Just got this in my e-mail this morning...interesting reading.
> Federal land-use planning in the works?
> Property rights group rallies opposition to Clinton-era project
> By Sarah Foster
> © 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
> WASHINGTON - Bob Harrison couldn't believe what he was hearing. Even when
> his visitor, "John Smith," placed the document on his desk and said, "Look
> at this," Harrison wasn't convinced.
> As director of public policy for the Defenders of Property Rights, a
> non-profit legal group based in Washington, D.C., Harrison had heard of
> many outrageous schemes that would impact the rights of property owners,
> but what Smith - a business owner and member of DPR - was telling him went
> far beyond anything he'd heard of to date.
> "Quite frankly, I thought he had been taking drugs," Harrison recalled.
> "But what he was saying and showing me made my hair stand on end."
> It was a document Smith claimed was a mechanism for the federalization of
> land use in the United States, something many states and many Americans
> have opposed for years.
> Titled "Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook," the 2,000-page document is
> the product of Growing Smart, a seven-year project of the American
> Planning Association, a non-profit organization of professional land use
> planners and persons connected to the planning community through a shared
> interest in the subject. The Guidebook is essentially a collection of
> model enabling statutes (with commentary) that state legislatures would
> adopt to authorize planning, land development controls, regulations,
> procedural processes; everything states and local governments might need
> for - in the authors' words - "planning and the management of change." The
> statutes would be new requirements placed on state agencies and local
> governments to make often-significant changes in their ordinances and
> Several chapters have been released, and are already being used and under
> consideration by some states. Phase III, the finalized version, that
> includes some important chapters, has not been released, but is on the APA
> Smith stressed to Harrison that the Guidebook, which had been funded in
> part by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the tune of
> $1.78 million, was expected to be approved by HUD Secretary Martinez no
> later than Nov. 22 - less than a month away at the time.
> According to the APA website, the Growing Smart project was initiated in
> October 1994, with seed money provided by the Seattle-based Henry W.
> Jackson Foundation, founded in honor of the late senator from the state of
> Washington. In addition to funding from HUD (the lead federal agency),
> money had also come from the Department of Transportation, EPA, FEMA, the
> Department of Agriculture, the Annie Casey Foundation and the Siemens
> There were no public hearings, no public notice, and Harrison discovered
> that few if anyone on Capital Hill were aware of it. This was
> preposterous. How could something like this be developed without somebody
> knowing about it, he wondered. How had proponents managed to evade the
> radar detector of private property rights advocates and government
> watchdog groups?
> "Well, lo and behold, how quickly we have forgotten Hillary Clinton's
> Health Care Plan," Harrison observed sardonically, referring to the
> discarded project which like the Guidebook was developed clandestinely.
> "This is for zoning and land use what Hillary wanted imposed on health
> Smart growth with a turbo-charger
> Attorney Nancy Marzulla, president of Defenders of Property Rights, and
> the senior staff attorney virtually closeted themselves in a room for a
> week to go line-by-line through the Guidebook, all of its 15 chapters,
> with a fine-toothed comb. They emerged only for breaks and to go home in
> the evenings. They were "absolutely appalled and horrified" by what they
> discovered, said Harrison.
> "It [the Guidebook] is intricate; it is complex - it is smart growth with
> a turbo-charger put together by some of the smartest folks in the smart
> growth movement. And there are some awfully smart people in the smart
> growth movement, from land use planners to attorneys - and they've covered
> the map."
> The APA, Harrison learned, had sought out "like-minded folk in the Clinton
> administration who loved the idea of top-down, massive nuts-to-bolts,
> A-to-Z, cover-the-globe type of comprehensive approach to land use
> There was a reason for the strategy, which critics like Harrison view as a
> way to bring in federal land use planning "through the back door." A
> mid-1970s federal land use bill sponsored by Rep. Morris Udall had been
> soundly defeated when a massive outpouring of grassroots opposition forced
> Congress to reject it. Congress would no doubt reject a similar proposal
> "A frontal attack by legislation is not really feasible," Harrison said.
