A Misdirected Attack on UDAs

The paranoid style of American politics

by James A. Bacon

With Virginia Tea Party activists egging them on, Republican legislators have submitted at least six bills that would repeal the Urban Development Area (UDA) requirement for Virginia localities. Overturning the law would eliminate an important tool for local governments to contain growth-related costs and hold down taxes — presumably a high priority for the Tea Party.

“The bipartisan UDA statute of 2007 is designed to reduce the costs of infrastructure and the burden on taxpayers. That’s why we are astounded that Tea Party members would campaign so hard to repeal this fiscally conservative planning tool,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth in a Tuesday joint statement of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the League of Conservation Voters.

The opposition of the Tea Party — and I say this as a Tea Party sympathiser — arises from naive acceptance of misinformation supplied by a small group of Anti-Agenda 21 zealots led here in Virginia by Donna Holt, president of the Virginia Campaign for Liberty. Holt has energetically proselytized Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups across Virginia, and her message has taken root because no one has offered an opposing viewpoint.

Holt portrays the Smart Growth movement in Virginia as inspired by United Nation’s Agenda 21 project, which seeks to harness the power of government to implement sustainable environmental principles in communities across the globe. Her critique of Agenda 21 itself does have a basis in reality. Agenda 21 reflects a liberal-leftist worldview that entwines environmental sustainability with equity, social justice and the redistribution of wealth. Where Holt goes off the rails is in painting Virginia’s Smart Growth groups as similarly inclined, and even attacking such mainstream figures as House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Fredericksburg, for his leadership in passing the UDA law.

A year ago, Holt blasted out an email to Virginia Tea Parties employing characteristic rhetoric: “Speaker Howell is siding with big corporate developers and eco-extremists to rob you of the right to own and control the use of your private property. … If he has his way, you’ll be forced to forfeit your land in the suburbs for the development of high-density ‘urban development areas’ also called ‘smart growth’. … If they have their way, single family homes will be a thing of the past. We’d become mere lease holders of the homes we live in.”

There is no delicate way to put this: Such remarks are deluded. Virtually nothing in that quote is factually accurate.

I have seen no indication in the Virginia Campaign for Liberty website or in the public remarks I have heard her make that Holt understands the long, complex history of zoning, land use, transportation and growth-management policy in Virginia, much less the pro growth/no growth debates that long pre-dated the articulation of Agenda 21. I doubt she has had any interaction with Smart Growth advocates here in Virginia or has any acquaintance with their thinking. Perhaps most damning, I have seen her advance no alternative ideas for how fiscally stressed state and local governments can provide core services without raising taxes.

The anti-Agenda 21 movement is a case study in the “paranoid style” in American politics, and responsible Tea Party leaders would be well advised to entertain opposing perspectives. The Heritage Foundation, hardly an advocate of leftist social engineering, has distanced itself from the anti-Agenda 21 movement on the grounds that it is crowding out an intelligent critique of Smart Growth. (For details, see this blog post.)

As for Urban Development Areas, they are an admittedly imperfect solution to Virginia’s growth-management challenges. But it is hard to see how anyone would construe them as a gross violation of Virginians’ property rights.  Time for a reality check:

All localities with a population of at least 20,000 or a growth rate of 15% are required to designate an Urban Development Area in their comprehensive plan. These areas should be designed to accommodate 10 to 20 years of population growth by incorporating such New Urbanism or Traditional Neighborhood Design elements as:

  • Connectivity of road networks
  • Connectivity of pedestrian networks
  • Pedestrian-friendly road design
  • Reduction of front- and side-yard setback requirements
  • Mixed-use neighborhoods
  • Reduction of subdivision street widths
  • Satisfaction of requirements for storm water management

The law also provides for minimum densities of four residential units per acre and a floor-to-area ratio of 0.4 for commercial development.

None of that sounds terribly Marxist to me.

The law does not diminish anyone’s property rights: “Localities that establish Urban Development Areas may not limit or prohibit development in compliance with existing zoning nor refuse to consider a rezoning application for property outside of the Urban Development Area.”

The logic of the law is to encourage (not coerce) developers into concentrating development within a compact geographical area that state/local government can more cost effectively serve with utilities, roads and public services. It recognizes that the scattered, low-density and disconnected pattern of development that has prevailed in Virginia since the 1950s has driven up the cost of providing core services and has put relentless pressure on local governments to increase taxes.

The UDA law is fiscally conservative in its inspiration — something that Smart Growth advocates understand.

“The wish list for transportation projects has become simply unaffordable. Experience has shown that it is more costly to taxpayers and more damaging to farmland and forests to provide roads and other infrastructure for scattered development than for more compact, traditional neighborhoods,” said Trip Pollard of the Southern Environmental Law Center in the joint Smart Growth statement. “UDAs reduce transportation costs to the state and also save on water and sewer, police and fire, school busing and other costs.”

“The traditional neighborhood development envisioned by UDAs is reflective of the beloved, historic towns of Virginia and our best older suburbs that engender a sense of community that we have lost as development has become more scattered,” said Dan Holmes of the Piedmont Environmental Council. “This should be something that the Tea Party supports.”

Virginia is not California, where environmental zealots do run roughshod over property rights. Smart Growth in Virginia is not about marching to the tune of the U.N. It is not about social engineering, sweeping away single-family dwellings or taking away peoples’ automobiles. It is about subsidizing mass transit, an issue where I part company. But the Smart Growth movement does recognize a profound truth: that the cost of government services varies in proportion to which land development is compact or sprawling. Smart Growthers offer a coherent set of principles for reducing the cost of government and holding down taxes.

Republican representatives to the General Assembly should take heed.

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46 responses to “A Misdirected Attack on UDAs”

  1. Tysons is proving “smart growth” to be a fraud. I don’t oppose adding density around rail and mixed use development can allow growth that does not result in a one-for-one person-car ratio. But the bottom line is more residents or more jobs equals more public facilities. Existing residents and businesses don’t want to pay the added costs. And from what I am seeing, the landowners cannot afford to pay a fair share of those costs. Stewart Schwartz’s “just don’t build” roads doesn’t work either.

  2. The UDA are misunderstood. The law requires ONLY that an area sufficient to handle 20 years worth of growth at higher than typical densities be designated to ENTERTAIN PROPOSALS.

    The locality is not required to approve those proposals even if they are totally in conformance with the UDA specifications. The proposals are treated like any other proposal …. AND to further point out that the law in Va allows a developer to make a UDA proposal ANYWHERE in the county and the BOS must hear it.

    But the Agenda 21 deal .. I lay at the feet of those who support the Tea Party.

