Smart Growth & Sustainable Development

By Darrell Beck

Here in our small backcountry town of Ramona, we first began hearing about “Smart Growth” and “Sustainable Development” around 1993-94 at the onset of the Clinton Administration. At that time our current board of county supervisors had just been seated and enthusiastically supported Clinton’s new environmental policy, based on the United Nations doctrine called “Sustainable Development” that would be approved and enforced within San Diego County.

More recently, urban planners and their students have been busy trying to “capture the character of Ramona” by applying Smart Growth and Sustainable Development features to the town; most notably a mass of high-rise apartments concentrated within the parking lot and atop the old Victoria Supply property at Seventh and Main streets. After diagnosing the humble architectural style of the rural farming town, one of the third year masters students asked: “How can we foster Smart Growth?”

Since the early 1990s many changes have been made that adversely affect property rights; namely the county supervisors have adopted sweeping land use measures related to the environment, endangered species, and critical habitat and to the acquisition or confiscation of many thousands of acres of private property. This land acquisition effort is known as the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) that requires “mitigation for unavoidable impacts” by property owners before they will be granted authority to use what remains of their land.

The supervisors’ actions also support new-urban notions of Smart Growth, Sustainable Development, affordable housing, mixed-use housing, public transit, urban boundaries, bike lanes, pedestrian friendly communities, alternative transportation, green belts and other Smart Growth measures in their efforts to control our lives and plan our futures.

Unfortunately, they have failed to include, or consider, sustainable infrastructure such as water, sewer, fire protection, law enforcement, schools, roads and jobs that are necessary to support the concept of Smart Growth.

So what is Smart Growth? Smart Growth in America is described as: “an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl and advocates compact, transit-oriented, pedestrian and bicycle friendly land use and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.”

“Smart Growth promotes long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over short-term focus.” Smart Growth is said to provide a “sense of community;” also affordable housing, mixed-use housing, maximizes access to public transit and discourages automobile use. Smart Growth encourages “urban growth boundaries, green belts, pedestrian based lifestyles, preserves critical habitat, water and reduces pollution.” Smart Growth is especially desirable because its environmental proponents claim it is critically necessary to stop global warming by reducing “man’s carbon footprint” by curtailing human activity.

The Smart Growth theory was first observed in the USSR and Eastern Europe (primarily East Germany) during the 1960s from a book published by urban planners at the University of Moscow titled: “The Ideal Communist City, Alexei Barurov,” (Smart Growth and the Ideal City)

According to the Soviet urban planner’s book……American suburbs are “a chaotic and depressing agglomeration of buildings covering enormous stretches of land.” The cost of providing services to such “monotonous stretches of individual low-rise houses” is high. As a result, the search for a future kind of residential building leads logically to “high-density, mixed-use housing.”

Soviet planners claimed; mixed-use allows people access to “public functions and services.” They can achieve “equity” where factory managers and janitors can live together in the same building with a “sense of community” and share “collective values.” The urban planners also noted: “single family homes are too autonomous.”

Sustainability is a code word describing the need for land control and acquisition or confiscation by government that shows up in practically every paragraph of U.N. environmental literature and in U.S. environmental policy statements. Sustainability or Sustainable Development is described as; “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It’s too bad that our government doesn’t apply the same sustainable objective to the national budget that most certainly will compromise future generations by eliminating funding for all of the “unsustainable” agencies and programs such as the United Nations, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Energy, The Department of Education, The Labor Relations Board, and the President’s Czars and all other agencies, programs and policies not authorized by the U.S. Constitution.

Darrell Beck is a Ramona resident

Related posts:

  1. Supervisors request $150,000 from Caltrans
  2. Sewer and development
  3. County plan won’t work for RMWD
  4. Citizen groups tackle town’s economic development
  5. Water district to sell house as surplus property

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Jan 12 2012. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

9 Comments for “Smart Growth & Sustainable Development”

  1. John Larimer

    We must stop the busybody SOBs from "managing us."

  2. Todd Peters

    RIGHT ON , RIGHT ON , RIGHT ON Darrell you should keep writing what a fantastic article.

