Greater Greater Washington

Virginia tea party opposes less government regulation with anti-Smart Growth, "eco-extremist" hysteria

Claiming that "eco-extremists" want to force people to move into "feudalistic transit villages," a Virginia tea party leader is attacking Virginia's conservative House speaker for supporting a policy that loosens government regulation over development in some areas of the state.


"Eco-extremists" might lead to Virginia towns looking like this. Photo of Fredericksburg by richmanwisco on Flickr.

The policy, known as "Urban Development Areas," was pioneered by Republicans in the legislature. It requires each county to create a section in its comprehensive plan to accommodate growth in a smaller area, with fewer rules limiting property owners.

UDAs on their own don't prohibit any development elsewhere. However, property owners would get more flexibility inside UDAs, such as looser stormwater requirements, less restrictive setback rules, and permission to build more housing units per acre. Roads laid out by local governments would better resemble traditional Virginia towns, and reduce the need for government to spend high amounts on power, water, sewer and road infrastructure.

A bill in the Virginia legislature would let counties opt out of designating these areas. Speaker Bill Howell (R-Fredericksburg) has been opposing this bill. Donna Holt, leader of Virginia's Campaign for Liberty, sent an email to Virginia tea party members making some astounding statements about the effects of UDAs:

If [Speaker Howell] has his way, you'll be forced to forfeit your land in the suburbs for the development of high-density 'urban development areas' also called 'smart growth'.

This is a gross violation of property rights. The inalienable right to own and control the use of private property is perhaps the single most important principle responsible for the growth and prosperity of Virginia. ...

You see the corporate developers stand to gain high profits from the construction of up to twelve homes on a single acre of land. They also get huge tax breaks for their green building practices in the "new urbanism design".

Eco-extremists are heavily funded for their lobby efforts to grab and preserve up to 90% of all the land that would be off limits to humans and move you into high-density feudalistic transit villages.

They use global warming and environmental disaster to scare the citizens and politicians into abolishing private property ownership.

If they have their way, single family homes will be a thing of the past. We'd become mere lease holders of the homes we live in.

The claim that any of this would take anyone out of any homes is so ridiculous as to be laughable, except for the fact that the tea party groups have acquired significant influence over national and state legislators.

More ironic is the way Holt argues that property rights are "the single most important principle" in Virginia, but almost immediately then castigates "corporate developers" for wanting to maximize their own property rights.

It'd be fascinating to see what would happen if a property owner next door to Holt's single-family home requested permission to have the right to put 12 homes on his or her one-acre property. I'm sure Holt would quickly insist that while property rights may be inalienable, the right to prevent any development denser than her own within viewing distance is even more inalienable than that.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

Add a comment »

Feudalistic villages? There are going to be lords? Excellent - where do I submit an application?

Wait - there aren't Huh.

I don't think feudalistic means what Holt thinks it means. Perhaps instead of the Campaign for Liberty, she should become active in a campaign for dictionaries.

by dcd on Feb 5, 2011 2:46 pm • linkreport

I take real issue with Donna Holt's mailers, all of which I've received. If you go online to the LIS service that shows the status of a bill, you will see that HB 1721 has not been blocked or held up! Maybe Howell doesn't like it, who knows? BUT, no one's holding it up. It was docketed early on, passed out of subcommittee on Jan. 20 and passed out of committee this past friday. This quote from Donna Holt doesn't include that language, but elsewhere she alleges in mailers that it's being hijacked or blocked. It's just not accurate if you do a second to check what she says. I wish more folks would take a minute to verify the information they get from political groups - even from Tea Party mailers - because sometimes folks don't have the right facts.

by kks on Feb 5, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

@kks: You mean the leader of a tea party group would (gasp) misrepresent a political stance? I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

by dcd on Feb 5, 2011 3:29 pm • linkreport

I'm sure Holt would quickly insist that while property rights may be inalienable, the right to prevent any development denser than her own within viewing distance is even more inalienable than that.

You've hit the nail on the head here. Tea partiers are completely against big gum'mint intervention, except when it benefits them and/or supports their POV.

by Gordon on Feb 5, 2011 3:30 pm • linkreport

The policy, known as "Urban Development Areas," was pioneered by Republicans in the legislature. It requires each county to create a section in its comprehensive plan to accommodate growth in a smaller area, with fewer rules limiting property owners.

I'm not sure what this means ... or if David has correctly stated the facts in the matter. When growth occurs in a 'smaller area' (read 'denser area') more rules limiting property owners with what they can do with there properties are required, and not fewer. For example, when you own your own 10,000 acre spread in Alaska, who's going to care if you build a workshop on it ... or start raising 100 pigs. But try doing that in a DC rowhouse, and it's a whole different story. The closer neighbors are to each, the more their neighbors' actions affect them. Don't believe me? Just read about the interactions between everyone on here!

by Lance on Feb 5, 2011 4:28 pm • linkreport

Well, it's a relative scheme of rules. This is like White Flint vs. Clarendon, not Western Nebraska vs. White Flint. One can certainly envision strict rules limiting development in suburban areas, and one can also envision looser restrictions on development in urban areas.

For example, go to Surrey, BC, and see the random apartment towers in the middle of single-family detatched dwellings.

by OctaviusIII on Feb 5, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

So the UDAs are not creating urban growth boundaries outside of which development is allowed to occur, but according to the earlier article GGW posted about this, land within these UDAs is subject to density minimums, right?

(Just to be clear, I personally think that density minimums are generally less destructive to economic freedom than density maximums [although personally I'd prefer neither], but I just want to make sure I'm understanding the proposals correctly.)

As much as I think the Tea Party is being ridiculous in opposing this, I guess my only comment is that if the UDAs do indeed institute density minimums, then it's not entirely correct to say that they moving completely in the direction of a free market and property rights. It would be nice for politicians to be able to choose a free market equilibrium rather than oscillating wildly between one form of restriction and another. They do this with parking regs all the time – I don't think I've ever seen a pol argue that parking minimums should be abolished and replaced with nothing – they (almost?) always want to replace them with maximums.

by Stephen Smith on Feb 5, 2011 5:25 pm • linkreport

the rules we're talking about here are minimum requirement rules like minimum parking requirements, setback (for parking lots in front of stores), lot size, housing units in a building... the kind of rules that are supposed to make high-density walkable urbanism impossible.

the land-use rules that political groups support reflects the land-use patterns of the people who support those politicians. If we built more UDAs than people living in those UDAs would elect politicians that support similar land-use patterns. Changing land-use patterns is very threatening to the political establishment because it changes what type of politicians the population will vote for. The tea party candidate is using fear tactics because they find this to be a very threatening proposal for their future political base.

by Lee Watkins on Feb 5, 2011 5:36 pm • linkreport

Stephen: I read it as the minimums were minimums for the zoning limits. It wasn't that you HAD to build 12 units per acre (for townhouses), but that the area had to ALLOW at least 12 units per acre. That would make it a minimum for the maximum, not a build-to minimum.

However, I might be missing something or misunderstood. I read Daniel's piece, the one I linked to from Bacon's Rebellion, and a couple others besides the Tea Party stuff, so if I misunderstood, I'd like to get it straight.

by David Alpert on Feb 5, 2011 5:47 pm • linkreport

These kinds of arguments make it so hard to argue with the Tea Party. They do not follow the laws of logic. They are right, whatever your argument is. Any disagreement gets labeled with a disparaging sticker - eco-extremists in this case.

I honestly do not know what to do with this madness.

by Jasper on Feb 5, 2011 5:54 pm • linkreport

Well, the only thing more feudalistic is living in a house owned by a bank while you owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 5, 2011 6:15 pm • linkreport

Oh, those small-government-loving tea party folks...I guess that collecting those Social Security Checks, getting their Medicare, and driving on Interstates gives them ample time to ponder just how self-sufficient, self-made, and free they all are, and to be politically involved (while dangling teabags from their clothes and making misspelled signs that question Obama's citizenship).

