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Smart Growth: Gore's "wrenching" legacy

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 29, 2002

Al GoreNow that it has been thoroughly defined, there is no question that "Smart Growth" is incredibly stupid. Al Gore used his bully pulpit to popularize the term, and he used the power of his office to redistribute $2 million tax dollars to the American Planning Association, with a mandate to produce model legislation that will impose Smart Growth on every state and every community.

APA assembled a 30-member "Directorate" to oversee the project. All but one of the members represent government regulators; one lone member represented the regulated community. The work product is a massive book of model laws from which state legislators may choose in order to assure that Smart Growth is imposed upon their cities and town.

It took seven years to produce this monster. Gore is no longer in the pulpit. President Bush's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development wants nothing to do with the document, but Gore's running mate, Joe Lieberman, does. Lieberman and Lincoln Chafee, and a few other misguided Senators are promoting the "Community Character Act" (S-975), which bribes states with more tax dollars to adopt and implement the model legislation contained in Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook.

This project paves the way for compliance with United Nations policy established first in 1976, by the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements, and reaffirmed in greater detail in Agenda 21, adopted in 1992. The United States signed both U.N. Documents.

The 1976 document says:

"All countries should establish as a matter of urgency a national policy on human settlements, embodying the distribution of population...over the national territory.

"Public ownership or effective control of land in the public interest is the single most important means of...achieving a more equitable distribution of the benefits of development whilst assuring that environmental impacts are considered. "

"Agricultural land, particularly on the periphery of urban areas, is an important national resource; without public control land is prey to speculation and urban encroachment."

"Change in the use of land...should be subject to public control and regulation [through]
Zoning and land-use planning as a basic instrument of land policy in general and of control of land-use changes in particular."

The details contained in the Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook, would implement the recommendations contained in Chapter 7, and Chapter 10, of Agenda 21. A close reading of the Guidebook, compared to the two U.N. documents, will reveal that, if not written by the same hand, they were all prepared for the same boss.

Model laws provided in the Guidebook mandate that state laws are coordinated with the federal government. And that local plans be approved by the state. This is, in fact, federal comprehensive land use planning, which transforms state and local government into nothing more than administrative units for the federal government. Since these model laws conform to the policies of the U.N., the federal government is reduced to an administrative unit of the United Nations. This is, in fact, the essence of global governance.

So detailed are these model laws, that even the signs used by small businesses would be required to meet size, color, and content requirements. Parking, and even landscaping, must meet requirements of the state-federal-approved plan.

These model laws provide for "administrative warrants" - without probable cause - upon the complaint of a neighbor, or any third party (read: environmental organization), for bureaucrats to enter private property to investigate for non-compliance. Violations are subject to criminal - not civil - penalties.

A "certificate of appropriateness" would be required before interior or exterior changes may be made by local small businesses, giving government wide discretion to manage the affairs of its citizens.

This Guidebook, further empowers government to manage society. It is another step toward the "wrenching transformation" which Al Gore said was necessary in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.

Smart Growth, as touted by Al Gore, and defined in this Guidebook, is not just stupid, it is regression toward socialist oppression while being praised as pSustainable development is not sustainable By Henry Lamb web posted August 6, 2001 rogress by its proponents.

Land use decisions should be made only by local elected officials who are directly accountable to the people who are governed by those decisions. Americans do not need a U.N. conference to decide how our land should be used. Americans do need a federal government with enough backbone to tell the U.N. to get its nose out of our business, instead of using our tax dollars to impose U.N. policy.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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