Challenging the Poverty Plan

In late February, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council issued its draft Thrive 2040 plan for public review. No one will be surprised to learn it is a standard smart-growth plan with lots of emphasis on transit, high-density housing in transit corridors, and reducing driving. Of course, this isn’t always obvious, as the plan uses euphemisms such as “affordable housing” when it means high-density housing and “orderly and efficient land use” when it means restricting development in rural areas.


Click image to download the 3.7-MB plan.

The Met Council calls it the Thrive plan because it wants to give the impression that, without government planning, the region will wither away and die. Of course, the Antiplanner believes the opposite is true, and that it would be more accurate to call it a poverty plan, since it will likely make housing unaffordable and require higher taxes, both of which will slow economic growth.

A free-market group called the Center of the American Experiment is taking the lead in challenging the plan. Earlier this week, it published an extremely well-written report called “Ten Fallacies of the Thrive Plan.” Next Tuesday, it is bringing Wendell Cox for a luncheon speech about the plan at the Hilton Minneapolis.

The Metropolitan Council has given the public all of 60 days to comment on its poverty plan, a time period that ends on April 28. Minnesota residents concerned about government intrusions into property rights, mobility, and related issues should submit at least a short letter expressing disapproval of the plan.

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31 thoughts on “Challenging the Poverty Plan

  1. LazyReader

    So the emphasis of the plan no doubt would be more high density housing? We are talking about high-rises or at least mid-rises. Like we discussed with San Francisco; making more highrises is not gonna do much to bolster affordable housing. Skyscrapers have an ‘unhealthy’ link with impending financial collapse, according to banking experts in a recent report by the Dailymail UK. Researchers pointed to the fact one of the world’s first skyscraper, New York’s Equitable Life building, was finished in 1873 during a five-year recession, while the Empire State Building coincided with the Great Depression. 1929-1933, record breaking skyscrapers pop up over the Manhattan skyline, 40 Wall Street, Chrysler building, Empire State just the Great Depression settled in (to be fair, government involvement played a larger role in the Depression than economic forces). 1972, US currency speculation. Collapse of Bretton Woods system, OPEC prises skyrocket…..and Sears Tower underwent construction during that time. Early 90?s recession in the US when Savings and Loan crisis in the US, the UK finished Canary Wharf’s tower. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1998 finished what was at the time the tallest building in the world, the twin Petronas Towers, which coincided with the Asian Crisis. The DOT_COM Bubble, Taipei 101 underwent completion, tallest building in the world at 1,600+ feet. Great Recession, whose effects still linger. Burj Khalifa completed in 2010. Is Dubai the next bust in the cycle, they’re building fantasy like towers out the wazoo. But one example of the breaking point is the slowed construction of it’s artificial islands which are slowly dissolving back into the sea.

    China could be in particular trouble as the current biggest builder of skyscrapers, responsible for 53 per cent of those now under construction, according to research from Barclays. They’re building cities out of thin air and virtually a third of the Chinese workforce is in construction. India is also at risk, having 14 skyscrapers being built, with only two complete that reach higher than 240m. The pattern repeats itself throughout history, with Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) built in 1974, just as there was an oil shock. One World Trade Centre in 1972 and Two World Trade Centre the year after came at this time of U.S. currency speculation and worldwide financial crisis. Moderate size buildings are financially safer but the supertalls are very risky. Developers having cancelled projects in Chicago and New York.

  2. Frank

    “euphemisms such as ‘affordable housing’ when it means high-density housing”

    When did new high-density housing become affordable? And affordable compared to what? Certainly not when compared to suburban lower-density SFHs.

    Case in point: a new construction 750 sq ft, 1 bed + den at the top of Queen Anne on the avenue rents for $2300 a month. For $1450 a month, one can rent a 1400-sq-ft renovated three-bedroom house on a fifth of an acre in Mountlake Terrace, 20 minutes north of Seattle on I-5. That leaves nearly a grand left over every month for a Prius to tackle the commute.

    As for other costs/benefits, it’s hard to quantify the value of space, privacy, quiet, and quick access to open spaces and nature.