Clearly they see denser development for what it is...one step removed from Marxist/Stalinist/Maoist/Socialist/Fascist Statism! If we're not careful, soon, we'll all be living in Soviet-style highrises, working on Kolkhozes, and our KJV 1611 Bibles will be replaced with copies of Das Kapital and Mao's Little Red Book.

by D.K. on Feb 5, 2011 7:12 pm • linkreport

I'm ashamed to say there was time in my life I would have agreed with the people posting on here, who have disrespectfully dismissed Ms.Holt as a reactionary kook of sorts. That Speaker Howell opposes legislation allowing localities and communities to decide for themselves what is best, speaks volumes more about what he thinks of consent of the governed, than the discomfort Ms.Holt's vision of the future under UN Agenda 21 has caused you. I don't want to believe it either, but it is very real, and very serious. You owe it to yourselves to read a little further before criticizing an extremely valid opinion so sharply. If there are any among you that truly believe the United Nations has America's, let alone Virginia's best interests at heart, then you deserve to be deluded, and ultimately ruled by government rather than by law.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 5, 2011 9:16 pm • linkreport

Gregory, I'd love to read a little further, but my black helicopter just arrived and I don't want to keep the Illuminati waiting.

by Dizzy on Feb 5, 2011 9:29 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy

Ding!

by Adam L on Feb 5, 2011 10:08 pm • linkreport

Certainly no biased reporting here! (sarcasm)
I challenge the gainsayers to look into "Agenda 21" themselves and consider it's potential for mischief.
The writer seems to think that some interests are more "equal" than others if it supports the concept that the property rights of the individual deserve less protection than corporate interests or the grand ideas of social planners.

by Will Aygarn on Feb 5, 2011 10:18 pm • linkreport

There's no way I'm submitting to UN rule. We'd all still be wearing wooden shoes if those pinkos had their way. If today we let them take our property rights, then tomorrow they'll install some godless monarch to rule us all. Read up on Project Blue Beam if you don't believe me.

by aaa on Feb 5, 2011 11:32 pm • linkreport

I'm glad Will and Gregory are reading, because I want to understand where you are coming from. I find this tea party position on land use a little puzzling to be honest, but I could be misunderstanding it. Do you mind answering David's question about the neighbor who wants to build twelve houses on an acre? Let's pretend this person is not a corporate executive or a UN operative, just a regular guy who has an extra acre and wants to turn a little profit. Should he be allowed to do this with his own property?

by Daniel on Feb 5, 2011 11:59 pm • linkreport

The County in Virginia that I work for has a very big issue with the UDA legislation: We would be forced to designate a large area as part of the UDA, and with the minimums required, could not disallow, limit, or attempt to mitigate some development proposals. The fundamental at play here is to limit a locality's ability to limit developers. It's so that developers can have free reign to develop whatever they want.

While many people see this as a sign of a free market, it is definitely a market but definitely not free. Financing is not available for high-density mixed-use buildings in walkable neighborhoods adjacent to frequent transit service... in the suburbs. So the true effect would be the creation of larger single-use developments at higher densities that simply mimic the kind of city Jane Jacobs talked about, instead settling for the Disneyland Main Street version we see built so often these days.

If the gum'mint were to eliminate zoning in these areas that they create high minimum densities, and were to alter all current state regulations to allow the creation of walkable streets too small for our huge fire engines to barrel down, and were to somehow incentivize small-scale incremental infill development gradually over time, then maybe real "urban development" could come to the area, but who are we kidding?

by (name withheld because of my job) on Feb 6, 2011 1:03 am • linkreport

Interestingly enough, the eco-extremists (scientists) have found allies with all sorts of hunting and "country" types that the tea party claims to represent in preserving large swaths of open land. For our eco-systems to remain sustainable, they have to be wide spread enough to support migration patterns and the like which support vital parts of their food chain. People who actually live in these environments don't need some high falut'n degree to understand this, because they study it old school, but none the less can refute the anti-scientist super-store wing of the Tea Party which use a simplistic view of the foudning fathers ideas to cloak their fear and ignorance.

Much like they attack the progressives of the early part of the 20th century who actually made American Capitalism viable and vital again with thier much needed reforms, don't shy away from facts and science to combat these laughable assertions.

by Thayer-D on Feb 6, 2011 7:06 am • linkreport

Will Aygarn,
No, property rights aren't tantamount above all else. That type of thinking got us into all sorts of messes. The future is going to necessarily be about balance.

by Syrine on Feb 6, 2011 7:19 am • linkreport

I always find it interesting that tea party people are dismissed out of hand as dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists. I have read the information that Donna Holt has presented. I doubt many of those that shot off such snarky commentary has...

Funny, whenever I have substantive conversation about government budgets, current events or Constitutional issues, the folks in ur organization seem to know more about the issues then the naysayers and "haters."

Donna Holt is not a wing nut and has taken this information to the people, knowing full well progressives would paint her in this light. God Bless Her.

It would do all of you to take an hour and read about the local zoning issues and the larger Agenda 21 aspect of these actions before you are so dismissive of them. If you do that you may come to the realization that they represent a real danger to our nation and communities.

Chip Tarbutton
President
Roanoke Tea Party

by Chip Tarbutton on Feb 6, 2011 7:50 am • linkreport

Daniel, the issue is not as much the guy with the extra acre wanting to do whatever. I have an extra acre, as do most of my neighbors. Most of us live out here *because* this part of the county simply is not a place where an apartment complex or office building would be needed. But in your hypothetical, if i/we wanted to build one, then I guess provided we got the building permits issued and had the money to waste, there would be little to stop us.

The "tea party" issue, if you want to call it that, is counties/localities in Virginia being issued mandates to establish UDA's, versus simply being able to decide what is best for their county/locality and having the ability to opt-out. The heart of the issue really goes to our elected officials having their authority usurped by the state having adopted a policy that prevents them from representing the will of their constituents.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 6, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

Chip: no one cares about Agenda 21 and how it is supposedly being forced upon all of us. The only people we hear about it from are tea partiers.

And I, frankly, never find it interesting that tea party people are dismissed out of hand as dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists. Picking up on subtlety and sapience from someone seems second-nature.

If the platform ever seemed profound or evolved to anyone else, then I might find it interesting. So try to find a more interesting way to join the current conversation, and, Flying-Spaghetti-Monster-willing, we will all one day see the light.

by David M. on Feb 6, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

@GH: That's the Dillon Rule. It happens all the time that Arlington residents don't get to do exactly as they want (mandatory stop for peds in the x-walk, dedicated sales tax for Metro, for examples) because of the state.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 6, 2011 9:38 am • linkreport

I guess I'm a bit confused. Teapartiers always say things should be left to the state governments (they HATE it when the federal government stipulates something, even if it's found to be constitutional), supposedly because they like the "laboratory of the states" approach.

This is the VA state government engaged in a decision made at the state level without Federal goading or encouragement. Where's the Constitutional Crisis?

I think the real issue is they like Federalism when it works for their belief set, hate it when it doesn't. Just like as D.K. said above, they're fine with the "socialism" of Medicare, social security cheques, and driving on Federal maintain and subsisized highways.

by terri g. on Feb 6, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

Donna Holt is one step away from a Michele Bachmann-type who claimed something to the effect of "Liberals want to force people in to high-rise slums by railroad tracks" and Colorado's Dan Maes, who claims bicycles are a tool for the U.N. to take over the United States. http://www.denverpost.com/election2010/ci_15673894

We call out these folks for what they are: nutballs, loons, crazy uncles (aunts) in the basement.

by Jackson on Feb 6, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

@Gregory The heart of the issue really goes to our elected officials having their authority usurped by the state having adopted a policy that prevents them from representing the will of their constituents.

This is a recurring theme where the supposed 'smart' growth folks are involved. They can't see far enough past their own noses to understand that not everyone has the same needs and wants as they do, and much more importantly that they don't have the right to dictate their preferences to others. We're seeing that here in DC in many issues including dictating that ALL neighborhoods must have sidewalks ... because in their shortsideness they think everyone must live the urban experience ... even those who have specifically chosen otherwise by perhaps moving to a neighborhood without sidewalks. The smart growthers have a lot of great ideas and a lot to contribute to the conversation, but until they can get past this need to force everyone to want what they want, they'll have a hard time getting any message out.

by Lance on Feb 6, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

Lance: Corrective action for 60+ years of official and unofficial policies dictating urban sprawl (just like Affirmative Action). If putting highways and big-box stores through cities won't be the end of urban living, putting sidewalks and denser development in other areas won't be the end of suburban or rural living.

by NPG on Feb 6, 2011 11:35 am • linkreport

@ Chip Tarbutton: I always find it interesting that tea party people are dismissed out of hand as dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists. ... I doubt many of those that shot off such snarky commentary has...

