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April 29, 2014

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Overpopulation Pollyannas have no answers to real-world excesses and simply trot out many-times-failed fallacies supported by nothing other than a near-religious belief in the growth ethic. Pacifica doesn't have a shortage of anything that could be provided by additional development. It has a "longage" of people trying to live urban lives here. Until cornucopians can come up with that fabled Horn of Plenty, the discernible, material facts of life must prevail in any planning that seeks to serve people over the long term.

So the US population has grown by 25 million a decade, but Pacifica should stay as it was in 1980? If every city behaved like Pacifica, imagine the consequences. Shortage of housing? That's a great recipe for stagnation, higher rents, struggling business, fewer jobs, and lower revenues. There are many benefits to increased housing as I just mentioned. Property tax is just one. Nobody is talking about making us into Daly City. Just adding 3 percent to 5 percent a year for a few years is not going to ruin Pacifica.

1 Corinthians 13:11 -- When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Growth beyond what is sustainable is a childish thing. Blind adherence to the growth ethic shows a lack of understanding and childish thinking. ("Sustainable" used without a qualifying time period is that which can be continued indefinitely.) To put away childish things is to become mature.

The City of Pacifica, like most governments in the U.S. at all levels, needs to grow up for the future sake of its residents, businesses, and others who spend time within its borders. Rather than devoting its limited natural resources and sources of income to getting bigger through such developments as additional housing and draws for hordes of visitors -- which means resources per person will become smaller and fewer and more expensive as carrying capacity is actually reduced by artificial development and more people must drink out of the same metaphorical bucket -- the city should shift the focus of its planning to becoming better, to planning toward the ideal of sustainability. Among other aspects of acting like a grown-up, this means living within its means, whatever those means are. The longer this transition is delayed, the more difficult it will be for myriad reasons and the more life will be degraded for all but those wealthy enough to isolate themselves from the negative consequences of the related matters of overpopulation, uncertain and diminished resources, escalating costs, and a degraded environment.

Problems like overloaded infrastructure and government unable to pay for itself, as important as it is to point out their realities to wake folks up to facts and processes already under way, are not canaries in the coal mine here and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Those canaries died decades ago. Excesses of the past century are obvious. What is needed is dedication to putting away childish things and using wisdom to reverse the thinking and mistakes of the past, and proceed with the help of the positive attributes that remain.

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