Time to get ramped-up
Our communities are experiencing an economic crisis rivaling the Great Depression. These are the times that demand bold action that rekindles our historic ideals of the common good.
Instead, candidate Virginia Bass — gathered with like-minded candidates Mike Newman, Marian Brady, Lance Madsen and Frank Jager — exult the qualities of “quiet determination…reasoned calm and positive attitudes that don’t get ramped-up on issues but calmly review them” (8-12-10 Times Standard).
This is the placid language of inaction familiar to Jager and Madsen who, as councilmembers decades ago, failed to ensure adequate installment funds to maintain our waste water system (most of the dramatic increases in our water/sewer bills are for deferred sewer system updates). Soothing voters with “quiet and calm” conceals candidate’s acquiescence to developments that dig deep into our pockets for infrastructure subsidies that enrich the few.
Communities worldwide share our dilemma — land barons, speculators, developers, brokers, Realtors, builders, insurance and property management industries coalesce to dominate the political agenda, and their unbridled greed has forced regulators to impose building moratoriums on local cities. Will Eureka be next?
Virginia Bass recently signed Eureka’s challenge against the Ridgewood Village subdivision in Cutten. However, during the June 18, 2009 Humboldt County Association of Governments meeting, Bass accused critics of Ridgewood Village of being NIMBY’S that, “secured their piece of paradise and want to keep others out.”
Which is it Virginia? Voters need to know if Bass still claims that more sprawl, or another big box mall, will miraculously begin paying for their own impacts.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Eureka already has record pedestrian, cyclist and motorist accident rates, and the California Water Board is issuing fines for Eureka’s chronic sewer problems. All large projects should prove they contribute more to our community than they extract in public subsidies. This isn’t rocket science! Building housing for extremely low income families and seniors 10 miles from jobs, services and transportation, while numerous lots and buildings remain vacant downtown, is poor planning. For 43 million impoverished Americans, affordable and buyable housing downtown provides the only opportunity to build capital. It’s where the term “Smart Growth” originated.
For generations, the development community’s battle to maintain public subsidies has been aided by “quiet” candidates and a media blackout. General Plan Workshops, Elements, Boards, Hearings, Commissions, and Committees, are dominated by development community lobbyists who tag-team officials with relentless demands and influence.
For example, a group called “Find Our Lots” (not to be confused with: “Humboldt Economic Land Plan”, “Humboldt Citizen’s for Property Rights”, “Citizen’s For A Better Eureka”, “Humboldt Sunshine”, “Eureka Coalition For Jobs,” ad nauseum), headed by Arkley lobbyist Kay Backer, had formed to, “…personally visit 4,000 lots in Humboldt County.” Unreported was Backer’s 70-page PowerPoint that dominated the March 23, 2010, Housing Element “Public Workshop” culminating with a heroic protest by Jan Turner, an affordable housing advocate. Turner demanded that her name be removed from the PowerPoint, described later as a developer’s sham.
The development community’s fear of losing public subsidies has turned them, and their candidates, into No-Can-Do Nancy’s who cry “divisive” when sustainable development alternatives are proposed. They whimper “negative” when anyone describes the depth of our community’s crisis, and they become ramped-up over imaginary “No-Growth” groups, yet, nothing stopped developers from building Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale, Rio Del, Orick and Mckinleyville, beyond infrastructure capacity. These are cities where voters are “bright-sided” by candidate’s sugarcoating the status-quo of planning by the highest bidders.
One high-bidder paid $30,000 to put Measure N on Eureka’s November ballot threatening to eliminate the public-use zoning of the Balloon Tract, thus, enabling Cherie Arkley to double her investment by potentially selling to Wal-Mart. Speculators double their money, while the community subsidizes the food stamps, medi-cal and housing-aid needed to support poverty-wage jobs, plus the full-costs of increased traffic, inadequate public transportation, shuttered schools, underfunded public safety budgets, and a decayed infrastructure.
Voters have another opportunity to remove developer’s hands from our pocketbooks by electing candidates willing to stop the hemorrhage of public subsidies to budget-busting projects, to support sustainable models of growth; reach out to cities like Truckee that are already implementing successful alternatives; demonstrate interest and knowledge in walkable neighborhoods, in-fill development, Inclusionary Zoning, manufacturing incubators, and other tools that accommodate the long term goals for higher wage jobs in livable, affordable, and sustainable communities proven to attract tourists, residents and capital investment.
If you think your vote doesn’t count, think again. This November 2nd, vote for the candidates who speak the language of change.