    Then there’s not having to deal with inconsiderate neighbors stomping above, partiers next door keeping you up with their noise that easily penetrates two thin sheets of drywall, the idiot neighbor on the third floor who left her faucet on during a water shut off only to have the water turned back on and flood all the units below, destroying their antiques and other property. Smoke wafting in from cigarettes on balconies. Recycling and trash cans constantly full and overflowing so you can’t take your measly amount out. Blaring TVs and music. Barking dogs.

    Yeah. More high density apartments is exactly what we need.

  3. msetty

    Frank:
    Yeah. More high density apartments is exactly what we need.

    May YOU don’t “need” more apartments , but clearly a lot of people in the Seattle region (and Bay Area) do if the high rents are any indication. I thought most of the readers of The Antiplanner’s blog were in favor of free enterprise and free markets, of which the price system was a central mechanism. That is, higher prices generally indicate high demand and/or a shortage of a particular product, in this case apartments in central Seattle.

    I do understand that a lot of people want single family houses in a low density neighborhood. But apparently a lot of people also want housing in denser, urban neighborhoods, at least in places like Seattle and San Francisco where the local economy is healthy and growing. To some people, the myriad activities available within walking distance in a city obviously outweigh “…the value [sic] of space, privacy, quiet, and quick access to open spaces and nature.” I don’t know why Frank et al find this so hard to understand.

  4. metrosucks

    But apparently a lot of people also want housing in denser, urban neighborhoods,

    Which is, of course, why every single one of these developments in Portland must be heavily subsidized by the government. Because people want it so badly and developers want to build them so badly. Only evil low density housing which absolutely no one in their right mind would want, needs no subsidies to be built. Makes perfect sense!

  5. Frank

    May YOU don’t “need” more apartments , but clearly a lot of people in the Seattle region (and Bay Area) do if the high rents are any indication. I thought most of the readers of The Antiplanner’s blog were in favor of free enterprise and free markets, of which the price system was a central mechanism.

    High rents are only partially due to “need” for apartments. The price of rent is also influenced by monetary and other government policies (which have been successful in partially re-inflating the housing bubble and causing a boom in new construction), including property tax rates, building height restrictions, and requirements for every landlord to have his or her unit inspected by the city (a law passed by Seattle’s city council, which will undoubtedly translate to rent increases).

    So how can you believe in something (a free market in housing) that doesn’t exist? That market is heavily regulated (therefore not free) by government.

    To some people, the myriad activities available within walking distance in a city obviously outweigh “…the value [sic] of space, privacy, quiet, and quick access to open spaces and nature.” I don’t know why Frank et al find this so hard to understand.

    And I don’t understand your misuse of sic. Snark? Ridicule? Pretension?

    However, in the instance I described above with the Mountlake Terrace house, there are many amenities to walk to from that location, including Terrace Creek Park, a playfield complex, an off-leash dog park, a recreation pavilion which includes swimming, schools, churches, a even a dozen or so restaurants. There’s certainly a lot more nature, wildlife, and quiet than in Belltown (which is plagued by “stroller congestion”) or South Lake Union.

    By the way, what can you walk to from your Napa property? Checking your property on Atlas Peak Rd, I see it has a walk score of ZERO.

  6. prk166

    msetty, if the paradigm is “but I thought you people were for this”, then anyone who supports democracy and local government should be fighting to end the Met Council. It’s an unelected body that has powers to persuade, push, bully and flat out for local governments to do what it wants instead of what the citizens want.

    For example, the people of Lake Elmo want to limit development and grow slowly. They wanted efficient growth that met the needs of their citizens. This is something the Met Council espouses but in reality does the opposite.

    Lake Elmo didn’t want the so-called density that the Met Council wanted them to have. Lake Elmo has minimum lot sizes. The Met Council didn’t care and wouldn’t allow for it where it didn’t meet the Met Council’s plans.

    The situation is so perverse, so skewed in favor of the technocrats note that the Met Council office says it’s nice that Lake Elmo is working with. What do they expect? They beat the piss out of that city over the development mentioned at the end of the article. Lake Elmo fought it for over a decade and lost. The citizens, the voters, in Lake Elmo didn’t want all that housing their city but the Met Council wanted more “density” and got their way.