Funny, whenever I have substantive conversation about government budgets, current events or Constitutional issues, the folks in ur organization seem to know more about the issues then the naysayers and "haters."

And you really see no cognitive dissonance in these two paragraphs? First you go booboo that people call you idiots, and then you call those people 'haters'.

It's this lack of internal logic that I can not deal with, as I said above. You can't have it both ways. You can't complain about being called names, while calling names.

Out here on GGW we have pretty vigorous debate, and we keep it pretty respectful, in general. However, tough questions are asked, and statements need to be backed up by verifiable data. I would hope that you are willing to explain Tea Party positions here, and clarify misconceptions that arise.

However, it does not help to start by calling people "eco-extremists" and "haters".

I've done a little search in this thread. You were the first to use the words "dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists". If you want to be taken serious by people outside of your own organization, you need to stop calling names.

If Tea Parties are serious about less government, I believe there are actually quite some points where they might be able to collaborate with the majority here on GGW.

Urban designers would like to get rid of a lot of rules that pretty much force the "free market" to build roads and more sprawl. Urban designers would like to get rid of government subsidies to car-friendly landscape destruction. Urban designers would like to get rid of minimum parking requirements. Urban designers would like to get rid of the massive government subsidies to big oil. Would you support any of these?

David Alpert could you (or someone else) make a list of things where urban designers might be able to shake hands with Tea Party principles of less government, and lower taxes? Perhaps you can invite Chip, or another Tea Party to react and see where you can collaborate.

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

@Jasper ... I think you misread what he said ...

"the folks in ur organization seem to know more about the issues then the naysayers and "haters."

the 'haters' here (as well as the naysayers) is what he's saying his folks are being accused of by 'ur' (i.e., your = Smartgrowthers) folks.

That's not inconsistent with his first statement:
I always find it interesting that tea party people are dismissed out of hand as dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists.

by Lance on Feb 6, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

I'm no tea partier but I think I can see what the core of their objection is and it actually is in line with their principles which I view as:
(1) Government should only take on as many roles and responsibilities as absolutely necessary
(2) What must be handled by government, should be handled at the lowest level of government possible.

Therefore, they object to the state FORCING counties to designate these areas, rather than just letting the counties designate the areas themselves (or not designate them at all if they so wish.)

by orulz on Feb 6, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

The comments on this post epitomize so many perils in today's American society. What could be a venue for polite discourse is instead a stomping ground for posters who would hurl insults rather than points-of-view, be they informed or not. I conclude it must be more gratifying to them than having to debate issues with someone who's opinion they don't share.

Although David M. meant it in a disparaging way, he is partly correct in stating nobody cares about this issue. Obviously, several people care about it, or we wouldn't be having this exchange. I respond by saying, if more people were made aware of it, more people would care. Not all of them, but definitely more.

In spite of being vastly outnumbered by those more willing to accept the status quo and conventional thought concerning the role of government in peoples lives, Ms. Holt instead dared to step outside the zone of comfortable thought, and inform people of some of the cons associated with "sustainable development". That she has passionately pursued to that end, she, and anyone who agrees has their character and intellect viciously attacked rather than their view. I would submit that this conform-or-be-cast-out mentality is far more dangerous to a free society than the purported "ignorant tea party" principles of simple God-given liberties which are the basis for a free society.

In closing and parting, I submit this question - what is so wrong with localities, communities, and finally, individuals being allowed to decide for themselves how best to develop their land?

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 6, 2011 1:27 pm • linkreport

@ Lance: ... I think you misread what he said ...

Or you did.

'ur' (i.e., your = Smartgrowthers) folks.

ur = our or your? I read our. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but it seems that Tea Party leaders seem more prone to typos (missing an o) than using txt messaging language (ur=you're or your).

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2011 1:40 pm • linkreport

To Daniel:
As a land surveyor in SE Va., I'm already seeing the bureaucracy concerning land use getting so bad that I won't touch some projects, and I'm not alone. For instance, while simply cutting the homesite out of a farm the owner was going to have to install streetlights and improve the road.
As for the theoretical 12 unit project next door it used to be and still is, I think, that you can sue people for damages or to stop them from attempting to damage you. People didn't want the responsibility so they farmed it out to the governments, who were more than happy to gain more power.
I think it's a shame how so much that gives an area character becomes illegal to replace or replicate because of zoning regs. The thought struck home while attending a funeral in a downtown Portsmouth church some years back. It was built by freedmen in the 1800's and would be illegal to replace if by chance it was somehow destroyed or significantly damaged.

by Will A on Feb 6, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

It is a little strange to hear tea-partiers arguing in support of completely sovereign county zoning prerogative, and against states rights and against private property rights (in the case of folks who would wish to develop more densely than their preferred lifestyle arrangement). But I guess staving off U.N control calls for a little flexibility in principles.

by Daniel on Feb 6, 2011 3:26 pm • linkreport

The whole UN conspiracy thing blow my mind.

I mean....

Member state Contribution
(% of UN budget)
United States 22.00%

It makes sense for other countries in the world to accuse the UN of being an american vessel. But to accuse the american funded UN of trying to destroy america...? What?

I mean, for crying out loud, Canada has a bigger funding influence than China, so there goes to whole pinko argument.

by JJJJJ on Feb 6, 2011 3:42 pm • linkreport

"I always find it interesting that tea party people are dismissed out of hand as dumb hicks and conspiracy theorists. I have read the information that Donna Holt has presented. I doubt many of those that shot off such snarky commentary has... "

Yep, we read it. She's a hypocrite. She's advocating *less* property rights and *more* government control, which is fine, but she's claiming to be in favor of *more* property rights and *less* government control, which is hypocritical.

And *that* is the problem with Tea Party types. Hypocrisy. If you want to have tyrannical local governments micromanaging your every action, fine, that's democracy, I even sympathize. But you'd better stop claiming that you're doing so because you're in favor of "personal liberty", "property rights", or "free markets", which those like Ms. Holt blatantly oppose.

If you claim to support the opposite of what you advocate, you're a hypocrite, or perhaps just an idiot.

"In closing and parting, I submit this question - what is so wrong with localities, communities, and finally, individuals being allowed to decide for themselves how best to develop their land?"
Those three goals are in conflict with one another.

*Which one do you advocate*? Or, more fairly, *what balance between those three do you advocate*? If you're honest, you will admit that letting *individuals* decide for themselves is massively in conflict with letting *localities* decide for themselves. Localities frequently enact excruciating micromanaging zoning laws. *WHICH DO YOU WANT?* Ms. Holt wants localities to decide, *at the expense of individuals*, but she claims to be backing indviduals. *This is dishonest and hypocritical*.

by Nathanael on Feb 6, 2011 4:11 pm • linkreport

To put it bluntly, Mr. Honeycutt seems unable to tell the difference between individuals, homeowners' associations, and localities. The three are practically always at loggerheads with each other. You cannot back the rights of all three at once. I wonder which he actually backs -- does he even *know*? Developers usually benefit when individuals do, as an additional note.

As I understand the issue, the state government currently requires localities to make a zone where individuals have more rights than localities. There is a bill, HB1721, which would allow local governments to retain their powers of total micromanagement over all property within the locality. Ms. Holt opposes individual property rights, so she thinks this bill is a great idea... which is fine. But she then claims that she is doing this in defense of private property rights, which is bullshit.

Private property rights benefit developers, and Tea Partiers should know that. If you, like Ms. Holt, are anti-developer, you are also anti-private-property-rights, and *that's OK*, there are plenty of reasonable people on the government-control-is-good end of the spectrum, but you'd better realize what you're advocating for.

What makes me mad is the "black is white" arguments of the Tea Partiers, where they advocate for the exact opposite of what they say they're advocating for. This deserves insult and ridicule.

by Nathanael on Feb 6, 2011 4:26 pm • linkreport

I'll reiterate since a bunch of early commenters missed it: these UDAs, by statute, consist of zones with LESS GOVERNMENT REGULATION. Ms. Holt is backing MORE GOVERNMENT REGULATION of private property.

