The LA Weekly's David Zahnhiser reports on the way "smart growth" is being used as a code word for "hey, give my development project some public money."
Smart growth is not just being used to secure public support for mega-projects. It is also helping investment-fund managers to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in public-pension money — funds invested on behalf of retired California teachers, police officers, firefighters and thousands of other retired government workers.
The neighborhood is filled with one-story stucco boxes — 1950s tract houses built as real estate developers filled in stretches of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. With such suburban surroundings, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a vacant lot at 13500 Paxton is slated to become a strip mall. Beverly Hills–based Primestor Development plans a shopping center with a Lowe's Home Improvement Store — and plenty of parking for shoppers.
What makes the project surprising is that it is financed by the Southern California Smart Growth Fund, managed by a firm in El Segundo called Pacific Coast Capital Partners. On its Web site, the fund promises to invest in low-income neighborhoods while adhering to "smart-growth planning principles," like constructing high-density housing near public transit.
Yet the 200,000-square-foot shopping center planned for Paxton Street violates a whole range of smart-growth principles: It caters to the car, not the pedestrian; it has no housing; it has no transit connections to speak of.
Reason's Virginia Postrel was on top of this eight years ago, of course.