There is usually a method.
Stanley Kurtz does a long follow up in NRO about his book of last year about Obama’s war on suburban whitopias.
Let’s pick it up in about the middle:
In the face of heated public protest, on July 18, two local agencies in metropolitan San Francisco approved “Plan Bay Area,” a region-wide blueprint designed to control development in the nine-county, 101-town region around San Francisco for the next 30 years. The creation of a region-wide development plan–although it flies in the face of America’s core democratic commitment to local control–is mandated by California’s SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. The ostensible purpose of this law is to combat global warming through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. That is supposedly why California’s legislature empowered regional planning commissions to override local governments and press development away from suburbs into densely-packed urban areas. In fact, the reduction of greenhouse gases (which Plan Bay Area does little to secure) largely serves as a pretext for undercutting the political and economic independence of California suburbs.
Essentially, Plan Bay Area attempts to block the development of any new suburbs, forcing all population growth over the next three decades into the existing “urban footprint” of the region. The plan presses 70-80 percent of all new housing and 66 percent of all business expansion into 150 or so “priority development areas” (PDAs), select neighborhoods near subway stations and other public transportation facilities. This scheme will turn up to a quarter of the region’s existing neighborhoods–many now dotted with San Francisco’s famously picturesque, Victorian-style single-family homes–into mini-Manhattans jammed with high-rises and tiny apartments. The densest PDAs will be many times denser than Manhattan. (See the powerful ten-minute audio-visual assault on Plan Bay Area at the 45-55 minute mark of this debate.)
In effect, by preventing the development of new suburbs, and reducing traditional single-family home development in existing suburbs, Plan Bay Area will squeeze 30 years worth of in-migrating population into a few small urban enclaves, and force most new businesses into the same tight quarters. The result will be a steep increase in the Bay Area’s already out-of-control housing prices. This will hit the poor and middle class the hardest. While some poor and minority families will receive tiny subsidized apartments in the high-rise PDAs, many others will find themselves displaced by the new development, or priced out of the local housing market altogether.
A regional plan that blocks traditional suburban development, densifies cities, and urbanizes suburbs on this scale is virtually unprecedented. That’s why the Obama administration awarded the agencies behind Plan Bay Area its second-highest “Sustainable Communities Grant” in 2012. Indeed, the terms of the administration’s grant reinforce the pressure for density. The official rationale behind the federal award is “encouraging connections” between jobs, housing, and transportation.
That sounds like a directive to locate new residents–poor and minorities included–in existing prosperous communities. In fact, HUD’s new emphasis on “connecting” jobs housing and transportation does more. In practice, bland bureaucratic language about blending jobs, housing, and transportation pressures localities to create Manhattan-style “priority development areas.” The San Francisco case reveals the administration’s broader intentions. Soon HUD and other agencies will begin to press localities directly, rather than through the medium of California’s new regionalist scheme. Replicating Plan Bay Area nationwide is the Obama administration’s goal.
The Enactment of Plan Bay Area was wildly controversial among those who managed to learn about it, yet went largely unnoticed in the region as a whole. One of the chief complaints of the plan’s opponents was the relative lack of publicity accorded a decision with such transformative implications. Critics called for a public vote, and complained that the bureaucrats in charge hadn’t been elected.
Another theme of critics was that “the fix” seemed to be in from the start. Input was largely ignored, opponents claimed, and public forums offered only the illusion of consultation. Although it’s gone largely unreported, that accusation is far truer than even the opponents of Plan Bay Area realize.
Kurtz is a bit off base here. This has nothing to do with diversifying the Bay Area. In fact, it’s just the opposite. What “Plan Bay Area” will accomplish (by design, IMHO) is to make the world safe for liberal white-Asian SWPLs and YAY BLUE TEAM. This plan directly combats the two biggest threats to SWPLs, one political one criminal. The political threat it eliminates is that as housing gets more expensive, the less likely it will be that white people can engage in affordable family formation, and the fewer white traditional nuclear families the Bay Area will have, therefore the fewer Republican votes will be found in Bay Area ballot boxes. The criminal threat it eliminates is that as housing gets more expensive, the less the black-Hispanic undertow can afford to live there, and since they’re not there, crime will largely be absent. Bay Area SWPLs don’t need the black-Hispanic undertows to help Democrats win elections, because the SWPLs so dominate the political scene of the Bay Area that Democrats win everything anyway, and like I just said, they’ve driven out traditional nuclear white families (aka Republicans) for the expensive housing they promote. It also eliminates a potential future political threat to SWPLs by keeping the Patterson’s First Axiom kind of diversity (blacks and Hispanics) out of the Bay Area. If nothing drives people away from racial egalitarianism like a good dose of blacks and Hispanics, but there are no blacks or Hispanics around, people will never be driven away from racial egalitarianism and therefore never sour on Democrats.