Again, nothing wrong with that, but it makes her hysteria about attacks on private property exactly and precisely backwards.

by Nathanael on Feb 6, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

@Nathaneal, 'll reiterate since a bunch of early commenters missed it: these UDAs, by statute, consist of zones with LESS GOVERNMENT REGULATION. Ms. Holt is backing MORE GOVERNMENT REGULATION of private property.

Sorry, I don't know any more about the issue than I'm reading here, but I think you're missing the point. No one is arguing for more or less goverment control on this issue ... just arguing who should be controling it ... A commonwealth government or the local governments ...

I'd say you'd have a hard time explaining to anyone (including yourself) why the legislators in Richmond should know better than the local zoning board what is best for the locality. Remember, like sidewalks in a DC neighborhood, this doesn't affect anyone other than the people who live there. I.e., You're coming off looking like a Wells or Cheh who thinkis they know whats best for everyone else. Not good. Not a good way to help GGW celebrate it's 3rd birthday ... Let's try to show some maturity ... i.e., understanding that while you are free to do as you wish where you are (provided you can convince the others in your community to do likewise) you have absolutely no right to be dictating your way to others where you're not even affected by their actions. That's a sign of maturity.

by Lance on Feb 6, 2011 7:45 pm • linkreport

@ Lance: Let's try to show some maturity

Hey Lance, aren't you the guy that always tells non-Washingtonians to not mess with DC politics? Why are you not living by your own standards here? Why, as a Washingtonian, are you even speaking up here?

Do you perhaps feel entitled because you work in the Commonwealth?

by Jasper on Feb 6, 2011 9:38 pm • linkreport

Again, why do people engage Lance. Much the like Tea Beggers, his arguments effectively shift depending on "what's in it for him". That pretty much the only logical consistency there.

by John on Feb 6, 2011 10:25 pm • linkreport

As I understand it, here's the philosophical question: if a higher-level government tells a lower-level government to reduce its interference with private property rights, is this: (1) desirable, (2) undesirable, or (3) possibly desirable or undesirable, depending upon the details of the reduction? I'm curious how people, Tea Partiers and otherwise, would answer this question. For my part, I'm a utilitarian and would answer (3) but fall closer to (1) than (2), and from what I've read would support Agenda 21 if I lived in Virginia, which I do not.

I believe that if a compelling case can be made that decisions in a lower-level political entity have an undue effect outside of that entity's borders (e.g. your county's standards for wastewater is creating problems for the county downstream), then we have the sort of situation that higher-level governments exist to resolve. In some circumstances, the lower-level entity's decision may nevertheless make sense under the calculus of "the greatest good of the greatest number", but that's a decision that should be made at a level where all the lower-level political entities are represented -- probably the state level in the case of counties, or the national level if state boundaries are crossed.

But in the absence of that factor, I'd favor granting property owners more flexibility to use their property as they see fit, no matter the level at which this decision is made. Zoning certainly has its place, and I wouldn't want to try to run a community without it, but right now America has too many regulations governing land use rather than too few, and too many of these regulations micromanage the details of property use that can be left to the market rather than address the big picture issues that zoning ought to focus on.

by cminus on Feb 6, 2011 11:53 pm • linkreport

Based on the above discussion, I see the following two main positions:

1) The Tea Party perspective, which holds the question of who is to exercise the zoning power (more local is better) in higher regard than the extent to which it may properly be exercised (it's simply up to the locality); and

2) The perspective in several comments that holds the question of the extent to which the power should be exercised (less is better) in higher regard than who should exercise it (whoever will employ it less intrusively -- probably the state?).

I'm with cminus here that this is a bit of a philosophical divide here with no simple resolution. If individual property owners maximizing control over their surroundings is paramount, the Tea Party approach sounds appealing; someone who believes in individuals maximizing control over their own property, as opposed to those of others, might adopt the second approach. And there are also the effects of localized zoning policies on the state as a whole to consider, as they may have a significant impact on housing choice, affordability, and on transportation. I think these are certainly legitimate concerns for a state government to take into account when deciding whether to intervene in local zoning matters.

by Roger on Feb 7, 2011 12:36 am • linkreport

Let's cut down on the regulations that force us to spread every function all over creation in separate (segregated) pods ofuse type. Let's have the individual who wants to develpe the far flung farm pay themselves for every public utility that will service thier development (investment) including the roads. Let poor people move right next to your house by the car load since we don't need housing inspectors wasting my taxes. Hope that commercial building has a fire exit since we've thrown away any national standard of safety while we're at it.

Then we'd have the mixed use charming villages the smart growthers have been trying to force on all of us because no-one could build suburban sprawl with out the billions of direct and indirect government subsidies and defacto regulations. We'd have mixed use because we'd let the market decide if building a manufacturing plant in the old mall, with housing on top was a viable proposition, once we stop the socialist market manipulation of paying for an army to keep cheap oil coming. Don't tread on me, right?

I'd love to have more local control and free market approaches, but my version might be a little more than most Tea partiers bargined for.

by Thayer-D on Feb 7, 2011 7:41 am • linkreport

Hey Jasper Hey Lance, aren't you the guy that always tells non-Washingtonians to not mess with DC politics?

And I'm being consistent. The DC or NoVa based folks wanting to mandate how rural counties in Vigirnia should write their zoning codes need to be reminded it's not their business.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 7:59 am • linkreport

"I guess that collecting those Social Security Checks, getting their Medicare, and driving on Interstates gives them ample time to ponder just how self-sufficient, self-made, and free they all are, and to be politically involved (while dangling teabags from their clothes and making misspelled signs that question Obama's citizenship)."

D.K. is pretty much on the money here. The tea party is a laughingstock in much of the country and most of the world. The idea that common sense government regulations lead to a Stalin style system where our vaunted "freedom" will die is ludicrous. And as has been said, the tea party members seem to be OK when government regs and policies dovetail with their pet political issues/theories. See Congresswoman Bachmann's statements about earmarks aren't earmarks when they go for things my constituents want: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/anti-earmark-bachmann-open-to-earmark-redefinition-for-her-district.php

by Larsen on Feb 7, 2011 8:10 am • linkreport

@cminus if a higher-level government tells a lower-level government to reduce its interference with private property rights

Again, you're relying on a false assumption.

First, best not to use loaded words like 'lower-level government' or 'higher-level government'. In the US we don't have a central government. One government isn't exactly subserviant to another. They each just have different roles and responsibilities. Hence why for example, the feds can's make laws regarding everything. The Constitution as to specifically delegate from the states the right of the federal government to do it. It's the same with the states and their local jurisdictions.

So, back to the false assumption. What the commonwealth is proposing here isn't a 'reduction in interference with private property rights'. It's simply a mandating of 'you do your zoning our way'. Forcing these rural areas to build denser areas will force them to institute a whole slew of regulations and 'interferences with private property rights' that they currently have no need for. Whenever you have people living in closer contact with each other you need more, and not less, regulation. Compare DC to any rural county and you'll see what I mean. The code needs to be much more intricate and burdensome because there are a lot of situations that come up when people are living one on top of the other that don't otherwise occur. For example, in DC we have side yard requirements, lot coverage requirements, etc. And that's just the rules related to zoning. We also have noise ordinances ... and now even laws telling you whether it's okay for your merchant to give you a plastic bag to carry your groceries (and non-groceries) home. I.e., The denser the area, the MORE interference with private property rights that are required in order for people to be able to live in closer contact with each other.

These rural counties don't have a need for these incursions into the rights of private property ownership as it stands because they have 'space'. And they're smart enough to realize that if they lose that space they'll by necessity need to make incursions into private property rights (and a whole slew of other perceived 'rights' which people tend to have such as the right to make noise.) They're the 'smart' ones in this case in that they know what is better for them. And why is that surprising that a local population should know what is better for them then a bunch of folks who don't know their circumstances? And that's why we don't have a central government in the US. We don't assume that everyone everywhere wants or needs the same thing. That

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 8:19 am • linkreport

Lance,
You say about rural folks that, "they have 'space'. First of all, that "space" grows everyone's food, much like the city dwellers public square belongs to the farmer to speak his views and sell his produce. Their 'space' isn't theirs either if a rich city developer and bank cut it up into 1/2 acre lots. There was a time when people in Brightwood, Bethesda, and Rockville had their 'space' too.