> "And rather than have HUD get into zoning through the use of its
> regulatory power, which would subject the department to notice and comment
> requirements and legal challenges, HUD and APA adopted a different
> approach which could not be challenged in court. What they pulled together
> was a relationship where APA would develop this model land use code for
> HUD as a guidebook for state legislatures. HUD would pay them. HUD would
> review the product as it was submitted, and at the end of the process the
> secretary of HUD would then have one of three choices: He could approve
> the Guidebook (either by formal approval or default); disapprove the
> Guidebook; or he could disapprove the Guidebook and insist that a
> dissenting report be contained in the massive tome."
> If Martinez chooses the third option, APA would still own the Guidebook
> and could promote it to state legislatures for adoption, but it would not
> have the imprimatur of the government approval.
> "In essence, it will be the American Planning Association enticing states
> to accept this," said Harrison. "It's one step removed from the feds
> imposing their views on the states. A non-government organization would be
> having an impact over the states' land use planning policies. Their views,
> those of APA, will be the prevailing views."
> Defenders of Property Rights has spent the last week spearheading an
> effort to persuade Martinez to choose the third option.
> "We're struggling to catch up after seven years of effort by the other
> side working under the radar screen," said Harrison. "In the last three
> weeks we've been going 100 miles an hour."
> A letter has been drafted and over a dozen commercial and non-profit
> organizations have signed it. The letter - which is being delivered today
> - reads, in part:
> We write to urge you to exercise your authority under the HUD/APA contract
> to disapprove the Legislative Guidebook, to be finalized November 22, on
> the grounds that we were excluded from the process by which it was
> formulated, which the product itself reflects.
> The Legislative Guidebook as currently drafted federalizes local and state
> land use control, tramples private property rights, discriminates against
> minority business owners, and impedes economic development.
> Those signing the letter by noon Friday include the National Black Chamber
> of Commerce, the Small Business Survival Committee, the National
> Cattlemen's Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise
> Institute, Conservative Union, Frontiers of Freedom/People for the USA.
> The National Association of Manufacturers has endorsed the effort but
> drafted its own letter urging Martinez to reject the Guidebook.
> Congress has been alerted. Mike Hardiman, lobbyist for the American Land
> Rights Association, reported Thursday that "alarm bells are ringing" at
> the Capitol, and the Western Caucus - a group of representatives from
> western states headed by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif. - was composing a
> letter expressing similar sentiments to that by Defenders of Property
> Rights. By Friday there were over a dozen signatures, with more expected.
> The letter will be delivered today. A staff person at the Western Caucus
> said it would be "very good" if people contacted their representatives and
> urged them to sign the letter.
> WorldNetDaily contacted "John Smith," who was willing to discuss his
> findings and observations, but requested anonymity for himself, his
> business, and the trade organization with which he works. "Just say I'm a
> business owner and a member of Defenders of Property Rights," he said.
> Smith said he "stumbled" onto the Guidebook during an Internet surfing
> session. "I found the APA website and there was information about it. I
> just started following links and chasing names, that sort of thing." Then
> he discovered chapters of the Guidebook that had not been officially
> released but posted on the site. One item in particular was a red flag.
> "Take a look at chapter 8 [on Local Land Development Regulation]," Smith
> said. "That's a chapter that hasn't been released yet, but it is on there.
> I am particularly concerned about the provisions for what they call
> amortization, which is essentially taking property without compensation.
> I'm a member of Defenders of Property Rights, and when I saw that I went
> to see Bob [Harrison] and asked him to take a look at this."
> Smith recalled that Harrison didn't believe him, "but a week later he
> called and asked me to come back and talk to him. They obviously did a lot
> of research before they called me back."
> "There's so much in chapter 8," said Smith. "There's a list of things it
> says that zoning ordinances can do. They can place restrictions on
> buildings because someone might not be able to see the stars or the sky -
> those kinds of scenic things. But every section of chapter 8 is of concern
> if you're a business owner. There's a little section on moratoriums. It's
> very crafty wording, but as I understand it, a planner or planning board
> could say, 'I'm thinking of making a change to the ordinance, so I'm
> putting a moratorium on everything until I decide what I want to do.' That
> one is sort of interesting."
