Dear City, County, State and Federal government employees:
Here is a great article  in the Wall Street Journal below with more evidence that sustaining development does not work, never did, never will.  We need to quit wasting tax payer money pushing this radical environmental and UN agenda and city social engineering mania.   You can't  force people to live like this.   Who dreams up and believes this nonsense?
I live out here on 10 acres near Enumclaw.  My  wife and I just took my Mother to dinner for her 95th birthday at the Druid Glenn Golf Course Restaruant near Lake Sawyer area.  We must have passed at least a half dozen new developments along the way including 40 new homes going up in Black Diamond.  And that was just a 20 minute drive.  So if you are trying to park out the country side for your own enjoyment it is not working.  Enumclaw bought up two 100 acre farms next too where my Mother lives and they are building $350,000 homes like they plan on selling them very fast.  And this went on a farmers field that had more water under it than many lakes.   The City of Enumclaw bought up half the Rainier Stables for the middle school a few years ago.   Plus the City of Enumclaw put up a new high school on some very beautiful Mt. Rainier view acreage not too many years ago near me.  You must know Maple Valley is expanding big time along with Lake Sawyer area and Covington.  The picture I am trying to paint for you is there will be little to no rural land here in 50 years or 100 years because people in Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Auburn, Buckley, Lake Sawyer, Maple Valley, Cumberland are having sex and planning their families much faster and much more efficient than anyone in the goverment including the UN can keep up.   I don't think these people will shine on multi story condos for their preferred life style.  They definitely don't want to move to Seattle and take the monorail or Sounder or whatever uneconomical contrived contraption you try to push on all for the few.   They want as much land and house as they can afford.
Some of you people in the government have us property owners confused with rats!  You are confused that the radical environmental few think better  and speak better than all of  the many struggling common property owners themselves.  Also , many of you in the government are confused that you are representing the rural property owners, you are not.  We have no representation in the government.   The State DOE has no business in our business.  The King County GOP and the Democrats on the  Council made sure of that.   To recap, you the government do not represent us, the environmental wackos do not respresnt us, no political party represents us.  We represent ourselves and it is our land not yours.
Also you must know that the urban propery owners are confused that this sustaining development is all about clean air and clean water because they read the distorted glossy brochures Ron Sims puts out at taxpayer expense.   They also read the Seattle PI or  the Seattle Times or the Stranger which further confuses them regarding global warming and smart growth just to name a few.   Smart growth is very dumb and does not work.  Global warming is a myth and grossly distorted.  You have to wonder about people in the city who work themselves up into such a frensied distorted ideology that they sue anyone and distort anything to push their limited view of the world vis-a-vis, sustaining development, smart growth, GMA, CAO or global warming, et al. 
You also have to laugh that all of the people in Futurewise, Center For Environmental Law & Policy, King County Council live only in the city.  The point is you have the city people trying to tell the country people how to live so the city people can have clean air and clean water.   You have a couple small environmental far left groups and 7 people now 5 on the council trying to tell a few hundred thousand people out in the rural areas of King County how to live so the city can have clean air and clean water.   Where is the water and the air the dirtest?  I'll give you a hint, it is not in the country!  While at the same time I see all the little towns around me getting bigger and bigger and developments popping up in the middle of rural acreage like magic.   The schools are full, the bars are full, the harley people are loud and strong, the Muckleshoots built a 20,000 seat amphitheat 5 miles due west of me to make it more tough to get home from work during their concerts.  Lets not forget the gambling joints in Auburn 15 minutes away from Enumclaw. 
But most of us  in the rural area can't subdivide or use 50-65% of our land or cut our blackberries bushs or put in more roads or whatever.  And if  you do, some government employee will sneak on your property and force himself into your bedroom and handcuff you in front of your wife and then say ..oh I'm sorry we were mistaken.    Do you see anything wrong with my logic?  Maybe its me and I have just been out here on the Enumclaw plateau too long and have watched it grow around me for 30 years.   There is something terribly wrong with this picture.  I hope you see it.  It does take a while to connect the dots.  Pretty soon you can follow all the dots back to the govenment.
So the picture I see, is you cannot stop people from having kids and wanting to own property and a nice house.  This is the American way and the American dream.  The dream is not Sustaining Devolpment.  If you don't like this dream move to London or Tokyo or Bombay.  Quit messing with our dream.  You cannot stop people from living where they want to live because the demand for property creates a market.  And that market eventually is much stronger than any Sustaining Development, GMA, CAO,  Agricultural Preservation Act or Open Space, etc.   These are only temporary socio-enviro-government short sited over priced and bloated government program and highly inefficient regulations that do nothing but allow the value of land to rise like the water in a dam until the water breaks the dam.   The government is the dam.   The kids and their kids and their kids is the water rising.   You may try to suck in the unincorporated areas to your not so smart growth plan but it is like trying to stop flood waters from rising.  All you are doing by obstructing growth is delaying the eventual tide of demand that will surrond and swallow up any piece of rural property that is needed to satisfy some city or big developer that has more money and clout than you.  Its all about money not zoning or GMA or CAO or environmental fanatism.  This is the American way which is you let the market determine the value as opposed to the King County Council.
The expansive piece of property to my east is a dairy farm that was put into the Agricultural Preservation Act and the properety owner received near $400K to not develop it for 40 years I was told.   I think that was 10 plus years ago?   Anyway in 30 years or whatever that land is going to be ripe for development because the City of Enumclaw will buy it up and annex it into the city limits.   The land is ripe for development already.  The owner of the dairy home is now an altizheimer care facily.  Do you see the picture yet?  And this is the way all the little towns in the Puget sound will grow and in 50 or 100 years or propably much less, this rural land will be city land.  
You cannot stop growth just because the price of land  is zoned Agricultureal 30 acreas no more than you can stop people from having sex.  You cannot stop growth just because you impose artificial boundaries.  The market controls the growth and the value control use.   If you think you are in control you are confused and short sighted.  The free market is  much more efficient  than government.  That is why in a nutshell communism and socialism and fascism and other non free markets societies have failed.  You people in the government have got to get out of our pants and our homes and our pockets and our lives and our land and our vehicles and go get an honest job.   You all are a scorge on us and do more harm than good.  If you do not understand then I invite you to come to one of our property rights meeting and we will try to explain it to you.   You have to let people take care of themselves and not  take on the nanny role.  People will not learn and become "fishermen" and "fisherwomen" unless you stop giving them fish and taking away their rights.
Also if you really want to understand what big government and big money cannot do we have someone that can give you a presentation on how May Valley was made worse by planned county intervention. 
Jack R. Venrick
Enumclaw, WA