There are ways city/suburban and rural folks will coordinate their future in a vital and growing region. The us versus them argument is one too many demagogue into simplistic cliche's with out looking wholistically into all the variables at play. We have a central government, the one that forced the federal highways through our wonderful cities at the expence of the 'local' residents. The same highways (subsidized by Americas Cities) that enable rural folks to use and enjoy "their space" through megastores.

When self-governance becomes a veil for ignorance, that's when it becomes everyones problem.

by Thayer-D on Feb 7, 2011 8:49 am • linkreport

One government isn't exactly subserviant to another.

@Lance, Unlike the relationship between the States and the Federal Government, the counties and cities are creations of the State and have only the powers that the State gives them. The sovereign government in the US is the State.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 7, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D, The 'space' in my argument is simply that having more of it around directly correlates with less of a need for other equally pervasive government involvement in what private property owners do with their property. (I.e., You may get the right to build more on your property but you loose a fair number of other rights of what to do with that property once it is in closer proximity to its neighbors.)

The point here was that posters on here have said that the Tea Partiers are being inconsistent in their argument because they falsely believe that allowing denser development exists in a vacuum. They're not seeing the other side of the coin ... Namely that when the government allows denser development that creates more occasion for conflict (because of the lack of 'space' to absorb sound, interaction, etc.) and that leads to even greater intervention from government in the lives of its citizens. Loss of some personal liberties is a trade-off we make when we choose to live in denser areas. In a rural area the cyclist doesn't have to stop much at stop signs because there aren't many. In an urban area, there are many ... because there are a lot of people competing for the same space. If these rural areas choose not to make themselves denser and thus loose those freedoms, it is their business and theirs alone. And if they somehow lose their ability to grow the food we need because they haven't been responsible in how they use their land, the market will signal that to them ... and they'll quickly figure out that they need to grow food ... or maybe that they don't. Do you know how little of your food comes from local sources nowadays? Ireland had its famine because it couldn't figure out that the times had changed and that the Empire could now more cheaply get its food stocks from faraway places such as New Zealand ... And your forcing these rural areas to remain our bread baskets despite market mechanisms saying otherwise won't ultimately be anymore successful than they were in Ireland of the 19th Century or they being in France of today. But we get back to the core problem with many of the so-called 'smart' growthers ... an innate feeling that they know what is best for all others based on their own experiences and knowledge and a zealous desire to force their views on others.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

Do you know how little of your food comes from local sources nowadays? Ireland had its famine because it couldn't figure out that the times had changed and that the Empire could now more cheaply get its food stocks from faraway places such as New Zealand...

If you're referring to the Irish Potato Famine, you've got the situation almost completely backwards. The Potato Famine's roots arose in the transformation of the Irish farm industry into an export-focused sector, primarily oriented to the export of beef to England. With land that had formerly produced grain repurposed into cattle pasture, the Irish became dependent upon potatoes for calories, since potatoes could be grown in plots of land that were too small or too poor to support cattle. Then, when the potato blight arrived, Ireland's potato monocrop was devastated, while the wealthy landowners continued their profitable beef export rather than move land to grain production. The result was starvation and large-scale emigration.

If the Potato Famine has any relevance to our current situation -- and I both expect and hope it doesn't -- it's that the only way to keep food importation going when your supplier is suffering famine is to exercise control over the supplier country's elites. In the case of the Potato Famine, that was easily done because Ireland was a British possession. How confident would you be that we can continue to import grain from Australia, Brazil, and Russia if Australia were to be beset with floods and Brazil and Russia with droughts? Or might those countries take steps to feed their own population, and reduce their exports?

(I actually think they'd continue to export, capitalism being a harsh mistress. But it's not a position I'd care to stake my life on.)

by cminus on Feb 7, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

Lance,
I'm not sure where you where going with the Ireland thing, but you landed where so many Tea-Partiers seem to fall in any of these discussions, a thin skinned reaction to a percieved smugness of progressives, "an innate feeling that they know what is best for all others...and a desire to force their views on others". In the market place of ideas, the best will win out. There's no reason freak out that you'll suffer because some ideas are beating yours out in this free market is it? It reminds me of the neo-cons who trumpet democracy until people vote for someone they don't like.

BTW, The main reason I met country folks at the NYC art school I studied at (Pratt Institure) was the percieved lack of personal freedoms in the rural small town communities they came from. Doesn't that phenomena contradict your whole premis? It's not that they're worried about the loss of freedom of not having to stop at a stop sign that wigs out country folk, it's change itself that many people find unsettling. It's the Tea-Party hacks who simplify the issues by creating this false us vs. them dichotomy. They are two sides of the same coin. We need leaders who see the symbiotic relationship for what it is.

"when the government allows denser development that creates more occasion for conflict " Looking beyond what a cynical outlook this is of human interactions, (No Jazzfest for you!) I just want to point what so many here have tried to dobefore, which is that if government interfered LESS with development patterns, you'd see More density. Some people actually like living amongst eachother, contrary to the fear mongering of others. I read it in a book on the human species. Peace out.

by Thayer-D on Feb 7, 2011 10:15 am • linkreport

Thanks for the this little sip of Morning Thunder on Federalism and property rights.

Basically, the anti-smart growth comments are based upon ignorant premises and perspectives. I am not saying that they are not intelligent, just myopic, which makes them ignorant to the long term progressive thinking and possibilities.

Smart Growth can be based upon very capitalistic principles where there is no coercion just basic rules of thumb that make for successful and balanced communities.

The balances sought are between capital infrastructure needed, related tax base required to fund capital infrastrucure, and the public services underwritten by one of these urban villages at full build-out. The objective to create a node of sustainabiliity where property values increase and cover the evolving public service needs of the same, and potentially spin-off this maintenance and growth in asset values to adjacent properties and communities.

In much the same way, I guess Pierre L'Enfant's anti-revoltionary design (circles and radial roads) can be blamed for its layout of the nation's capital's master plan and George Washington can be blamed for centralizing the government in Washington, DC by buying the numerous farm lands surrounding the waters of the Potomac. Let me go on, how about original land grants by the Federal government after the Louisiana Purchase, etc, etc.

A matured democracy with its current intergovernmental governance needs a better overall collaborative vision then a neighbor's vision of his own parcel to be progressive and promote the God-like blueprints of intelligent design in creation. Man's attempt to this intelligent design is called utilitarianism.

by Common Sense on Feb 7, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D BTW, The main reason I met country folks at the NYC art school I studied at (Pratt Institure) was the percieved lack of personal freedoms in the rural small town communities they came from. Doesn't that phenomena contradict your whole premis?

No, it just confirms my opinion that you're not bothering to understand that varying viewpoints can and do exist. First off, the kinds of personal freedoms your classmates went to NYC probably had little to do with the kinds of freemdoms we're talking about ... i.e., being able to build what you want where you want. Second, you're completely glossing over the many people, artists or not, who didn't 'escape' to NYC ... because maybe their piorities and likes and dislikes were different from the students you did meet. They chose to stay where they were at because they liked it that way. But in true 'smart' growther fashion, not only are you assuming your way is best, but not even recognizing that there are other ways. And the best way for everyone to get what they want is to allow these types of things to be decided on a community by community basis. Let NYC be a haven for artists and let rural Viriginia be a haven for non-artistic types. There's nothing wrong with having differnt strokes for different folks.

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

Lance bring up a good point, but I draw the opposite conclusion.

He says that density caps are effectually "more freedom" because the prevent a situation where government action is required EVEN MORE because people are pushed together so much.

I think think this is exactly backwards! BOTH the density caps AND the government intervention that comes with higher density is undesirable. I can't comment on the specifics of this policy because these things always get technical and details matter a lot. Instead I'll use a hypothetical example.

Imagine NoVA is exactly as it is now. The zoning code does two things. (1) It prevents further dense development and (2) heavily regulates denser areas. Lance might well be right that repealing (1) will worsen the negative effects of (2). If I understand his point correctly, he says we should, therefore, not repeal (1).

But perhaps the answer is to repeal BOTH (1) AND (2). This way, the market determines what density should be. In many places, it would be higher. In many other places, lower. Or perhaps we should RELAX (1), (2), or both to offset changes in the other.