    You can’t have it both ways. Many in the Tea Party openly question science, not only in global warming but other areas of science like pesticide regulation and vaccines ; they are fundamentally opposed to many existing roles of govt including ED even for roads and schools. In fact, they are opposed to public schools.

    The folks who support the Tea Party are reaping what they sow…just look at the Republican nomination clown show.

  3. TheLizard Avatar

    Ah, so James Bacon is now a planning expert – or perhaps just an avid reader of Mother Jones. It’s quite ironic with the reams of documentation and detailed analysis that Donna Holt has produced laying out the “long, complex history of zoning, land use, transportation and growth-management policy in Virginia” that James can come to the conclusion that he is the one more educated on the topic.

    So somehow this Richmond mandate is a tax saving measure. Bacon has laid out the case for being smart about growth, but seems entirely (or willfully) ignorant about the policies sold as “Smart Growth”, which have a proven history of raising housing costs leaving localities in worse financial shape than when they started. As far as “alternative ideas for how fiscally stressed state and local governments can provide core services without raising taxes,” these bills that Mr. Bacon so vociferously criticizes are a very good start. One-size-fits-all State-level mandates to localities are nothing but more central planning already proven to fail: Fauquier County knows better how to plan zoning than Richmond bureaucrats, and probably doesn’t want the same policies as Loudoun County and Alexandria. The only purpose of these bills is remove the mandate – localities are free to use what Bacon calls the “useful tool” of UDAs if that’s what the community wants. And it’s the communities that should be making these decisions.

    To support his position for top-down control of local issues, Bacon brings to his aid organizations such as the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Piedmont Environmental Council. This provides stark contrast to Bacon’s claim that property rights are not in jeopardy, as these are the very groups attempting to stop the critical 2nd-session passage of the Property Rights amendment to the Virginia constitution, which would prevent Kelo-style use of eminent domain to seize private homes to hand over the private developer’s for profit. If you’re not familiar with the Kelo case, you really should See the story.

    Yes, using eminent domain to bulldoze family housing to build big commercial developments can raise revenue. Unfortunately, it can also end up like the Kelo project, where the town of New London ended up paying $78 million for the land and to prepare for the development, only to see Pfizer (the new corporate owners) decide that due to new economic conditions it wouldn’t develop the land after all, leaving New London stuck with a $78 million vacant lot.

  4. Aargh.

    I have not seen such lopsided misinformation since emr’s last post. There is way too much to take on on a portable , but let me point out that if I would choose to make a zoning application, which would surely be denied, the cost of the application is over $100k.

    Sure, the county has to accept the application.

    Big Deal.

    So they cannot downzone other areas to restrict growth outside the UDA: that has already been done. In fauquier nearly a quarter of the county is in permanent conservation easement, not counting Parks and other government land.

    This is a joke, Jim, a really bad joke. I am no grind of the tea party, but Peter’s characterization of what is happening is little more than bizarre newspeak.

    This is like something tsar Nicholas would come up with: devoid of enough imagination to understand what is happening to ordinary people.


  5. But the bottom line is more residents or more jobs equals more public facilities.


    Of course, but those people will happen and the facilities must be provided.

    TMT consistently tells only one side of the story.

    Existing citizens also benefit from growth. There were still barns a d farm animals around my Alexandria home when I bought it. Growth means the property I bought is now worth ten times what I sunk in it. Likewise for the citizens of loudoun county where they grew by seven times the number of their fauquier neighbors. And each one of them, despite the huge new numbers, earned more and owned more than their fauquier siblings, AFTER TAXES.

    There are plusses and minuses to both growth and conservation.

    Lets at least try to have some balance. Lets not live in a total fantasy land.

    The farm census and my own experience tells me that on average every farm in five counties is losing on average $2000 a year. VA Tech publishes AG budgeted that tell me what the return on various farm operations is. None of them show a return that can pay for the land it takes to run them. Not in twenty years, and probably not in a hundred years. Yet PEC tells me we have a thriving agricultural economy. Sure we do, but most of it is supported by jobs that are held in the growth areas of Fairfax and Loudoun.

    I am neither an environmental advocate nor naysayers. I am neither a growth advocate nor naysayer.

    I am a truth advocate, and what I see from both sides is far from truthful.


  6. In a recent letter to the Fauquier Democrat, Leslie Cheek outlined the problem. The scattered development in fauquier is a deliberate result of Fauquiers large lot and conservation efforts. While they have played lip service to development in the Fauquier precursor of UDA, they have refused to provide services in the service districts. She sees little hope for voters approving changes in the zoning and other policies designed to preserve Fauquier land. She decries the fact that the state has mandated that “alternative” septic systems be allowed because that has allowed the county to have de facto conservation on two thirds of the county with impermeable soils. (Remember another 23% is under conservation easement.)

    “However, the tools available for the task of limiting development ……may prove to be politically unacceptable to landowners with progressively less valuable properties…..”

    That may be the understatement of the century, and it explains exactly the Tea Party feelings on this matter: government has gone too far.

    “If perpetuation of Fauquiers large lot zoning is a political given, reducing the number of by-right development opportunities ….would appear to be one of the few options available for slowing the grrowth inherent in the states alternative septic and UDA requirements.”

    And there you have it. No wonder Tea Perty members see an Agenda 21 conspiracy.

    It is too late for my wife. Her last remaining By-right a;;owance was summarily removed by Supervisor Harry Atherton, who simply said that people were “taking advantage” of the administrative by-right lot provision.

    Excuse me: wasn’t it PUT THERE for peoples advantage? With a stroke of the pen he easily took a half million dollars out of her net worth. And another half million of net worth out of the pocket of whoever might have bought that property. And all of this based on the TMT argument that existing residents did not want to pay, what, another penny in tax?

    If you expect to have liberty, you will have to allow others to have some too, and it isn’t free. Yet this is what Leslie is COMPLAINING about: “Oh my god, the state is liminting our ability to control peoples freedom by denying them the use of perfectly good AOSS technology.”

    So, where is all this headed? leslie points out that it is headed to court. Having denied a developer multiple times the developer has sued. the county ….”has affirmatively pursued policies that are intended to, and have the effect of, placingimp[ermissable burdens on persons of low and middle income (my wife) to purchase houses in the county, thereby creating and perpetuating exclusionary zoning….” “Such exclusionary zoning is not only illegal under Virginia Law, but it is deprivation of equal protection of the lawss forbidden by the US constitution.”

    Which is almost preciseley what Supervisor Atherton told me. “We are skating onthe edge of exclusionary zoning and we have a lot of smart lawyers to make sure we do not cross that line.” That was his preamble to his infamous remark that “My plan for your property is to have somebody wealthy buy it, so they can put it in permanent conservation easement.”

