Book recommendation: Randal O’Toole’s American Nightmare

by Eric Shierman

Highlights:  

  • how city planning contributed to the housing market collapse
  • racist origins of “urban renewal”
  • legal opinion that lowered the bar on proving “blight” for Tax Incremental Financing (TIF)
  • TIF – a powerful tool for local patronage politics
  • construction of light rail had the opposite effect Metro planners predicted – which brought about the need for TIF
  • Portland routinely creates urban-renewal districts along all its light-rail and streetcar lines so it can use TIF funds to promote so-called transit-oriented developments along the lines
  • California is now trying to eliminate these renewal districts to shore up its budget shortfall
  • the role that land use planning played in the formation of the recent housing bubble

The state of Oregon has made a name for itself in transportation planning the world over. Progressives in other states only talk about boxing everyone within an artificial growth boundary with transit orientated development while embracing gridlock and potholes as a positive outcome to get people out of their cars. The Portland Metro area actually does it beyond any other region’s wildest imagination.

It is fitting then, that the most sought after expert on transportation planning lives in our state too. Randal O’Toole is probably the most well known national economist that resides in the Beaver State – not in Portland mind you. He lives in Camp Sherman near Sisters. He does not have to suffer under the city planners’ machinations to be the most influential transportation analyst. With a good internet connection and the solitude of central Oregon, he runs data sets and offers advice to countless municipalities and civic groups around the world.

O’Toole is also a prolific author.  His blog is probably the best source of insight on ground transportation policy, getting as many hits from those who disagree with him as those who share his skepticism of mass transit’s over-hyped benefits. His books get quoted in public hearings across the country. If you had read his 2007 book Best Laid Plans, perhaps you noticed his warning that city planners were contributing to a real estate bubble that he predicted was “threatening the world economy” and “would cause the world to go into a severe recession.” His latest book, American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Homeownership follows up on his unique perspective of the way city planning contributed to the housing market collapse. O’Toole shows how the housing bubble and inevitable crash that followed resulted from a tension between federal policies aimed at increasing homeownership and state and local policies aimed at reducing it.

AmericanNightmare48

The first six chapters are a remarkably concise history of the six historical factors that have influenced homeownership in America: English common law, America’s agrarian origin, America’s rapid urbanization, the development of the suburbs, New Deal policy, and post war policy. O’Toole shows how quickly America moved from its old world origin where only the wealthiest members of society owned their own home to the broad home ownership we have today. Of the rest of society, he makes a distinction between what was once called the “working class,” those with little skill who worked with their hands, and the “middle class,” using the original meaning of that term, as the people who are highly educated and highly compensated, but not as wealthy as those few at the top. O’Toole shows the broadening of homeownership has largely been driven by the desire of the middle class to both keep its social distance from the working class as well as dictate the housing options for an elite perception of the working classes’ own good.

Urban middle class families preferred renting until noisy immigrants with their smelly foods and backyard livestock began buying up land all around them. To keep the Irish, Italians, freed slaves, and Jews at bay, the middle class first sought homeownership in covenant protected communities, then zoning laws, and finally the suburbs. The postwar economic expansion afforded the working classes the ability to follow the middle class into the suburbs, and it did not take long for old WASP snobbery to evolve into an environmentalist ideology to fight suburban development for a thinly veiled multitude of reasons.

The middle class developed another tool to remove unwanted people from prime real estate: urban renewal. Starting in 1949, urban renewal was such a blatant tool to displace black communities, the civil rights movement all but eliminated it. California became the first state to develop a local financing method called Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). This has been a powerful tool for local patronage politics. At first planners had to prove the existence of blight, but Justice Stevens’ opinion in Kelo v. New London has eliminated this necessity, allowing government planners to rely on internal studies that suggest the property value can merely be improved upon as the new low legal hurdle that local politicians can now easily grace over.

