I wrote here about President Obama’s plans to redistribute wealth from the suburbs to the cities, as exposed by Stanley Kurtz in his book Spreading The Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing The Suburbs To Pay For the Cites. Stanley returns to this theme in a post about the latest element of the president’s regionalist policy — the July 19 publication of a Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation broadening the obligation of recipients of federal aid to “affirmatively further fair housing.”
As Stanley explains, the apparent purpose of this rule change is to force suburban neighborhoods with no record of housing discrimination to build more public housing targeted to ethnic and racial minorities. Several administration critics have noticed the change and challenged it, even as the mainstream media declines to cover the story.
But, says Stanley, the underlying thrust of the rule change is more revolutionary than forcing racial and ethnic diversity on the suburbs:
The new HUD rule is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars. Government-mandated ethnic and racial diversification plays a role in this scheme, yet the broader goal is forced “economic integration.”
The ultimate vision is to make all neighborhoods more or less alike, turning traditional cities into ultra-dense Manhattans, while making suburbs look more like cities do now. In this centrally-planned utopia, steadily increasing numbers will live cheek-by-jowl in “stack and pack” high-rises close to public transportation, while automobiles fall into relative disuse.
To help us understand this vision, Stanley turns to San Francisco and its “Plan Bay Area” program:
Essentially, Plan Bay Area attempts to block the development of any new suburbs, forcing all population growth over the next three decades into the existing “urban footprint” of the region. The plan presses 70-80 percent of all new housing and 66 percent of all business expansion into 150 or so “priority development areas” (PDAs), select neighborhoods near subway stations and other public transportation facilities. This scheme will turn up to a quarter of the region’s existing neighborhoods–many now dotted with San Francisco’s famously picturesque, Victorian-style single-family homes–into mini-Manhattans jammed with high-rises and tiny apartments. The densest PDAs will be many times denser than Manhattan.
In effect, by preventing the development of new suburbs, and reducing traditional single-family home development in existing suburbs, Plan Bay Area will squeeze 30 years worth of in-migrating population into a few small urban enclaves, and force most new businesses into the same tight quarters. The result will be a steep increase in the Bay Area’s already out-of-control housing prices. This will hit the poor and middle class the hardest. While some poor and minority families will receive tiny subsidized apartments in the high-rise PDAs, many others will find themselves displaced by the new development, or priced out of the local housing market altogether.
The Obama administration has helped promote Plan Bay Area. It awarded the agencies that developed the program its second-highest “Sustainable Communities Grant” in 2012, citing the way Plan Bay Area “encourage[es] connections” between jobs, housing, and transportation. As Stanley says, this “encouragement” amounts to locating new residents –-poor and minorities included — in existing prosperous communities, replicating Manhattan-style “priority development areas.”
Stanley expects that HUD and other agencies will soon begin to press localities directly, rather than through the medium of California’s new regionalist scheme. The Sustainable Communities program will be its vehicle, along with suits against recalcitrant suburbs under the Fair Housing Law. As HUD Secretary Donovan admitted when he announced his agency’s new regulation broadening the obligation of recipients of federal aid to “affirmatively further fair housing,” the reg isn’t really focused on preventing “outright discrimination and access to the housing itself.”
Donovan also proclaimed: “Make no mistake: this is a big deal.” And so it is. While the MSM portrays the Obama administration as devoid these days of big ideas, in reality his big ideas are too controversial for him to discuss.