Recipe for Disaster in California

As if you needed a refresher on the stale arguments in the “smart growth” playbook, this Modesto Bee oped by humanities teacher Eric Caine calls for statewide growth management in California and regional planning in the Central Valley:

“Howls of consternation erupted when news got out that Don Perata, state Senate president pro tem, is contemplating state control of zoning and land use (“State devising sprawl solution,” Dec.13, Page A-1). Perata’s “anti-dumb growth” proposal would encourage planning and land use strategies that avoid urban sprawl by building homes within and closer to cities. Such strategies would reduce commute time, help preserve farmland and open space and offer affordable housing for urban residents priced out of local housing markets. With so many advantages, it might seem puzzling that Perata’s plan has met with strident opposition. But it’s not in the least surprising that local officials would be apoplectic at the thought of state-planned growth.”

I can’t bear to excerpt any more. Though he’s obviously passionate, he must not realize that what he’s really calling for is to drive California into the ground, make housing even more expensive, increase economic hardship on low and middle income families, transfer local control of land use to an unaccountable state bureaucracy, make the state even less appealling to businesses, and dramatically increase the regulatory burden in an already overburdened state. Great plan! For some background, check out the study Sam and I wrote detailing the effects of statewide growth management on housing affordability in Oregon, Washington, and Florida. Short summary: it’s not pretty. And check out for more on the shortcomings of “smart growth.”