodies the best purposes of local government: building transportation infrastructure. It ain't sexy, but it built this country and helped make it great. It is such a bedrock function of government -- one of the very few governmental functions specifically spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.
Granted, I have doubts as to whether it should exist as an independent agency. I think it would be more responsive to the will of the people if it were a county agency under the control of 5 elected supervisors. But that's a conversation for another day.
I really do recommend taking a few minutes to read the OCTA's Annual Measure M Report. Sure it's a propaganda piece for renewing Measure M -- and it's a good propaganda piece. It also makes painfully clear why this obsession with CenterLine will cause long-term damage to a very necessary agency. Measure M gives the county a measure (no pun intended) of independence from the fluctuations and uncertainties of federal and state transportation funding.
Let me put it this way: OCTA receives (I believe) about 50% of its revenues from Measure M. Protecting and extending Measure M should be the strategic lens through which OCTA views every project. Will this project build or erode support for Measure M? That may strike some as cynical or overly political, but the unvarnished truth is that without Measure M, OCTA is a hollow agency completely dependent on the funding whims of Sacramento and Washington.
Orange Countians voted for Measure M because our freeways absolutely sucked in 1990. The 22 and 91 still suck (and so does the 55 for that matter), but the I-5 bears no resemblance to the crumbling, 3-lane, Los Angeles-looking mess it was back then. It is a much faster-flowing freeway now.Orange Countians know that is because of Measure M, and they want the same thing to happen to the 22, 91 and 55 freeways (and maybe they could take another crack at the Orange Crush, while they're at it. All those years of concrete and construction, and I'd swear they ended up with the same number of lanes).
Thsi blog is getting long, so let me try and wrap it up. If OCTA wants Measure M extended, they will shelve CenterLine, because there is no way in hell that 2/3 of OC voters are going to approve a light rail system that few of them will ride, and that will mainly provide competition for the bus system. They should then identify the next generation of freeway and street improvements -- big stuff like the 57 extension that will capture people’s imagination – and go to the voters with it, always reminding them of the great things OCTA has done with Measure M, and the great things they can still do to make the freeways move faster.
I can tell you that no one is sitting in traffic on the 57 thinking to themselves, "Man, I wish they had that CenterLine built!" But I'm sure many of those traffic-jammed motorists who are bound for Fountain Valley, or Huntington Beach or Costa Mesa would be thinking, as they force their way onto the 22 or I-5 connectors, "Man, I wish the 57 went all the way down to the 405!"
They might even get creative and write the Measure M renewal such to require regular (every few years or so) independent, outside audits that would make recommendations for streamlining OCTA operations and structure. Or maybe reforms that would speed up freeway construction -- maybe along the lines of the incentive bonuses Governor Wilson offered after the Northridge earthquake to contractors who finished freeway repairs ahead of schedule.
This kind of out-of-the-box thinking could go a long way toward reassuring OC voters that if they agree to pay the half-cent sales tax increase for another 20 years, it will be well spent.
And when the OCTA has widened every freeway and street that is humanly possible, then they should return to the voters and say, "Hey, we can't add anymore lanes if we wanted to. Now it's time to look at a comprehensive light-rail system."
Even then, I think they'd be hard-pressed to get the two-thirds necessary for renewing Measure M. But if they don't, I'd say a snowball in hell faces better odds.
Which would explain why the OCTA leadership's CenterLine political strategy has been "damn the voters, full speed ahead!"
It's too bad the OCTA leadership is so enthralled by the siren-song of CenterLine (at least, it's a siren-song to transit types like that), that they fail to see it is luring the OCTA ship inexorably towards wreckage on the rocks.
The Left Angeles Times ran an interesting account of the OCTA director’s 5-4 vote against putting CenterLine on the ballot. The Register, in an interesting display of news judgment, chose instead to bury the CenterLine vote at the end of an article about OCTA working out its spat with Garden Grove over the SR-22 project. And OCR failed, as in their initial website story, to mention the vote margin.I’m amazed at how often reporters will omit crucial things like the vote tally in local elections, as if there is no difference, in terms of news value, between a landslide and a nail biter.
Media criticism aside, the Times article contained some very entertaining arguments from CenterLine champion Miguel Pulido – auto mechanic, entrepreneur and long-time Mayor of Santa Ana.
Board member Miguel A Pulido…led the opposition [to an advisory vote], arguing that a ballot measure would be an unwise gamble because voters would probably reject the measure.
Especially when we’re so close to shoving it down the taxpayers throats without their consent!We can’t let those yokels jinx the deal! How else will I get OCTA to cover the tab for millions of dollars in street improvements for Bristol?
“It would be a terrible mistake…by voting to put it on the ballot, we kill the project,” said Pulido, who is the mayor of Santa Ana.
Responding to fellow OCTA board member Cathryn DeYoung’s contention that winning a CenterLine vote would strengthen OCTA’s efforts to win federal funding for the project, Pulido uttered another gem:
Pulido, however, said the OCTA can generate congressional support through continued lobbying. Allowing voters to decide the merits of CenterLine through an advisory measure would send the wrong signal, he said.
At least Pulido was candid and even logical - except for the weird belief they can gain the support of Chris Cox, Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, Darrell Issa and Gary Miller simply lobbying them enough. These guys face the voters every two years. They know their constituents aren’t clamoring for a light rail system. Besides, the OC delegation is inclined against this hugely expensive train set on philosophical principles – something that inexplicably continues to elude the OCTA leadership.
Tim Keenan, though, needs to take a reality pill.I predicted CenterLine supporters would cite their meaningless polls as proof an actual real-life vote was unnecessary, and Keenan did just that.
He then went on to say he believes OCTA can finish the Bristol Trolley using funds that will be available when voters extend Measure M.
Let’s see. Keenan is afraid to put CenterLine on the ballot because he’s afraid it won’t get the support of 50.1% of voters.At the same time, he believes 2/3 of those same voters will support extending Measure M’s half-cent sales tax (leaving aside for the moment that Measure M failed to make that threshold when it passed in 1990 under a different set of rules).
If Keenan believes that, I guess I’m not surprised he also believes in the Light Rail Fairy.