Regionalism is growing like crabgrass. It quietly removes ballot-box control by citizens. It makes it impossible for citizens to correct abuse, greed, or plain stupidity by recalling those in charge. Yet, when we ask folks whether they are aware of growing regionalism, their response is usually either “No” or “What’s regionalism?” These responses are completely understandable, since regionalism is sold to the public as innovative ideas that will benefit us all, while the downsides are not part of the conversation.
In an effort to bring more awareness to regionalism’s downsides, we offer this article, based mostly on the work of Trish Cypher, a Bay Area activist and author of several research publications on government structures:
Background: Regional “governments” – better described as regional “governance” - are created by forming joint powers agreements among jurisdictions such as cities and counties. The concept of joint powers between jurisdictions has existed since the 1920’s, and has produced beneficial results such as fire management, water management, and bridge construction. However, the vast expansion of these powers, especially in California, has produced downsides that should be of concern to all of us.
Downside #1: Once formed, regional governance is immune from voters’ powers of recall, petition, initiative, or referendum. Nothing can be done if voters detect lack of representation, illegal actions, or bad decisions.
Downside #2: Taxation without representation was the battle cry of this Republic. Yet regional governance has the authority to tax without any input from voters or any say at the ballot box. Cities need to go to voters for any increase in financing; regional governance does not. Thanks to incremental financing preset in regional governance, increased tax revenues derived from increased property values are automatically sucked up. Regional governance can sell bonds at will, without voter approval.
Either the designers of the drastic regional upheaval, commonly known as “Plan Bay Area” or “One Bay Area,” thought they could work around the fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, of they did not connect this physical law with human behavior, as most common-sense folks do.
The Libertarian Party of San Francisco, as well as many other groups, sprang into action, as should have been expected, as soon as Plan Bay Area started to take form. We began disseminating information, attending public meetings, and reaching out to form coalitions. See our articles "Plan Bay Area: Vision or Micromanagement?" and "Plan Bay Area Adopted Under the Cloak of Midnight, Literally!" In the second article, we joined many other groups in sounding the alarm that Plan Bay Area would be a factor in the disappearance of affordable housing, loss of property values in some areas, increased use of eminent domain, and loss of livability and transportation choices.
The second round of reaction came soon after Plan Bay Area was adopted on July 18, 2013, in the form of lawsuits from the right and the left, aimed at the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the architects of Plan Bay Area. Here is a list of current lawsuits, all of which could use the public’s moral and financial support.
Community Coffee with State Senator Mark Leno
Mark Leno is a popular figure in California, mostly because he makes an effort to connect with his constituents. One such effort is his Community Coffee, where he explains legislation he has introduced and takes questions from attendees. We attended the Community Coffee of October 19, 2013, at the Greenhouse Coffee House. The audience was friendly, and those who asked questions and spoke out were generally supportive of Senator Leno.
This gathering left us amazed as always at the automatic solution proposed by our legislators to every economic and social challenge: tax, spend, and pass another law. Many laws that are passed create more challenges, for which more spending is proposed, and more taxes must be levied. Meanwhile, an ever-growing number of taxpayers, at increasingly wider income levels, adjust to the idea that tax, spend, and create another law constitutes the only solution to anything that comes up.
At their meeting of “July 18”, after several hours of listening to public comments, the joint Executive Boards of ABAG/MTC started the voting to determine adoption of Plan Bay Area -- at around 12:15 am. Although some public comments at this meeting were positive, most used terms that ranged from “unconstitutional” to “abomination.” However, the Plan was adopted, as expected.
At least one member of the public who offered a comment indicated that lawsuits were being filed against Plan Bay Area. The Post Sustainability Institute/Democrats Against UN Agenda 21 and Freedom Advocates are launching a legal challenge to Plan Bay Area, pointing to several violations of the Plan, such as those against the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution (taking of private property without just compensation), the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution (equal protection clause), the voter-approved Urban Growth Boundary ordinances (plans encouraging growth in the periphery of cities), etc. Visit the Post Sustainability Institute website for details of the lawsuit, and to pitch in to help fund the lawsuit should you agree with its premise; see link below.
Although the vote to adopt Plan Bay Area sailed through, some Commissioners expressed concern about funding for the two key features of the Plan, housing and transportation. Those concerns are well warranted! The 28-year horizon and the projected revenues of the Plan are both on the ambitious side.
What secret sauce could be used to entice San Francisco voters to try libertarianism? Libertarians consider this a challenging recipe, since the City is a bastion of progressive politics. However, as a third party, forever battling the Twin Goliaths, we are no stranger to challenge.
Therefore, LPSF is continuing the outreach campaign started in earnest last November, as well as the deployment of activists to Town Halls and Board of Supervisor meetings to face City leaders on subject such as Plan Bay Area, the City budget, and gun control. We continue to staff booths, attend events, and promote other libertarian individuals and groups.
We are hoping to convince a larger portion of our electorate that protecting individual liberties and bringing prosperity via private resourcefulness will produce better results than keeping so many so tied to the whims of government largess. The Big Government paradigm fed to the populace can only result in eventual total dependence. We are confident that Libertarians are not the only folks figuring this out! Given the tremendous increase in voters who indicate “No Party Preference,” it would appear to us that the strength of the Twin Goliaths might be waning.
To better acquaint the general public with the benefits of libertarianism, we need you to help us. Please consider attending one of our monthly meetings or after-meeting socials (click Meetings on our Main Menu for information); join our Discussion List and give us your input and ideas (click Discussion List on the banner above); e-mail us to receive more information about libertarianism or the Libertarian Party (click Contact Us); support our efforts by contributing to our newly established Activity Fund (click Contact Us for where to send your donation); and/or join us as a Member (click Join/Renew on the banner to fill out a membership application).
If you are already a member of another Bay Area small-government group, advise us of your efforts. Coalitions are force multipliers!