The "net reduction in freedom" is more of an abstract question. The "freedom loss" that results from eliminating (1) but keeping (2) is non-zero, but might be offset by gains to eliminating (1). That is, if you can even measure such a thing, which is why I favor the market solution. You can measure that, in dollars and cents. Regardless, I think Lance is logically consistent and yet probably empirically wrong.

But hey, I've been wrong before, too.

by WRD on Feb 7, 2011 12:11 pm • linkreport

Out of their short-sighted exurban/rural populism, the Tea Party may have just given Liberals, Moderates, Independents, and even Libertarians a means to unite. I call it "Progressive Capitalism." Cities are proving to be the most resilient economic engines of the New Economy. So sure, let's end government waste, including the vast subsidies feeding sprawl.

by Brian on Feb 7, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

Man Lance,
You keep hearing things that aren't being said. People are proposing alternatives to what we have now, not telling you how to live your life. Keep your car, live however you want, but don't conflate a sincere effort to deal with inevitable growth as some totalitarian plot, unless that's part of a larger business plan. I love the countryside, and if one choses that way of life, more power to them, but I think you're confusing the "choice" of many to live in an apartment complex of I-270 with an actual lack there of.

To my brother, who let's say, had some anxiety issues with differing populations whilst not being able to afford Bethesda or Georgetown, would have loved the choice of a safe and homogeneous "convenient" life style. That's why Kentlands is such a success, there's not enough of'em - Supply & Demand 101. Some people don't like that lifestyle, got it, but some would rather have other choices.
The Palinesque tone of your rebutals tell me you understand basic smart growth principles, you just might be a little uncomfortable with some of the colateral changes they would bring. Be assuaged, I will be the first to defend your right to live as you wish, as long as it dosen't foul up my aquafir.

by Thayer-D on Feb 7, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

@WRD But perhaps the answer is to repeal BOTH (1) AND (2). This way, the market determines what density should be.

Go check out Houston, which doesn't have zoning, before you advocate anyone else trying that anywhere else ...

by Lance on Feb 7, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

@ Lance--

No zoning does not equal "no government regulation of land use."

http://rationalitate.blogspot.com/2008/12/is-houston-really-unplanned.html

They have some of the more damaging aspects of government intervention. Also, I believe they also have a height limit in some areas, but I'm not sure on that.

Either way, I think the answer is to relax our relatively strict zoning regulations here. We're no where close to Houston.

by WRD on Feb 7, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

@ Lance: And I'm being consistent. The DC or NoVa based folks wanting to mandate how rural counties in Vigirnia should write their zoning codes need to be reminded it's not their business.

No. I you think that non-Washingtonians should not meddle with DC politics, you should not meddle with VA politics. It's not your business, according to yourself.

In fact, your statement here is not even consistent with you expressing it. NoVa people have quite some more right to tell rural Virginians than you. First of all because NoVa subsidizes rural Virginia. Secondly, why would NoVa and rural Virginians care about the opinion of some person from upscale, urban Washington?

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

All the Tea Party movement is advocating on HB1721 is the ability for localities to opt out of the one size fits all model the Commonwealth imposed in regards to urban density in 2007.

If Roanoke City/County wakes up and decides they want to go down a different path with local zoning, we should have the right to do that. It's really pretty simple. Regardless of Agenda 21, spaghetti monsters or whatever other issues you ladies and gentlemen have... :-)

It's America and you have a right to be ignorant on things like Agenda 21. Most days I wished I spent less time on stuff like this and more time enjoying the fruits of my labor. I guess ignorance can be bliss. For now.

Not sure why you city folks get so irritated with us simple folks out here in the country who like to keep local control of our land use, keep our finances in line and follow the Constitution. That is some crazy agenda right there...

Of course we could learn a thing or two about the way to run things from the way the District has been run over the past 40 years or so...we should really emulate that...(cough, snort, chuckle)

I always enjoy being ridiculed by "smart" people that support policies that have failed for decades and then presume to lecture the tea party dolts on how dumb we are to not support the failed policies that have led many localities (not to mention our nation) to bankruptcy and disaster.

Crazy Tea Party People... :-)

Chip Tarbutton
President
Roanoke Tea Party

by Chip Tarbutton on Feb 7, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

@Chip

Your representative cited in the article, Donna Holt, did not make her appeal on the grounds of local control, however. She made her appeal on the grounds of private property rights.

Nobody is ridiculing the Tea Party because of their positions, only because the logic they vociferously use to support those positions is non-existent.

The argument you support - in favor of local control - should have nothing to do with density at all. Presumably, some areas would want to permit greater density and some would not.

Can you not see this blatant dissonance between your argument and Ms. Holt's?

by Alex B. on Feb 7, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

Mr. Tarbutton--

I'm curious to see you expand on that thought. Do you believe zoning codes should be abolished? I'm certainly leaning that way myself but I can't seem to take the plunge entirely.

What about licensing regulations as in today's WSJ? (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703445904576118030935929752.html?KEYWORDS=licensing#printMode)

I'm not a Tea Partier. I don't live in Virginia. In fact, the only reason I voted at all in 2010 was because I support Martin O'Malley. But it seems like zoning, land use, and licensing laws are fertile ground for compromise! There is a great case to be made that freedom and liberty are increased when these regulations are scaled back. And I support it because they cause economic inefficiency and Milton Friedman hated them.

But I'm very confused by your statement here: "If Roanoke City/County wakes up and decides they want to go down a different path with local zoning, we should have the right to do that."

Are you saying that, if the Roanoke government wants to interfere with private property, they should be able to do so? If so, what limits on this power should exist? It seems like you're arguing for greater government control, albeit at the local level. I have to say, it seems like a quite UN-Tea Party-like statement, at least to an ignorant guy like me...

by WRD on Feb 7, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Chip, Chip, Chip....please...the Tea Party is always saying they support "State Sovereignty" in accordance with the beliefs of their hero Thomas Jefferson, yet when a state passes a law they don't like, they suddenly become advocates of "locality sovereignty". I'm pretty sure there's nothing in the U.S. Constitution that states: "All powers not vested to the Federal or State governments are reserved for the sub-State level administrative units or the people, provided these people hang teabags on their hats, shout loudly while waving comical signs, and call the President a Marxist".

I'm sure if their county or town or village passed a law they didn't like, they'd say that that government was some "onerous, distant, centralized authority" and was overstepping its bounds, too. ("Imagine the nerve of someone over 5 miles away claiming they know better than me! It's my right to dump waste oil in that stream. It goes across my property, after all!")

When it comes down to it, the Tea Partiers think they shouldn't ever have to do anything they don't want to do, ever, which puts them more in line with being anarchists than supporters of republicanism. Of course, they're more than happy to get their Social Security and Medicare checks (most Tea Party members I've seen are 60+).

As for rural folks knowing better than we city slickers how to run things, why is the net flow of funds from urbanized areas of Virginia to rural areas? Northern Virginia puts far more into the state coffers than it gets back. The same goes for the Federal level. The net flow of money is from "Blue States" to "Red States".

by Raimondo on Feb 7, 2011 3:39 pm • linkreport

@Raimondo--

I don't think it's inconsistent. Tea Partiers say the Federal gov't CANNOT do certain things with respect to state power. Here, he argues the state SHOULD NOT (but does have the power to) enact the legislation.

I'm not trying to pass judgment on the merits of either position, but that's what they usually say.

by WRD on Feb 7, 2011 3:50 pm • linkreport

It seems that one of the fundamental ideas that Tea Party followers (and Lance) don't understand is that each level of government is most efficient at addressing different activities. Everyone accepts that defense is most efficiently managed at the federal level. What Tea Party adherents do not grasp is that the optimal level of government for managing many activities related to land use is not the local level (much less the individual citizen) - it's the regional or state level. This is because individual land use decisions affect (have negative externalities for) people, ecosystems, traffic, etc on a large geographic scale. Governments aren't trying to steal individuals' rights; they're trying to optimize outcomes for society as a whole, by allocating responsibility for different government functions to different levels of government as appropriate.

by Arnold on Feb 7, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

Chip, Chip, Chip....please...the Tea Party is always saying they support "State Sovereignty" in accordance with the beliefs of their hero Thomas Jefferson

Don't disagree with most of your comment, but...I'm pretty sure most nutjobs on the far right (Teabaggers included) aren't really big fans of TJ, given that he was a deist, invented the concept of "separation of church and state", and generally wasn't a mouth-breathing idiot.

