Do We Need Government to Manage Our Lifestyles?

Sustainable development, or government’s management of where we live and how we travel, is moving full steam ahead in Utah and Utah County. The United Nations, the progressive left and the unsuspecting are pushing this lifestyle management. Locally it is Envision Utah, touted as a means to preserve our beautiful state. It sounds good, but government telling us how and where to live isn’t. Governor Herbert is on board. He says: “In Utah, we don’t believe in sitting back and seeing where growth will take us” (that’s freedom, incidentally). “We seek to be visionary and to actively secure our future.” That’s government telling us what we can do. Called “visioning”, communities across the state have obediently done their own visioning to plan our future.

This nationwide movement is being systematically engineered through planned-outcome (rigged) community meetings—175 were held in Utah says Trained organizers preside to “assist” residents in the meetings. Participants arrive at pre-planned conclusions favoring sustainable development’s government controlled growth. (See The results are then offered as the desires of the locals, who are unaware that the meetings were rigged. Future objections are overridden: “This is what you said you wanted.”

Envision Utah, our state’s master plan begun in 1997, is full-scale sustainable development/Agenda 21. According to its website, “scores of meetings with key decision-makers to help chart the course for future growth” were held, and “The effort resulted in the Quality Growth Strategy (QGS)…and it is guiding land-use and transportation decisions along the Wasatch Front…Envision Utah intends to launch a new State visioning effort which will incorporate new technologies and address emerging issues such as regional energy use, air quality, water, agriculture and natural lands, changing demographics, and affordability.”

Expect state and local governments to intervene in those areas, most of which are not on their job charts. Governments don’t spend money to gather information because it’s nice to have. When they “incorporate”, “launch” and “address”, they dictate.

In the initial stages of sustainable development/Agenda 21, how we travel and where we live are targets. The program’s goal is to put us on mass transit and into high-density housing—i.e. condo/apartment-style living. Our automobiles, separate houses and yards are selfish—an affront to government-managed lifestyles. “Free money” from the federal government sucks states and communities into these violations of private property and personal choices. Utah County is currently lined up at the federal money trough for a handout to begin BRT, Bus Rapid Transit, one of the two first stage goals of Agenda 21. A government owned mass transit system is essential to government controlled growth, and Utah County is ploughing into both. .

BRT is a bad idea for many reasons (see last week’s column). One yet unmentioned is it’s kinship with Agenda 21. You can’t restrict private transportation until you have a public alternative. BRT won’t pay for itself, meaning that our county will suffer massive debt. High density housing and mass transit depend on each other. The 2011 University of California, Berkley, report, “Mass Transit & Mass: Densities Needed to Make Transit Investments Pay Off” says of mass transit forms in general: “mass transit needs mass—i.e., density. For the investment to pay off there must be an unwavering local commitment to substantially raise population and employment densities along transit corridors”. A density of 60 jobs/residents per acre within the transit area is essential. That means high density housing, major commercial on the whole route, and a community push for more of both. Most of the 59 cities studied in the report, including BRT in Boston, Cleveland and Los Angeles, averaged densities of 19/acre. What is the density of the proposed Provo/Orem route? If these cities can’t reach a density of 60, Provo/Orem won’t! Speak up on this matter by February 7 at

The other critical element in government-dictated growth is control of where we live. Agenda 21says our private homes, large or small, are wasteful. Remember those years you spent cramped in an apartment while you dreamed, planned and worked for your own home? Those apartments are coming back. Utah Valley has several trial balloon high density developments—Orem’s Midtown Village, and The Riverwoods and Alpine Village in Provo, for example. European in origin, they feature shops at street level and housing above. Gauging from the turnover and “Available” signs, businesses in these developments don’t succeed. Will Orem’s new University Mall development be any different? These units, offered as optional in a free enterprise culture, are creative and allow choices. The problem is the intention to make living in them mandatory.

The progressive’s perfect-life-under-government-planning consistently fails. Detroit, Michigan, proved that under President Lyndon. B. Johnson’s Model Cities Program, along with Oakland, Newark and others. They floundered. According to Christopher DeMuth, distinguished fellow at the independent think-tank Hudson Institute, the program received $3 billion and was “the most unequivocal failure of all the Johnson Great Society programs”.

Utah is headed toward government-managed private lives. The Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal…(and)endowed with …unalienable rights…(of) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” That sounds like freedom to choose where we drive and live. There are plenty of resources for all of us. We need not copy the failures of other cities.

Governor Herbert and a host of city and county leaders are wrong. In Utah, we still believe in personal freedom to choose our lives and use our property. Either they don’t understand visioning and sustainable development, or they think we need lifestyle managers. Either way, it’s no good.