    In the meantime, the township to the east of Lake Elmo quietly took action to keep the Met Council away. 30 years ago they recognized the Twin Cities was growing. West Lakeland Township has 5 acre minimum lot sizes w/ some variances. Instead of trying to put the brakes on development, they welcomed it as long as it met their terms. The township is full and the Met Council’s let them be since it would be impractical to lobby to bulldoze nearly brand new housing for more density.

    The city kitty corner to SE of Lake Elmo, the village of Afton, will likely be the next Lake Elmo. The citizens of Afton had long fought hard for it to keep it’s country / rural character. They have new development but enforce minimum lot sizes. They’ve been diligent to ensure growth doesn’t occur too quickly. But with the city to Afton’s west, Woodbury, having weed-like growth for 2 decades, the city is nearly built out.

    As the Met Council showed with Lake Elmo, they will come in and for more density to occur. They will not honor the wishes of the citizens of Afton. And why would the Met Council do so? They’re not elected by anyone.

    As for the “density” the Met Council wants, it’s not what people seem to think it would be. We’re not

    http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_25051031/lake-elmos-population-wont-have-triple-by-2030

  7. prk166

    Frank, I wouldn’t’ get too caught up in WalkScore. I’ve been at the same place for years and seen my score drop below 70. Never mind that there are 30,000+ jobs within walking distance of my house, a dozen mom and pop restaurants, 3 drug stores, a grocery store ( a 2nd is just over a mile so I don’t count that ), a hardware store, 2 dry cleaners, 2 museums, 2 craft / quilting stores, the giant city central city library, many bars, a civic center ( concerts + other events ) , a whole bunch of banks, a dozen – 20 franchised restaurants, a couple miles of off road paves paths within a couple blocks of my place, dentists, coffee shops, doctors, an elementary school, a couple parks, etc, etc, etc. All of these things are walking distance from my place and I’ve seen my score drop. I’ve also seen their database fail to register all of these things.

    Plus, Frank, as you know, too often we humans want others to do as we say, not as we do. I walk all over the place & haven’t’ driven my car since 2 weekends ago. So I guess that’s why I want to make sure people don’t give up their cars. 😉

  8. Frank

    “Frank, I wouldn’t’ get too caught up in WalkScore.”

    I’m not caught up with walks core, especially given that the last place I lived, on a steep hill, took longer to walk to the nearest grocery store than my current place but had the same score; but if the distance to the nearest restaurant/supermarkets is 7 miles, and the individual who CHOOSES to live in that location keeps going on about the benefits of density, well…

    And we’re talking about a score of ZERO not your score of ~70, which is respectable.

    Ultimately I guess my point is that someone who has to drive seven miles to get to anything has no business talking about the benefits of density versus the benefits of non-dense places.

  9. Dan

    Ultimately I guess my point is that someone who has to drive seven miles to get to anything has no business talking about the benefits of density versus the benefits of non-dense places.

    Well, you’ll stop all comment threads everywhere: no one with an IQ of 90 or below can comment on anything that happened in science, policy, on PBS, in Washington, etc. No one without a liberal arts degree can analyze an argument. No one without a teaching credential can note that outside money is playing a part in local elections across the country, and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on

    That is: Yoda notes the false premises and logical fallacies are strong in this one.

    DS

  10. Anthony

    I can’t believe people still think Agenda 21 is some tin-foil-hat conspiracy theory.

    These 2040 plans come directly from the A21 playbook; High density apartment bunkers in “centers” and transit corridors, huge emphasis on expensive rail transit that requires indebting our great-great-grandchildren, road diets, parking controls and restriction, bio swales, bike lanes, “affordable” housing a.k.a. highly-subsided apartment bunkers further subsidized with rent assistance from big-daddy government, and growth boundaries designed to make land so expensive that only the very well-off and well-connected will be able to afford to own it. And they need to act quick because billions of new residents are expected to show up any minute now!!!

    Combine this with the quasi-religious climate-change environmentalism, and we have the recipe for modern day feudalism.

