Thomas Sowell

 While Foster City is something of a triumph -- a beautifully laid out community of attractive homes and condominiums, with parks and lovely lagoons on which boats sail, and miles of bicycle paths -- it is also a reminder of the tragedy that no such community can be created today in many places, including the county in which it is located.

 It is not that there is no vacant land left in San Mateo County. On the contrary, more than half the county consists of vacant land on which laws forbid the building of anything. Yet environmentalists there, as elsewhere, conjure up a vision in which the last few patches of greenery are threatened with being paved over.

 Even when they are proved wrong by inescapable facts, green zealots often fall back on runaway extrapolations, claiming that they must stop development now or there will be ever increasing population densities, more pollution, more this, more that.

 Runaway extrapolations are the last refuge of hysteria mongers when confronted with facts that demolish their lies. Think about it: The temperature has risen about 10 degrees since this morning. If you extrapolate that, we will all be burned to a crisp before the end of the month. Extrapolations prove nothing.

 Ironically, many of the same people who have made "development" a dirty word that arouses outrage have nevertheless often looked favorably on "redevelopment."

 What is the difference? Development means private initiative to build what people are willing to buy. Redevelopment means government tearing down "blighted" areas, so that whatever bureaucrats and politicians want can be built. Few redevelopments are anywhere near as well done as Foster City.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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