Anti-Growth Measures Adopting Pro-Growth Language to Survive
San Francisco Chronicle Architecture Critic John King offers compelling perspective on the latest crop of anti-development ballot initiatives under consideration in the Bay Area.
In both Berkeley and Menlo Park, slow-growth initiatives are framed in such a way that proponents can say they’re not actually against the concept of dense development at all. Such arguments might be cynical or simplistic, but they tacitly concede that more and more people are comfortable with more urban ways of life.
King examines the case of Berkeley's Measure R (detailed by Planetizen's Reuben Duarte in September), finding a change in tone between the current growth opposition campaign and a failed campaign to defeat a 2010 growth initiative. That change in tone, which King details in the article, is a sign of a larger trend:
It’s also a clear signal that the conventional wisdom of a generation ago, that tall buildings are synonymous with some dire Manhattanization, doesn’t sway younger Bay Area residents who visit New York City every chance they get.
King goes on to argue that Measure M in the peninsula city of Menlo Park, which makes similar, disingenuous concessions to the language and policy of a pro-growth agenda.