> Smith said there were provisions for a "big expansion" of the concept of
> development agreements.
> In his view: "The way we see development agreements, and we've seen these
> harming our customers many, many times - a development agreement gives the
> planner a chance to get in the back room with the guy that owns the
> property and strong-arm him to do things that the ordinance doesn't say he
> has to do, but they hold the lever over his head of not giving him a
> permit until he agrees to do so. This would make development agreements
> even stronger. Not only would you have planners writing the regulations
> through things like development agreements and design review requirements
> (which would also be much stronger), they're setting themselves up with a
> police power. First they write the regulation, then they enforce it."
> Condemnation for 'non-conformity'
> As one whose clientele includes storeowners, Smith is very worried about
> provisions that restrict and regulate signs, even more than is currently
> done. For instance, chapter 8 includes language enabling a local
> government to use condemnation (eminent domain) to deal with a
> "nonconformity" or "non-conforming" use, something Smith predicts will be
> widely used.
> "That's the scheme," he said. "And you notice it mentions 'non-conforming'
> signs. Signs are specifically mentioned. Up until now, and up until any of
> this gets adopted somewhere, an on-premise sign is a valid accessory use
> that relates to commercial property. So if your property is zoned
> commercial, a sign is a valid use. You have a right to put up a sign to
> tell people you're in business so you can sell things. But the people who
> put this together are very slick. They've changed signs to a land use,
> separate and having no relationship with the property. That makes it
> possible to have commercial land zoned commercial with no right to tell
> people you're in business."
> Like Smith, Hank Cox, director of communications for the National Black
> Chamber of Commerce, is concerned about the signage clauses, and discussed
> with WorldNetDaily just how and to what extent the Guidebook statutes and
> ordinances would impact the businesses in black and other minority
> "They would be very much affected, especially by those signage
> regulations," he said. "Our members rely on signage to do business in
> their local communities - dry cleaners, restaurants, storefronts. Let's
> take San Francisco. Let's take Chinatown. Imagine the signage there. And
> then those people who own those businesses are told they can no longer
> have signage to advertise their wares to the tourists who walk through
> Chinatown and look in the windows and at the restaurants. Oakland is like
> this too. This would destroy not only the businesses but the cultures, the
> whole environment.
> Cox said that signs would be permitted, but not the kind that would be
> effective for the clientele his membership serves.
> "They want to have these pristine, or subtle-looking, signs that won't
> blare out at the community like a Dunkin' Donut sign. Those will be
> passe," he said. "There will be no more Dunkin' Donut signs. It's going to
> be all uniform signs, based on essentially a western European concept of
> signage. They want signs that conform to their aesthetic ideas, but which
> will not draw business in those communities.
> "In minority communities in Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia - wherever
> you have large Latino, Asian or Black communities - the only retail tool
> these retail stores have are their storefront signs that are designed to
> appeal to their particular clientele. Our fear is that with these
> ordinances in place, the planners and bureaucrats will say, "Your signs
> are too loud, they're too big, they're not color-coordinated, and
> therefore they're going to have to be this way" - which is going to kill
> businesses, and people will have to be laid off. It'll kill the
> communities and kill those cultures."
> And it's not just the signage issue.
> "The statutes would add regulatory weight that would be too heavy for
> little businesses to carry," Cox feared. "The National Black Chamber of
> Commerce has long been a proponent of regulatory reform. OSHA and EPA and
> all their regulations on small business, taxation - are just too
> burdensome on a small business. We're trying to make it simple for small
> businesses to keep them part of our economic fabric. They're important
> because small businesses today employ far more people than large
> businesses do."
> Moreover, Cox added, "If it weren't for minority-owned businesses, the
> unemployment picture and the welfare roles would be out of control.
> Totally out of control."
