Is Our Community Ready for the Redevelopment Ready Community Program?

On Monday, February 13, 2017, the city council will consider and undoubtedly pass unanimously a resolution to enter the city of Ludington into the "Redevelopment Ready Communities" program (RRC).  What is the RRC, how does it affect you, and why should we participate in it?  I will cover that in more detail after giving Community Development Director Heather Tykoski's memo to the council urging them to become part of the program found at almost the very end of the 2-13-2017 Council Packet:

Did you notice that she signed the memo as 'Heather Venzke', her maiden name?  Maybe it's just the rising feminist coming out from Donald Trump's election, but let's hope her marriage to Ludington City Councilor Nick Tykoski is still solvent.   She is correct by saying RRC engagement is necessary for CDBG and other MEDC administered programs, but the rest of her delivery is probably Greek to you and the sitting councilors we have. 

What is "Best Practices"?   What is a RRC self-evaluation?  Why didn't the local media make any note of this vote on RRC at this meeting, particularly since they commented on every other agenda item?  And why hasn't the community been given some sort of idea or reason behind this move?  After all, whatever this is supposed to be has to do with transparency, predictability, efficiency, and straightforwardness; why isn't the contents of the memo suggest any of those?

Let's try to harness the terminology and the underlying reasons of why our city's management team is pushing this forward, while keeping most of the citizens ignorant or ill-informed.  In the Master Plan of Ludington formally adopted in July 2016 the word 'redevelopment' is used at least 74 times, but it doesn't explain "Redevelopment Ready Communities" until the bottom of page 34.  It explain it thusly:

Redevelopment Ready Communities in Michigan

The State of Michigan has initiated a program that certifies Michigan communities as “redevelopment ready” to aid them in their redevelopment goals. The Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program was created to “foster communities that creatively reuse space, embrace economic innovation, and proactively plan for the future — making them more attractive for investments that create places where people want to live, work, and play.”  A certification through the RRC program, which is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), helps ease the barriers to redevelopment and indicates to developers and business owners that a community embraces economic development and is ready to make
positive changes for its future.

Should a community choose to participate in the RRC program, it must undergo an assessment administered by the MEDC and meet a series of required standards prior to RRC certification. One of these standards is the inclusion of a Redevelopment Strategy within the Master Plan.

The master plan then lists eight areas of redevelopment within the city and a timeline as to when to initiate these goals by.  You will notice there has been some activity in getting those done already, with the bowling alley block, and west end of Ludington Avenue already looking to have funding and development going through the pipeline to make low-income downtown apartments and radical changes to make the scenic Ludington Avenue terminus into a canoe rental and semi-permanent tent stand.  This is progress according to our leaders and their enlightened mentors from LIAA.  It may seem ridiculous and wasteful to you, but it's a goal for them.

Later in the master plan we find that becoming a participant in the RRC program is a high priority of their first goal in "Land Use and Community Design" (bottom of page 52).  "The City should consider participating in the RRC program to show that the community is business friendly and proactive about future development" (p. 70).  So even if the MEDC (a notorious public-private corporation that takes your tax money and redirects it into the pockets of private developers) would quit giving Ludington CBDG and other grants because Ludington wasn't in the RRC program, they would have joined anyway.

Just last month, without a lot of fanfare even though it was only the tenth Michigan city to do so, Manistee was certified as a RRC.  Reading through the link, you notice one again you get some MEDC leaders talking the same meaningless language (often the same words in the same order) as Heather Venzke in her memo.  The MEDC has roughly the same language in their one page recap of the RRC.

To find out more about the RRC program you have to go further up the chain and further back in history.  This 2006 RRC Manual from the EPA, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (along with the MEDC, MSHDA, and other foundations), explains the program with a little more clarity as it concerns Michigan. 

It's a 30 page manual that explains most of what you need to know in the two pages of introduction.  The headlines of the first introduction page say:   Solving our Redevelopment Challenges.... By Uniting Local Government and Business.  While you or me may think it is a bit immoral to use public money to fund private ventures, that is the basic idea behind the partnerships envisioned by the RRC and other MEDC programs. 

You may see the government picking winners and losers, corruption, and corporations taking tax money meant for public projects, they see the theoretical potential of a growing tax base so they can devote more taxes to favored businesses. 