Which is why far-right fringe groups are always banging on about how "Patrick Henry was the *real* intellectual force behind the founding of the country!" and other sorts of nonsense.

by oboe on Feb 7, 2011 4:17 pm • linkreport

@ Chip: And again you ridicule your supposed opponents while complaining that they ridicule you. Come on, dude, grow up. We're adults here.

I'd also like to comment on your calling us "city" people. Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and PW county are all unincorporated counties. Only Fairfax City, Falls Church and Alexandria are independent cities here, and they contain only a sliver of our population. On the other hand, Roanoke is an independent city.

So, legally, you're the city person, while I am the count(r)y person...

by Jasper on Feb 7, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

@ Arnold--

I'm a pretty moderate guy, maybe even a liberal in some very important respects (O'Malley comment from previous post?). I am NOT a Tea Party adherent, either.

But you don't have to be a Tea Party adherent to be uneasy with Government "trying to optimize outcomes for society as a whole." That idea doesn't resonate with me at all.

by WRD on Feb 7, 2011 5:25 pm • linkreport

I am a registered, licensed architect who is so fed up with the bigotry and ignorance of the majority of architects regarding the freedoms of others they violate in the name of "sustainability"...that I am leaving these hyenas to fight over the dead carcass of a profession. Most architects are blinded by their own shallow, short term interests to be of any structural use to society. I'll bet $100 dollars a majority of the folks deriding the tea party in this string of commentary are global village closet commie sycophants who don't have a single thought past what the TV gave them as marching orders this morning. Keep digging your own grave morons. Just stay away from me and mine. Don't Tread on Me you bastards.

by scooter on Feb 7, 2011 6:39 pm • linkreport

LOL, scooter. Off to Galt's Gultch with you. Maybe you can use some of your self-made wealth to pay people to create new alloys.

by Raimondo on Feb 7, 2011 6:48 pm • linkreport

I would like to thank all posters here, on both sides of this most heated issue... it's been good practice for when we have to argue with real opposition facing real consequences. In particular, I'd like to issue an honorable mention to those of you who have posted against Ms. Holt and Campaign For Liberty. It has been a spectacular showing of disrespect for the opposing view of one woman, and an amazing level of disdain for a group of people who defended her position. You certainly are a credit to your political persuasions! Simple questions provoked rapid, shrill responses, derogatory terms... just a little short on quantifiable evidence. It's good to see the Left is alive and well, even after that little electoral incident back in November. You truly have been worthy opponents, though from the looks of it, no minds have been changed yet. Hang in there - we'll probably become discouraged at your overwhelming superior intellect and quit eventually.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 7, 2011 11:23 pm • linkreport

No, sadly Gregory as the "Know Nothing" party of the turn of the Century, good ol'William Jennings Bryan, the Birchers, etc...have demonstrated, the willfully ignorant shall be with us always. I have no doubt you'll all be around forever.

by John on Feb 8, 2011 1:07 am • linkreport

Greetings, GGW comrades. I stand with you proponent of Agenda......I mean, smart growth. Dissenting Tea Party sympathizers on forum no place at our table and must crushed for Motherland ICLEI and for the common collective as part of our glorious new five year plan. I am much happy play down rural areas of proletariat rif-rif for Mother Nature reclaiming. We have been victorious on virtually all fronts on issue!!

It is but inevitable all rural holdouts must brought in line and relocated to nearest sustainable urban population centers for inprocessing, issued meager dwelling in our newly construct LEED tm Certified residential collectives payed for by the State!!! Shovel ready that is and so near urban transport for work in population center!

Thank you once again, Comrades. Your service is noted by our Motherland. Soon, perhaps, we shall celebrate with Vodka and Beats at our accomplishments!

-Comrade for the Central Collective

by Comrade for the Central Collective on Feb 8, 2011 1:44 am • linkreport

Shorter Comrade for the Central Collective:

Keep the welfare checks coming to the hinterlands, suckers!

One of these days the VA counties that actually produce the state's wealth are going to "go Galt"...

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

That's how I'll take my humor, Comrade. =) Niiice!

I was being more serious than sarcastic though. (Some of) You guys (and girls?) are hard-core Leftists. Your ilk represent the antithesis of all this great Country was founded on. We, who recognize that government exists to protect our God-given liberty, really enjoy spirited debate with those who believe otherwise. Most of us have become insulated from common insults, i.e. "Tea-baggers", "nutjobs", etc. At least no posters here labeled us "racists". I suspect, even hope we'll meet again on the battlefield of free thought. Until then...

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 8, 2011 9:31 am • linkreport

Not to beat a dead horse, but I like how in the same paragraph you insult us as Leftists and being anti-American, and then turn around and complain about being insulted.

by TimK on Feb 8, 2011 9:33 am • linkreport

@ Gregory Honeycutt--

Sure, there are plenty of leftists. But you chose to engage with hollow platitudes and political slogans rather than with your own serious ideas. I don't like the left-wing rhetoric either, but there are substantive points behind it. And whether we like it or not, our own neighbors probably agree with at LEAST some of it, some of the time.

When you use phrases like "Your ilk represent the antithesis of all this great Country was founded on," you make it difficult for those of us who do value real debate here. Where was a reasoned argument or position there? How was that helping to elevate "the battlefield of free thought?" It was a personal attack.

I guess I have a hard time believing your less of a slave to your ideology than those "leftists" are to theirs. Prove me wrong!!

I think I made points you can respond to in two different posts: at 12:11pm and at 3:36pm. Tell me why I'm wrong!

by WRD on Feb 8, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

My intent was neither to complain or insult. "Leftist" is no more a disparaging term than "Centrist", or "Right". What descriptive would you prefer? Really, I'm asking. While thinking about it, remember that is a courtesy I've yet to see extended to the Tea Party. I never said anyone here was anti-American either. For those of you who have inferred that, I'll clarify. As a matter of. demonstrable *fact*, actions such as urban development mandates (that is what we were discussing after all) are destroying the Country as founded. As a matter of *opinion*, those who support such actions are assisting that agenda, however unwittingly. I recognize we both think we have America's best interest in mind. We just strongly disagree on what path to that end is best. Liberty and Tyranny simply cannot coexist. It sounds like you *want* to be offended but can't figure out how to. Keep trying - you're doing good.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 8, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

Gregory: Asserting something is a demonstrable fact does not make it a demonstrable fact. Even with asterisks surrounding it. Demonstrable facts require crazy things like empirical data and evidence.

by John on Feb 8, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

I implied leftist is an insult, not you. I happen to disagree with the left wing quite strongly. What I did say was your quote wasn't helpful. But now we're engaging!

I'm the furthest you will find from some pointy haired political professor. I don't do well with concepts like "freedom" or high-minded ideals. I am much better at thinking at the concrete, policy level. To be honest, your part about Liberty and Tyranny--and me trying to be offended--went over my head, quite frankly.

I will reiterate my original questions, with a slight rephrase. The I'll give my answers. I hope others will criticize me here and offer their own answers.

(1) Do you support zoning codes that restrict what lawful owners can do on their own property? If so, to what extent should the Government be allowed to restrict private action?

(2) Should the Government be in the business of licensing private businesses such as barbers, CPAs, or manicurists?

My answers are as follows:

Zoning: I struggle with this a lot. There should be some government limits on development. But we have come too far in permitting it. I don't have an exact answer as to how much zoning regulation should be overturned. But I think density and height maximums and minimums should be totally repealed. As should parking maximums AND minimums. Property owners should make those decisions in keeping with free market demand. To relate this to the post in question, I think repealing Government-mandated zoning maximums is desirable.

Licensing: Much clearer. I'm with Milton Friedman--get rid of it. All of it. The market will determine this much better than any government can.

by WRD on Feb 8, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

Your ilk represent the antithesis of all this great Country was founded on.

Actually, this country was founded on principles of hard-core socialism. It's only the kids who halted their education at around the 4th grade who think our history is one of a bunch of manly Christian businessmen selling each other SUVs with nary a government in sight.

http://www.gradesaver.com/the-jungle/study-guide/section11/

While you're having your bubble burst, the Founding Fathers thought religion was a bunch of horse-pucky, as well.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

@TimK:

Not to beat a dead horse, but I like how in the same paragraph you insult us as Leftists and being anti-American, and then turn around and complain about being insulted.

