California’s Vanishing Neighborhoods

California is labeled a “progressive” state by mild voices and a “Marxist” state by more aggressive voices. Interestingly, the true progressives/Marxists occupy only a thin strip of land along California’s coast, but are so numerous they are the state’s deciders. Even within the progressive/Marxist coast, there are small pockets of conservatives that, for the most part, have little say.

However, once in a while, the fiscally conservative, free market, private property loving silent minority rises up in fury and hits the tax-and-spenders where they hurt – the ballot box. They rose up in 1978 and passed Proposition 13, which ended the bountiful distribution of property owners’ hard-earned cash. They rose up in 2003, and engineered the successful recall of Governor Grey Davis, who had plunged the state into a squabbling war among special interests. They helped elect Donald Trump in 2016. They are not happy campers today, and seemingly ready for another “Revolt” like the one in 1978.

Outside of progressives/Marxist eyes, observers can cite ample reasons for another cultural uprising: generous largess supported by high taxes, continuous mandates voiding local decision making, mounting state debt, an army of bureaucrats earning six-figure salaries, a legion of unelected officials doing what elected officials should be doing, and the huge elephant in the room that will not budge – uncontrollable unfunded public pension liabilities that have crowded out basic services.

Of this laundry list of grievances, one seems to stand out: state mandates that obliterate the ability of local property owners to decide the character of their neighborhoods. By character, residents mean appearance, density, tranquility, safety, ease of using one’s transportation of choice.

Sacramento has been cranking out legislation that allocates specific numbers of new housing units to each jurisdiction, requires such allocated housing to be built for all income levels in all neighborhoods, and voids decisions by local planners.

The latest example is Senate Bill 827 introduced January 3, 2018, requiring dense housing at all income levels within one-half mile of a bus stop, regardless of neighborhood. The proposal, supported by the now ubiquitous YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard), elicited this furious comment on the Crenshaw Subway website,

Like the Colonizers before them, YIMBYs claim the ‘Hood as Theirs! The bill is backed by group that calls themselves YIMBYs, which stands for “Yes in my backyard.” Like the colonizers whose agenda they seek to replicate, it takes a certain entitlement/ supremacist mindset to call a community they didn’t grow up in, don’t live in or are new to as “theirs.” It’s NOT their backyard – it’s ours. And we’re not about to give it up. WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!

Ouch! The fury continues with a list of obvious housing injustices ignored by YIMBYs, such as,

…they could care less about the predatory lending that led to the greatest evisceration of Black wealth in decades – it wasn’t their grandma whose mortgage became unaffordable overnight.

The article ends with a battle cry,

It is time that we put our war paint on, soldiers. SB 827 is bill that must be killed.

Another piece of legislation particularly disliked by conservatives and small businesses is Senate Bill 1, signed into law in April 2017, mandating a $0.12 per gallon increase in gasoline taxes. SB1 claims roads and bridges have been long neglected and need funding to upgrade.

However, there is enough talk in the bill of “sustainable communities” and “greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets,” code words for top-down mandates from Sacramento, to have elicited a proposed voter initiative that as of this writing has achieved over 25% of signatures required for ballot status. “Repeal the Gas Tax” would require that all increases in gas taxes be presented to voters from approval, including that included in SB1.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses issued the following statement in opposition to SB 1,

NFIB/CA is opposed to this Main Street Menace, which adds 12 cents per gallon in new taxes to gasoline, which is already the most expensive in the country. It also increases the high price of diesel by a whopping 22 cents per gallon, and adds $70 in new registration fees to each vehicle. These new taxes are supposed to be used to fix California’s ailing highways, a problem that government has failed to address for decades. The politicians have diverted budget money to other pet projects for years and now want consumers and businesses to pony up more hard-earned dollars to bail them out without offering real reforms.

Ford GoBike
Is this legislators’ idea of upgrading California’s infrastructure?

Politicians’ favorite “pet projects” are the “sustainable communities” mandates conservatives do not like either.

If the gas tax repeal initiative gets on the ballot, and passes, progressives/Marxists, as well as YIMBY “colonizers,” will likely experience great distress, since the event could signal the first salvo of the The New Tax Revolt.