Thursday, June 28, 2007

Waukesha Grumbles About SEWRPC Over $100,000

Waukesha County has had the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWEPC) dancing to its land use and transportation tune for decades, but is now bent out of shape over a more realistic transit funding decision that awards Milwaukee County a few more bucks?


Waukesha's agendas are front-and-center at SEWRPC when it comes to freeway expansion, water supply needs and other recommendations and decisions designed to help out a sprawl-happy county.

The Waukesha County complaint about transit dollars being shifted to Milwaukee County, which has a much larger system and transit-dependent population, is beyond frivolous.

And it makes a mockery of regional cooperation, which is the flag under which so much Waukesha County policy, development and media hype has flown.

I wrote an op-ed piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2005 on this very subject - - Waukesha County leaders are all for regional cooperation when it serves their parochial interests - - so thank you Waukesha for helping make the issue clearer.

So when a SEWRPC decision disappoints Waukesha County, it wants to pick up its ball and go home?


If Waukesha County were to pull out of SEWRPC, so be it.

And while Waukesha County is busy trying to dismantle SEWRPC:

Move the SEWRPC offices out of Waukesha County.

Pull the plug on the water supply study that Waukesha County asked SEWRPC to fund (with the biggest share of money coming from Milwaukee County).

Pull Milwaukee County's annual property-tax supplied contribution, since it is also the largest operating contribution among the seven counties. Every year.

Wipe off the proposed maps all those demolitions and acreage losses in Milwaukee County for the widened freeway lanes in Milwaukee for the convenience of Waukesha commuters drivers.

Then reallocate the SEWRPC commissioner seats on the basis of population in the remaining six counties so we can have genuine regional planning, and taxation with representation, too.


Jim Bouman said...

Americans, in general, have scant respect for planning. Still generalizing, it appears Europeans hold planners and planning in considerably higher esteem. They get things done; we dither and threaten to take our ball and go home.

That explains some (but not all) of the curious reaction of some of the Waukesha County Board members-- "we're getting screwed by Milwaukee". It is reflective of attitudes that have grown by accretion with succeeding generations of Waukesha residents.

There were the long-time residents, living on family land going back to the 19th Century, farmers or ex-farmers who sold land to developers, but retained residency, many of them happy to have given up morning chores and daily, no- vacation life of a family farm.

Then, a whole new influx of Waukesha people came post-war, with a trickle turning into a flood in the early 70s, and still growing.
Families and individuals stung by school integration and having to be told how the MPS would operate-- where their kids would attend school--by a "Special Master".

These came to Waukesha with an attitude, or, shall we say ATTITUDE: "Glad to be out of there. Glad to live in this pristine environment. Glad that all of us who are so much alike can set the rules."

The only planning needed or wanted by these folks has involved making sure that Milwaukee was available for entertainment, professional sports teams, the lakefront, and enough freeway lanes to permit a 70 mph roundtrip commute without any slowdowns.

Last week, I had a side conversation with a guy who argued with Rowen in this blog about low and moderate income housing in Waukesha. He's against it, virulently against it because, as he sees it, low-to-moderate income means people who don't pay enough real estate taxes to justify facilitating their living in our pristine community.

He wrote to me:
"Meanwhile, my proposal to Rowen would be the following: for every residence that's built to accommodate low to moderate incomes, we want Milwaukee to provide the water and the additional tax revenue needed to support the services."

This extreme of bunker mentality is hard to dislodge. Asking someone to get beyond this view of a region tied together by deep concerns about the economy, transportation, conservation of resources, clean air, sufficient water, profound racial segregation, needs planners, a planning process and a respect for planning that just doesn't have foothold here.

James Rowen said...

Thank you, Jim.

I will repost this separately because I think it's wroth more exposure.

My complaint about SEWRPC is that it could have played the thoughtful, leadership role you envision as an ideal, but hasn't/can't/won't:

Look at its unwillingness to write a regional housing plan since 1975.