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A Different Perspective: How not to build a toolbox

Posted: Monday, Feb 11th, 2013

Last Tuesday night the Atascadero Planning Commission began the process of complying with the provisions of AB 32, specifically by development of a “toolbox” for the city’s climate action plan. The commission may as well have been attending the hospital bed of a dying friend given their demeanor and enthusiasm for a process in which they clearly have little interest.

The latest manifestation of government’s ability to waste the taxpayer’s dollars is the requirement for cities to develop climate action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Failure to do so will subject the locality to litigation and bureaucratic obstructionism in the form of endless lawsuits under the California “welfare for attorney’s act” otherwise known as the California Environmental Quality Act.

Like children taking castor oil 50 years ago, it’s a ritual we have to endure because “it’s good for us.” The county’s Air Pollution Control District hired a consultant to develop model plans for each city, spending about $66,000 per community to provide a “toolbox” unique to the needs of each locality. We didn’t get our monies worth.

I spent a lot of time perusing the provided document for Atascadero. What I found was a lot of boilerplate cobbled together from other plans from communities bearing no relation to Atascadero. As we all know, this town isn’t like any other in the county or most counties. With mountainous terrain it was designed to showcase its rural nature, not replicate the urban congestion planners love to promote on the grounds of efficiency.

The “toolbox” presented to the planning commission is a coercive document calling for the imposition of at least seven new ordinances, intrusive residential and commercial inspections, changes to planning documents and local policies contrary to the economic vitality of the city.

For instance, it calls for reducing parking in commercial areas and promoting the fantasy of mass transit, not fiscally or practically implementable in Atascadero; that will certainly encourage people to shop locally will it not? Most disappointing is the failure to incorporate local input abundantly provided during workshops, all of which I attended.

The document calls for the establishment of a tree ordinance and for Atascadero to plant and monitor trees ignoring the existing tree ordinance and our designation as a “Tree City USA.” It also ignores our plan to capture retail sales leakage. Using their formula of 2,000 miles driven equals one ton of greenhouse gas, if we captured even 50 percent of the retail sales leakage to San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles, we could save one-third to one-half of the required reduction in greenhouse gasses. So let’s get on with building the Walmart. The sooner we capture our fleeing retail dollars, the sooner we can get on with saving the planet.

Al Fonzi is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and career intelligence officer with more than 30 years of service. He is a self-described conservative and active in several political organizations. Fonzi first moved to Atascadero in 1972.

For the complete article see the 02-06-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-06-2013 paper.

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