Sweeping changes are in store for the 3 million residents of metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and most of them will come courtesy of unelected local bureaucrats, working hand in glove with a coterie of “stakeholders” and Obama Administration officials.
The goal is to transform the Twin Cities and surrounding jurisdictions from the diverse communities that have arisen organically over the past century and a half into fully regimented blocks of residential and commercial buildings, where every move will be planned and monitored by self-appointed environmental and social stewards.
All-Powerful Body of Master Planners
Writing in the Wall Street Journal (May 20), Katherine Kersten of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes the grandiose scheme known as “Thrive MSP 2040.” Thrive is the brainchild of the region’s Metropolitan Council, known locally as the Met Council. Created in the 1960s to deal with problems relating to regional infrastructure, the Met Council has evolved into an all-powerful body of master planners who are determined to circumvent local government and impose their vision of an environmentally and economically “sustainable” society on largely unsuspecting citizens.
In keeping with the practice of other regional development councils across the country, the Met Council is composed of unelected members. All 17 of its members were appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton (D). Thrive, the Met Council’s 30-year master plan for the region’s 186 municipalities spread out over seven counties, aims, among other things, to put low-income housing in high-income areas, push “travel modes other than the car at all levels of development,” and promote all future housing and economic development within “easy walking distance” (one-half mile) of major transit stops.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has gotten into the act by awarding the Met Council a $5 million grant to identify suburban land-use and zoning practices that allegedly deny minorities opportunities for economic development, Kersten points out. Thrive also foresees huge expenditures of public funds for mass transit, including light rail, at the expense of badly needed upgrades to road and highways.
The “Lens” of Climate Change
“The Thrive plan’s most radical element may be to evaluate all future development policies through the ‘lens’ of climate change,” AEI’s Kersten writes in the WSJ. “Over time, this could give the council a license to dramatically remake the entire metropolitan area.”
That, of course, is exactly what Thrive and similar regional planning schemes in Portland, San Francisco, and scores of other metropolitan areas are designed to do. Once such plans are fully implemented, elected officials can do little more than stand around like potted plants while decision-making authority devolves to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and activists.
CFACT has coined the term “Plantocracy” to describe this emerging political force. The blueprint for this kind of arrangement was drawn up at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The toxic brew uncorked there is being enthusiastically imbibed by the plantocracy.