October 21, 2005

National City Spotlight:

You Say You Want a Revolution?

By Ted Godshalk

Released by the Beatles in November of 1968, the song Revolution #1 was written by songwriter and guitarist, John Lennon. As complex in its making as it is in its message, Revolution #1 is the supreme statement on the album we all know as the White Album. In Lennon’s lyrics we get a glimpse into the creative, young artist’s struggle with the two political positions of the time’s youth: pacifism and radicalism. In 1968, when Lennon wrote this song, the world was in the throws of a long-overdue reaction to the Vietnam War and his hope for peace was starting to wane. Twenty years later in the Eighties, Revolution was a Nike Ad background tune. Oh, the horror.

Is nothing special to us today? Is everything we hear and see just a product of someone’s marketing agency? I ask this in this context because the latest high-rise tower project proposed for National City is called the Revolution. And while they want to call it a revolution, it is nothing but the same old stuff.

Reading through my copy of the city newsletter last week, I came across an insert from the Community Development Commission of National City. This corporation, led by our elected officials, has met with a staggering number of developers in the last year and this insert is just another of its weapons to win the hearts and minds of the unsuspecting people of National City. The insert, as if dropped like a carpet bomb into everyone’s mailbox, calls the 22 story high-rise tower at National City Boulevard and 11th Street a “viable solution for National City’s next generation who desires innovative, stylish living close to home.” Spelling and grammatical errors aside, this published piece of propaganda insults our community. Critical thinking will be the necessary antidote against this advertising agent.

First, a 22- story high rise will not offer a “viable solution” for National City’s homeless, or for the unemployed motor home dwellers, the single parents with kids and the grandparents raising their grandchildren, nor for the middleclass, two income families so common in our community. This is not affordable housing. Every condo above the third level will cost in excess of $400,000, with the highest ones being reserved for the very wealthy and the well connected. The City Council and the Corporation continue to ignore this problem and further, they refuse to address the impacts from thousands of new people, with their cars, energy and water needs, and wastes. They choose instead to use postal messages and ad campaigns to convince us that everything “is gonna be alright.”

Secondly, the claim that Revolution is for the next generation who desires… oh I just can’t repeat it. The next generation does not have a desire for high-rise living. The next generation is not born yet for crying out loud.

The insert goes on to say, “Mayor Nick Inzunza has praised the Revolution project saying, ‘Constellation Property Group is doing great things for the people of National City.’ ” It’s easy to say this kind of thing when the developer has met in private with you many times to garner your support. And you thought there was an open government process when it comes to development? Remember, this insert which gives the impression that this project is already going up, went out in the mail before a public hearing was even held to consider granting the developer a waiver of the 90-foot height limit. Revolution comes in at 240 feet tall, much taller than the two hotels on NC Boulevard or anything else in the city. The taller it is, the higher the profit for the developer; and the more unmitigated impacts for the community. The only “great things” that are being done are for this developer, who drops in from Australia, and not for the people of National City. More high rises are in the works. Read between the lines of this insert for the secret battle plans.

Many residents are so concerned with the actions of the City Council and the Corporation they tell me that they see the sales tax increase measure on November’s ballot as the time to send a message back. Often called the most regressive tax, meaning the most damaging to families, a sale tax increase eats away at a household’s income day after day. Rewarding the unresponsiveness and the over spending by giving them more money seems too many people to be a recipe for disaster, no matter how the advertisement campaign spins it.

Ted Godshalk can be reached at paradisecreek@mac.com

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