O’Toole goes into such detail to explain the development and use of TIF, that chapter 10 alone is worth buying the book. Coming from Oregon, O’Toole uses many anecdotes from our own state, including the way TIF has been used to further subsidize transit orientated development, when the construction of light rail had the opposite effect Metro planners predicted:

When Portland, Oregon opened its first light-rail line in 1986, the city zoned much of the land near light-rail stations for high-density development. Ten years later, city planners sadly reported to the Portland City Council that “we have not seen any of the kind of development—of a mid-rise, higher-density, mixed-use, mixed-income type—that we would’ve liked to have seen” along the light-rail line. City Commissioner Charles Hales noted, “We are in the hottest real estate market in the country,” yet city planning maps revealed that “most of those sites [along the light-rail line] are still vacant.” To correct this situation, Hales persuaded the city council to use TIF and other subsidies to encourage developers to build transit-oriented developments. Today, Portland routinely creates urban-renewal districts along all its light-rail and streetcar lines so it can use TIF funds to promote so-called transit-oriented developments along the lines. Portland planners often claim that these developments were stimulated by the opening of new light-rail and streetcar lines. In reality, all the rail lines did was create an excuse for the city to use TIF to subsidize the developments. Portland’s famous Pearl District alone received more than $170 million in subsidies, mostly financed by TIF.

O’Toole points out that California is now trying to eliminate these renewal districts to shore up its budget shortfall; perhaps the rest of the country will follow.

O’Toole’s identification of the role that land use planning played in the formation of the recent housing bubble is the most provocative and insightful part of the book. First he reminds us that there were several local housing markets that had all the same financial instruments to inflate housing prices that California, Florida, Nevada, and Rhode Island did without participating in the asset class inflation. These more stable markets had little land use planning while the most inflated markets had the most. O’Toole reminds us of Charles Kindleberger’s classic work on financial bubbles, pointing out that the first stage involves some kind of a microeconomic shock to the asset class in question before it forms a bubble. In our past bubble economy, our growth management planning provided that shock.

O’Toole concludes with an itemized list of policy recommendations to avoid future housing bubbles. This highly detailed book is a must read. The kindle version is only $9.39 and I highly recommend it.

He will be presenting his book at the next Executive Club around 7pm at the Airport Shiloh Inn next Wednesday June 6th. If you have never been to an Executive Club meeting before, this will probably be the perfect introduction. If you can get there earlier, the hotel offers a delicious buffet for a fun hour of dinner table conversation followed by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon providing a forum for various local free-market groups to make announcements. You will usually find me each month sitting next to Steve Buckstein at the Cascade table.

Eric Shierman lives in southwest Portland and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change, and also writes for The Oregonian’s My Oregon blog.

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  • Bob Clark

    You know O’Toole’s critique of Metro Agency government planning is appealing as he crystalizes what’s wrong with the central planning model: namely the unpredictability of society’s future needs and wants (plus rapidly evolving technology which is revolutionizing individual transport modes over the fixed rail systems).

    But I find O’Toole’s alternative solutions only small improvement (if that) over Metro Agency Government’s model.

    Here’s solutions from O’Toole’s “People 2000:  An Alternative to Planning:”

    1)  Neighborhood Associations protect the areas around which we live.

       I don’t know what O’Toole’s been smokin but Neighborhood Associations have become local government’s way of fiending political support for any new project expanding local government power.  Neighborhood associations support Agenda 21 and generally have become communistic in their government leanings (at least in the city of Portland).

    2)  Congestion pricing – taxing road use at peak hours, that is.  O’Toole like our beloved Cascade Policy Institute believe in purity which is not real in the world we live in – restricitng criticism of CPI to just this issue here.  But government will not reduce gasoline taxes correspondingly but rather will just add, use and abuse this suggested new fee system.

    3)  Pollution emission fees.  Here again please get real.  Government will end up fiending as it does now such pollution as carbon dioxide and god knows whatelse.  Government will use and abuse such new tax.

    4)  Demonopolizing public transit.  O.k. this is one of his few suggestions which rings true as a grand slam, touch down and two point conversion, or three point basket and follow-on foul shot.

    5)  Scenery and open-space trust funded by REAL ESTATE TRANSFER FEE.
     
    Let’s hope the initiative petition for constitutionally eliminating the real estate transfer fee makes the Oregon ballot and passes (& it looks like it has solid citizen support for doing so and receiving approval at ballot time).  So, hopefully this O’Toole solution vanishes this November at least for Oregon. P.S the federal and state government already own too much of Oregon’s land mass at well over 50%. 

    6)  Development fees.  O.K.

    7)  End of subsidies to growth.  O.K.

    In a pure world O’Toole’s solutions have some merit but we don’t have anything like a pure innocent form of governance; rather it’s a constant war to try to limit the expansion of government with its over lord and intrusions.  O’Toole’s solutions would hand government a new set of tools to expand its powers and intrude into our individual lives. 