But the second introduction page makes it clear what these partnerships are supposed to create, principles of 'smart growth'.   These are included on this page:

1. Mix Land Uses
2. Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
3. Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
4. Create Walkable Neighborhoods
5. Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
6. Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas

7. Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
8. Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
9. Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair, and Cost Effective
10. Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration in Development Decisions

Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl.  Proponents argue that planned and directed population density in urban centers is better and more efficient than having people spread throughout the countryside and the suburbs, and also allows the opening up of more natural areas for either parkland or farming. 

It sounds great on paper, just like socialism, but when smart growth policies are implemented, it's doomed to ultimate failure-- again, just like socialism.  This doesn't stop liberals, progressives, socialists and communists from trying, however, since it leads to centralized planning and the absorption of all meaningful human rights.

The problems of "Smart" growth can be found in many scholarly journals if you don't wish to believe the word of the chief administrator of a website based in little ol' Ludington. 

The National Center for Public Policy Research in a well-footnoted and well-researched article claims:  "Smart growth can even create the sprawl it is intended to prevent... {it)has a woeful record of pricing-out affordable housing for many middle income Americans."

Demographia in the research article titled Smart Growth: Retarding the Quaity of Life, notes that Smart Growth, contrary to their goals:  1) increases traffic intensity, 2) increases air pollution intensity and 3) reduces housing affordability.  Furthermore, they suggest the anti-sprawl movement has several errors in their diagnosis:  1) Urbanization does not threaten agricultural land 2) Most suburban growth is not from the cities 3) "Walkable" cities are an illusion and 4) Open space is expanding more rapidly than urbanization.  They offer a graph of housing opportunities in the original 'smart city' of Portland, Oregon, as compared to the rest of the nation.

The Cato Institute offers a deeper comparison and contrast of Portland with the dumber growing portions of the country in the essay The Folly of Smart Growth.  They explain why smart growth advocates offer 'empty arguments' in claiming that:  1) people would really prefer to live in high-density cities. 2) cities cannot afford to subsidize the sewers, water, and other infrastructure needed to support low density suburbs.  The author points to studies that refute those claims, and then concludes:

"...such regulation can produce an even worse quality of life for residents. The policies’ real effects appear to be increases in traffic congestion, air pollution, consumer costs, taxes, and just about every other impediment to urban livability... On the other hand, many — if not all — of the problems have free-market or market-like solutions."   Portland is the case study, but all cities that universally adopt such policies seem to create more problems than they solve, and have inefficiency inevitably creep into the smart picture.

This is the path our current Ludington leaders are seeking, helped on by the MEDC and their failed economic development models, former GR mayor George HeartwellLIAA, and the doomed-to-failure policies they propose. 

On Monday, they go one step further into the abyss of selling your rights away, but the only thing you receive from that sale is the loss of more and more of your money.  Don't forget, the money that Heather Venzke is looking to get more of from the state and federal coffers is the money from your taxes, and 25% of that is earmarked for her administration tasks. 

The Smart Practices Training, by the way, will conclude at the end of the month in Muskegon, here are the 'best practices' in store for our officials that day:

For those who wonder why our local officials march in lockstep for the bizarre progressive policies they drop on our shoulders, look no farther than indoctrinating sessions like this that are forced on them before they qualify for state grant money.

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I had to read parts of this several times in order to grasp all the nonsense it contains. Thanks X for posting this because most people, I'm sure, have never heard of this. Neither Federal, State or Local Governments should be involved in this type of insanity. Think about all the tax money that is spent on this type of foolishness just to indoctrinate all of our silly representatives, from the local fools all the way to the idiots who control Washington. It's hard to imagine the enormous amount of wasted tax dollars we supply to Government agencies only to see it thrown down a sh_thole and flushed into their off shore bank accounts. Combine that with the waste of untold billions of tax dollars that half of the US citizens are paying out in order to support the other half. Ain't America great? Unfortunately America is not the only bastion of liberal insanity and wasteful spending.

As soon as I saw "mixed land use", I didn't have to read any further. It will be a disaster.

That's all fine and dandy, but recognition of 'smart growth' policy is easier if you know the nine other fallacies that go along with it.  This material is strewn throughout the master plans for the county, Ludington, PM and Hamlin Townships.  When any of these government units start doing things that fly against common sense and the communities best interests, you should be able to trace it to the smart growth-sustainability-Agenda 21 curricula being drilled into our money-and-power seeking local politicos brains.

I went to the training session for this down in Muskegon on Tuesday, took voluminous notes and observations, received some of the literature for two of the lessons.  Interesting, will report on the experience soon.


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