The Wall Street Journal  

January 14, 2006


The War Against Suburbia

January 14, 2006; Page A8

Suburbia, the preferred way of life across the advanced capitalist world, is under an unprecedented attack -- one that seeks to replace single-family residences and shopping centers with an "anti-sprawl" model beloved of planners and environmental activists. The latest battleground is Los Angeles, which gave birth to the suburban metropolis. Many in the political, planning and media elites are itching to use the regulatory process to turn L.A. from a sprawling collection of low-rise communities into a dense, multistory metropolis on the order of New York or Chicago. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has outlined this vision, and it does not conform to the way that most Angelenos prefer to live: "This old concept that all of us are going to live in a three-bedroom home, you know this 2,500 square feet, with a big frontyard and a big backyard -- well, that's an old concept."

This kind of imposed "vision" is proliferating in major metropolitan regions around the world. From Australia to Great Britain (and points in between), there is a drive to use the public purse to expand often underused train systems, downtown condominiums, hotels, convention centers, sports stadia and "star-chitect"-designed art museums, often at the expense of smaller business, single-family neighborhoods and local shopping areas. All this reflects a widespread prejudice endemic at planning departments in universities, within city bureaucracies, and in much of the media. Across a broad spectrum of planning schools and practitioners, suburbs and single-family neighborhoods are linked to everything from obesity, rampant consumerism, environmental degradation, the current energy crisis -- and even the predominance of conservative political tendencies.

Acolytes of such worldviews in our City Halls are now working overtime to find ways to snuff out "sprawl" in favor of high-density living. Portland's "urban growth boundary" and the "smart growth" policies promoted by former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, for example, epitomize the preference of planners to cram populations into ever denser, expensive housing by choking off new land to development. More recently, this notion even has spread to areas where single family homes and suburbs are de rigueur. Planners in Albuquerque have suggested banning backyards -- despised as wasteful and "anti-social" by new urbanists and environmentalists, although it is near-impossible to find a family that doesn't want one. Even the mayor of Boise, Idaho, advocates tilting city development away from private homes, which now dominate the market, toward apartments.