    If their lawyers ask me to testify against the county, I would be happy to do so. Whatever happens will be too late for me. Atherton already managed to beggar our retirement unnecessarily. But, if your children are going to have to deal with reduced social security benefits, then we had better figure out a way that will ALLOW them to make some money so they can provide for themselves.

    I am no tea party supporter, but on this issue they are on point and Stewart Schwartz (I said Peter before, sorry) is off the deep end and spouting nonfactual nonsense. Here is an example, form last weeks Citizen:

    “Protected land makes Fauquier County a great place to live and it is fundamental to both the local and state economies, worth, according to a recent PEC study, $21.8 billion a year to the Commonwealth”

    Lets dissect that. Protected land is great if you own it and get to pay reduced taxes for doing nothing. Protected land is great if you don’t have to own it, and live next door, then you really make out. If you are lucky and friendly an indulgent neighbor will let you hike, ride your horse and hunt over there. Plus your home is eorth more because of it. PROTECTED LAND IS NOT SO GREAT IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE THAT LESLIE POINTS OUT ARE ABSORBING HUGE EQUITY LOSSES.

    Fundamental to the state and local economies. Well we already know that Loudoun citizens earn more and are worth more – after taxes. And we already know that much of that protected land is supported with money from the growth areas. And we know that the Ag budgets predict minimal income per acre, so how is it that the protected land is producing $21.8 billion.

    Finally, this is deliberately misleading. By starting off with protected county land and ending up with $21.8 billion to the state, it makes it seem as if the 21.8 billion is the county contribution, which is of course preposterous. Statewide, maybe, but that is not clearly stated. AND, it only shows the states gains, not its costs. If this kind of thing was an occasional occurence, one might let is slide, but PEC and Schwartz writing is rife with this crap.


  7. You tell me. How much land can you demand be taken out of service, whether it is in a high density area like Tysons, or a low density area like Fauquier, before it starts costing more than it saves? That is a question I posed to a promoter of VOF 20 years ago. It took her so completely off guard she could only stammer. She had no idea then, and they have no idea now.

    Yet on one page of the Citizen we see claims to 94,300 acres in conservation easement, still more in government lands, and the claim of virtual control of development by preventing the use of poor soils, steep slopes, flood plains, excessive setbacks, runoff, and septic reserves, along with the demand for more purchase of development rights, at citizen expense— and that is after they simply eliminated as many as they could without payment, before the uproar got too loud.

    I have said before that all of this will one day be the full employment act for future Fauquier lawyers, and the current lawsuit may be just the beginning, the expense of which will be another charge against the benefits of protected land.

  8. Just peruse the real estate ads for exclusive properties. Conservation land, $1 million. Similar land wit three to five building rights, $5 to $7 million.

    Yet people like Leslie Cheek think that eliminating such rights is the only way to offset the growth imposed by the state UDA law. And, like TMT, she somehow thinks this will save the citizens money. At least all except those that lose a few million.

  9. there’s another problem with UDAs. UDAs make perfect sense in an urbanized area where redevelopment presents opportunities to convert formerly less dense development with more dense, mixed-use development.

    But UDAs in exurban areas is nothing short of bizarre because the fundamental premise of “live, work, play and shop” in close proximity is simply not the case.

    People do not move from a place like NoVa to a place like Fredericksburg to live in a UDA to begin with. Many of them move because they don’t like living in UDA-type development and are seeking a sprawl-type single-family, conventional subdivision.

    UDAs in exurban locales are actually more appealing as affordable housing for much lower paid local workers than the commuters who often earn twice as much as local workers.

    Finally, keep in mind that UDAs need water/sewer and Stafford County has designated 7 rural UDA “pods” as an explicit strategy to open up more rural land to conventional subdivision development.

    They designate the UDA and nothing in the law prevents conventional spraw-type subdivisions from being arrayed around the UDA pod to have access to water/sewer.

    So the UDA law basically allowed Stafford to sprawl further into the rural areas that had they made the proposal with the UDA law – would have been recognized as more land-development for conventional subdivisions.

    Their claim is that the UDA law made them do the UDAs.

    So Stafford has effectively used the UDA law to gin up more conventional subdivisions. The UDA pods will be jokes… basically not much different than neighborhood commercial with the usual pizza shops, groceries and doctor offices but the work.. it’s in Northern Va not the UDA pod.

  10. Biased media outlets and environmental groups want you to think that Tea Party activists who oppose the Virginia UDA mandate of 2007 are radicals that flat out “oppose zoning laws and environmental protection.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of citizens that oppose the UDA mandate support zoning laws and believe the rights to use land for private purposes carry a grave responsibility to ensure private uses do not impinge on the environmental and property rights of others.

    In truth, the sustainability movement has been hijacked by Federal and State agencies that view it as an opportunity to extend their reach into areas that would otherwise exceed the reasonable (and constitutional boundaries) of government. Although Master Plans traditionally provide broad guidelines for land use, the government subsidized smart growth plans being encouraged by the EPA, HUD, and State Planning agencies extend much further. They include provisions for government control of housing stock, transportation, agriculture, food production and distribution, energy & water use, lifestyle choices, and general “behavior control”. If that’s not enough, they include provisions to redistribute the wealth and promote public/private partnerships assuming government selection of the winners and losers in business. Free markets are lost amid subsidies, tax breaks and insider privilege and with it goes the notion that the consumer is the final determiner of how resources are allocated in production. These overreaches were first devised in the United Nation’s Agenda 21 document calling for a biodiversity plan that dictates where and how we’ll live. The U.N. biodiversity plan calls for two major land use plans; wildlands to eliminate human existence on 50% of the American landscape and its counterpart, smart growth which calls for high-density government subsidized, government controlled urban transit villages the U.N. refers to as “human settlements”.

    Our fellow countries in the U.N. are not bound by our United States Constitution. Our founders believed in the concept of unalienable rights from God that are to be protected by government. Instead, the U.N. Agenda 21 document operates from a premise that government is the creator and arbiter of all rights. Agenda 21 also advocates hyper-democratic processes wherein the majority is empowered to take away rights of the minority. This is exactly what our forefathers feared, and is exactly the reason our founders hated democratic processes and instituted a republic form of government with “unalienable rights of life, liberty, and property.”

    For most of us, “sustainability” simply means “taking steps to ensure our environment can endure for a long period of time.” The type of “Sustainability” being promoted by federal and state agencies is nothing short of top-down central planning that leads to higher housing costs, increased foreclosure rates, increased unoccupied housing stock, and a reduction in economic growth.

    A quick read of this Agenda provides ample evidence it has little to do with the environment, and much to do about implementing government-centric control of the private sector.

