Recent columns on the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District redevelopment plan miss the mark.
The debate has focused on the cost and benefit of the $300 million project, but a major goal of the plan has been ignored. Surprisingly, it is driven by a United Nations script to fight global warming.
Lexington is a member of the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, an organization that promotes sustainable development.
After years of frustration waiting for international governments to agree on a plan to combat global warming, ICLEI has been aggressively pursuing local planners across the world to implement their recommendations. The goal is global environmental governance.
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One ICLEI tenet is to eliminate transportation by car. It claims that growth in the number of cars on the road will cancel emissions gains made by automobile efficiency standards. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate as many cars as possible through local codes and regulations.
To achieve this, restrictions on suburban growth must be paired with high-density mixed-use residential and commercial zones downtown.
Cars are eliminated through restricting parking, limiting road space and speed limits. Residents are made dependent on public transportation, pedestrian zones and bicycle infrastructure. This is exactly what Lexington's plan does.
It specifically addresses greenhouse gas emissions, halting low-density suburban development and the number of people riding bikes in Copenhagen.
Clearly, this plan is a social engineering project. Unfortunately, there are more in the pipeline.
The Empower Lexington plan will force Lexington residents to conform to the United Nations' vision of green. The extent to which this plan threatens to control our lives is disturbing.
The proposals range from the typical (financial subsidies for energy efficiency) to the imperious (telling our kids how methane from the livestock they consume causes global warming).
The EL plan will promote high-density mixed-use redevelopment dependent on public transportation. It even goes so far as to plan for succession in rural land ownership and to match investors with landowners. It appears good intentions have given way to insidious control.
A quote from the plan says, "It's extremely difficult to get people to live sustainably." This statement is just not true. Our CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP have been cut by 44 percent in the last 30 years because of free-market forces.
In addition to these two plans, Mayor Jim Gray has just appointed Lexington's first commissioner of planning. This unelected official has authored books on social sustainability and will focus on urban redevelopment.
Many cities, particularly in California, are now learning that social sustainability is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Redevelopment financed by direct or back-door taxes and the political con of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) lead to insurmountable debt, while regulations restrict personal freedom and property rights. Cities are now dissociating with ICLEI in favor of focusing on common-sense environmental solutions decided by voters, not by the United Nations.
Everyone I know strives to be a good steward of the environment. Let us make responsible changes for our city without the hidden agenda.