Craig Young: Choosing Battles: Local Control, State Mandate and Knowing the Difference
Posted by Newsletter Reprint on August 23, 2013
Choosing Battles: Local Control, State Mandate and Knowing the Difference
The wise leader considers both armies before going into battle. It is said my NO vote against an Entitlement Program that gives free lunches as well as tens of thousands of dollars to a real estate investor should require that I also vote NO on any funding for the roads we all drive on. Really?? It is also said I should have voted NO on the Housing Element that was approved the night I lost the vote against returning Block Grants. I am painted as being inconsistent. The appropriate retort: apples and oranges.
While ideologically a NO vote on the Housing Element sends a message to Sacramento about objection to entitlements, unfortunately that vote bears consequences that would be overwhelmingly adverse to our city. The NO vote on Block Grants has consequences too (e.g. loss of community embraced programs and over $42,000 in general funding). However, we can afford the adverse consequences on Block Grants, we cannot afford those on the Housing Element.
Long before my time, we were painted into a corner with the Housing Element. Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
Disapproving the Housing Element could give the State the ability to freeze development in our city; we would no longer be able to issue building permits of any type. More importantly, a non-certified Housing Element could subject our city to scrutiny and significant legal claims from housing advocacy groups, which could be very costly to our general fund. And worse, the NO vote potentially even bestows Sacramento with control to step in and approve, without our input, construction of housing they seek.
A NO vote on Block Grants keeps us from receiving something we can choose to selectively fund on our own. A NO vote on the Housing Element has the adverse effect of taking sole local control away and giving it to the State. A glance at the balance sheet indicates to me that the negatives tremendously outweigh the positives.
Would I advocate for the State returning control to the local cities? Absolutely! However, in so advocating, we must carefully craft decisions balancing ideology with pragmatism.
Craig Young is an attorney, active member in the Lincoln Club, and serves as Mayor Pro Tem in Yorba Linda, CA.