Agenda 21 Update: The Threat to Urban Planning and Smart Growth

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The entire Agenda 21 conspiracy (earlier explanation here) could be just ignored as paranoia, except it is seriously having an effect at the local level where zoning bylaws and official plans are prepared. And, everything that most of us believe in when it comes to planning and urban design is apparently part of this plot, described by an elected State Committeewoman in Massachusetts:

Private property must be abolished in order to build "stackable communities," where people are required to live on top of one another in mixed-use zones, within walking distance from schools and work, thereby eliminating the need for transportation other than bicycles, buses and light rail. This vision also requires that land in rural areas no longer be allowed to become buildable and be given back to its "intended wilderness."

This issue must be taken seriously, and stopped in its tracks.

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Indeed. A North Carolina resident goes further in a submission to a planning commission; he becomes the first known 21er to invoke Godwin's law, and suggests that the NAFTA Superhighway network is being designed to snuff out the life of small towns, so that the land can be returned to nature. Urban planners are going to:

forcefully move all Americans to compact prison-like cities where security cameras are everywhere and police can grope peoples genitals if they wish. If the NAFTA Super Highway plan had been 100% successful then the highways will not put exit ramps to small towns causing them to become ghost towns.

Yes, some of them are crazy, but the problem is, it shifts the whole discussion of property rights and planning towards the right wing fringe. However I am pleased that more people are taking the issue seriously, and the words "ignore this at your peril" come up again and again.

Kieran Mulvaney at Discovery News covers it in Climate Change, Bikes and black Helicopters;

From Virginia to California, local council members have been shouted down, smeared as Nazis and fascists and accused of being United Nations dupes for committing such crimes, as, for example, preparing to use land as a dike for sea level rise. "It sounds a little on the weird side, but we’ve found we ignore it at our own peril," the Times quoted George Homewood, a vice president of the American Planning Association’s chapter in Virginia, as saying.

Charles Pierce warns in Esquire, In UN Conspiracy Theorists, the Right Has a Long Con

While one can idly dismiss the Birchers, one dismisses the power of this issue at one's peril. It is an attack on government at its most basic level. It is a clever play in the long game being played by modern conservatism — and the corporate money behind it — against the very notion of environmental protection. It is being fought out on those levels of our self-government that don't get covered by cable news and don't get talked about on the Sunday shows, until, one day, the whole thing explodes in all directions all at once.

Jonathan Thompson writes a great article in High Country News , behind a fence but with a 30 day free trial. He describes a planning battle in a sophisticated college town full of cyclists and lawyers:

Last spring, an ambitious vision emerged to rein in sprawl, encourage bicycling and public transportation, protect agriculture and promote sustainability. Respect for private-property rights and conventional energy development were also emphasized, and the draft was sent to the planning commission, an appointed body that in Colorado has the final say on county comprehensive plans. "There wasn't a word in that plan that wasn't vetted by the working group," says Charlie Deans, the lead consultant.

Then the 21ers got involved.

In La Plata County, by late July the anti-planning crowd started referencing Agenda 21 in their public comments. County planner Erick Aune had never even heard of it. So he attended an "evening of Agenda 21 education" hosted by the Four Corners Liberty Restoration group, where the featured speaker masterfully laid out a 200-year conspiracy culminating in the comprehensive plan. By the end of that month, more than 100 people had signed a petition against it, saying it was "based on emotional feel-good ideas that are designed for social engineering and social equity that trample our rights as free people."

In December, after whittling the plan down to about 40 pages and snuffing out an entire chapter on sustainable development, the La Plata County planning commission unanimously voted to scrap it altogether. Aune resigned a day later.

See also Jon Carrol in the San Francisco Chronicle, who writes about the La Plata County affair, quoting an Agenda 21 activist:

"Someone who owns hundreds of acres in this county doesn't want someone living in the city who rides a solar-powered bicycle to tell them what to do."

We have met the enemy, and he is riding a bicycle.

Tags: Activism | Urban Planning

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