    Government professes to know better than the consumer what the appropriate levels of production and consumption should be. This should concern everyone in America regardless of party affiliation, because I can assure you one thing with 100% certainty… The decision as to what constitutes appropriate levels of production and consumption will NOT be made by consumer n a free market.

    In short, the mandate and all the egregious ordinances and regulations that accompany it is what we oppose. This is a local issue and should be decided locally. One-size-fits-all mentality assumes that what is marketable in Alexandria is equally marketable in rural Goochland County. New Kent County learned this lesson when the partially completed smart growth plan for New Kent Courthouse Village went belly up in October of last year resulting in bankruptcy relief for the $30 million debt. On its heals, Florida repealed it Smart Growth Law as the median multiple reached 7. What is considered affordable, by standard lending practices, is a median multiple of 3 meaning the cost of homes are no more than 3 times the annual salary of the homeowner. Prince William County has one of a number of smart growth communities in the Commonwealth with more than half the homes and business spaces left unoccupied for 2 or more years.

    This is not a Republican or Democratic issue.  This is an American issue.  Yes, those of us who have been outspoken about this issue are conservative republicans and libertarians.  However, you don’t have to take my word.  There are democrats that oppose this movement with equal passion.   I encourage you to visit http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com and decide for yourself.

  11. DJRippert Avatar


    Well played. I have not seen you comment on this blog in the past. I hope you continue to contribute. Let me start by saying that your lack of prior comments leaves open the question of whether you have been quietly reading this blog. I’ll assume you have not.

    Mr. Bacon is an Orthodox Richmondicist. While he rails against the national government exerting too much power over the states and the people, he is quite comfortable with the state legislature operating as a “nanny state”.

    He correctly believes that too many residents of the Washington New Urban Region feed at the federal trough but cannot emotionally make the journey to see the same flaw in Richmond.

    His support for UDAs is borne from an honest belief that the current human settlement patterns are unsustainable. Both he and Ed Risse make some strong points in their defense of that belief. However, while Ed Risse recognizes the immense cost of implementing his vision of functional human settlement patterns Jim Bacon wistfully claims that reorganizing the whole of human society will be free. Or, more accurately, it will be paid for through some magical cost allocation formula that the government will use to assign something called “full variable location costs” to the taxpayers. The exact nature of these costs along with the method that the government will use to allocate those costs remains shrouded in mystery.

    So, in the case at hand, Mr. Bacon supports both the concept of UDAs and the “nanny state’s” role in mandating that they be considered. UDAs may well be a good idea although the “jury is out” regarding how much that reformation of society will cost and how long it will take to implement. Beyond the philosophical question of UDAs lies the matter of enforcement. You and I believe that localities will pursue the UDA path if they are really a better way of meeting the needs of the population. I assume you are a free market thinker. So am I. However, Mr. Bacon is an Orthodox Richmondicist. He sees no reason to let “the little people” who will have to live with the UDA impact make the decisions regarding UDAs. He likes the “nanny state” law which starts the ball rolling by mandating that UDA proposals be heard. That will only be the beginning of this most recent psalm of Richmondic faith.

    You are also correct in understanding the catechism of Richmondism. The eminent domain laws will have to be broadened to allow the UDAs to be implemented. That will result in more Kelso like misadventures.

    I suppose all religions have their paradoxes. An eye for an eye vs turn the other cheek, for example. Richmondiscm is not different. Richmondic dogma requires that the “nanny state” tell us how to live. It demands high density development as a core tenet of faith. Yet, the benefits of packing people into a UDA can only be optimized through public transit. But public transit requires subsidies. And that reality troubles Mr. Bacon.

    TheLizard – I hope you continue to comment. Bacon’s Rebellion is an interesting place. There are hawks, doves and even a few cuckoos. It would be good to add a lizard to the zoo.

  12. Hydra, You said, “The scattered development in Fauquier is a deliberate result of Fauquier’s large lot and conservation efforts. While they have played lip service to development in the Fauquier precursor of UDA, they have refused to provide services in the service districts.”

    I totally agree. Large-lot zoning is a terrible idea. It arbitrarily limits property rights, and it smears growth over a much wider area, making public services harder to provide. Where do we disagree?

  13. Lizard, You object to the idea of UDAs being mandated. I share your concern about federal and state mandates. In many, if not most, cases I oppose them. I also agree that, all other things being equal, governance closest to the people is best.

    However, you ignore the reason why UDAs were mandated. Local governments control their own growth-and-development policies through zoning, comprehensive plans, etc. But the state is responsible for building and maintaining roads in all but two counties in Virginia. Counties make zoning decisions with little heed to the impact upon traffic patterns because they aren’t the ones who pay for the roads. In effect, county decisions compel the state to build more roads (or take the blame for not building them when there’s no money to do so). It’s a very inefficient arrangement.

    I would be willing to dispense with UDAs if the General Assembly agreed to devolve responsibility for building and maintaining secondary roads on local governments. That would force local boards of supervisors to consider the transportation consequences of their land use decisions.

    Simply making UDAs optional does not address the fundamental, underlying problem.

  14. Don the Ripper, once again you trot out the canard that I have a Richmond-centric view. That is simply wrong. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and Norfolk. I went to college in Charlottesville. I have lived at various stages of my career in Martinsville, Blacksburg, Roanoke, Charlottesville and Richmond. During a 16-year career at Virginia Business magazine, I roamed the state, interacting with business, civic and political leaders in every corner of the commonwealth. I have friends and acquaintances all over the state. There are very few inhabitants of the commonwealth who can claim a broader knowledge of the state than I can.

    What seems to you to be a Richmond-centric view stems from the fact that you have such a relentlessly Northern Virginia-centric view. If a public policy position does not conform to your narrow view of what is in Northern Virginia’s best interest, it must be a Richmond-centric view. But the truth is, you will find very few other Richmonders who espouse the perspectives that I do. Yes, I do love my home town. But I regard myself first and foremost as a Virginian.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      And I regard myself as first and foremost an American which, I suppose, explains part of the difference in opinion.

      After President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January, 2010 Bob McDonnell gave the Republican reply. He said:

      “As our Founders clearly stated, and we Governors understand, government closest to the people governs best.”.

      Like you, Bob McDonell grew up in the Washington, DC area. He went away to college and ultimately relocated to Tidewater before becoming governor.

      Despite this, Gov. McDonnell is a Richmondist. He takes to the national airwaves to lecture America on the value of government which governs close to the people. He then retreats to Richmond and micro-manages the localities under the authority of the medieval Dillon’s Rule. To a convert to Richmondisicm, this is perfectly normal and consistent.

