Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Unholy Alliance, Part Six

As I wrote previously, rural communities all over America are dealing with "smart growthers."

This excellent op-ed piece comes from The Chester County, PA Daily Local News. Chester County is a rural suburn of Philadelphia. The writer touches quite well on the dark side of "smart growth" and the unholy alliance between them and the "pull up the drawbridgers."

Some quotes, again all very applicable to Whitman County:
...occasionally plans for town homes or a strip mall are proposed. Whenever this happens, the locals take up their pitchforks and torches and head down to the township meeting en masse to kill Frankenstein's monster.

Elitism - Folks out here aren't exactly wondering where their next meal is coming from. Home prices and land are expensive. The subtext of preserving the "character" of the place essentially boils down to preserving the view from your deck and the class of kids that your kids associate with in school.

Now that the aristocracy has its little piece of paradise, it's time to pull up the drawbridge and keep out the hoi polloi.

Racism - Hand in hand with the class angle of deterring development is the nasty little unspoken aspect of race. Right now, the area is lily white. Open the place up to development with affordable country living and who knows what you'll bring in.

Infringement of personal property rights - If individuals can afford to buy up open space and keep it open, I say God bless 'em. The problem is that nobody is rich enough to preserve the "character" of a whole township, so the gentry wants to make decisions about other people's property, not just their own. This is one thing when it comes to limiting, say, a toxic waste dump in the village, but quite another when you're trying to impose a bike trail and pond on a tract home developer.

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