Here’s What Makes Local Politics Suck

Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via ZUMA

Here in Orange County, we’ve been busily removing makeshift homeless camps from the concrete banks of the Santa Ana River. Under the prodding of a federal judge, the plan was to move the residents into temporary tent cities in Irvine, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Niguel. Unsurprisingly, that’s not going to happen. The good citizens of these cities made it vocally clear that they wanted nothing to do with homeless encampments, and the county Board of Supervisors has now backed down.

Up north, in related news, state Sen. Scott Wiener has introduced Senate Bill 827, which would override local zoning rules to allow dense, medium-rise apartment buildings in all “transit rich” areas. Yesterday, the Los Angeles city council voted unanimously to oppose the bill.

Why are these related? First, because the opposition in both cases is pretending to be high-minded. In the homeless case, Orange County protesters say the homeless deserve better than tents. The real reason for their opposition, of course, is that no one wants a homeless shelter in their backyard. In the SB 827 case, says one councilman, the problem is that “Los Angeles has a long and painful history of displacement in the name of progress, and of well-intended bills that uproot communities and destroy neighborhoods.” The real reason is that no one wants lots of poor people…

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