Do you want beautiful Santa Fe to be turned into an overdeveloped, gridlocked and polluted Southern California? Hell no, you don’t. Just like you don’t want the US of A to be turned into a socialist haven for freeloading bums, gay junkies and thieving, opportunistic brown people from some other damn country.
The notion of this country becoming a socialist, well, anything is a vision built on distortions and lies by those who can’t abide President Barack Obama’s politics (or his race). Similarly, the idea of Santa Fe’s SoCal transformation is a pack of sensationalist lies propagated by a group calling itself Keep Santa Fe Different.
In recent advertisements placed in Santa Fe publications (including SFR), KSFD calls the Santa Fe County Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP) “anything but sustainable.” KSFD says that it’s a “cookie cutter” plan, developed by a wealthy consultant, rammed down the people’s throats while everyone is distracted with all the hoopla surrounding the wake of the midterm elections (the Board of County Commissioners was scheduled to vote on the plan Nov. 9).
KSFD makes the following bullet-point assertions regarding the plan.
• mandate high-density housing and scare away wildlife
• destroy the natural environment and replace it with “fake nature” parks
• obliterate neighborhood and community planning
• siphon unsustainable amounts of water from the Rio Grande
• penalize and disenfranchise low-income homeowners
Addressing these points is eerily familiar to responding to the right wing’s Pledge to America. Liberals—or even liberaltarians like me—are momentarily stunned by not really knowing where to begin. One wants so badly to point out how inconceivable it is that a plan might frighten wildlife, or to clarify the definitions of “destroy” and “obliterate” for those challenged by vocabulary. What’s really needed here is a calmer, more direct rebuttal of these—as it turns out—incomprehensibly blatant lies.
To spend an evening carefully reading the 280-page “revised final draft” of the SGMP is not the swingingest way to pass the time, but such serious allegations as those being leveled by KSFD merit close attention from all citizens—and especially journalists.
First off, to call the plan “anything but sustainable” is gross hyperbole that, in this case, is delivered without supporting evidence. Compared to the 1999 plan that is the current order of the day, the new SGMP is an aggressive exercise in sustainable practice. It’s progressive not only in terms of environment, land use and development, but also in terms of the often-overlooked need to preserve culture and tradition in various areas, with wildly differing needs, that happen to fall within the same governmental jurisdiction. That sensitivity, intrinsic to the proposed plan, certainly was not generated through a pre-fab plan from some out-of-state consultant but, instead, was honed through the commitment of the county’s Land Use Department and its hard-working community planners.
A valid argument can be made that Santa Fe County wasted shocking amounts of money on outside consultants (who were predominantly from Kansas City rather than Los Angeles) when all it needed was to empower its own staff to pursue a new plan. But the land use and planning staff has spent the last year reclaiming the plan from outside, or “cookie cutter,” points of view and drafting something wholly different—not just for a “city different” but for an expansive county that contains even more diversity and differentness.
As for the bullet points:
• Although the proposed plan (very sensibly) encourages high-density development, it is by no means mandatory. The only actions proposed toward wildlife and the natural environment are to preserve wildlife corridors and areas where wildlife do or might thrive.
• “Fake nature” is a phrase exponentially more bizarre and unfounded than “death panel.”
• Not only is the proposed plan created from the most aggressive recruitment of community and public input in the history of Santa Fe County, but it inarguably lays the groundwork for more and varied public participation in future efforts.
• Siphoning water from the Rio Grande is a far-fetched, scare-mongering tactic that is unsupported in the plan.
• Ditto for penalizing and disenfranchising low-income homes.
In other words, while the process of developing this plan has been rocky at times, and not all decisions made have been the right ones, the county staff has, at the end of the day, delivered a truly contemporary document that can only benefit the incredibly varied stakeholders who make up Santa Fe County.
It’s the people who are lying about the plan who don’t want public involvement. They just want to keep on privately ignoring what’s good for everyone, and they’re willing to spend money to make you think it’s a good idea.
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