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Wow, I had no idea they were passing out the Smart Growth Kool-Aid at the Express. It is astounding to me that Mr. Gammon can write about incompetence, bad service, the hated Van Hools and other issues at AC Transit and then write with a straight face about how we require more "density near transit", when that transit is nearly non-existent. Both Randall Potts and those who commented about population growth are correct- we have already overshot the capacity of the Earth, and this insane idea that we can build our way out of global warming and population overshoot would be amusing if it weren't so deadly serious. As Eben Fodor has said, "Smart growth is merely the planned, orderly destruction of the remaining natural environment."
The greenest building is the one that is already standing. Building new uses resources and creates greenhouse gases- no matter how much LEED certification you have. A 1200 square foot house on a 50' by 100' lot is not sprawl. Existing Oakland and Berkeley neighborhoods ARE transit-oriented development, and the citizens are not the ones who ripped out the streetcars that once served most of them.
Having been involved in land use issues and historic preservation for some time, I find it infuriating that the views of people and organizations that have a major financial interest in promoting more growth and more building are given equal weight with the views of ordinary citizens who have no financial stake in the outcome. Developers have jumped on the "Smart Growth" bandwagon as they jumped on all the other planning fads of the last fifty years (urban renewal, festival marketplaces, downtown baseball stadiums, and the currently popular "mixed use"). Signature Properties, who has built many dense mixed use projects in Oakland, and still hopes to wall off our remaining waterfront with condos at Oak to Ninth, is at the same time promoting a development they built in Livermore of large homes on quarter acre lots- part of the pitch for the development is that the adjoining land "is forever preserved from development." We don't get that protection here in Oakland. And frankly, I don't see why Oakland and Berkeley should bear the brunt of new development anyway- each city is quite dense already, and I believe they also have transit in Concord, Dublin, Pleasanton, Hayward and any number of other East Bay cities, which would accommodate the" transit villages" of which planners are so fond.
For those who admire Manhattan, the supposed slender towers of Vancouver, BC, or the fake neighborhood that is the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon- MOVE THERE! Those of us who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid will stay here and continue the fight to protect our neighborhoods, no matter how many times you call us NIMBY's, because to us, that stands for Not Intimidated Much By Yelling.
It is a sad commentary on the state of publishing that for a moment I forgot it was April Fool's Day and I actually thought you were serious. Because frankly, some of the ideas in this article are no more ludicrous than some proposals for "saving" newspapers that I've seen in various venues. As a freelance writer, however, I'm pretty sure however the" publishing crisis" shakes down, writers are gonna get screwed out of money.
Prop 13 succeeded in shifting the property tax burden from commercial property (which
changes hands less often) to residential property, and from all homeowners to new
homeowners. I remember when I bought my first house in Berkeley in 1987 ($120,000),
finding out from an article in the Chron that I was paying higher property taxes than Gordon
Getty. Though I am grateful for the 2% yearly limit, 2% of my current assessed value of
$575,000 means my assessment rises by more than $10,000 every year, which increases
my property taxes by about $600 (last year $8000, this year $8600). Compare this with
a house which friends were lucky enough to purchase in the 1970s- their assessment is
about $22,000, so their assessment rises by only $440 a year, and their taxes go up about
$6. I wonder sometimes how much of the foreclosure crisis in the East Bay has to do not
with being unable to make mortgage payments, but being unable to make huge property
tax payments on top of the mortgage.
Of course the government can be inefficient, but if no one has noticed, it was private
industry that got us into the current financial mess (albeit with the help of the government's
lack of oversight and loosening of regulations). And in Berkeley and Oakland, local
government has gotten around the limits of Prop. 13 by piling on various special
assessments (about 1/3 of Oakland property tax is special assessments-
Measure Y, LLAD, etc.) and charging high fees for everything. Not to mention the endless
pusuit of sales tax (auto malls) and development (new residential development brings in
more property tax than existing homes).
Perhaps property taxes should somehow be tied to income- I see no reason why
someone who makes $500,000 a year but who happened to buy their house before Prop. 13
should be paying ridiculously low taxes, but someone who makes $50,000 a year who
managed to scrape up enough money to buy a house in the last few years should be paying
20 times as much. Even the laudable goal of protecting seniors so they can stay in their
homes could be accomplished in other ways- and not all seniors are impoverished, in any
I am perfectly willing to pay taxes, but I would like those taxes to be fair. Thirty years of Prop. 13
has resulted in a lopsided property tax system that desperately needs to be fixed.
I can't wait to watch Perata's perp walk!
My, Ignacio certainly has a lot of supporters- none of whom are willing to sign their real names, I notice. I wonder how much he pays them, or if they've just drunk too much of the Economic Development/Smart Growth Kool-Aid? In any case, please go right on exposing the unbelievable sleaze of East Bay politicians, whoever they are. Certainly there is equal sleaze among the black politicians (Just how many relatives of Deborah Edgerly ARE working for the city?). Bob, I hope you're looking into the corrupt LLAD vote, digging up more questionable doings by the AC Transit Board, and maybe a large expose on the whole scam that is the Oakland Redevelopment Agency- just to name a few. And unlike the anonymous Iggy supporters, I WILL sign my real name. (And don't give me that "everybody uses a pseudonym in the blogosphere" crap, people.)
Gee, no response from Carlos this time? Thanks, Bob, for bringing the incredible sleaze in this city to light, even if it is depressing.
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