    What’s the deal with the year 2040 anyway? Is there something significant about that date? All of the A21 inspired plans tend to use the 2040’s for a completion date.

  11. Sandy Teal

    While Agenda 21, like almost all UN programs, is toothless and just a pipe dream of 100 people who are from different countries but went to the same schools and intermarry and think exactly the same.

    It is not just funny, but hilarious, how “planners” who pretend to take thousands of local environmental, political and social things into consideration, always come up with the same solution. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Napoleon, King Louis XVI, etc. also had the exact same solution.

  12. Dan

    Thanks Frank, we all know those are your signal for you have nothing.

    And Randal – if opponents to notdumb growth who don’t live in that place want to challenge this regional plan, I’d avoid languishing praise on Houston and Atlanta as exemplars of places to emulate. The twin cities are simply continuing down their same path. Changing direction and becoming unattractive and polluted doesn’t seem like a winning strategy.

    DS

  13. LazyReader

    What’s wrong with bioswales? I admit that suburban development has environmental consequences and bioswales and raingardens help to alleviate the effects of pervious surfaces. The common side effect of parking lots is they are flat, non permeable and the collect a lot of litter. Water running off these impervious surfaces tends to pick up gasoline, motor oil, heavy metals, trash and other pollutants from roadways and parking lots, as well as fertilizers and pesticides from lawns. Roads and parking lots are major sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are created as combustion byproducts of gasoline and other fossil fuels, as well as of the heavy metals nickel, copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead. Roof runoff contributes high levels of synthetic organic compounds and zinc (from galvanized gutters). Fertilizer use on residential lawns, parks and golf courses is a significant source of nitrates and phosphorus in urban runoff. Using landscaping to reduce this water pollution seems pretty straightforward. We’re building a rain garden in our neighborhood.

  14. metrosucks

    Frank,

    quite note, universities don’t take a liking to someone claiming a degree they didn’t actually earn. Might be time to drop UW a quick email or phone call.

  15. Dan

    Frank, that’s a real find: a couple out of scores of instances. You are making it up and lashing out again after being sad at not having anything to say.

    You’re awesome. You’ve found a trend.

    Get some professional help, lad.

    DS

  16. msetty

    Yeah, Metrosucks, Stacey & Witbeck forgot to mail me that check, again, for putting up with the b.s. produced by Eliza-based computer programs that troll(tm)!

    You may not believe it but I have never heard of them until you mentioned them, asshat.

  17. metrosucks

    Yes I am sure you don’t know about Stacy & Witbeck, which is HEADQUARTERED in San Francisco and is an extremely prominent builder and proponent of rail projects, including some in the Bay Area. They’ve even been in the paper down there on accusations of corruption . I am sure you know nothing about them, have seen nothing, know nothing, right?

    And I just bet that a egotistic braggart like Dan opted out of the UW database, that makes a ton of sense right?

    Frank, time to call the OUR tomorrow morning and give the planner a bigger problem than sitting around here and insulting Randal.

  18. Frank

    “you are making it up and lashing out”

    Classic projection.

    *You’re* the one lying about having a Masters of Urban Planning, as you did on this forum when you certainly *didn’t* have a degree according to documents from your own website. Lying liars continue to lie.

    “not having anything to say”

    I’ve had plenty to say about the affordability of density and why many would prefer to have space and to be away from noise, which echoes your statements elsewhere, where the truth comes out that Dan cannot tolerate the noise associated with density, which explains why he lives in a large suburban SFH:

    Dan Staley, April 14th, 2008 at 3:15 pm: I liked the proximity, but I hated – hay-ted – the noise.

    That is: many don’t like those densities for various reasons. Lots of folks like bigger yards. The GF has a nice biggish yard that I enjoy being out in – nice and quiet, lots of veggie room.

    But Dan’s ego on *this* site is so big that he must attack and smear and lie about others having nothing to say. Again, lying liars will continue to lie.

