Tea Party v. Smart Growth
I just read an absolutely fascinating article by Anthony Flint in The Atlantic Cities about how Tea Party Activists, in the name of aggressively smaller government, are working to undermine long held smart growth principles.
Flint describes the scene:
Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional government having anything to do with density, smart growth, sustainability or urbanism.
In California,Tea Partiers collected enough signatures to place a repeal of the state’s baseline environmental regulations on the ballot. Activists in Florida successfully upended the state’s growth management legislation. In Virginia, they’re are working against a much needed, 5-year comprehensive plan.
What’s prompting the ire is anything from a proposed master plan to a new water treatment plant, rules governing septic tanks, or a bike-sharing program. What’s driving the rebellion is a view that government should have no role in planning or shaping the built environment that in any way interferes with private property rights.
According to the Gainesville Tea Party:
Radical environmentalists, local business groups, and the ever-present Not in My Backyard crowd have been trying for decades to reshape American communities to conform to their preferred “smart growth” policies. These advocates work to impose land use regulations that would force Americans into denser living arrangements, curtail freedom of choice in housing, discriminate against lower-income Americans, and compel people to pay more for their houses and give up their cars in favor of subways, trolleys, buses, and bicycles.
I find it fascinating that the things I think are pre-requisites for strong downtowns–high density housing, public transportation, and even bike lanes–are viewed, not just with derision, but as some sort of communist plot against suburbia.