> "So we see this as a very big threat, and if HUD is supposed to be the
> Department of Housing and Urban Development, they should realize this is
> anti-development. Secretary Martinez can easily say, 'Hey, guys, I don't
> like this thing. I'm not going to approve it.'"
> Cox hopes that Martinez, who is a member of a minority group, having been
> born in Cuba and raised in Florida, is sensitive to the problems
> minority-owned businesses face. From now until Wednesday he's working to
> muster sufficient opposition that the secretary will exercise the third
> option and disavow the Guidebook.
> "He [Martinez] should well know what would happen if these laws are
> imposed," said Cox. "Miami would be a case of where this would be
> devastating. He should definitely have some sensitivity to this. So we're
> trying to stir up some attention. I'm getting ready to turn up the heat on
> it next week and start working with the Hispanic chamber [of commerce] and
> get the Pan-Asian Chamber involved big time. On Monday and Tuesday I'll be
> out there beating the drum about this."
> Darrell McKigney, president of the Small Business Survival Committee,
> another signatory to the letter by the Defenders of Property Rights, is
> similarly concerned, and said he and his organization view the Growing
> Smart project and its Guidebook as a "further attempt to extend federal
> control and regulations over small businesses, to replace free
> market-style growth with Soviet-style planning.
> "It's anti-entrepreneurial, and it's going to hurt people. When you start
> restricting business activities in terms of commercial space, where you
> can locate, wherever you get any kind of central planning of the economy
> obviously people suffer. People suffer individually, but so do their
> communities. We know that government central planning is never good for
> the economy."
> McKigney is cynical about assurances he has heard that the Guidebook is
> not a blueprint for central land use planning, merely a set of statutes a
> state legislature could adopt if it wanted to control and regulate urban
> growth and development.
> "Sure, that's what they say," he said. "But the practical effect is pretty
> much the same. They want to get federal standards imposed about how they
> think the most local units of government should act and what they think
> cities should be like. I think that's bad policy. It's
> anti-entrepreneurial. We know these smart growth policies drive up the
> cost of housing; they hurt the economy, they hurt small business, and they
> destroy property rights.
> "If you look around the country at places where smart growth projects have
> gone forward, you can see that they severely restrict places where people
> can conduct business, they attack basic things like signage - the ability
> of a business to advertise, and it drives up all the costs of housing and
> commercial property and commercial use. Frankly, that hurts both customers
> and it hurts the ability of small businesses to operate."
> But Stuart Meck, principal investigator for the Growing Smart Project at
> APA's research center in Chicago, says the suggested statutes would go far
> to relieve problems communities face across the country.
> "Growing Smart is actually model planning enabling legislation that states
> would adopt," he told WorldNetDaily. "These are not local ordinances. They
> are model statutes the states could adopt that authorize planning, land
> development control, tax abatement, tax increment financing, things like
> that" at the state and local level.
> Meck provided some history: "There were two prior major efforts on model
> legislation that were national in nature: the Standard States Zoning
> Enabling Act and the other Standard City Planning Enabling Act. These two
> acts were drafted in the 1920s by an advisory committee of the U.S.
> Department of Commerce under Herbert Hoover. They are called the Standard
> Acts, and they were tremendously influential in the United States, and
> most state enabling legislation up until 15 or 20 years ago were based on
> these acts. These were model acts that states could adopt, and they did,
> almost verbatim."
> Meck said that a little less than half the states have done some type of
> reform of their planning statutes in recent years.
> "The major reform states are states like Oregon, Washington, New Jersey,
> Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, and Rhode Island," he
> said. There, the statutes are "far more modernized." But there are states
> in the Midwest - for example Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois - "where the
> legislation has remained pretty much unchanged for 50 years."
> According to Meck, language from the portions of the Guidebook that have
> been released have already been adopted in some states.
> "People would take language from it, which is the idea," he said. "The
> Guidebook is supposed to be a source book for statutory language, and
> actually incorporated into the bills. Sometimes they pass, sometimes they
> don't. There was an Impact Fee statute that was introduced in the Kentucky
> legislature that did not pass."
