Friday, May 27, 2011

Wait, There's a Tea Party in Northern California?

Given the role it played in the 2010 Congressional elections, the Tea Party's absence in California politics is worth noting. So we were surprised to come across this story in the Bay Citizen, which describes an anti-urban-planning effort by a group calling itself the East Bay Tea Party.

The group is targeting the Sustainable Communities Strategy now being developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments. The Strategy is a grand plan to reduce sprawl, car use, and pollution by encouraging housing construction in close proximity to mass transit and job centers, as part of AB 32's mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The East Bay Tea Party opposes the effort on the grounds that it is biased against those who want to live in suburban areas and drive their own cars. And they're not being subtle about it. Its leader, a Danville realtor named Heather Gass, wrote an alarmist blog post saying that the plan suggested a future of "working at your government-assigned job on the bottom floor of your urban transit center village because you have no car and who knows where your aging parents will be but by then it will be too late!" Gass and 12 others also attended a public meeting last hosted by the two agencies last Tuesday, and turned it into a raucous affair.

While we're ambivalent about their tactics, and we're not convinced that the Tea Party is a particularly libertarian movement, we have to appreciate the fact that an alternative is emerging to the boilerplate liberal agenda that dominates political discourse in the Bay Area. And for what it's worth, we agree with the sentiment that livable communities are about choice, not about the choices that a statist elite want to force on everyone else.


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