      You claim I only view things through the perspective of Northern Virginia. However, I have always argued for a de-evolution of power from Richmond at ALL localities. I believe that Northern Virginia should have more autonomy from the “nanny state”. I also believe that all localities should have the same level of autonomy. This belief extends to the localities of Richmond and Henrico Counties as well. But the Richmondic Order will never be satisfied in simply managing the affairs of the Richmond area. Far from it. The egomaniacs who practice Richmondism believe that they are better prepared to administer not only Richmond but all of us “little people” who live in the hinterlands far from the cultural mecca of Richmond.

      No zelot is more addicted to their views than a convert. It’s true in traditional religion and it’s true with the followers of the Richmondic faith.

  15. Donna, You and I actually do agree on some important points.

    You say, “Free markets are lost amid subsidies, tax breaks and insider privilege and with it goes the notion that the consumer is the final determiner of how resources are allocated in production. ” I totally agree. That’s true at the federal level, and it’s true at the state/local level.

    You say, “Government professes to know better than the consumer what the appropriate levels of production and consumption should be. This should concern everyone in America regardless of party affiliation.” I agree.

    I agree that the current system governing land use in Virginia is a total mess. And I agree that a lot of the land use proposals emanating from the United Nations and from the Obama administration would be disastrous if applied here. If you read my previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve opposed the high-speed passenger rail boondoggle and I’m a Global Warming skeptic.

    Here’s where you lose me: The disastrous land use policies we have today evolved over 40 to 50 years — since long before anyone conceived of Agenda 21. The political dynamics behind the relentless intrusion of the state in land use decisions are purely home grown. No one cares what the U.N. thinks. Very few care what the Obama administration thinks. Those issues are distractions from what is really going on.

    Now, you are welcome to disagree with me about the value of UDAs. I’m not dogmatically wedded to my position. As I replied to TheLizard, I think we could get rid of UDAs if the state were willing to devolve authority for secondary roads to local governments. I’d be happy to post a guest commentary from you on the subject (as long as you stick to the issue and don’t drag in the Agenda 21 stuff). I repeat, all the talk about Agenda 21 is a distraction. Virginia’s Smart Growth lobby isn’t taking its marching orders from Obama or the U.N. You have no proof of it because there is no proof. To imply otherwise simply undermines your credibility.

    1. I will send you a “guest commentary” without reference to Agenda 21 if you will tell me where to send it.

  16. I’m not making the connection. The state, for instance, mandates that if tatoo parlors are a legal land use that localities must accommodate that use in their zoning and land-use … that’s a mandated “protection” of property rights.

    Smart Growth – which is defined in the Va Code to be a particular density with mixed uses is essentially the same thing.

    It encourages the locality to specify where in their county they will entertain such proposals.

    This INCREASES the bundle of sticks that are available to property owners.

    What the county has to do if a proposal is made and they approve it – is to make water/sewer available to that location. That’s an EXPANSION of places in a county where water/sewer might be offered – and again that INCREASES the value of a property owners holdings in those areas.

    Both the US and Va constitutions give govt the authority to regulated land use …long, long before “Agenda 21″…

    last but not least – Agenda 21 smacks of the idea of a worldwide conspiracy.

    sorry folks.. that’s beyond the pale but there are more folks on board with that idea than before.

    When these folks show up at hearings… for smart growth.. I try to make sense of the points they make as individuals.. and those points are literally all over the map… like a laundry list of everything they do not like about government .. and so far.. not a one has a suggestion of what to do instead.

    1. @ larryg
      Making UDAs optional rather than mandatory does not decrease “the bundle of sticks that are available to property owners”. It just makes the bundle optional at the discretion of local government rather than top-down control by the state. Goochland, for example, is primarily rural and they don’t believe that an urban development is in keeping with the rural character of the community. They don’t want it and don’t believe it’s even marketable in their community. New Kent County is another rural community that tried it with the New Kent Courthouse Village only to go belly up and bankrupt for the $30 million invested.

      Whether or not to establish UDAs should be a local decision and the residents should have a voice in making that decision. They are, after all, stakeholders in the community.

  17. @ Mr. Bacon

    Following the internet links presented below you will be able to rapidly find the connections between the UDA mandate, or Smart Growth, and United Nations Agenda 21.
    1) Using the search engine of your choosing : http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/usa/natur.htm → select “Land Management” → CNTL F and ask your computer to find “smart growth”. Note the United Nations’ twelve references to Smart Growth under Land Management alone.
    The above link is from the United Nations’ website and ties the United Nations to Smart Growth, as well as the EPA to Smart Growth which ties it to their goal of management over private property.

    2) Next, navigate to: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ After reading this page (Agenda 21), click Sec. 1, Chapter 7 and read the United Nations stated goals. This information ties the United Nations to Agenda 21, and Agenda 21 tied to Smart Growth as presented in the previous paragraph. Thus, the Federal Government has in fact already coordinated national policy to conform to foreign demands.

    3) It was adopted by Executive Order #12852 which created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development on June 29, 1993. The press release issued by the White House announcing President Clinton’s intentions two weeks prior to the EO made it clear that the goal was to respond to Agenda 21. http://archives.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/?u=061493-press-release-on-sustainable-development.htm

    J. Gary Lawrence, advisor to the PCSD, said “Participating in a UN advocated planning process would very likely bring out many of the conspiracy-fixated groups and individuals in our society such as the National Rifle Association, citizen militias and some members of Congress. This segment of our society who fear ‘one-world government’ and a UN invasion of the United States through which our individual freedom would be stripped away would actively work to defeat any elected official who joined ‘the conspiracy’ by undertaking LA21(Local Agenda 21). So, we call our processes something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.” You can find this quote beginning the last paragraph on page 2 of the document and ending on page 3.

    The EPA, Department of Energy, and HUD are ready in the wings to zero in with offers of grants to facilitate smart growth planning initiatives by state and local governments.

    I agree with you, Mr. Bacon, that funding of roads is a serious problem that must be resolved. I don’t agree, however, that the answer is more government control to dictate the boundaries within which all future growth is limited.

    Perhaps the answer is the elimination of all the federal agencies that do little more than provide incentives to control behavior which is, incidentally, an over-reach of power. Taxpayer funds appropriated to these federal agencies would be better spent under the control of the state. I recognize that this is not something that is likely to happen until Washington recognizes the limits of its power under the Constitution and those powers reserved by the states and its citizens are returned to us along with the taxpayer money they use as the carrot to control our behavior and usurp our rights.

    I suggest that when the voters begin to take a more critical look at the commitment to eliminate federal agencies making these decisions for us by the candidates that they elect to send to Washington, we could very well solve the critical issues of transportation.

    For example:
    Millions in grants were awarded to the American Planning Association for the 1400+ page Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook to assist local and state governments in regulating and legislating their land use.

