The Associated Press reported today in an article entitled, "Senate Democrats to tackle sprawl and shipping problems" that State Senate Democrats are proposing an idea to shift zoning control away from local governments and giving it to the State. This means a state agency would decide what to do with open land in Menifee.
Democrats said they made this proposal because California's poorer families are not finding enough low income homes and apartments. State Senator Don Perata, who is expected to be elected Senate president pro tem Monday, said the issues threaten a way of life in the Golden State:
"I know in my bones that the congestion and sprawl of this state is going to undo the California dream,".The AP went on to report that Perata and other state Democrats think that shifting local zoning issues over to State control will improve the quality of life for lower-income families:
While short on specifics, Perata said his party will develop legislative proposals to fight sprawl, including more housing in older or blighted areas, encouraging more affordable housing and improving planning so that housing and transportation needs are considered together.However, I feel that this proposal is actually an attempt to take money away from local governments.
As it stands now, home builders must gain approval for their development projects from city and county officials. In addition, they must pay developer fees for each home built. Cities and counties use these fees to pay for the costs of accomodating increased population, such as road widening, traffic signals, more parks, more police, etc.
If the State of California takes over control of local zoning issues, then those developer fees will be paid to the State, instead of cities and counties. Democrats may suggest that the State will hand over those funds to the cities and counties, but can we really trust them hand over 100% of those funds?
In the last general election on Nov 2, 2004, the voters of California approved Proposition 1A, which creates a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the State from "raiding" local government revenues. Prop 1A grew out of a growing problem of State Legislators taking money away from cities and counties to pay for their frivolous spending habits, as much as $40 billion since 1992.
This latest proposal from Perata and other state Democrats is an attempt circumvent Proposition 1A, under the guise of "controlling urban sprawl".
If Perata and his spend-happy pals are allowed to do this, they will use the open land in Menifee, as well as open land all over the Inland Empire, as a "cash cow", allowing developers to build rows and rows high density, low income homes, in exchange for developer fees.