> Asked about the benefits of Smart Growth and the new planning process,
> Meck answered that he likened these to a fire extinguisher.
> "This is my basic premise: Plans, land use regulations, particularly land
> use regulations themselves, and statutes are police power measures - and
> so are fire extinguishers," he said. "You wouldn't trust a fire
> extinguisher that hadn't been reexamined for 50 years. But many states are
> in the position of having planning laws that were designed for
> governmental structures and the thinking of the 1920s, and here we are in
> the year 2001 and we're still trying to use those systems. That's number
> one. Number two, there's a lot of litigation on land use law today, and
> the legal climate has changed considerably since the 1920s. Citizens
> expect to be allowed to be a lot more involved in plan-making, and many of
> the statutes that are based on the 1920s model really provide only a
> minimal role for citizen involvement - like one public hearing at the end
> of the process. Nobody thinks that's a good way to do things anymore."
> But Randal O'Toole, founder and chief economist of the Thoreau Institute,
> a non-profit group in Oregon that researches land use and policy issues,
> is sharply critical of smart growth policies and premises. Contacted for
> comment, he detailed his concerns - developed through nearly 30 years of
> research, to WorldNetDaily.
> "My first objection is a simple one," said O'Toole. "The planners think
> they know how other people should live and they want to force them to live
> that way, whether people want it or not. It's social engineering. It isn't
> sitting down and asking, 'How do you want to live? Let's make sure it
> works that way.' Instead, it's sitting with people asking how they want to
> live, but then they say - 'We're going to pretend we heard you say you
> want to live the way we want you want to live, so we're going to redesign
> your community the way we want it.'"
> The idea embodied in the model legislation, he said, is that growth must
> be contained within an area, that it can go "up," but not "out," over the
> land. That's why they denigrate neighborhoods of single-family residences
> as "sprawl."
> The fact is, said O'Toole, people generally want to live in single-family
> houses and to travel in cars. Smart growth runs counter to what people
> want. It entails "high-density development, no more construction of
> highways, construction of transit - particularly rail transit instead of
> highways, and mixed-use development, where you have both housing and
> shops; the idea being that through high density and mixed-use development
> they can minimize the need for people to drive."
> Smart growth is an "anti-automobile system," O'Toole continued, "But the
> problem is that it doesn't really change people's habits. People still
> drive, even if they live in high-density or mixed-use areas. They still
> drive because even if you build a whole bunch of light-rail or heavy-rail
> or any kind of rail, people continue to drive.
> "The light-rail system in Sacramento is one of the nation's failures. They
> spent a bunch of money and it's had even less of an impact on traveling
> habits than Portland. They spent $5 billion building BART in the Bay Area,
> which carries 2 percent of all travel in the Bay Area. In Washington,
> D.C., they spent $10 billion building the Metro System, and it carries
> less than 3 percent of all travel in Washington, D.C., and only about 8
> percent of all commuters. Rail transit is really insignificant. But when
> you combine rail transit with high-density development, what do you get?
> You get a lot more people driving in the corridors because you have a lot
> more people living in those corridors because you've put in high-density
> development. Instead of spreading people around so they can drive in a
> spread-around area that's called sprawl, you concentrate them in corridors
> and they end up all driving in the same corridors and you end up with a
> lot more congestion."
> O'Toole is cynical about much of the push for smart growth legislation and
> the Guidebook.
> "It's basically a full employment act for the planners," he said, and
> pointed out that there are still a lot of counties that have no zoning.
> "If you require them to zone and write plans, then you make jobs for
> planners. That's a big thing in Iowa. Most of the counties in Iowa have no
> zoning. They don't need zoning; it's all farmland. Nobody is worried about
> urban sprawl in Iowa. But by bringing in this kind of legislation they'll
> have to do the planning, hire planners and attorneys and so forth. So it's
> really a full-employment law for urban planners."
> "This Land Is Our Land," by Rep. Richard Pombo and WorldNetDaily Editor
> Joseph Farah - autographed by Joseph Farah - is available at WND's online
> Sarah Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.