KC Conspiracy Theorists: Walkable Development Will “Devastate” Auto Giants

Now that Kansas City has its streetcar up and running, the city is taking the logical step of updating its zoning code to allow for walkable development along the transit route. And according to some local Agenda 21 believers, anyone who works for the automotive industry should be very afraid.

Kansas City's new transit-oriented development plan calls for some common sense changes, like supporting multi-story mixed-use buildings. Image: Kansas City
First they build up to the sidewalk, then they smash the entire automotive industry. Image: Kansas City

Up for a vote this Thursday at the City Council is a transit-oriented development policy that, in very general terms, calls for compact, mixed-use growth and better walking and biking conditions. It’s not a detailed zoning plan, more like a statement of principles to encourage development that pairs well with the streetcar, instead of the low-slung buildings, surface parking, and drive-throughs that predominate now. Only areas near the stations would be affected.

You might call it a common sense step to get more out of the city’s new transit line.

Or you could call it a “dangerous” law that will destroy “our freedoms.” At least, that’s the tack that a local group calling itself “Citizens for Responsible Government” has taken. A vocal opponent of the streetcar, CRG posted a paranoid screed on its Facebook page (reprinted for preservation at TransitKC).

It begins:

This ordinance would be devastating to us all but special attention should be paid by anyone involved in the Automobile Industry in any way, this would include FORD MOTORS, GENERAL MOTORS, UAW and all Auto Workers, Auto Dealers, Mechanics, Auto Leasing Companies, Auto Transport Companies, etc., etc., etc.,

Got it. Encouraging walkable development around Kansas City’s two-mile streetcar is the straw that will break the back of General Motors.

Moving on, there’s nothing like caps-lock to hammer home the sinister concepts at work here. Someone has studied Glenn Beck’s “keyword list” well:

If this becomes LAW, it is frightening what effect it could have on current and future development. The plan calls for DENSITY and COMPACT DEVELOPMENT over and over.. concentrating jobs, housing shopping and services close to transit. (Page 5 and again on Pg. 9) “LOCATE A MIX OF TRANSIT-SERVING USES, SERVICES, ACTIVITIES AND DESTINATIONS CONVENIENTLY NEAR TRANSIT AND LIMITING USES THAT ONLY SERVE AUTOMOBILES”.

It gets worse, they say:

It calls for “Incorporating pedestrian,bicycle,and transit facilities into designs for new projects and encourage the retrofit of existing development”; where are the autos?

Parking: ” No parking between the street and storefront”!

And now to wrap up with some paranoid gallows humor:

We know in January of 2014, the CIty endorsed the UN’s Agenda 21. This ordinance is another step in that direction. One thing I saw missing was the crematorium where they will send those of us over 70 who can no longer get to the streetcar or walk or bike everywhere.

It’s true — there’s no crematorium in the plan. But once you allow for a mix of uses, you never know what’s coming.

  • “One thing I saw missing was the crematorium where they will send those of us over 70 who can no longer get to the streetcar or walk or bike everywhere.”

    No, you’re right. People over 70 who can’t walk, bike, or get to the streetcar safely should DEFINITELY drive 4,000lb cars. SMH.

  • David Johnson

    They’re even crazier in person.

  • ohsweetnothing

    I’m still stunned that I see that logic used over and over and over….without a hint of irony.

  • John Riecke

    Hmmm…

  • Chicagoan

    Yet, go to Italy (You could say Japan too!) and the elderly are out and about, buying groceries at the market, strolling to the neighborhood cafe, and other “active” things.

    Car reliance is deeply rooted in American society, I’m sad to say.

  • Frank Kotter

    They forgot to somehow include ‘death panel’.

  • kastigar

    Waitaminute! There’s lot of us past our mid-70’s who still ride a bike! It’s easier than driving and finding parking, or walking.

  • No need for death panels. The cut off is 70, full stop. Then it’s off to the crematorium. This plan is going to save so much money!

  • anastasjoy

    What about those over 70 who CAN’T drive anymore? Do these people want them to be housebound? This is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever heard — and I am someone who loves to drive and HATES public transportation (easy to do in Cleveland, Ohio) and bicycles. Walking is great though.

  • Steve

    @ahow628:disqus

    Nope, you’re completely wrong. It’s off to the Soylent Green plant, not the crematorium. Can’t waste those bodies when there’s money to be made from them!

  • Sounds delicious!

  • CeeTee55

    Robocars will solve all our problems.

  • benghazibenghazibenghazibenghazibenghazibenghazibenghazibenghazi

  • Kevin Love

    Remind me just how GM and Chrysler actually went bankrupt… and were bailed out by the hard-working taxpayers. For Chrysler, this was the second time.

    And now it is a streetcar line that is going to cause these companies to go bankrupt?

    Earth to conspiracy theorists: These companies have a proven capability of going bankrupt all on their own.

  • davistrain

    Like a few miles of downtown streetcar line are going to devastate the motor vehicle industry? What was this writer smoking? As I see it, when Henry Ford’s factories started cranking out Model Ts by the trainload in 1915, the electric streetcar business was doomed. It took a number of decades, but giving every Tom, Dick and Harriet their own wheels meant that by 1965, only in special situations, such as tracks in tunnels, would streetcars survive.

  • ocschwar

    Bear in mind this kind of scaremongering works.

  • Fox news is what they’re smoking.

  • upaggie

    Unfortunately.

  • Richard Shipley

    Good grief

  • Richard Shipley

    All the time.

  • Michael J. Erickson

    If only it were true! We need to take control and protect our stuff (like streets, and people). NICTD/CSS wants to eliminate the last station/train running on a city street in Michigan City, Indiana. Is this in KC Kansas? or Missouri? Thank you, StreetsBlog! You make my day!

  • Andrew

    Oh please, if cities in the US really didn’t want people using cars they would tear out all the stupid freeways…

  • Vooch

    my 82 year old Mother dös errands via her bike

  • ahwr

    Just curious, do you mean all the time, or every now and then? What city?

  • Vooch

    82 year old Mom cycles for errands Every now and again. Otherwise she mostly walks. She only cycles for the more Distant errands. She lives in a normal civilized medium sized town, not some Robert Moses hell hole

  • neroden

    For reference, the existence of the streetcar just drew two of us to a convention in Kansas City which we would otherwise not have gone to.

    A data point for those who actually care about attracting commerce to KC…

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