    • Randal O’Toole

      Mr. Clark’s review of my proposals are from a few books back. I haven’t talked about a real-estate transfer fee for a long time.

      He also misunderstands my proposals. I don’t support neighborhood associations as he knows them. I support homeowner associations, which are very different. Most homeowner associations consist of only about 200 families. Under my proposal (which is actually Bob Nelson’s proposal), people would be allowed to form such associations that would take over all zoning authority in their neighborhoods (much smaller neighborhoods than the ones represented by the neighborhood associations Mr. Clark is used to). Some homeowner associations might just get rid of zoning. Others might have very strict zoning, others something between. But they would have no authority to zone anything outside their own neighborhoods. See Nelson’s book, “Private Neighborhoods,” and his papers on the same subject, for more details.

      Mr. Clark objects to congestion pricing and pollution fees not because he doesn’t like the ideas but because he thinks government will misuse them. Yet he supports some of my other proposals even though there is just a great a possibility of abuse. He should judge proposals on their merits and not on other faults he finds in government.

      In designing my proposals, I’ve tried to look for successful models. For example, county toll road authorities in Texas and Florida has successfully resisted any attempts to abuse the use of their tolls. State tollroad authorities have been less successful, so I’ve proposed that tolling be devolved to the local level and that local governments create quasi-governmental authorities that receive no tax dollars. 

      As far as the real-estate transfer fee goes, I no longer support any government programs for buying open space. America has open space in abundance and government has far more critical things to worry about. However, if a homeowner association decided to impose such a fee on its members in order to improve the neighborhood, as some do in Texas, I wouldn’t have any problem with it.

      • 3H

        Would homeowner’s associations be restricted to only homeowners?  Renters would be left out of a decision making process that affects them?

        • Steve Buckstein

          3H, I don’t know how Randal might answer your question, but I assume you know that renters have little input into lots of things that affect their housing choices. Except, they do have choices; they can move relatively easily into a neighborhood with rules they like better, while homeowners would first have to sell their homes if they object to the rules imposed by their neighbors.

          • 3H

            I wasn’t aware that increased mobility was a sufficient reason for lack of representation in a governmental, or quasi-governmental, body.  By your logic, we shouldn’t allow renters to vote on any increase in property tax measures.  Would you be comfortable with that?  

            If the homeowners association passes rules, or fees, that, most likely, will result in increased rent isn’t that pretty much taxation without representation? 
             

          • Steve Buckstein

            I don’t know what Randal thinks about the renter representation issue you raise.

            I guess that if homeowner associations wanted to grant renters certain rights to help decide on rules, fees, etc. that would be ok by me, but the ultimate decision belongs to the owners. 

            Of course government violates property rights all the time, and imposes taxation without representation all too often also. But for me, taxation “with” representation ain’t so great either.

          • 3H

            I don’t quite understand… rights to representation, etc.., are not granted by landowners.  If you are devolving governmental authority over things like zoning requirements, or fees, to provide enhancements to the commons…  why is it dependent upon the granting of rights to renters by homeowners?  When did the rights of renters become alienated?  

            If, you’re simply talking about enhancements, or conformity to community “values”, to privately held property, then the renters don’t get a vote because they don’t own the property (although I think they should still be consulted).  But now you have a whole different issue: why does a majority of homeowners around me get to dictate what I can do to my private property.  It’s no less tyranny if the decision is made by a small group rather than by a large one.  But I don’t think O’Toole is simply talking about changes to the private property of homeowners.  He’s talking about improvements, or lack of them, to areas held in common that don’t belong to homeowners.   That is the focus of my question – why should those changes be made by only a vote of homeowners (assuming that is what he meant) and not by everyone who has a stake in what happens to the commons (renters, by the way, “own” the commons in equal parts to homeowners – instead of paying for those improvements through their property tax bill, they pay for them through their rent)?

            “But for me, taxation “with” representation ain’t so great either.”  

            Not perfect, but still miles in advance of being taxed without your participation (even if you lose).  

          • Steve Buckstein

             I don’t see it as “devolving governmental authority over things like zoning
            requirements, or fees, to provide enhancements to the commons.” I believe those things were abrogated by government, often illegitimately, in the first place.

            As to why a majority of homeowners around you get to dictate what you can do with your private property, they can’t unless you grant them that right. Often that’s exactly what homeowner associations do; owners give up some control of some things in order to gain other benefits they see as more valuable. 

