Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who's being "responsible"?

There's a new group in the county, the "Amador Citizens for Responsible Government." Sounds good, right? Who's opposed to responsible government?

But like many things, what sounds good may not hold up to closer scrutiny. This particular group's thoughts on what constitutes responsible government are pretty questionable.

The group opposes efforts to combat global warming, which it calls a "scientifically-discredited theory." They recently convinced the Amador County Board of Supervisors not to sign on to a national "Cool County" resolution pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Apparently, these "responsible" guys (19 of their 20 "Executive Council" members are guys) think they know more about climate science than the the Nobel Peace Prize committee and major world scientific institutions.

They've shown up at recent meetings of the Amador County General Plan Advisory Committee to oppose consideration of global warming in the update of the county general plan -- even after the county's consultant described how the state is suing counties that fail to take global warming into account.

Is that responsible? I don't think so. Failing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions could result in serious consequences for this and future generations. That doesn't sound responsible to me. It sounds selfish and short-sighted, especially when common sense solutions exist.

If our county disregards global warming-related state law, it leaves itself open to lawsuits. Is that responsible? Last time I checked, our county didn't have money to waste on lawsuits that can easily be avoided. I know I don't want my tax dollars spent that way.

This group also opposes smart growth planning principles, which center around building denser, walkable communities where services and infrastructure are available -- much like the small towns we love in our county now.

Providing government services and infrastructure to compact development is much cheaper than serving homes spread all over the rural countryside. It is easier to protect homes from wildland fire. It costs less to maintain roads.

Compact development reduces the need for new school construction, school buses, new roads, new sewer facilities, water lines, fire stations, and more. It ensures that natural areas will continue to provide "ecological services" such as clean water and clean air. It supports our tourism economy by keeping the county beautiful and rural. It keeps our working landscapes contributing to the local culture and economy.

Smart growth can be cheaper for builders, too, because they don't need to provide the infrastructure to sprawling homes.

So it's hard to see how opposing smart growth constitutes "responsible government."

The group is also opposed to the new Amador Regional Planning Committee -- a group formed to help ensure better coordination of land use planning among our five cities and the county. The committee has no regulatory authority. Absolutely none.

But this new group somehow sees it as a threat, and therefore supports continuing our current system, where coordination of planning efforts is spotty, at best -- with the obvious consequences we're seeing in our county today.

Responsible? I think not.

So what is this group for? They say they're for "limited government." But best I can tell, they're really for unfettered growth of the type that threatens our natural environment and quality of life -- the kind of growth we've seen turn much of rural California into sprawling, undifferentiated suburbs. They want that sort of growth here, too, regardless of the cost.

And if you ask me, that is anything but responsible.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps they want to bring the very same kind of growth here that allowed YOU to move here from the Bay Area? Hypocrite.

Katherine said...

Dear Anonymous: I may be an imperfect messenger, but at least I have the courage to use my real name and offer reasoned arguments. If you want to offer a civil rebuttal to my post that is more than a restatement of the ACRG web content -- and sign your name to it -- feel free.

There are many unbuilt rural parcels in the county now (nearly 300 for sale on the MLS today, and it's not even RE sales season). There's nothing stopping people from buying and building on existing rural lots, just as my husband and I did decades ago.

The question is whether it's responsible for the county to encourage the creation of more sprawling rural lots considering the cost to existing taxpayers, the environment, agriculture, tourism, etc. I think not. You evidently disagree.

The beauty of our system is that you and I can disagree. But I won't post any further comments from you unless you sign your real name.

Have a great day,

Glenda Fern said...

Dear Anonymous: Why did we move here? For its scenic beauty, privacy, clean air and drinkable water. Is that what the developers are bringing to Amador County? No. They're bringing high-density housing and big box stores. I have a friend who paid a pretty penny for a home in one of the first subdivisions in Granite Bay. The realtor sold her the property because of its "beautiful, scenic view." That view is now rooftops and her home's value has gone down because of the glut of unsold real estate in the area. Is that what we want to happen to Amador County? I hope not. But that's what we're going to get if the Amador Citizens for (ir)responsible Government get their way.