Bacon’s Rebellion: Revolt of the Comfortable, Middle-Aged Bourgeoisie

The December 4, 2006, edition of Bacon’s Rebellion has been published. You can view it in its entirety here. Make sure you don’t miss a single issue and sign up for our free subscription.

In case you’re feeling too lethargic to click the mouse and transport yourself to the Bacon’s Rebellion website directly, here are the columns:

No Such Thing as a Free Park
“Free” parking is like a free lunch: Someone pays, whether they know it or not. Trouble is, the hidden subsidy increases driving and worsens traffic congestion.
by James A. Bacon

Northern Virginia localities have the transportation plan should the General Assembly ever stop dithering and decide to fund it.
by Doug Koelemay

Politicians talk about protecting the “American Dream.” What they refuse to tell voters is that the greatest threat to an unsustainable American way of life is… the American way of life.
by EM Risse

William & Mary vs the Cross
Multi-cultural expression is great for everyone — except Christians. The removal of the cross from William & Mary’s Wrenn Chapel is just one more reminder of academe’s hostility to Christianity.
by James Atticus Bowden

Good Government Is Good Business
Virginia may have the top-rated business climate in the country, but lawmakers could make it even better by addressing transportation and making the legislative process more transparent.
by Clayton Roberts

Nice & Curious Questions
Mailbox Ballots: Absentee Voting in Virginia
by Edwin S. Clay III and Patricia Bangs

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11 responses to “Bacon’s Rebellion: Revolt of the Comfortable, Middle-Aged Bourgeoisie”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I normally like Doug’s usually thoughtful columns – even when I’m on the opposite side of issues. But this time, he’s just recycled the same old stuff from the NVTA.

    First, the NVTA is simply an arm for the local real estate industry that wants to make more money while taxpayers fork over money to build infrastructure. Why doesn’t NVTA propose and fund specific transportation projects under the PPTA?

    Second, his article is silent about just which projects need to be built. The NVTA’s website continually proposes roads such as the outer beltway, etc. that are designed, not to improve existing traffic flows, but to open up more area for development. NVTA would never, for example, support a western bypass that did not permit multiple new interchanges. The goal is more development.

    The article is silent about how we will measure value for the commuters. Propose Project X and provide a Service Level Agreement. This looks similar to then-Governor Baliles’ shell-game that was going to improve traffic, but only fostered more development.

    Also missing is any discussion about why some of these good jobs could not be spread throughout Virginia, instead of being forcefeed to NoVA. As Ray Hyde has said on many occasions, “we need more places.” What if it’s much less expensive not to move millions more people in and out of NoVA each day?

    How about down-zoning? I suspect that most voters, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, would rather see growth caps than higher taxes to foster even more development. Look at the PW BoS.

    What roads can be built with the EPA air quality issues hanging overhead?

    Why are we wasting money on big-ticket projects, such as the Silver Line, that fail to provide any traffic relief? Why don’t we redesign that boondoggle to be less costly and to reduce traffic volumes? As it stands today, with the proposed rezoning, we can expect at least 626,000 new automobile trips daily with the arrival of the Silver Line.

    With VDOT’s lack of cost controls and a CTB thats regularly manipulated by developers’ and road builders’ lobbyists, why should the average person think that spending more money will actually improve things?

  2. E M Risse Avatar

    TMT is right on point with almost all his points!

    For a detailed review of this magic “plan” and the agency that prepared it, see Part III of our column Reality Based Regionalism from 17 October 2005.

    The bottom line is that if every one of the elements of this “plan” was funded and built, mobility and access would be worse than it is today.

    Business-As-Usual is a dead end, plans for Business-As-Usual are blueprints for dead ends.

    On the other hand, Jim’s column on Parking opens a very important topic.


  3. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) “TransAction 2030 Plan” is the latest 10 year update of the Northern Virginia Wish List. In 2000 the 2020 Plan identified $30.1 Billion costs for the period from 2000 to 2020. The number for the “TransAction 2030 Plan”is $46 billion for the next 25 years.

    Once again we have a plan that includes all the needs without priorities. The General Assembly will provide “inadequate” funding. The decision will be to build projects that will increase congestion and pollution. Transportation service will deteriorate quickly, posing a serious threat to the health and future of Virginia’s economic engine.

    “TransAction 2030” does nothing to advance transportation in the region. The lesson that should have been learned from the defeat of the bond issue has been ignored.

  4. E M Risse Avatar

    Jim W.

    Well stated!

    It is such a shame NVTA (eiher one of them)only listens to those who agree with them and not those who know what they are talking about.

    Ender a well-meaning chap like Doug K and what do you expect him to believe. These are “officials” after all.


  5. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Gee, Ed. I should hope that the greatest threat to an unsustainable way of life WOULD be the American way of life, as opposed to the way of life you seem to espouse.

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Well, I think downzoning from 50 DU per acre is one thing, but downzoning from one DU per fifty acres is something else again.

    It seems to me that this is a classic linear programming problem. You have X number of resources and Y amount of each. Each resource provides z amount of profit and costs q amount to operate. Put them in a big matrix and turn on the computer until the answer comes out. The most profitable settlement pattern requires c amount of open space, d amount of roadway, e amount of jobs, f amount of living space, g$ for schools, more or less.

    Set some reasonable parameters for differences in choice and let people do what they want as long as they don’t exceed the true boundaries of what is obviously sociopathic.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    some of the points below are related to comments by TMT and Wamsley.