            I have no problem buying into a community where every owner originally limited the right of anyone to, for example, cut down trees larger than a certain size. I actually did that a number of years ago. No problem.

          • 3H

            OK, that makes it at least comprehensible.  Membership in a homeowners association would be entirely voluntary.. and, of course, so would pulling out of the association should they make decisions that you feel would adversely affect your rights to manage and use your property as you see fit? 

            If the HOA zones the land under their jurisdiction as single family residences only, and I don’t like that, I can pull out of the HOA, and build an apartment building on my property as well.  In fact, I can build it right up to my property line and too bad for my neighbor?

            Or, what if I never joined?  Then I can truly do what I want regardless what actions the HOA takes, correct?

          • Steve Buckstein

            I think all such options would be on the table. I have no problem with an association binding its members to certain rules once they freely join.

          • 3H

            Let me ask this a different way, why wouldn’t you want to include renters in a neighborhood on an association, or board, or whatever you want to call it?  Why shouldn’t they be represented?   

            Since they don’t have input into “lots of things” that makes it OK to exclude them from a board that has the power to assess fees?  That argument seems pretty flimsy to me.  

            Where do homeowners have additional voting rights with regards to government bodies (or quasi-governmental bodies given the power of imposing fees) that renters do not have?  

          • valley person

             This reply is to steve above 3H.

            If you have no problem with a homeowners association controlling the land use decisions of a a member who freely joined, do you have any trouble when that property passes onto an heir, who did not freely join the association or agree to its rules? If yes why?

          • Steve Buckstein

            I have no more trouble with heirs being bound by association rules agreed to by those who freely joined than I assume you have with those of us who didn’t freely agree to the original US Constitution over two centuries ago being bound by it. And, I think this officially gets us far afield of the main thrust of this post.

          • valley person

             You are equating a homeowners association contract with the Constitution?

            Wow.

            My point is that in your interpretation, and I assume Randall’s, what gets bound under the initial Homeowners agreement is the property itself, not just the person who signed the agreement. They have used this method in Houston and it has run up against economics because low density single family neighborhoods near the city center can’t ever be redeveloped at higher density, even though many current property owners want that, because a very few members of these associations veto that option. 

          • Steve Buckstein

            I was trying to point out that if you believe we are bound by the Constitution, even though no one alive today signed on to it, then homeowners association rules signed onto by current property owners should be binding as much as any other contract.

          • valley person

             apple, meet orange.

          • valley person

             It is typical for homeowners associations to ban rental housing altogether, so no worries. The 35% of Americans who rent, like Eric I might add, would find suitable housing under bridges.

          • Steve Buckstein

            While the typical homeowner association probably does ban rental housing, but they don’t have to.

            I think you’ll find that most renters have many more options than living under bridges.

          • valley person

             They don’t have to? Of course not. They do it because they want to .

            Yes, I exaggerated. Someone would find a way to provide rental housing somewhere outside of any homeowner’s association control. Which raises the question of what entity would control land use in those areas. Or would they be like Escape from New York?

          • 3H

            Or, how toothless is the HOA if some landowners opt out?  Their zoning restrictions may be legally binding on members, but they have no authority over non-membesr.  Who, presumably, could build want they want on their land regardless of the impact on neighbors.  Unless O’Toole is assuming that each HOA has legal authority of all residents in their jurisdiction.  Imagine thousands of little land-use boards on the small community level, and the sheer number of lawsuits from disgruntled HOA members.

          • valley person

             Libertarian la la land.

          • 3H

            Take a look… this is the blueprint that O’Toole finds commendable.  I actually find it frightening.

            https://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n2/v27n2-5.pdf 

            It’s a further divide of the nation between those that have.. and those that don’t.  Gated Communities on steroids.

          • JoelinPDX

            Steve, 3H (along with Valley Person, David Appell and a few others who hang out here) is a knee jerk liberal. He (and the others) can’t be reasoned with, Why bother?

          • valley person

             Good point Joel. Why don’t you be the first on the block to stop bothering?

          • JoelinPDX

            Because I’m not a knee jerk liberal.