You f*ckers could stand to learn a thing or two about courtesy!

:)

Such self-awareness is rare!

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 12:20 pm • linkreport

That is a courtesy I've yet to see extended to the Tea Party.

There is no Tea Party. Just the same collection of populist right-wing folks who crawl out of the woodwork every time unemployment goes over 9%. "Tea Party" is just a New Coke -style re-branding effort.

When people fear for the economic future, they tend to become irrationally resentful that somewhere, someone who doesn't look like them might be getting something they're not getting.

That's why (of course!) we mustn't touch Defense, Ag subsidies, road-building, even Medicare when talking about cutting government waste. Those represent the very bedrock principles our country was founded upon! (They also happen to be the various welfare subsidies that "Tea Party America" benefits the most from, but let's ignore that.)

Like something? It's the very synonym of FREEDOM!!! Dislike something? UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!

KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY MEDICARE!! FREEDOM AND LIBERTY FOREVER!

So childish...

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 12:44 pm • linkreport

This story gets to the root of smart-growth debates. Usually these happen on the surface -- e.g., between people who argue between the following positions:

-"we can prove the benefits of smart growth" (VMT reduction, environmental, health) vs. "there's no proof of benefits"

-"governmental intervention is legitimate" vs. "governmental intervention is not legitimate."

By contrast, this story reveals the debate at its most fundamental level: what counts as "markets" and what counts as "governmental intervention?" Does municipal land-use regulation constitute governmental intervention into markets (position A), or is it an outgrowth of the private-property rights of landowners in the jurisdiction (position B). If you adhere to position A, state limitation of municipal regulation is market-expanding; if you adhere to position B, such limitation constitutes an intervention into markets.

The debate over smart growth in general would greatly improve if it would shift to its deeper level.

by Jonathan Levine on Feb 8, 2011 1:49 pm • linkreport

Hey oboe, Ross Perot called. He wants his fringe movement back.

by TimK on Feb 8, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

To WRD - I didn't want you to think I was ignoring you... I will respond later tonight (at work now) and try to draw this discussion back to the issue. As you have correctly pointed out, some of my posts were baiting rather than debating. But hey, nothing good on tv, why not poke a bear to see what happens...? Darnit - I did it again. Seriously, later tonight, you did ask good questions and they deserve good answers.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 8, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

@Jon Levine: no, the folks who say "governmental intervention is not legitimate" typically advocate different kinds of governmental intervention -- the ones that already exist as part of the status quo and are therefore invisible, or the intervention that is non-intervention in land markets (which are distinctly imperfect markets).

by Payton on Feb 8, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

Just a quick legislative update - HB1721 has now passed the Va. House Of Delegates by a vote of 61 - 38. Final Passage will grant the counties and localities the ability to opt-out of currently mandated establishment of UDA's.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 8, 2011 10:03 pm • linkreport

OK WRD - Bear in mind this is as much personal information as I'm willing to post online. Having an educational background in civil engineering, an occupation in public utilities, and a former occupation in a local municipality, I can answer these questions from a somewhat inside viewpoint. So, here goes...

(1) Do you support zoning codes that restrict what lawful owners can do on their own property? If so, to what extent should the Government be allowed to restrict private action?

Yes. As much as I may not like this ordinance, or that ordinance, I recognize that zoning ordinances exist to define limits of what can or cannot be done, and are to some degree a necessary evil. I think to what extent the government should be allowed to restrict property owners, is subjective to each case and each area. I believe government restriction should happen only when necessary, and should occur at the lowest level of government possible.

(2) Should the Government be in the business of licensing private businesses such as barbers, CPAs, or manicurists?

No. And that answer is coming from a person who holds a couple government-issued licenses. I will tell you right now the licensing board (it's DPOR in Va, but every state has one) is an absolute joke. I used to think we couldn't get by without entities such as DPOR, but i'm not so sure they aren't more of a hinderance and detriment to "Professional Regulation" than they are a facility.

Now, back to the issue of HB1721 that started all this commotion... If it passes the Senate, and becomes law, the only thing that changes is that local governments have a choice they did not have before. They can choose to zone an area for urban development, or they can choose not to. They are no longer forced by a one-size-fits-all mandate to do it. That it was a mandate at all raises the suspicion in me. The argument keeps coming around to this - Why must the state mandate something that is supposedly beneficial? Are we to just assume it *is* beneficial because the state says it is and just do it? My supposition is, it's a mandate because if the state didn't mandate it, the locality and hence the people it doesn't necessarily benefit simply won't do it. And it's for that reason I support restoring to local governments the ability to choose for themselves what course to take in their own development.

by Gregory Honeycutt on Feb 8, 2011 11:34 pm • linkreport

@ Gregory Honeycutt--

Like I said, I'm not versed on the specifics of this proposal. But I do believe there should be a general rollback of zoning provisions. Specifically, any type of "cap" or "minimum" is likely to be especially damaging because it's a hard fix. The further it is from the market clearing effect, the more it's damaging and at a greater than 1-to-1 ratio.

That said, you laid out a perfectly valid reason why this specific cap is bad. I lean toward local governments abusing their zoning privileged in a way that benefits current residents at the expense of developers and future residents and economic efficiency. But perhaps this proposal makes things worse in many areas while making things better in other areas and the net effect is negative.

I guess for me, the question comes down costs and benefits. Does anyone have an estimate of the gain/loss from this bill?

by WRD on Feb 8, 2011 11:56 pm • linkreport

Also, to follow up:

Do believe there is significant debate about the "right" level of zoning.

What I don't like is phrasing this issue in terms of freedom. It's too easy to change the frame of reference. Is it freedom of property owners to do what they wish (individual freedom)? Or is is freedom for localities to vote for a government that represents their own interests?

I really think if Tea Partiers are concerned about freedom and liberty, they should be in favor of this bill. It requires government to lift a zoning cap that stops private property owners from developing their own, personal land. It stops existing land owners--our own neighbors!--from selling their land to developers in a free and open exchange.

One thing I wish people in my own neck of the woods (Friendship Heights) would remember is there are two sides to each transaction. Each infill development meets NIMBY cries, but the vocal opposition forgets that their own neighbors voluntarily chose to sell the land to the developer in the first place. I'm not sure that a perfect middle ground exists. I am sure we should reduce the restrictions on development at the margin. That's why I'm cautiously in support of this bill. Of course, I live in Maryland, and I'm just a simple voter, so thankfully my opinion doesn't matter.

Just for an interesting take on this issue that is somewhat close to where I stand, read this from Connor Friedersdorf writing at Andrew Sullivan's site.

By the way, that last response was a bit short because I was taking a break from studying for the CPA exam, so I empathize on the regulatory issues.

by WRD on Feb 9, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@oboe
There is no Tea Party. Just the same collection of populist right-wing folks who crawl out of the woodwork every time unemployment goes over 9% a Democrat is elected President.

Fixed that for ya.

by Jimmy Jazz on Feb 10, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport

@Jimmy:

Good point. While in the modern era, Republican administrations tend to go hand in hand with economic catastrophe, it's not a 1-to-1 correlation. And these little outbreaks have been going on since back in the days when the Democrats were the party of irrational kookery. In fact, even before there was a Democratic party.

by oboe on Feb 10, 2011 1:41 pm • linkreport

@WRD

All I meant by that sentence("trying to optimize outcomes for society as a whole") was that one of the main purposes of government is to manage activities that people can't manage efficiently through their individual actions, or in a way that doesn't hurt other people.

by Arnold on Feb 10, 2011 5:08 pm • linkreport

GGW Comrades,

Again, your Motherland wishes for your efforts at flattening all dissent at ongoing debate. Victory is at hand. Likely be excited at your works!:

ICLEI
CCX
Chinese wind turbine manufacturers
Obama Administration
USGBC
Van Jones
Constructors of future massive state sponsored dwellings at urban collective centers

and many others to be sure.

Yours in the epic struggle,

CCC

by Comrade for the Central Collective on Feb 16, 2011 5:57 pm • linkreport

@ Comrade for the Central Collective--

First of all, "Likely be excited at your works" is a perfect poorly translated North Korean slogan. Nicely done.

Second, please provide some dissent! We both know how much those hippies love "diversity of thought." Right?

by WRD on Feb 16, 2011 11:03 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or