    The first thing for folks to recognize with respect to NVTA is that is is NOT the MPO for the Wash Metro Region

    It’s role is to advocate for the NoVa portion of the Regional MPO Plan that also includes DC and Maryland.

    The second thing to notice is that NVTA is following the same failed funding approach that got VDOT into trouble in that they are advocating more projects than there is available funding for.

    They not only are maintaining a WISH list but as Wamsley points out they are not prioritizing
    according to available funding and what projects have no funding.

    The REAL transportation authority in this REGION is the MWCOG/TPB MPO – and by Federal law – they cannot have more projects on their planning/build lists than there is identified funding for.

    When you look at their build/planning lists – you are looking at what they DO KNOW they have funding for.

    (However.. I’m not sure if MWCOG is accounting for inflation. I’m pretty sure NVTA is not. Accounting for inflation is very important because without additional funding.. inflation would require that projects be REMOVED from the constrained list….as time goes by – so EVEN MWCOG’s list has an aspect of “wish” to it)

    What NVTA is doing is advocating to the General Assembly is to raise taxes to pay for their unfunded projects.

    They don’t talk about how much taxes would have to be raised to pay for their unfunded projects.

    They don’t show how much tax would be raised in NoVa to pay for their own projects.

    and they don’t show how much tax would be raised statewide or whether they would like to have some statewide taxes diverted to pay for NoVa projects.

    They show no suggested financial approach in fact.

    Their advocacy is simply for “more” money – to continue the status quo approach to transportation planning.

    Note also when the NVTA was created – July 1 2002… interesting .. wasn’t that the same year as the failed referenda?

    Their unfunded “wishlist” also appears to not be reconciled with the EPA non-attainment rules as far as I can tell.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    FYI –

    NVTA sought the following legislation in 2006:

    Transfer of Development Rights for Jurisdictions in Ozone Non-Attainment Areas, as defined
    by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990

    Position: NVTA supports legislation that would permit the voluntary transfer of development rights
    from lower density areas to areas around transit stations and regional activity centers even when
    specific zoning actions are not involved.

    Background: The Alternative Transportation and Land Use Activity Strategies (ATLAS)
    Committee has been reviewing the ATLAS Report prepared for the Transportation Coordinating
    Council (TCC). One strategy that the Committee feels has potential for assisting Northern Virginia
    in addressing congestion is to develop a program to permit the voluntary transfer of development
    rights from lower density areas of a jurisdiction to areas within the jurisdiction where transportation
    infrastructure may accommodate the increased density, such as around transit stations and centers.

    It appears that local jurisdictions will need enabling authority from the General Assembly to
    implement such a program when a specific zoning action is not involved.

    these words have a familiar ring to them… namely the legislation allowing localities to designate urban development areas with bonus incentives for higher density development.

    Both NVTA and MWCOG, Reality Check, Smarter Growth folks, Kaine & company, etc – in their philosophies seem to believe that increased density will be the primary way to provide more housing for the census-predicted increase in jobs and population.

    The basic premise is that these new people ARE coming and that the region MUST prepare for them in terms of where they live and mobility between where they live and where they work.

    Transit is seen as how mobility will be provided if new roads cannot be built due to costs and EPA rules.

    Transit is envisioned to be funded by the businesses and residents of the new denser areas.

    Important to also note that the Census ALSO predicts strong growth for outlying jurisdictions AND more commuters from those jurisdictions and NoVa and environs.

    So what they are predicting for NoVa is their ALLOCATION of the overall regional growth that is expected.

    I do understand the concept of “More Places” beyond NoVa – but I just simply don’t see how it would be implemented.

    What is a practical path to this outcome?

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Re Transit Capacity. I had to meet a client for breakfast today, so I caught an Orange Line train about 6:10 AM or so, at West Falls Church. People were standing already.

    The Metrorail system is not an infinite resource. On many of its routes, Metrorail is already near, at, or above capacity, during rush hours. We have track, car and tunnel (Potomac River) issues that must be addressed. Simply adding density and pretending that Metrorail will solve the traffic problem is absurd. A ten-pound sack will only hold about ten pounds — more or less.

  10. Ray Hyde Avatar

    A practical approach to that outcome is to paln for it as opposed to planning against it, which is what we have now.

    Take all we have learned about environmentally friendly building and USE it. Make what we build beautiful instead of same old.

    Take all that we have learned about what is wrong with our cities, and make sure it doesn’t happen again, instead of pretending they are vibrant and desireable.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I dunno… the jobs and population is coming… and I don’t see how that changes .. due to opposition.

    It could change due to the economy and/or govt policy but not because folks are opposed to it though I’ll have to admit that the development “moratorium” concept seems to have “legs”.

    I think back 50 years ago.. when major cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, LA, Seattle, etc .. might have been in a similiar situation as NoVa is now… and in all of those cases … higher density… was the outcome despite stresses on infrastructure….

    all of them have crowded roads and transit… and other problems associated with density…

    .. what I conclude is that I don’t see a path for NoVa substantially different from the paths taken by those areas… and I’m quite sure a certain percentage of residents in each case moved away because those places changed into something they did not like – but the change did happen anyhow.

    When I look at our elected reps… Congress, General Assembly, Kaine…. local BOS … I don’t see any of them opposed to density as a way to accommodate growth… and I think unless someone is going to put a competitive alternative on the table… that the NoVA path will not change.

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