    The EPA issued millions in grants to local governments and organizations for “visioning” projects for smart growth planning.

    HUD issued millions in grants for “sustainable communities” programs (more smart growth planning).

    The Dept. of Energy issued millions in grants to local governments under the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant Program. (Cap & Trade at the local level)

    Department of Education & NGOs issued millions in grants for education to indoctrinate our children in sustainable development practices and social justice principles.

    And let’s not forget the millions spent by local governments for assistance of urban planning firms to meet the state UDA mandate. Chesterfield County alone spent $869,920 to the Renaissance Planning Group to draft their new comprehensive plan to meet the mandate.

    In short, the UDA mandate is one element of a broader picture for the smart growth agenda, all funded by taxpayer money that would be better spent on roads. History tells us that free markets and private property are the foundation for prosperity for all Americans. Let’s get back to it!

  18. Donna, Thanks for the links. I have seen some of this material before, though not all of it. I can agree that the U.N. is pushing an agenda of “sustainable” land use. I’m willing to agree that the Obama administration has drawn upon the U.N. agenda as a template for its own sustainable land-use initiatives and is pushing it by tying strings to grants and aid to states and localities. I will go so far as to say that many people in the “smart growth” movement are in accord with those sustainability goals and objectives. But… not all of them. Not here in Virginia. The “smart growth” movement covers a fairly wide philosophical spectrum, as evidenced by the fact that it was a Republican who drafted the UDA legislation, and Republicans who helped vote it into law.

    I realize that waving the Agenda 21 flag gets people all exercised, but it just doesn’t fit the facts on the ground. It sounds conspiratorial and turns off a lot of people who otherwise might be inclined to hear your views on specific pieces of legislation. As a Tea Party person, you could more constructively utilize your time and energy understanding the political economy of courthouse politics, how various special interests manipulate the system to their advantage, how no-growthers and NIMBYs pass counter-productive laws and ordinances, and how the entire transportation/land use system in Virginia has gotten so dysfunctional. When government screws up something, it always think the answer is more government. That’s how we’ve gotten ourselves into the mix we’re in. The Tea Party could play a valuable role in illuminating what’s happening… but raising the alarm about Agenda 21 distracts from far more important forces at play.

  19. James, your point is well taken but I have read at least a dozen local comprehensive plans and I can tell you they are right out of the Agenda 21 playbook.

    Would it surprise you to know that a task force was created in 1994 by the Virginia legislature to study Agenda 21 (they called it by name). The final report by the task force was distributed to the GA and the Governor in 1997. The resulting 1997 report reveals it’s origins, the policy recommendations and the strategies for its implementation in Virginia. I have a copy of the report and have had meetings with the AG’s office regarding this issue.

    Those who deny Agenda 21 has made its way down the bureaucratic chain of command to Virginia and every locality in the Commonwealth, do so at their own peril. I spent two years researching this and have more than adequately connected the dots. If we remove it from our lexicon and aren’t willing to address the certainty of a conspiracy (based in fact, not theory), we can not confront this issue squarely and preserve our sovereignty. Congress ignores it which is easy and convenient to do since it’s being implemented primarily using rule making authority with the occasional executive order.

    Our state legislature is moving us closer to full implementation one bill at a time. It may surprise you to know we have identified 14 bills and counting that would help to implement Cap & Trade at the state level in this session of the GA alone.

  20. What has Cap and Trade got to do with Agenda 21?

    Cap and trade is a legitimate way to make the most economic benefit with a given level of pollution. It is a proven policy that works to make sure that everyone benefits from the costs they pay for pollution that enables commerce to continue without poisoning us.

  21. So Stafford has effectively used the UDA law to gin up more conventional subdivisions.

    Isnt that the argument Leslie made”, but with the opposite conclusion?

    She says we have to close off these By-rights to compensate for the extra growth caused by UDA’s. The Stafford approach is to USE the UDA to establish new centers for subrrban growth.

    Either way, the starting point is the thought that UDAs will cause growth. Now it is a question of whether it is wanted growth or not.

  22. “…. I have read at least a dozen local comprehensive plans and I can tell you they are right out of the Agenda 21 playbook”

    did you check to see the dates on them? I’m betting that many were written some time before Agenda 21?

    UDAs are about MORE property rights. The higher the allowed density – the more valuable the property.

    We know that UDAs can and are being used to extend water/sewer to lands previously not in the master water & sewer plan…

    saaaayyy. … if you’re into Agenda 21 conspiracies.. you better check those water/sewer master plans also…

    See Jim Bacon… do you see guy?

    just for giggles and grins, I went to Richmond Sunlight to search for the phrase “Agenda 21” and low and behold..there are no bills with Agenda 21 in them…

    and no bills with “smart growth” in them…

    I found several with UDA – most of them to change mandatory to optional.

    see the thing about UDAs is that they are purely designations. there is no requirement to approve them or build them anyhow.

    Donna, can you provide links to the stuff you say that Virginia has done to move agenda 21 forward?

    1. The dates for the comp plans I’ve read are are all 2010 & 2011 to meet the UDA mandate.

      ” and no bills with “smart growth” in them…”
      Urban Development Areas (UDAS) is one of many elements of smart growth.
      The bottom line is, our bill to make UDAs optional rather than mandatory, allows a locality to establish a UDA without permission by the GA if they choose to. If they don’t believe it is marketable, they don’t have to with our bill. Why is that so hard to understand?

      None of the links will say Agenda 21. The connection is in correlation of the policies established through legislation and local regulation and ordinances that match the policy recommendations in Agenda 21 adopted by the U>S> under the Clinton administration by Executive Oder. If you check the links I provide in my other posts, it connects the dots.

  23. @ Hydra
    Chapter 4 of Agenda 21 – Changing Consumption Patterns
    A) Encouraging greater efficiency in the use of energy and resources
    4.18. Reducing the amount of energy and materials used per unit in the production of goods

    Chapter 9 of Agenda 21 – Conservation & Management of Resources for Development (energy efficiency policy recommendations)

    Cap & Trade mandates energy audits of homes and businesses; energy efficiency standards designed to reduce consumption and rationing of energy, LEED green building codes and the retrofitting of existing structures to meet the new standards. In 2010, Virginia accepted $442+ million from the Department of Energy under the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant Program. Eligibility requirements include these provisions. We are also seeing these very same provisions in local comp plans.

