Op-Ed: It’s Dangerous to Trust Those with Crystal Balls

By Pam Drew

Kiki La Porta’s Marin Voice column in the Marin Independent Journal (“Planning for a Future We Can Live In,” June 3) cites critically Sharon Rushton’s Marin Voice of April 29 (“It is Time for Marin to Challenge ABAG’s Planning“). “Kiki La Porta of San Rafael is president of Sustainable Marin, an organization comprised of Sustainable Fairfax, Sustainable Novato, Sustainable San Anselmo, Sustainable San Rafael and other affiliates,” according to the IJ Op-Ed identifier. Sharon Rushton is chairperson of Sustainable TamAlmonte.

Beware when the president of an organization starts out with “We of (blank) were puzzled …” as Ms. La Porta does, referring to another similar organization. Ms. La Porta maintains that she is puzzled at Ruston’s stance, which seemed to equate sustainability with “opposition to sound regional planning.”

Ms. La Porta is not only puzzled, she is confused about Ms. Rushton’s points. The confusion stems from believing that sustainability is copyrighted and patented by her organization’s view and that Ms. Rushton’s criticism of the Association of Bay Area Governments voids her organization’s legitimacy to call itself Sustainable TamAlmonte.

Just because there is a large, protective, political and economic framework around ABAG’s planning policies and utilized by Sustainable Marin does not in any way confer the description of sound regional planning to the agency (ABAG) or to the nonprofit (Sustainable Marin). Ms. La Porta’s definition of sustainability through the orthodoxy of TransForm, Greenbelt Alliance and the building industry lobby voluntarily blinds her to inconvenient truths that more construction and more people bring more greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms. La Porta quotes: “Ms. Rushton and others have strenuously objected to the Association of Bay Area Government’s One Bay Area process, say its ‘unrealistic jobs and population growth projections will mandate unsustainable housing development.'”

Rushton actually says the One Bay Area Plan and the Region Housing Needs Allocation “use unrealistic jobs and population growth projections to mandate unsustainable housing development.” I checked the quote. Where’s the crime?  Change a few words here and there … where’s the harm?

The BIG difference is that it has already happened and is likely to continue with or without “the process.” The Regional Housing Needs Allocation is already well on its way for 2014-2022. The Preferred Scenario has already been adopted.

Ms. La Porte lists several concessions that ABAG made to Marin County, which ABAG made late, under pressure, and which are still in danger of being rolled back. Remember the old saying: “If you can read this, thank a teacher!” Well, if you can count up the new ABAG numbers, thank those — such as Sharon Rushton — who protested the old ones.

Ms. La Porta further states “We quickly get lost in reaction and debate about numbers, but lose sight of the types of communities we will need and want in the future.”

I would alter the sentiment to: We cannot afford to get lost in reacting to the numbers (housing allocations, transportation dollars, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) and we should not put all our faith in those claiming to forecast the future. We certainly cannot continue to substitute economic stimulus programs and slogans for good research and careful decision-making.

Ms. La Porta puts forth her argument that “In reality, ABAG mandates nothing but wise planning.” Oh, would it were so that ANY government entity could mandate nothing but wise planning!

To keep reading: http://novato.patch.com/articles/op-ed-it-s-dangerous-to-trust-those-with-crystal-balls

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