Editorial: Perata push for TOD, high density, anti-NIMBY law
- Published Friday, February 25, 2005, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
As We See It: With friends like these ...
DEVELOPMENT: Statewide Democrats might not getlocal support for
so-called "quality of life" proposals.
Now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been in office for more than
a year, his status as a celebrity is slackening, and his role as a
leader and politician is becoming more typical of any other governor.
Democrats are pointing to a slip in the governor's popularity
recently. But it would be a mistake to think that his lessening
support is going to give a boost to state legislators, particularly
Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponents.
But Democrats are trying to figure out ways to improve their own
popularity. State Sen. President Pro Tem Don Perata in particular
has been outspoken in his envy of Schwarzenegger's popularity, and
he acknowledges that he'd like to do something to change things.
"I think the governor is well served by picking a fight with us,"
Perata said last week, according to The Los Angeles Times. "He's
very popular and we're not."
But the strategy outlined by Perata and others in the party is one
that may not find much support here in the Santa Cruz area. Of
course, Santa Cruz County is largely Democratic, but local political
figures just might find themselves opposing an agenda outlined by
According to The Times, Perata has outlined a plan to make housing
more affordable, curtailing urban sprawl and cutting commute times.
The package of proposals call for so-called "smart growth," a policy
that is intended to make housing more affordable. However, to do so,
Perata is proposing some measures that certainly won't find much
support in Santa Cruz -- particularly among local Democrats.
* Exempting some housing projects in urban areas from environmental
impact reports as required by the California Environmental Quality
Act. (However, this proposal would not affect Santa Cruz County
* Strengthening a so-called "anti NIMBY" law to make it harder
for those who say "not in my backyard" to stop a project.
* Allow redevelopment agencies to offer special financing for
high-density projects around or near transit stations.
Certainly some of these proposals might find some support here,
but the idea of higher density, while popular in planning circles,
doesn't always translate to how people want to live. And, local
slow-growth advocates typically are skeptical of development
interests, who in recent years have spent considerable funds in
lobbying statewide elected officials.
It's a Republican, Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine,
who protested the increased-density plan: "They think if you build
all these high-density houses, people are going to flock to them.
Most people do not want to live in downtown San Francisco or
Of course, it's development pressures that define the debate here in
Santa Cruz County and around the state. There are no easy answers,
particularly because what most people want just isn't possible: an
affordable home with some land around it in a location close to work.
There are just too many people in most parts of California to
accommodate everyone's desire. So they make do, with expensive
housing, crowded freeways and long commutes.
We wish good luck to Perata and his colleagues in trying to achieve
an improvement in quality of life. But in a state with increasing
numbers and a big budget problem, we're not sure that they'll be
able to deliver.