    Consequences of Cap & Trade:
    1) Drives up the cost of energy
    2) Limits consumption of energy – Can have a very negative impact on the elderly with health needs that require more use of energy for health sustaining equipment and for families with large families to meet their daily needs for energy.
    3) LEED green building codes mandates the use of more expensive LEED approved building materials, Energy Star appliances, heating & air conditioning. If further requires that contractors be certified in LEED building practices.
    a) Creates monopolies – LEED approved building materials are manufactured abroad and worthy competitors are forced out of business even though their products are just as energy efficient.
    b) Energy Star appliances and heating & air conditioning are more costly and again creates monopolies. These products are also subsidized by the taxpayer.
    c) Contractors who have not gone through the expensive certification process are forced out of business.
    d) Developers of LEED certified structures gain insider privilege and government protection and promotion as well as being given tax breaks at varying rates depending on level of rating and locality.
    4) The forced retrofitting of existing homes can cost the homeowner up to $35,000 to meet the new standards. Can be more for businesses.
    5) Taxpayer funded subsidies to help low-income families to retrofit their homes.
    6) Taxpayer funded grants that serve as incentives to local and state governments to mandate the standards.

  24. LEED was a big discussion point in the Tysons re-planning. I learned several things about it. First, the standards are loosey goosey. What qualifies today, may not tomorrow (or it might be classified differently) And vice versa.
    Second, there is no need for regulations forcing builders to construct to LEED standards. Commerical tenants want energy efficiency and will pay for it.

  25. “The scattered development in Fauquier is a deliberate result of Fauquier’s large lot and conservation efforts.”

    It seems to me there is a huge amount of word confusion here. You have to think back to before zoning to make any sense of it. At one time, large landowners might run up against a need to dispose of or share some of their land (Daughter in law house, or sudden cash need). They would build or sell as needed. You might put your sons house near yours and cluster them it in a family compound over time. But if you sold a lot and structure to raise money, you would select it someplace you can’t see them and probably on your worst farming ground. The owner made th dicision as to what was best for him and his continued operation.

    Enter zoning and conservation needs. It was made a priority to preserve the largest expanses of open space possible, for the purposes of fox hunting, wildlife habitat, and anything else that needed a lot of space. A land owner was only allowed to develop 15% of his total holdings and that development had to be clustered in one area. Landowners and others hated this “cluster development” for aesthetic and other reasons.

    With a huge holding, why force me to situate development right next to me? Let me put him someplace out of sight. Besides that, while it might be possible to find four or five sites that are easy to build on and out of the way, it is a lot harder to find five sites easy to build on right next to each other.

    Besides that, the drive to preserve the largest possible lots led to the sliding sclae, which meant the largest holdings gor proportionately fewer development rights: someone with 200 acres might get 5 rights on 30 acres, but someone with four hundred acres would get only 7 building rights for his 15% of “developable land” of 60 acres. he would either have wastefully large lots or not use some of them.

    So, the desire for conservation of open space while allowing some development meant that you wind up with 500 acres with a cluster of homes, and then a big break to the next 500 acres with a cluster of homes.

    Beyond that, was the provision that no matter what else, you still had the right to sell of lots if you met a fifty acre minimum. For people who were selling out in total, that was the way to go, and it resulted in many fifty acre “farmettes”, the owners of which are my primary hay customers.

    Soon it developed that people would develop their 15%, and then subdivide the rest in 50 acre lots, so a zoning change was made to prevent that. Now you can do one or the other. If you have 400 acres you are better off selling 8 50 acre lots than seven eight acre lots on your 15% and one undividable lot of 350 acres. So that rule resulted in a bunch of 50 acre lots.

    There are also many rights just sitting out there. the present owners having no need of them, and no desire to use them. I have heard there my be 37,000 of them in Fauquier. Those are the ones Leslie Cheek and others would like to see go away, to offset growth in the UDAs. If that happens the owners will take substantial equity hits, and their erstwhile customers wll have no choice but the UDA’s. The rurla landowners will be subsidizing enormous profits to be made by those lucky enough to have a UDA chosen around them.

    Where our vies differ is that I ihave a problem with permanently setting aside that land. If I have the right to build one house on one acre every twenty years, then in 2000 years half the farm would still be here, unused.

    But that is not good enough for th preservationists. One house in twenty years I might be able to afford to do, and it would make a huge difference in my net worth, and my ability to borrow for other farm operations, But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, in the words of Belushi. The preservationists want me to have nothing, forever, and for the land to sit vacant, forever.

    So far they win. There is only one option left to me. That is to sell out to a big developer wiling and able to go the expense of a full subdivision plan, and a rezoning application. A developer willing to sue if necessary.

    So, the end result is that zoning rules put in place to control the big developers, instead wind up controlling people like me. The only people who CAN build are the big developers, which is why you see a fram one day and ten bulldozers the next. They can afford to terraform the land in order to meet requirements that I cannot manage, with the profit from one home.

  26. I share your concern about federal and state mandates.


    I have had FAR more damage done to me by the local land grabbbers. The FEDS are not the problem. It took the state to releas many landowners from the bondage cause by local prohibitions on AOSS.

  27. Consequences of Cap & Trade:
    1) Drives up the cost of energy


    This is wrong. What it does is add the cost of pollution and pollution prevention to the cost of energy. The energy costs are the same, but you no longer get to enjoy energy by polluting your neigbor for free. Same goes for them.

    If you ae not willing to allow liberty,then youare not going to get much in return. In any case it is not cheap. Unbridled liberty alows you to damage others. Cap and trade means you have to pay for the liberty you want to use: that way you won’t use more than you need.

  28. 2) Limits consumption of energy –

    Also wrong. It puts a price on the production of pollution, and the cap puts and ultimate limit on pollution.

    Everything is a trade off, and pollution may be as big a hazard to the elderly as insufficient heat. You can still have unlimited energy by investing in non-polluting forms of energy.

  29. 3) LEED green building codes —- are the same kind of useless crap as Microsoft Certification. Pretty soon we will have Dog Walker Certifications.

  30. I don’t really see the LEED standards as part and parcel of CAP and trade. It is really a different issue. The LEED folks shouls publish a book of best practices, along with the budget trades that people WILL MAKE, whether they look at the LEED standard or not.

    If people cannot or will not buy the arguments, well, too bad.

  31. Larry is right, the people arguing the Agenda 21 Conspiracy are wasting their time and not doing any favors: it is a bad argument. By ginning up all this Agenda 21 controversy, it diverts conversation from the real issues of property rights, property protection, and individual freedom, and how you strike a balance among those three.

  32. ” If they don’t believe it is marketable, they don’t have to with our bill. Why is that so hard to understand?”

    there is no requirement to approve a UDA. None. The truth is that with or without UDAs, any developer can make any proposal to the BOS and the BOS is free to turn it down if they don’t like it.

    nothing has changed.

    it’s the same basic process except that – like the example of tattoo parlors .. if they are legal.. the county has to have places they can be approved but they do not have to approve a specific proposal.

