Sunday, November 25, 2007

Growth: Are You Ready For Some Bootfall?

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.
Winston Churchill

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. - Winston Churchill

Something might have been inadvertently proven today that I had often thought was true.
That is that veto power is almost always stronger than the power to achieve something positive.

It started out innocuously enough when I tuned into the Seahawks game against the Rams.
Aside from an improbable kick-off return that resulted in a Seahawks touchdown, the home team played miserably in the first half, making the lowly Rams look more like champions than they have for a long time.

The game was going so badly for the Seahawks that I decided to do something more enjoyable, like turning off the TV and going for a hike in the sunny, cool weather.
I'm really glad I did, for multiple reasons.

First, the walk was exhilarating.

Second, when I got home I found that the Seahawks had miraculously come alive in my absence and pulled ahead of the Rams.
They were driving for another score when I tuned in again, but as soon as it was again detected that I was watching, they stalled, missed another field goal and turned the ball over to the Rams near mid-field with about 3 minutes to play.

I should have tuned out again, immediately!
But, instead I watched as the Seahawks were called for pass interference and the Rams were put into the 'Red Zone' with a first down.

I watched with dismay and a growing sense of doom as the Rams moved closer and closer to the goal line, knowing they were motivated to score that go-ahead touchdown with little or no time remaining.

After 2 or 3 time-outs the moment of truth arrived, and I found myself averting my eyes from the TV.
It was fourth down at about the 1-foot line, and I could see a standard dive play easily getting that winning TD for the Rams.

But wait!
The Rams quarterback fumbled the snap from center and the Seahawks quickly covered him to take over the ball with seconds remaining!

I couldn't believe it!
The second my eyes were averted, something good happened and the Seahawks snatched victory from the jaws of defeat - just the opposite of what I had expected!

Did the Seahawks deserve to win?
You bet they did, because over the course of the season the breaks tend to average out.
But I felt like I deserved the game ball!
Anybody else feel that way?

I'm pretty sure the game of football was invented to provide comic relief from real life.

It just has so many aspects that are similar to what we experience every day.

By somehow distracting us from reality, while still illustrating life's aspirations and futilities, football -like the ancient gladiators- constitutes real entertainment value.

And, combined with the medium of TV, football becomes the masculine equivalent of soap opera and movies - the opiate of the masses!

What would we do without our opiates?

More importantly, what would we do without our 'armchair' quarterbacks?
That is a role that anyone can perform, without any knowledge, training or understanding.

And, it can also become the ultimate in veto power if enough vocal people practice it!

A case in point to illustrate the above:

It has become a very popular pastime to advocate -or simply wish for- no additional UGA area be awarded to the City, despite a 3-plus year rigorous analysis based upon assumptions rooted in fact and history.

The City's EIS clearly described its capacity for infill, neighborhood by neighborhood and UGA by UGA, and concluded that some combination of infill and UGA expansion was necessary, especially since the City agreed to accommodate 51.4% of the anticipated growth projection adopted by County and City.

Yet, there are some who ignore or discount this costly and time consuming exercise!
Instead, they prefer to substitute some version of armchair quarterbacking based on wishful thinking.

Have these advocates ever been watching the game?
If so, which one; the real game, or the fantasy game?

Ironically, the no-UGA advocates could get their wish, AND the City be able to satisfy its GMA goals through infill alone, IF more certainty can be attained in land use efficiency.
The following need to be accomplished:

• Minimum densities of the existing UGAs raised to 8 dwelling units per acre [County action]

• Parks level of service reduced to 28 acres per 1000 population [City action]

• Continue requiring annexation prior to extending water & sewer services [City action]

That's about it.
Points 2 & 3 are slam-dunks as long as the City Council doesn't wimp out.
Point 1 will require the County to act, which would be the biggest change.

Of course there are other things that ought to be done, like monitoring progress, requiring City standards and holding the line on not converting lands zoned for industrial use to other uses.
At the November 19 Council meeting, City Planning Director Tim Stewart was astounded that the GMA debate had been reduced down to just discussing land supply and growth projections.

Instead, these discussions ought to be focused on Master Planning large single owner parcels, applying City standards in the UGA, figuring out how to regionally plan and finance arterial concurrency, annexation strategies, using TDRs & PDRs to achieve GMA objectives, providing affordable housing, using sustainable Parks LOS, considering building heights and developing infill through multi-family, and developing urban village designs that appeal to people, including the Waterfront District.

