Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An opportunity to reinvent community

We need to say NOW where our infrastructure dollars will go. The problem is that business as usual will continue to drag us off to Iran and Kazakhstan from Iraq to control the next scarce resource. Like Al Capone we will go in search of other peoples property to satiate our out of control appetite.

On the one hand, the painful lesson of resource shortages, salmon, or gasoline, take your pick, should be obvious today. Shouldn’t these lessons apply to other areas of shortages like water and fire, an unlikely yin yang twin hovering like death angels over Belmont today, sewer and roads maintenance, parks and open space, trails, etc.?

On the other hand, we know that Cheney and Bush are morally crippled by their petrol interests and transferring $2T to their pocketbooks in oil profits is completely normal. But we are unable to intervene and change the infrastructure that allows these tax subsidies to flow uphill. And while McKibben and Hansen tear off their cloth and cry on the mountain the California Climate Action contingency plan has quietly proceeded and will be found lacking because of the lack of citizen participation.

There is considerable reluctance to see a new future, like the new mobility paradigm, beyond the entrenched interests of business as usual.

The good news is that in three year we could convert parking to housing, put pocket parks in intersections and convert streets for playgrounds and housing; removing the infrastructure that accounts for more than 50% of Green House Gases in Belmont today, in the form of free curb side parking and easy pedestrian killing access across El Camino, Caltrans, and over Hallmark at 50mph. Walkable transit friendly cities will benefit all other sustainable indicators by helping people reduce their cost of housing, healthcare transportation and DALY- disease adjusted life years. While the paragons of business as usual, like McCain/Clinton/Obama are worrying how to keep auto companies in business who brought us the Cheney pocketbook war in Iraq, and the New War Times is worrying about how to keep housing unaffordable, we continue to face an opportunity to reinvent our community.

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