Critics: Schwarzenegger joins Brown in 'war on suburbs'

Legal News Line Oct. 15, 2008, 4:17am

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-A Wall Street Journal opinion article that claimed California Attorney General Jerry Brown had waged "war on the suburbs" continues to reverberate around rural and suburban towns in California.

Critics of Brown's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow urban sprawl have another target, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who rekindled the debate when he signed pro-environmental bills earlier this month.

Editors at the Sun-Herald in rural Colusa, Calif., which lies 90 minutes north of Sacramento, became the latest to rebuke the Republican governor for acting too much like the Democratic attorney general.

"In his zeal to battle global warming," the editorial states, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed one of the most authoritarian, far-reaching and elitist bills that has ever made it to the governor's desk."

The editors said their environmental extremism unfairly attacks people who prefer to live in single-family homes, continuing Brown's war on the suburbs.

The anti-sprawl legislation, outlined in Senate Bill 375, requires the California Air Resources Board to provide regional targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by September 2010, so that the state can meet a 2006 law to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

The legislation will give incentives to housing projects that meet goals for reducing emissions, particularly high-density projects near public transportation.

"What this will mean is more environmentally-friendly communities," Schwarzenegger said, "more sustainable developments, less time people will spend in their cars, more alternative transportation options and neighborhoods we can safely and proudly pass on to future generations."

While proponents hail the move as smart growth, critics are far less complimentary. Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, wrote, "Mr. Brown is not above using coercion to create the demographic patterns he wants... He is also backing controversial legislation -- Senate Bill 375 -- moving through the state legislature that would restrict state highway funds to communities that refuse to adopt 'smart growth' development plans."

Brown fired back with his own WSJ article saying simply, "One would think that cutting dangerous oil dependency was a no-brainer," wrote Brown. "Apparently not for Joel Kotkin."

Tom Adams, president of the California League of Conservation Voters, hailed the historic nature of the bill.

"In my view, SB 375 is the most important land use bill in California since enactment of the Coast Act," Adams said. "It has taken 32 years since that bill was enacted to bring a coalition together who could make major land use change in California."

But, many of the state's biggest business interests opposed the bill, including the California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Grocers Association.

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