Excerpted from an article that first appeared on City Journal.
In California, where Governor Jerry Brown celebrates “the coercive power of the state” and advocates “brainwashing” for the un-anointed, victories against Leviathan are rare. Yet last week brought just such a triumph, as a legislative committee rejected an attempt by San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener to take zoning power away from localities in areas within a half-mile of a bus or train stop. Wiener had sold his measure as a solution to California’s housing crisis and a means of bringing about the dense, green, transit-oriented development that the governor and his supporters prefer. Yet it failed, in large part because few cities wish to give up their zoning power and because even affordable-housing advocates don’t believe that handing blank checks to developers will do much to lower rents or housing prices.
But it would be a mistake to see Wiener’s defeat as a triumph of conservative principles of limited government and local control. In fact, two of the senators who voted for the bill in committee were Republicans, both from suburban districts whose constituents would not have been much affected by the bill’s passage. Meantime, some libertarian conservatives, champions of “small government,” supported Wiener’s efforts to expand state power because the proposal would remove regulatory restraints—albeit only in dense cities, not on the periphery.
Some principled moderates and conservatives—like Beverly Hills vice mayor John Mirisch and Anaheim’s Tom Tait—were vocal opponents, as were Republicans from places like Yorba Linda. But to a large extent, Wiener was derailed by his own party…
Read the entire piece at City Journal.
Homepage photo credit: Connect California.