Garry South: Angelides must be kidding about Laguna West

In last week’s Capitol Weekly, State Treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial
candidate Phil Angelides painted himself as the Jolly Green Giant–a
veritable trailblazer and trendsetter on environmental issues.

“Environmental protection is, and has always been, at the center of my work
in my career both as a businessman and elected official,” Angelides boasted
in the column.

Angelides career as a businessman, of course, consisted of 16 years as a
land speculator and real-estate developer in the Sacramento area. (Remember,
when running for the GOP nomination for president in 1988, Pat Robertson
also demanded that people call him a “businessman,” not a TV preacher. I
guess neither “developer” nor “televangelist” is a very good ballot title.)

To illustrate the point about his enviro-friendly private-sector exploits,
Angelides quite incredibly cited a huge “jump” subdivision he foisted on the
Sacramento metropolitan area called Laguna West: “Dissatisfied with the
impacts of suburban sprawl, I planned and built the community of Laguna West
… a model of a livable, walkable, environmentally sustainable
community–good for families and good for business.”

Surely he’s got to be joking. If Laguna West is the centerpiece of his
career as a supposed developer-cum-environmentalist, then God help us if he
loses the race for governor and reverts to the development business. In
reality, this behemoth is exemplary of the very sprawl and environmental
degradation Angelides now claims to abhor.

But don’t only take my word for it that Laguna West ain’t exactly
Shangri-La. “Walking is not what comes to mind as one speeds west on a roomy
boulevard south of Sacramento. Elk Grove falls behind, and Laguna West fans
out beyond the railroad overpass. The clay and gray rooftops blend in a
nearly impenetrable expanse of large, tightly packed homes.

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