The Tea Party, Planning and Democracy (Part One)
Editor's Note: This is the first part of a two-part news analysis which explores some unexpected synergies between Tea Party protesters and progressive opponents of planning policies which are perceived as anti-democratic. Part 2 will appear on Friday.
Most people regard meetings about regional planning, if they regard them at all, as soporific, PowerPointed affairs frequented by policy wonks. But on January 11, I attended a regional planning workshop in Dublin that was anything but dull. That’s because protesters from the East Bay Area Tea Party showed up along with some “fellow travelers” and nearly took the evening over. Their appearance was no surprise.
For over a year, members of the Tea Party have descended on planning events around the country. The Dublin event, sponsored by the lead regional planning agencies in the Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), was the Alameda County installament of the second round of county-based Plan Bay Area public meetings [http://www.onebayarea.org/spotlight_12-11.htm] about the forthcoming Sustainable Communities Strategy/Regional Transportation Plan (SCS/RTP) mandated by the 2008 legislation, SB 375. The Tea Party also weighed in at the first round, held last May, as well as at all of the second round workshops that have been held so far.