Stuck in the zone
By John McDowell : smdailyjournal – excerpt
Imagine, if you will, a democracy where your voice doesn’t count, where regional unelected bureaucrats make decisions for you, and where your city is shaped by Sacramento and not your city council. You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not of responsible citizens but of faceless bureaucratic control. A journey into a land restricted on all sides. Your next stop, the Plan Bay Area zone.
That’s right; when it comes to the shape of your city, development, roads, density, land use and other decisions about the quality of your life, your voice no longer counts. Instead, an unelected regional bureaucracy is in charge. It’s an eye-glazing, alphabet soup of government agencies designed with one thing in mind — take control over cities and towns.
Their mandates aren’t secret; in fact, they are laid out in glossy publications available from the Plan Bay Area website. However, what is described with beautiful pictures of smiling people and sweeping vistas is a one-size-fits-all mandate that demands that Menlo Park, Millbrae, Milpitas and Mill Valley look the same, local residents be damned.
Plan Bay Area is the spawn of Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375, which mandate super regional planning agencies draw up plans to reduce so-called greenhouse gasses. The result is that Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission now decide how you and your family will live, travel and in some cases, work…
A dedicated group of citizens is pushing back against this regional, bureaucratic overreach. They call themselves the Nine County Coalition; their website explains they are an “informal diverse assemblage of ordinary citizens who share a mission to oppose the relentless trend towards the governance by bureaucrats that obliterates the government [by citizens]” so that, “regional challenges can be met without abdication of our constitutional right to vote in or out the officials who make decisions for us.”
We are living in a world that is far away from that of citizen control and responsibility for local decisions. Fortunately, there is a way out. This November, ask your city council candidates where they stand on retaking control over our lives. Listen carefully to their answers, then decide if they are willing to stand up to the regional bureaucrats, or if they’re stuck in another dimension, that of the Plan Bay Area zone.
John McDowell is a longtime county resident having first moved to San Carlos in 1963. In the intervening years, he has worked as a political volunteer and staff member in local, state, and federal government, including time spent as a press secretary on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush administration…(more)