A Shift of Attention to Local Planning Policies by the Tea Party Becomes National News

The 'lamestream media' picks up the story of Tea Party activists railing against efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy.

In The New York Times, Leslie Kaufman and Kate Zernike report on efforts by activists associated with the Tea Party movement to block smart growth and green policies in states, cities, and town across the country. The activists see a grand conspiracy organized by the United Nations to 'deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.'

And it's not just fringe elements that buy into the conspiracy. In January, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution proclaiming that, "The United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called ‘sustainable development' views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment."

"'It sounds a little on the weird side, but we've found we ignore it at our own peril,' said George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association's chapter in Virginia."

Full Story: Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot



Tea Party in Berkeley?

On this issue, we even have Tea Party allies in Berkeley.


Charles Siegel

what's the real issue here?

"On this issue," you say, "we even have Tea Party allies in Berkeley." Huh? The New York Times article is about how Tea Partiers and property rights advocates believe that smart growth is a plot based in Agenda 21. Nobody from Berkeley in the article you cite (yes, I'm the author) shares those views. The issue I raise is something else entirely: democratizing the regional planning process in the Bay Area.

"Tea Party Allies"

I said, "Tea Party allies," not Tea Party members.

Everyone can read your article and then decide for themselves whether you are allied with the Tea Party on this issue, working with them to derail regional planning for smart growth.

About "democratizing the regional planning process," people might also want to read my LTE responding to the article. Responding to the claim that regional planners are not "accountable to the public at large," I wrote:

Regional agencies are planning for smart growth because they are following a law that was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor. That sounds democratic to me: the law was passed by elected officials who are "accountable to the public at large."

The Tea Party is a minority of the Republican Party and a small minority of the State of California. The Tea Party has outsized influence because it gets funding from the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel interests. The Tea Party and its Berkeley supporters are not "accountable" to anyone and certainly do not represent "the public at large." When the legislature required regional planning agencies to consult with the public, they obviously did not intend for SB 375's smart-growth mandate to be nullified by a noisy, disruptive minority who are in favor of sprawl and who deny climate science.

Democracy is not threatened by regional agencies that are following a law passed by the elected legislators of California.

Democracy is threatened by extremists who disrupt public meetings and try to prevent government from functioning when the majority passes a law that they do not like.

Charles Siegel

Allied in Fear.

Nice letter Charles.

I'm fairly certain no one who dwells outside the fringe thinks that these people are interested in democracy. One brief look at the YouTube video tells anyone that.

It is sad they are pulling the country backwards out of fear and ignorance, rather than forward by productive ideas. Sadder still that it is taking so long to address the not-productive distraction.



Are You American or Do You Support Sustainability??

Am I crazy or is the world a little more insane? What kind of thinking boils this issue down to a dichotomy of "AMERICAN" versus "SUSTAINABLE"?
What a strange way to see things. Almost like, would you rather breathe or eat?
I applaud efforts to improve the quality of our environment. I have lived long enough to remember exactly how things were before the environmental reformation during the early 70's. What a difference those changes made! And there were arguments back then of how our civilization would come to ruin economically just to have a few more fishing holes. How wrong that thinking was. It was then and it still is today. Let's never take for granted that things will get better. We have to work at keeping our house (our world) livable for the long-long term. And yes, land efficiency is something we have to figure out and enable. The potential for increased land value as an impact on developer's futures cannot be the single driving decision factor.

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