Perhaps the best-known case of anti-sprawl legislation has been the "urban growth boundary," adopted in the late '70s to restrict development to areas closer to established urban areas. To slow the spread of suburban, single-family-home growth, the Portland region adopted a "grow up, not out" planning regime, which stressed dense, multistory development. Mass transit was given priority over road construction, which was deemed to be sprawl-inducing.

Experts differ on the impact of these regulations, but it certainly has not created the new urbanist nirvana widely promoted by Portland's boosters. Strict growth limits have driven population and job growth further out, in part by raising the price of land within the growth boundary, to communities across the Columbia River in Washington state and to distant places in Oregon. Suburbia has not been crushed, but simply pushed farther away. Portland's dispersing trend appears to have intensified since 2000: The city's population growth has slowed considerably, and 95% of regional population increase has taken place outside the city limits.

This experience may soon be repeated elsewhere as planners and self-proclaimed visionaries run up against people's aspirations for a single-family home and low-to-moderate-density environment. Such desires may constitute, as late Robert Moses once noted, "details too intimate" to merit the attention of the university-trained. Even around cities like Paris, London, Toronto and Tokyo -- all places with a strong tradition of central planning -- growth continues to follow the preference of citizens to look for lower-density communities. High energy prices and convenient transit have not stopped most of these cities from continuing to lose population to their ever-expanding suburban rings.

But nowhere is this commitment to low-density living greater than in the U.S. Roughly 51% of Americans, according to recent polls, prefer to live in the suburbs, while only 13% opt for life in a dense urban place. A third would go for an even more low-density existence in the countryside. The preference for suburban-style living continues to be particularly strong among younger families. Market trends parallel these opinions. Despite widespread media exposure about a massive "return to the city," demographic data suggest that the tide continues to go out toward suburbia, which now accounts for two-thirds of the population in our large metropolitan areas. Since 2000, suburbs have accounted for 85% of all growth in these areas. And much of the growth credited to "cities" has actually taken place in the totally suburb-like fringes of places like Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

These facts do not seem to penetrate the consciousness of the great metropolitan newspapers anymore than the minds of their favored interlocutors in the planning profession and academia. Newspapers from Boston and San Francisco to Los Angeles are routinely filled with anecdotal accounts of former suburbanites streaking into hip lofts and high-rises in the central core. Typical was a risible story that ran in last Sunday's New York Times, titled "Goodbye, Suburbia." The piece tracked the hegira back to the city by sophisticated urbanites who left their McMansions to return to Tribeca (rhymes with "Mecca"). Suburbia, one returnee sniffed, is "just a giant echoing space."

Such reports confirm the cognoscente's notion that the cure for the single-family house lies in the requisite lifting of consciousness, not to mention a couple of spare million in the bank. Yet demographic data suggest the vast majority of all growth in greater New York comes not from migration from the suburbs, but from abroad. Among domestic migrants, far more leave for the "giant echoing spaces" than come back to the city. As a whole, greater New York -- easily the most alluring traditional urban center -- is steadily becoming more, not less, suburban. Since 2000, notes analyst Wendell Cox, New York City has gained less than 95,000 people while the suburban rings have added over 270,000. Growth in "deathlike" places like Suffolk County, in Long Island, Orange County, N.Y., and Morris County, N.J., has been well over three times faster than the city.

So as he unfolds the details of his new urban "vision," Mr. Villaraigosa might do well to consider such sobering statistics. Californians, too, like single-family homes. According to a 2002 poll, 84% prefer them to apartments. Instead of dismissing the suburban single-family neighborhood as "an old concept," L.A.'s mayor might look to how to capitalize on the success of such sections of his city as the San Fernando Valley, where a large percentage of the housing stock is made up of owner-occupied houses and low-rise condominiums. The increasingly multi-ethnic valley already boasts both the city's largest base of homeowners, as well as its strongest economy, including roughly two-thirds of the employment in the critical entertainment industry.

It is time politicians recognized how their constituents actually want to live. If not, they will only hurt their communities, and force aspiring middle-class families to migrate ever further out to the periphery for the privacy, personal space and ownership that constitutes the basis of their common dreams.

Mr. Kotkin, Irvine Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation, is the author of "The City: A Global History" (Modern Library, 2005).

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