        • Randal O’Toole

          A lot of comments about homeowner associations are being made in ignorance of how they actually work. We already know how this system works as Houston is run this way. Only about half the residential areas are in HOAs. People can start new HOAs with an agreement of a supermajority of the people in their neighborhood. There are plenty of rental properties. Conceivably, property owners who own commercial or rented residential properties could form their own property owners associations. Houston has some land-use conflicts, but they are rare compared to those in heavily regulated places like Oregon and California. For more information, see “Land Use Without Zoning” by Bernard Siegan. Or read any of several papers on the subject by Bob Nelson.

          • 3H

            Which is why, in general, I was asking questions more than I was making comments.

            So, in an area that is predominately apartment rentals, the HOA (or POA) would need a super majority vote of the renters to form one?  Or could the owners form the POA, and then request that zoning, etc…  be put into their hands without a say from the residents?

            Presumably, the home, or property, owners pay fewer property taxes to the county or city in return for taking over those functions previously provided by the local governments?

          • valley person

             That super majority is often 99.9%. It effectively blocks ANY change to existing neighborhoods. Its more like a highly localized communism than a free enterprise system of land use.

            Very strange that libertarians would want this sort of thing. It locks down land use to whatever it was when initially built. Doesn’t let communities grow naturally.

          • 3H

            Also, I’m guessing that generally it’s more affluent areas that take advantage of HOA’s.  If (and I don’t know if this is the case) they supplant property taxes paid for, say, police protection by a fee to hire private security, then the local government has a shrinking base in which to provide those services.  Enough HOA’s provide their own police, the taxes needed to support police is decreased.. and not proportionally either.

            Does this ring true?  Or am I missing something?  It’s quite possible I am, so feel free to correct or educate me.

          • valley person

             HOAs I’m familiar with as a rule take on tasks or costs additional to whatever the local government provides, not in lieu of. For example, they might want their own parks, inclusive only to their members, but they still have to pay property taxes for the rest of the parks in their jurisdiction.

            The more I think about using HOAs to make local government zoning unnecessary, the more idiotic the idea seems. If you think a local neighborhood association is too hard core on your land use ap, you can go over their heads to the city council. If an HOA says you can’t even hang your laundry outside, which they sometimes do, you have no recourse whatsoever.

            These libertarians hate actual government so much they are willing to support private dictatorships with total control over property rights. Weird. 

      • simon

         So if the neighborhood next to the one with restrictive zoning decided to become a junkyard or waste dump…what then? Who decides?

  • valley person

    ” It is fitting then, that the most sought after expert on transportation planning lives in our state too.”

    Seriously?
    Sought after by who? Mr O’toole is a clever libertarian crank on land
    use and transportation, nothing more. I’ve followed his rants on and off
    for years. Entertaining, but not very enlightening.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    I’m not really sure it is correct to say that land use planning creates a housing bubble. If we are talking about land price increase due to planning, that is simply an artificial scarcity created by government action. That’s not the same as a bubble which implies a short term rise and fall in a price due to various circumstances which can include government action.

    Is the increase in land pricing due to land use planning then a bubble? I wouldn’t say so because such price increases tend to be long duration as such regulations tend to be long term in the case of land use planning.

    I would say land use planning simply creates price inflation. Not a bubble.

    Such price inflation caused by planning isn’t necessarily always bad, however people should be aware of the cost. In a lot of areas, Oregon has high housing prices in relation to the average wage.

    The short term trade off is a supposedly better environment, such as less urban sprawl, in exchange for inflated housing prices because of government created scarcity. People might be fine with this. Paying more for housing in exchange for less sprawl may very well be worth it to them.

    Long term effects can be detrimental however.  New York City would be an excellent example of this with its rent stabilization law effectively banning the creation of new rental units and its rent control law limiting access to many existing units to the well connected few.  

    That should also be taken into account, but frankly I don’t think most people and most government entities consider those aspects.

    There is a place for planning. Where it breaks down is when government planners decide they are also expert landlords, as in the case of rent control, or expert developers, as in the case of Portlands high density light rail experiment. In these cases such decisions should be left to those with some actual expertise in such matters. You get that expertise by having your own money dependent on the outcome, not playing Monopoly with the taxpayers money.

     

    • Rupert in Springfield

      What would also be a good thing to consider is what would happen should the artificial scarcity created by land use planning disappear. People with inflated house values might very well see the value of their property go down. That, and the consequences of such devaluation, should also be considered.