    And msetty, you might want to leave the research to those more capable. Of course there is an opt-out feature, but none of my friends and associates, who actually graduated from UW with degrees, have enabled it, and given what we know about Dan and his 301.81 and over sharing of personal information here and on his website, and also given that he started grad school in 2003 and had six years to complete requirements to graduate, by which point he had not, Occam’s razor dictates that the most logical conclusion is the simplest: Dan is a lying liar who will continue to lie.

    At any rate, it’s up to the UW to take over the investigation now.

  19. Dan

    Thank you Stalker Sherlock of Impeccable Logic. You might be close to one percent for a trend. Go tell them I’m lying. lad.

    Also making up something else – a wish that I mandate density for thee but not for me. The voices in your head are making you wish something that you are wishing was true Get help. Not everyone wants what you want, despite your opinion.

    If you think because density isn’t needed in places of high demand because some planners don’t live in dense places, you need more help that a psych.

    DS

  20. metrosucks

    Frank,

    I would suggest documenting and preserving proof of the planner’s crime so he can’t slither away from it. Web Archive, screenshots, and Evernote come to mind.

  21. C. P. Zilliacus

    LazyReader wrote:

    What’s wrong with bioswales? I admit that suburban development has environmental consequences and bioswales and raingardens help to alleviate the effects of pervious surfaces. The common side effect of parking lots is they are flat, non permeable and the collect a lot of litter. Water running off these impervious surfaces tends to pick up gasoline, motor oil, heavy metals, trash and other pollutants from roadways and parking lots, as well as fertilizers and pesticides from lawns. Roads and parking lots are major sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are created as combustion byproducts of gasoline and other fossil fuels, as well as of the heavy metals nickel, copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead. Roof runoff contributes high levels of synthetic organic compounds and zinc (from galvanized gutters). Fertilizer use on residential lawns, parks and golf courses is a significant source of nitrates and phosphorus in urban runoff. Using landscaping to reduce this water pollution seems pretty straightforward. We’re building a rain garden in our neighborhood.

    IMO, bioswales and other means of detaining (as in slowing) stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces (sometimes called Best Management Practices, or BMPs for short) is a good thing. In the scheme of things they are relatively cheap to build (though they must be maintained), they reduce the risks of downstream “flash” flooding, and they improve water quality in urban and suburban streams.

    No social engineering needed to make BMPs work effectively.

    Maryland made extensive use of BMP technologies to build and now to operate the Md. 200 (ICC) toll road.

  22. Sandy Teal

    I agree that the bioswales (bad name) or rain garden (better name but not great) are a great idea that can add multiple benefits to a project, especially roads and parking lots. But they aren’t exactly a “new” idea as the Romans dug ditches on the side of the road.

    My big complaint about them is that some planners make them too big — 80% benefit is not enough, they have to triple the size to get 90%, or far more. I also fear that soon environmentalists will complain that the parking lot is poisoning the plants in the rain garden…. Best laid plans of mice and men and so forth….

  23. Frank

    Metro, of course. Already done, done, done and done.

    The heat is apparently on, and the highwayman (Andrew Dawson from Montreal) is resurfacing, both here and spamming my YouTube channel under a different account name, “Andrew Dawson” instead of his intransitman YouTube name–his spam posts were too grammatically correct, leading me to believe it’s Dan posing as Andrew. Certainly, he’s at least Dan’s meat puppet, which means Dan is scared and grasping at straws and trying to stalk (read: expertly use Google search) to discover my identity.

    Good luck! And even if someone finds my identity, so what? It’s not like I’m going around breaking laws, claiming a degree I haven’t earned.

    Metro, please feel free to request my email address from the AP again. I had to delete my previous account due to hackers. I’ve tried to change my address registered to this blog, but have been unable to due to site settings. He has my new address from news articles I’ve sent him.

    Good night and wish me good luck!

  24. metrosucks

    Frank, good luck, it’s about time the planner was shoved back into the uncivilized, prehistoric cave from whence he came.

    And interesting how the highwayman is back immediately after you mention his increasing activities, in concert with Dan. Coincidence? I think not.

  25. the highwayman

    Frank, you know that what O’Toole says is mostly bogus & out of context, though you’ll defend him.

    I’m not against roads, but for some sort of political reason you’re against railroads. :$

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