We are native Californians, we love this state, and we are wondering why everyone seems so all-fired ready to drive us out.
Sure, people still fight and claw to get here, just as the Joad family did in Grapes of Wrath, and the allure of the Great Golden State is just as strong today as it was back in the Dust Bowl Days. But how many people last when confronted by atmospheric housing prices, food bills, and overall cost of living?
We're told we're ahead of the national curve in terms of trends, business acumen, technology, personal health and surfboard wax. We're also told we're a state full of independent-minded folks descended (a lot of us, anyway) from hardscrabble gold miners who staked out their claims and defended them to their last breath.
We live in a state known as one of the greatest agricultural production centers of the Free World, yet our food costs seem to factor in shipping from outer space rather than the short ride from the Central Valley. Is it no wonder then that millions of hopeful voyagers and an increasing number of natives alike are piling back into their cars for the reverse migration eastward?
According to Wendell Cox and a story in the Wall Street Journal entitled "California Declares War on Suburbia," the reason behind the exodus is clear -- and likely to continue. According to Cox, a transportation consultant, the state has "declared war on the most popular housing choice, the single-family, detached home -- all in the name of saving the planet."
Now, we're all for doing our bit to save the planet. Our little slice of the California Dream grows much of its own food, recycles rain water from our minimalist roofline, pulled up its lawns to cut down on the need for EBMUD water, and houses home-based businesses which have drastically curtailed our need to drive any great distance, much less any distance at all.
As Cox writes and as we have noted in earlier articles, our home state and empowered government associations are pushing plans that call for at least 20 or more homes to the acre -- five times the traditional quarter acre per house -- and creation of new, hyperdense developments along established transit lines, so-called "transit villages."
We can't help but notice the ancillary creation of feel-good buzzwords like "vibrant" and "pedestrian friendly," words apparently developed to make us feel good about being herded into box-like condos straddling a BART line.
We're all for walking when we need to get things and cutting our dependence on the almighty V-6, but is this the best way? Cox, and more importantly us crusty old Californios, say "no, it isn't."
We would point the urban planners to a report co-sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which found that substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions could be achieved without forcing people to live one atop the other. Instead, the report found and we cannot help but agree, the state should concentrate on improved vehicle economy, improving the efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, upgrading coal-fired electricity plants, and converting more electricity production to natural gas.
While we're talking, how about providing incentives to suburban homeowners who take steps to reduce their carbon footprint and, in fact, blot them out completely? Instead of declaring war on the detached single-family home and attempting to move people into skyscrapers, wouldn't it be better to make the footprints of the homes smaller, the lots "greener" and more efficient, and to take steps to control our unbridled population growth?