Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who Benefits?

This uninvited guest commentary comes via myklelabs. The entire post is excellent but I will limit myself to reposting only a section:


Okay, so the CRC is a terrible idea. Why don’t we just ix-nay it and get on with the good life? Unfortunately, there are a lot of powerful people trying to sell our region this bridge, and they’re making progress. Who are these CRC supporters, and why do they support it?

• Well, obviously property developers like it, especially those sitting on undeveloped land in northern Clark County and/or unsold exurban condo ghost towns on the northern edge of Vancouver civilization. They need to sell the lie that these plots are somehow near a city, and that living there won’t be isolating and dull. What they don’t need is a real, lasting solution to congestion — with a quick fix, they can make their money and split.

• Some downtown Vancouver landlords, too, are hoping that the bouquet of overpasses and off-ramps planned for hooking up this monster to their street system will somehow reinvigorate their deserted downtown. Alas, we know from experience that overpasses do not attract families or businesses.

• Likewise, the big-box mall operators of Jantzen Beach dream of more cars on the bridge, because they equate it with more customers in their malls, regardless of what else might be collapsing in the global economy.

• Recall that Wal-Mart wants to build a store on Hayden Island. This bridge will let them do that, so we can count on their support. The viability of edge-of-nowhere chain superstores is directly related to the level of traffic on I-5.

• Finally, for some reason our elected officials are falling all over themselves to support this. Sam Adams is the obvious big disappointment, but there are others. Politicians and planners like these sorts of big projects; it makes their city bigger, thereby making them more important and giving them more accomplishments to point to at election time. And, if I was to be more charitable, I’d say that our city council is charged with the job of helping the local economy to flourish, and this project will almost certainly involve big piles of circulating money … which will, I’m sure, promote “growth.”

read the rest of the article

The question of who benefits from all this has been particularly troubling. And no single answer has satisfied, mostly because it is clear that so many of the people who are supposed to benefit from this project will actually be pissed when it is done (the CRC projects estimates that Vancouver suburb commuters, for example, will have longer commute times... so why are they for it?).

Perhaps the best analogy is that this project is trying to please everyone all at once, so that everyone is supposed to have gotten what they want. Of course we will have sacrificed everything we didn't realize was important to get it.

This is not just a left/right Republican/Democrat issue. Don't be fooled into believing an over simplified view, and please don't be a sideline lamo afraid to talk about it. Engage in heated debate about the pros and cons with your neighbors today!

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