    The UDA deal is a tempest in a teapot. It has ZERO impact on Smart Growth!

    you can have Smart Growth WITHOUT UDAs. We have developers around our parts all the time making Smart Growth proposals…. and no one.. not a soul called those proposals Agenda 21-driven… until the UDAs were formalized.

    In fact, if you read the responses of the various localities to the UDA law, many of those localities said that their Comp Plans ALREADY met the requirements of the law because they ALREADY had prior-designated areas for mixed-use development.

    Before UDA ever came along, any developer was free to propose a project that walked and talked as a UDA but not called a UDA.

    the 3202 law that created the UDA requirement also talked about Urban Transportation Service Districts – do you have an opinion about them?

  33. Yes some localities were already in compliance and many of the mixed use developments already developed are setting with half or more of their units unoccupied. New Kent Courthouse Green went bankrupt.

  34. Donna – development projects go broke all the time.. long before the concept of UDAs came along.

    Before UDAs.. mixed-use proposals have been made .. and some did fine and some went broke.

    but what in the world does any of this have to do with Agenda 21?

    this is normal/typical land-use activities that have been going on long before Agenda 21 was even a concept.

    In our area – we had a room-full of folks who opposed designating UDAs in the Comp Plan. Many cited Agenda 21 but I listened for 3 hours and at the end of it I still did not understand what the concern was except that the United Nations was trying to force us to allow Smart Growth..

    but any kind of a proposal for higher density that is approved is a windfall for those who own land in the affected areas.

    It’s like owning land that the county decides to extend water/sewer to… you win BIG!

    how does this harm property owners? Are there other property owners that are harmed if some land is designed for higher density while other land is not? Is that the issue?

  35. Are there other property owners that are harmed if some land is designed for higher density while other land is not? Is that the issue?


    As you point out, some people win big. The issue I should say is this:
    “How does everyone in the county benefit, from windfalls which are the result of county actions?”

    The county, acting on our behalf is distributing resources that help some people far more than others. To at least some extent, homes they build will be occupied because other people are prohibited from building: the undeveloped areas therefore subsidize the developing areas.

    And then, if theday ever comes that you win the development lottery, then suddenly, hey, this is a windfall – you owe us proffers.

    The whole system of who gets what, who pays for what, and who benefits from what, needs to be re-examined from the ground up, and it needs to be done from a systems level and a life cycle viewpoint.

    I have already described one system, in which we simply recognize that development rights are community proeprty, like air or deer. Everybody owns them,and everyone should have an ownership stake.

    So, let the county decide how much development the capital budget can stand, and where it should happen. Say it is 600 building rights in a county of 60,000 people, so everyone gets a BRS Building Right Share worth 1/100th of a building right. A developer presents a plan and if it meets the technical and safety specs the plan is approved, subject to collection of eneough building rights. If his plan requires six building rights, then he cn advertise to buy 600 BRS from anyone who will sell them.

    Hew ould need 1% of the county to approve enough to sell him BRS chits. Meanwhile, if someone else has a better and more profitable plan, he can offer more money per chit. If the people do not want development, they can sit on their chits, and they can absorb the loss from not selling.

    In concept, this is EXACTLY like a cap and trade. The cap being 600 units. The trade being whether you despise growth more or like the money offered more.

    The County would get its funds, from a tax on the final sale of the chits: the more value the chits sell for the more money the county makes.

  36. Hydra, there are many who’d disagree with you on Cap & Trade –


    No doubt. In my opinion they are wrong and don;t know what they are talking about. They might feel a lot different if the CAP and Trade was structured like my example, so that THEY are included in the trade, THEY stand to benefit, and if THEY don’t think the Benefit is worth the cost, then THEY can work to prevent the damage by simply not selling their shares.

    But unlike the current system, those who are opposed to pollution cannot oppose it for free. They don’t have to sell their chits, but they have to do withoutthe money, and it will increase the costs of goods they buy (they will pay more for air that is cleaner than the CAP allows for.

    What we are talking about is a market in regulations, and the avoidance thereof. In this way you get regulatons at the level of interference some people are willing to pay for, and the level of protection that others are willing to pay for.

    Every Resource has a CAP already: you can take only so much water out of the creek or pond. It is hard to understand that we BENEFIT from pollution. Zero pollution is almost never the correct and most economical amount. Your polluton allowance is valuable property and you might as well be able to profit from it. Whether you believe you profit more from less pollution or profit more from selling your share of pollution.

    Regardless, the outfit that produces the most valuable stuff for the last pollution is the one that will be able to pay the most for the right to proceed. It is a system that guarnatess we get the best and cleanest products instead of the cheapest and dirtiest ones.

  37. Consider a plant that manufactures something and their permit says they must te control equipment that traps 90% of their te. They can make the plant as big as they want an dpollute all they want as long as it is only 10%.

    There is nothing you can do about it except ask the government for help.

    Under my plan you getnew liberties and new power to protect yourself and your property.

    Who would not want that?

  38. This INCREASES the bundle of sticks that are available to property owners.


    I see Larry has bought into the bundle of sticks theory.

    Good. Next step is to recognize that if government has taken one of my sticks, they have taken all of that stick from me for their use, and they owe me for that stick. I hope they build a nice warm fire with it for all to enjoy, but in the meantime I expect to be paid for my kindling.

    Kindling is one recognized name we have for sticks, but we are going to need a lot more names, for the other kinds of valuable sticks.

  39. I don’t believe anyone is smart enough to pull off a conspiracy 21. I think a better explanation is that people are selfish.

  40. Andrea Epps Avatar
    Andrea Epps

    I understand I am a bit late to this discussion, but nevertheless…
    Jim Bacon is exactly right on this one. The UDA legislation has nothing to do with the UN, Agenda 21 or any other conspiracy. Some of us (Like Mr. Bacon) have been involved with and students of planning for YEARS. A rational individual can not make the argument that UDA’s are intended as any form of control. Example: take any city and surrounding suburbs. If development reaches out past acres and acres of greenfields, it will cost the taxpayers ten times more to extend public facilities. It’s called “leapfrog” development, and it too has been around longer than Agenda 21. Also, I just can not understand how it’s possible for anyone to claim they are pro property rights and anti UDA. The property owners within the UDA have rights too…right? why would anyone think it’s their business to complain about any possible increased density?
    I can only use Chesterfield as an example because it’s the geography I know best. Chesterfield had an excellent comprehensive plan that was adopted in 1977. Now, how much influence has the UN had on that? And sustainability is about leaving our children a planet that is no worse off than when it was left to us. How is it possible to object to that?
    And I expect that anyone who thinks this is about “control” lives in the country…not “herded” into the city by those socialist planners. Please, give me a break!

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