  3. Don Wood

    I don't think that "smart growth" is a communist plot as the author of this piece seems to think, but I agree that it has been used by politicians and developers as a convenient excuse to build overly dense new condo complexes and apartment complexes around local transit stations, without building new infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, parks) needed to make them work. I helped write the City of San Diego's first Transit Oriented Development ordinance in 1990, and we included a requirement that the developer and the city set up systems to determine how many of the new residents of those new condos and apartments actually end up using transit instead of single passenger cars and trucks. That element of smart growth gets regularly ignored in San Diego County. Here's it not really about smart growth, just more sprawl and infill development, and buying upzones from crooked politicians with campaign contributions.

  4. Patrick Skahan

    If Mr. Beck is endorsing smart growth concepts in this piece then it is well-said. Although he suggests smart growth is a Soviet-era concept, it is more deeply rooted. Ebenezer Howard discussed the idea in 1885 England. Further back, cities were largely self sufficient and less reliant on imported resources. In a world of finite resources, the original Republicans' belief in conservation (Teddy Roosevelt) is essential for sustainability and future generations' prosperity.

    • Another Opinion

      Uh, Patrick,

      this is why most free people (especially Americans) will ultimately REJECT sustainable anything or smart-not growth… from your linked article…

      "I meet African mayors who tell me, 'There are too many people moving here!' I tell them, 'No, the problem is your inability to govern them.'"

      Men are not governed… we choose to self-govern to remain free…

  5. Another Opinion


    Wow!!! I have been fighting "Sustainable Everything" here in my county (Rutherford, TN) and am very versed in the UN's Agenda 21 and how it has spread like cancer within the "planning community" and thus, the nation…

    I was gobsmacked that these phrases came straight from the Soviet planner's handbook! Fantastic find for me as I will now have a definitive connection to what we all know is a communist system being perpatrated by the UN but of course, they change the nomanclature to disguise their true intent…

    I mean, who could possibly be against sustaining our resources, or eliminating poverty… and all the other wonderful things the UN would like to impose… but now it will be a bit more satisfying for me to connect the dots one step beyond the UN from my one little county's comprehensive plan – straight to the USSR and the heavy-handed Centralized Planning mecca…

    Thank you for pointing this out…

  6. Another Opinion

    And Darrel,

    for those who are in areas that may be facing this issue.. this is some info that could help… feel free to contact me at the email down below…

    You should be very wary about a “Long Term Plan” – you could find your rights are abrogated at the hands of the communitarians, you know, those folks who want your plan to say ‘we must balance individual property rights with the potential rights of future generations” or other such mumbo-jumbo tripe that passes for “doing what’s best for the community” or the “greater good”…

    I am fighting a different battle in the same war… "Comprehensive Planning" on a local basis… you should google "Your Town/County" + "Comprehensive Plan" and read it… wrap your head with Duct Tape in case your head explodes…

    a few resources: (buy her book – Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21 -great resource)

    I am intent on creating a National Conference (in Nashville) to teach a hand-to-gland combat style "How To" 3-day intensive workshop style boot camp on how to use legal, political, grassroots and guerrilla warfare against Sustainable Anything…

    It is in the embryonic idea stage… Facebook me if you want to stay informed…


    this is our local fight, but the info can be useful to your local fight…

    Join our FB page at:!/pages/Concerned-Citize…

    We are fighting the property rights-stripping trend of "Sustainable Development", "Smart Growth" and Agenda 21.

    To learn more visit our Youtube Channel and view several videos on what we are facing:

  7. Janice DeMund

    It is all very well to promote "walkable communities" where people will walk to the grocery store, or the dry cleaners or – 'whatever-. It is another thing to expect them to walk home carrying their dry cleaning and several heavy bags of groceries.

    AND what about those who are not able to ride a bike or walk longer distances?

    Simply from a common sense point of view, "walkable communities" do not sound workable and telling a person that their land can only be used in a way that fits a 'smart growth' profile is simply wrong in this country. Even in more socialist countries, like Sweden, that is not done.

  8. Michael

    Another interesting concept that focuses on limit to growth is the Steady State Economy:

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