The Democratic People’s Republic of Kalifornia continues its emancipation of citizens and residents from local Jeffersonian control. The state has already superseded local zoning laws by allowing building of up to 4-8 residences on previously zoned single home lots to further a goal of many millions of new homes that a state agency has recently found unnecessary due to flawed data and calculation. Now in the name of turning the Golden State into the State of Sun, Wind, and Wave, Governor/President Newsom is pushing a willing legislature to approve a new energy plan that bypasses local permitting empowering the California Energy Commission to fast-track approval of new renewable solar and wind farms on private or public lands independent of oversight by any elected officials. Some rural counties welcome the opportunity to lease fallowed lands to energy farms, transferring scarce water to other needs. Many rural, semi-rural, suburban, and urban communities are opposed to this state “taking” of their property but will have no recourse under the new law. All this in pursuit of an overly ambitious, rushed plan to convert California to renewable energy sources and avoid the rolling brownouts and blackouts that might darken certain Presidential ambitions in 2024.
Both imperial actions of zoning control and green energy invasion serve three scarcities: housing, energy, and water. The State government’s Orwellian overreach is accelerated by its addiction to rule by regulation rather than legislation. Governmental bureaucracies rapidly go viral, spreading and mutating to forms immune to the voters and even their elected representatives, easily dodging the vaccinations of judicial interdiction. Local governments may yet be able to claw back some authority, strangely enough, by enhancing the State’s efforts. Deep blue California can go indigo.
Solving the shortage of Governor Newsom’s newly recognized human right to housing has already been detailed in a prior Jaundiced Eye column, “A Progressive Solution to Housing in California”, May 2021. Therein I noted the shortage is not in housing but occupation of current housing, as most apartments, condos, and houses have chronically empty bedrooms readily assignable by the State (perhaps now by local authorities) to those in need. The method of assignment and the primary occupants’ compensation was already detailed in that article but could more rapidly be initiated by local counties or cities reasserting their utility in service to the State rather than the people. Since the State now overrides local zoning laws regarding single family homes, local governments could take a Great Leap Forward and mandate that no new such homes be built, only quadruplexes or octoplexes on what might have been single family lots. New local zoning could also specify that all bedrooms of any newly built residences be fully occupied as noted above with exceptions and/or reassignments of secondary residents to enable space for state approved births. Given the current extreme difficulty of getting new housing approved and built in California and the rapidity of approval of new zoning regulations possible by local governments, this seems an obvious solution. Many of the secondary residents could be hired by the State to oversee this and the energy and water efforts noted below, again paid in the new State fiat currency, BEARs (Bringing Equity Awarding Reparations).
Energy needs are already partially addressed through bypassing local control for renewable energy, and the State mandate, already in effect, that all new homes be wired for solar power panels. The rest of the conversion to green energy can be handled by local zoning regulations necessarily expanding on the State’s initial efforts. Local jurisdictions can mandate that all new houses, apartments, condos, etc. be built with solar panels covering all roof surfaces, all electric appliances, and No Natural Gas lines, as well as maximally protective minimally necessary windows (thus avoiding heat gain/loss). Instead of patriotic flagpoles, green endorsing vertical windvane generators could be added as desired. Cooking surfaces would be induction only, of course. Many other useful details could be added at the local level (such as mandated barium painted roofs for all commercial structures along with solar panels), relieving State bureaucrats to attend to broader efforts.
Most of California is a semi-arid desert, and equity demands that its intrinsic water supply be shared equally with the population and nature. The ultimate goal of using only native California water and decoupling from the Colorado river system before the rest of the West is squeezed dry will require even greater efforts than in housing and energy. Here the executive branch of our Nation-State has a yet unfulfilled role. Firstly, the State must transparently calculate the total water supply available from all intrinsic sources, including recycling the vast majority of “used” water. Not easily done given our ongoing aridification, but surely this can be as accurate as our many climate models of global warming. Given our State’s supremacy in technology, a planned dissolution of high-use agriculture including livestock can be mandated as in the Netherlands (this has the side benefit of more land for solar/wind farms and a further reduction in methane, chemical, nitrogen contamination and overpopulation). We can then easily know the minimum amount of water needed per person per year for health and safety, issues already being addressed at the local level by some communities threatening water abusers with flow restriction. All new residences can be built with flow restriction allowing health and safety, e.g., timed showers but not enough flow or pressure for landscaping; only xeriscaping with native plants would be allowed. Additional local zoning regulations would mandate rain barrels on every abode, and pools, bathtubs, and fountains naturally forbidden. For those individuals or businesses excelling at water conservation, a secondary market in sales of water credits, like carbon credits, could perhaps be set up. Mulholland’s ultimate intent would finally be realized.
Underlying all three efforts is necessarily control of the population. While proper assignment of empty bedrooms may immediately improve our housing deficit (the State, through its tax rolls knows how many bedrooms are available and local jurisdictions can easily define the occupancy deficit), independent generation of all needed energy and water excluding the need for inequitable theft of these resources from other states will define the sites and sizes of our population. Neither water nor energy fully owned by the commons, should be distributed willy-nilly to wherever a resident might choose to live or procreate. The main threat are the countervailing forces of being a sanctuary for unfettered migration of undocumented workers and being a sanctuary for discarding unwanted pregnancies; the latter must be encouraged to counterbalance the former. The three efforts noted above all require “infill” of current concentrations of residents. Massive savings can be realized by State and local classification of fire and flood prone areas as non-buildable. Many of these areas could also be taken under eminent domain as preserves and/or energy generation sites as noted above.
Finally, we reach the issue of currently existing housing. Naturally the values of current homes which are energy, water and living space abusers might well massively increase given human nature. Local jurisdictions can again enhance state efforts and their own stature by gradual rolling programs of installing flow restriction and cut-off of natural gas sources while occupancy is also gradually but rapidly equalized. The transient inappropriate and inequitable rise in property values could be taxed away locally or by the State, or perhaps utilized by the property owner for removal of landscaping, pools, and installation of solar panels, batteries, windvanes, induction cooking, better windows, etc. through State sponsored and mandated forgivable second mortgages. This process would generate a windfall of work for the unemployed and the undocumented workers.
These efforts when successful will greatly enable California’s Manifest Destiny, to become a diverse, equitable, inclusive autonomous zone as the fifth largest economy in the world yet still benefiting from loose association with the irretrievably systemically racist United States. A model of which we indigo comrades can all be justly proud.
© Nik Bednarski, M.D. 2022