Is the city building up or closing in?
At least in Austin, it is thus: The city is moving in all around us; but look carefully, those amenities are boxing us in, not setting us free.
We made some comments about the Texas capital’s heavy dose of Agenda 21 in this mostly informal video that shows some of the city’s recent development:
So goes the nation, or is this just our local issue? By the appearances of America2050.org (driven by the Regional Plan Association and funded by both the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation) effort to create densely populated Megaregions across the country, I would wager the answer to be ‘yes.’ The plan would essentially double the population of existing metropolitan areas.
The federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants given to local communities, in turn partnered with the Dept. of Traffic and EPA, correspond with this agenda.
“Sustainability” is one of the key phrases used to justify this huge consolidation, not just of populations, but of power. But who elected regional planners to redesign the nation? No one, that’s who.
In Central Texas, vast authority was handed over to an organization called CAPCOG, the Capital Area Council of Governments, which is comprised of appointed leaders and which overseas a number of key development projects related to transportation, housing, zoning, economic re-development and etc. Similar organizations – lacking elected leaders, sufficient accountability or even general public awareness – exist across the nation.
As Melissa Melton previously reported, for Austin, as in other locales, this includes implementation of the “smart grid,” the adoption of international building codes, control over thermostat data, greater emphasis on mixed-use building structures, more multifamily units, and the like.
As a growing metropolitan city, Austin stands out as a prime example, in fact. Not only has Austin received HUD Sustainable Communities grants, but it has been designated by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA (who have been integral since 1992 in the implementation of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 goals) as one of ten STAR Beta Communities across the United States. Emblematic of this is the Mueller Community, which has been developed by regional planners to incorporate the sanitized, vision of a ‘sustainable urban’ Stepford Wives lifestyle in an ‘advanced smart grid’ model.
Unlike the East Coast, Texas is mostly new to super dense population zones. While buses exist, trains are sparse even in Houston and Dallas, and few are accustomed to mass transportation as a way of life. But with the politically shady imposition of toll roads, light rail (a taxpayer funded inner-city rail scheme) and an attempt to link urban living with “emerging Megaregions” like the “Texas Triangle,” that is changing.
For years, I passed by the Plaza Saltillo Metro Rail stop just a few blocks East of the famed 6th Street downtown area vibrant with the city’s night life and plenty of intoxicated patrons who could probably use a lift. But never have I seen anyone waiting at that rail station, day or night. And over the course of years, I never spotted the actual train – not once. Did it even exist?
I never got a direct answer to that rhetorical question floating around in my head, but I was delayed in my (rather despicable) automobile travel activities by a related end just a few weeks ago.
It was rush hour on North Lamar, and things were already busy and stressful on the road. The rail road barriers came down and things came to grinding halt. I assumed a freight train was hauling through and I wondered how many cars it would be and how long it would take. Instead, for a solid two or three minutes nothing at all came by.
Still the barriers impeded the busy flow of traffic. But nothing. It was another minute, maybe even two before the train finally crossed over what is a major road through the city of Austin.
When it finally came, the train was not a freighter hauling industrial products or commercial goods, but a two car metro rail ‘train’. Little had I noticed that over in the corner was a station dubbed Crestview, officially ‘west of Lamar between Justin St. and St. John’s Ave.’ And as surely as I was eager to get moving on those taxpayer roads, I realized that no one – not a soul – was visibly in that train. Not one passenger, yet the metro rail stop had blocked hundreds of cars for a full 4 or maybe even 5 minutes.
Is that outrageous? Or just what Texans can expect to face in coming years, along with higher taxes to cover new infrastructure and a fresh push for more trains and toll roads (encircling cities like Austin and typically built on top of, or taking over, taxpayer-funded roads), alongside the literal rise of dozens of new skyscrapers, and more and more “mixed use” buildings that include trendy shops, overpriced condos short on floor space, and a growing population of metro-minded dupes.
Subways and trains make plenty of sense in New York City and other East Coast metro areas, and quite a few European cities I’ve visited, however briefly. But this kind of transition in Texas and other areas of heartland America will not come without significant growing pains, plenty of cost, and a drastic but understated loss of sovereignty.
It is already being reported that California’s high speed rail is ‘collapsing’ under the strain of corruption. At a minimum, it is burdening West Coast dwellers with the high cost of graft and over-budgeted boondoggles.
Again, all this ‘concentrated growth’ is sold in the name of “sustainability” or protecting the environment. But consider for one moment what would happen in the event of economic collapse, civil unrest, food shortages, natural disasters/terror attacks, or even temporary shortages (for whatever reason). The biggest cities in the country would quickly become the worst possible places to be. Statistically, the average home only holds a few days worth of food before they run out, while grocery stores hold only a three or four days worth of food. Electricity outages or the like could potentially cause panic even quicker than food.
Without going into all the details, that picture should get across one simple concept: an urban zone like this is not “sustainable” in any real sense.
That kind of sustainability is a myth.