      • valley person

         Land use planning may create something of a scarcity, but it is hardly artificial or a recent development. Every incorporated community in the nation except Houston zones land for development, hence every community establishes limits on what can be built. When the entire nation does this and has been doing it since around 1920, its hard to see how it contributed to housing bubble a few years ago. 

        But then government should always be blamed for private sector failures.

        • Rupert in Springfield

           >but it is hardly artificial

          When I see three owls and a beaver setting up a zoning board, I’ll believe you. Until then, I am fairly sure land use boards are not a naturally occurring phenomenon

          >Every incorporated community in the nation except Houston zones land for
          development, hence every community establishes limits on what can be
          built.

          I gave examples on opposite sides of the country.

          Yet somehow you think I was claiming land use planning was not wide spread.

          Absolutely fascinating.

          >or a recent development.

          I cited a 70 year old law in one of the oldest cities in the country. Yet, again, you seem to think that indicates the exact opposite: that I was claiming land use was a recent development. 

          Again, fascinating.

          >When the entire nation does this and has been doing it since around
          1920, its hard to see how it contributed to housing bubble a few years
          ago.

          The first sentence of my posts states explicitly that the us of the term bubble is incorrect.

          Yet again, you think I am claiming otherwise.

          Once again – Reading what you are responding to might be something to consider.

          • valley person

             “When I see three owls and a beaver setting up a zoning board, I’ll
            believe you. Until then, I am fairly sure land use boards are not a
            naturally occurring phenomenon”

            Well, humans are as natural as owls and beavers. Humans, as far as we know have always lived in communities, and it is as natural as the sun coming up for humans to make rules that govern the behavior of community members. So zoning passes the “natural” test.

            “The first sentence of my posts states explicitly that the us of the term bubble is incorrect. ”

            Lets test that. Here is your first sentence, verbatim:

            “I’m not really sure it is correct to say that land use planning creates a housing bubble. ”

            “I’m not sure…” I suppose that could mean you ARE sure, but that would be a strange interpretation don’t you agree?

            Now lets use a common definition of the word “explicit:”

            “fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied”

            Do you really think, saying I’m not sure,” left nothing merely implied?

            If you wanted to be explicit Rupert, you would have written something more declarative, like the following:

            “Land use planning does not create housing bubbles.”

            See how easy that was? Explicit.

             

          • Rupert in Springfield

             > So zoning passes the “natural” test.

            Interesting. So you are arguing anything humans do is natural.

            Therefore, AGW is a natural phenomenon?

            Uh Oh, looks like trouble Dean.

            >See how easy that was? Explicit.

            It’s quite clear from my post I am saying bubble is an inaccurate terms.

            You didn’t read.

            You got caught.

            And now you can’t admit you are wrong.

            So we all get to see you make a fool of yourself trying to justify an obvious mistake on your part.

            Don’t think it works too well.

          • valley person

             “So you are arguing anything humans do is natural.”

            Pretty much, yes. Though some humans do things that are outside the bounds of the community. In the past they got their heads bashed with a rock or were banished as a result.

            As for AGW, yes, it is natural. If people burn up all that buried organic matter for energy, and it changes the climate to the detriment of those people, that is natural too.

            It just isn’t very wise. 

            “It’s quite clear from my post I am saying bubble is an inaccurate terms.”

            Terms? More than one?

            Rupert…the man who doesn’t know the meaning of explicit.

          • 3H

            Please note his insistence on behavior that he ignores for himself.   In Rupertland, hypocrisy is an honored quality.

          • guest

            3H leavened = a pile o’ d’oh bawl. – sesame

  • Fairness for prosperity

    Metro and other governmental bodies should be able to overrule HOAs  
    and impose land use guidelines and requirements which better suit the commons. 

    The need to control land use has never been greater as consequences of human impact are now approaching catastrophic levels. 
    Further restraints on public involvement must also be established as the many elements involved are too complex for the citizenry grasp and make informed decisions. 

    This has been shown to be the case locally as various citizen uprisings are supplanting the role and expertise of elected officials and policy  makers charged with the duly elected responsibility of proving for the commons. 

    If we are to endeavor, as a society, to provide the desired level of equality, preservation and prosperity modern civilization is capable of 
    then we must relinquish more of our individual involvement to those more capable of making important decisions on our behave. 

    For the sake of progress. 

  • Fairness for prosperity

    typo—decisions on our “behalf”

    • valley person

       No doubt one of those pretend to be a liberal making a hapless argument post.