Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lipstick on a pig

Some of the quaint sayings I remember from growing up in North Carolina are coming back to me lately. Here's one that seems to apply with increasing frequency: "It's like putting lipstick on a pig."

What that means, of course, is that however one might gussy up a pig, underneath the layers of makeup, fancy clothing, and jewelry, it's still a pig.

So how does this apply to things local? Well, think about the new sign proposed for Sutter Hill(see March 19 post and Sutter Creek planning documents). It's a crass, urban LCD advertising sign with Gold Rush features stuck on to make it "fit" and some revenue bones thrown to the Knight Foundry to make it harder to reject.

Or take the various big subdivisions proposed in the last couple of years. They're large lot, dumb-growth suburban projects that take out huge numbers of oak trees, chop up the landscape, and because everyone who will live in them must drive to do anything, will cause near-gridlock conditions on local roads. They're not designed to meet local housing needs or address state growth issues, but to attract affluent people who already have perfectly nice homes somewhere else.

But the developers are busy applying lipstick to these projects, hoping no one will notice what's underneath. They seem to believe that "amenities" like hiking trails, token parks, some money for schools, unbuildable land for "open space," and maybe a few low-wage jobs will be enough to help locals grow blind to the projects' shortcomings.

I think we still see better than that. At least I hope we do.

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