Those discussions are the ones likely to prove beneficial in efficiently using the land we have available and in providing housing and jobs for people who will live here.

I really don't know how we got so far off track in planning for growth.
But, it might have something to do with the fact we don't understand the rules that ought to govern such things.
We don't really understand the 'game'.
And, even if we do know the game, we don't have the discipline to exercise good judgement in consistently applying the rules.

I'm frustrated enough to just walk away from watching this GMA fiasco game play out so poorly.
Maybe, just maybe, that strategy will pay off - like me NOT watching the Seahawks did?

I don't know, but I'm looking forward to NOT watching this game pretty soon now.
I hope that will make a positive difference, but I'm not counting on it!
We'll see when I tune in again, maybe in about a year from now.

What It Was Was Football

By Andy Griffith (1953 ?)

It was back last October, I believe it was. We was going to hold a tent service off at this college town, and we got there about dinner time on Saturday. Different ones of us thought that we ought to get us a mouthful to eat before we set up the tent. So we got off the truck and followed this little bunch of people through this small little bitty patch of woods there, and we came up on a big sign that says, "Get something to Eat Here."

I went up and got me two hot dogs and a big orange drink, and before I could take a mouthful of that food, this whole raft of people come up around me and got me to where I couldn't eat nothing, up like, and I dropped my big orange drink. Well, friends, they commenced to move, and there wasn't so much that I could do but move with them.

Well, we commenced to go through all kinds of doors and gates and I don't know what- all, and I looked up over one of 'em and it says, "North Gate." We kept on a-going through there, and pretty soon we come up on a young boy and he says, "Ticket, please." And I says, "Friend, I don't have a ticket; I don't even know where it is that I'm a-going!" Well, he says, "Come on out as quick as you can." And I says, "I'll do 'er; I'll turn right around the first chance I get."

Well, we kept on a-moving through there, and pretty soon everybody got where it was that they was a-going, because they parted and I could see pretty good. And what I seen was this whole raft of people a-sittin' on these two banks and a-lookin at one another across this pretty little green cow pasture.

Somebody had took and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it, and I don't know what all, and I looked down there and I seen five or six convicts a running up and down and a-blowing whistles . And then I looked down there and I seen these pretty girls wearin' these little bitty short dresses and a-dancing around, and so I thought I'd sit down and see what it was that was a-going to happen.

About the time I got set down good I looked down there and I seen thirty or forty men come a-runnin' out of one end of a great big outhouse down there and everybody where I was a-settin' got up and hollered! And I asked this fella that was a sittin' beside of me, "Friend, what is it that they're a-hollerin' for? Well, he whopped me on the back and he says, "Buddy, have a drink!" I says, "Well, I believe I will have another big orange. I got it and set back down.

When I got there again I seen that the men had got in two little bitty bunches down there real close together, and they voted. They elected one man apiece, and them two men come out in the middle of that cow pasture and shook hands like they hadn't seen one another in a long time. Then a convict came over to where they was a-standin', and he took out a quarter and they commenced to odd man right there! After a while I seen what it was they was odd-manning for. It was that both bunchesfull of them wanted this funny lookin little pumpkin to play with. And I know, friends, that they couldn't eat it because they kicked it the whole evenin' and it never busted.

Both bunchesful wanted that thing. One bunch got it and it made the other bunch just as mad as they could be! Friends, I seen that evenin' the awfulest fight that I ever have seen in all my life !! They would run at one -another and kick one- another and throw one another down and stomp on one another and griiind their feet in one another and I don't know what- all and just as fast as one of 'em would get hurt, they'd take him off and run another one on !!

Well, they done that as long as I set there, but pretty soon this boy that had said "Ticket, please." He come up to me and said, "Friend, you're gonna have to leave because it is that you don't have a ticket." And I says, "Well, all right." And I got up and left.

I don't know friends, to this day, what it was that they was a doin' down there, but I have studied about it. I think it was that it's some kindly of a contest where they see which bunchful of them men can take that pumpkin and run from one end of that cow pasture to the other without gettin' knocked down or steppin' in somethin'.

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future. - Winston Churchill

Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it. - Winston Churchill