Jun 3 2022

OPINION: Where Are the Resources for California Imposed Growth?

What’s with all those suggestive banners on Grand Avenue?  “A Housing Element for All,” “How Will Piedmont Grow?” and a couple more I could not either see (for the trees) or remember.

Anytime I see advocacy for Piedmont to grow, I hope they mean more kids in the existing housing.   I was one at ABAG — at both Regional Planning and the Executive Board, who insisted that some communities were not meant to build more housing for a number of reasons.  
There is this compulsion that California needs to grow its population.  This began with Governor Pat Brown (Jerry’s Dad) in the early 1960’s.  The senior Brown wanted California to become the most populous state and, therefore, have the most electoral votes.  Well, we have the most votes but we have a state whose population is outrunning its resources.
The State water project (also championed by Pat Brown) was never completed.  We lack the water capacity to support both population and agriculture.  Now, how does this affect Piedmont and it’s planning?  You run the very real risk of over burdening the community’s resources by way of infrastructure and effect on other imported resources such as water and energy.
The State has adopted this philosophy of build, build, build and we have, have, have.  California loses valuable agricultural land to development every year.  We have less land to produce food for more people.  When did this become a good idea?  This elongated period of drought has caused tremendous harm to the underground water supply in the Central Valley.  Yet there is this continuing demand to build right over those aquifers.
I am not even going to get into the status of public education and the effects this has on the future of public vs. private education.   
Forcing communities, such as Piedmont, to grow its housing is just symptomatic of the harm being done throughout California.  Jerry Brown, as Governor, the second time around, spoke of a California with 50 million people.  However, he did not add that it would be 50 million living with resources for 35 million.
The State needs to pull back on the draconian mandate to build more housing and assess California’s resources and how best to manage them.  The only State offered water plan continues to be building a piped version of the Peripheral Canal.  Likewise, why has the State been lax in planning for California’s agriculture assets?  How much more ag land can be paved over before Sacramento realizes the danger this poses for the future of this state?
“How shall Piedmont Grow” is an indicator of how far off the rails California is headed (and I don’t mean all the money invested in “high speed rail”) with this forced building policy (more like extorsion) while under planning for the resources to supply the population.
Steve Eigenberg, Former Piedmont Mayor and Councilmember
Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

3 Responses to “OPINION: Where Are the Resources for California Imposed Growth?”

  1. Back in Governor Brown’s first 2 terms, he told Californians that we now lived in an Era of Limits. There’s only so much land, so much water, so much clean air, etc. The pendulum has swung back the other way. Even the Sierra Club has given in to the endless growth thinking, as long as it’s green. And oddly, there are almost twice as many people here as there were in the 1970s.
    The pro-growth, pro-housing folks are completely in charge in Sacramento. If you’d add up all the RHNAs of all the metros in the state, you’d find that we are legally obligated to plan housing for 6 million more people by 2031. We now hear that it would be elitist to tell anyone that they too couldn’t live in California. The Bay Area’s legislators are at the heart of the Endlessly More Housing movement. If there’s to be change, it would have to be through the ballot box.

  2. Excellent comments, Steve. Thanks for writing.

  3. Both opinions well stated. I couldn’t agree more to the thoughtful common sense of Messrs. Eigenberg and Henn. Thank you.

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