Transit Talking Points by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
Smart Growth has no universal definition but its goal is to generally promote communities that offer transportation choices, cut down on unnecessary long distance commuting, stopping runaway developer pandering, and protecting ecosystems. Smart Growth has been criticized by some and as I pointed last week, valid points from critics need to be considered in the debate.
One fact that is not questionable is many Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles area workers live far from their work sites even though housing in these areas is adequate. Yes, I did include LA because there is plenty of supply to meet demands. The problem is insufficient quality supply. In LA, the limited quality housing supply can be found in places like Bel Air, Beverly Hills, West LA, and Pacific Palisades, but prices are way too high as demands outweigh supply in these affluent ares. Want affordable housing prices while keeping the short trip to LA job centers and destinations? Look into South LA, Boyle Heights, and Compton. I think you know where I'm going with this discussion, and it's not about people loving their cars and wanting to drive long distances in them every day.
So why do these area workers elect not to live in the same neighborhood where they work? The answer is simple. Too much gang crime and social chaos. Because many parts of LA and portions of the surrounding neighborhoods in Riverside and San Bernardino are plagued in such blight and riff raff which deincentivizes the market from cleaning up and investing in those areas, its workers will elect to live in other parts of the region. It's pure common sense for workers to live away from such bad behavior so that it won't interfere with the welfare of themselves and their families. Such mass displacement drives up demand and prices in other developed areas to the point where many workers are priced out which then incentivizes the market to develop housing even further away from the job sites. And that is the truth.
Stopping Crime is not pro-Agenda 21 ideology. It should be a universal desire.
Some critics link smart growth with the United Nation's Agenda 21 and thus conclude such managed growth is bad public policy. But let me ask the critics: What is wrong with driving out gang crime so that places like South LA, Riverside's Eastside, and San Bernardino's D Street corridor can be at their best states and desirable places for its workers to live? If the violent gang crime and human trafficking are expelled from these troubled places, more workers will elect to live there which would offset demands in far-off places and thus reduce long distance commuting. That would also entice the marketplace to renovate and rebuild existing housing in these areas. Why would we want these places to continue to be second-rate neighborhoods?
I've already pointed out on this blog some solutions which by the way you probably won't find in the UN's Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. Here's a rundown of them:
- LA, San Bernardino, Riverside and any other city dealing with gang crime needs to help the private non-profit sector, which is already doing a tremendous job in trying hard to get their neighborhoods at their best state. These include growing youth mentor programs and restorative programs for the incarcerated of whom desire to turn away from crime. The cities need to ensure these non-profit groups can operate and fulfill their missions by making sure that any unnecessary government rules that could get in the way of their goals of making the city socially better be reformed and streamlined right away.
- Resources need to be allocated to law enforcement so troubled areas can be flooded with watchdogs which would result in the criminals and human traffickers being taken off the streets. Youth Explorer, Reserve Deputy and citizen volunteer programs need to be funded to the point where every qualified volunteer applicant desiring to serve who passes the background checks has something to do to help the paid full time officers fight back.
- Public messages need to broadcasted in every middle and high school campus to discourage unwed teenage pregnancies which often leaves innocent children without a father.
- Mentor programs offered to children in abusive or single parent homes need to be expanded.
- Boys need to be educated and protected from being forced or "jumped" into the street gang culture. They need to be educated that the police is not the enemy and need to be trained what to do if he is to be pressured into a gang.
We need to continue to confront this terrible problem which prevents these cities from attaining their best state. Giving their workers the chance to live there by ridding the crime from its roots will bring about tremendous value and additional opportunities for existing residents.
That is smarter smart growth.