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Strong Towns, Weak Agenda

Ukiah’s City officials are hoping to rev up some of that old school spirit with an artificial “competition” among a few other cities, probably none so deficient as Ukiah, but you play the hand you’ve got.

Old-timers recall when Ukiah was gifted with altogether undeserving recognition as “Best Small Town in California” and, simultaneously, the sixth finest in all the USA. This was a widely publicized bookselling stunt by an author who had never visited Ukiah, couldn’t find it on a map nor spell it.

Now we have the “Strongtown” showdown. This seems a proper time and place to ask each other what we think of in terms of a small city being “strong.” Robust economy, right? Thriving businesses, safe streets, good schools and great leadership? Low crime, of course, and not much homelessness.

If those are the categories you’d pick, then Ukiah’s in the wrong competition. In this case, “strong” towns are calculated by adhering to progressive fantasies about mass transportation, bicycle lanes and the joys of living in apartments.

Sound like heaven to you?

Strongies are all for apartment living over single family homes, a view not shared by anyone raising a family in an apartment or who wants a bit of yard for a garden, dog, kids, privacy, whatever. “Suburban” is a dirty word to elites wanting to remake society into a world of big apartments, zero cars and lots of buses. Their website has a long, spirited essay on why apartments ought to be built more easily (fewer restrictions) in cities, obviously authored by someone who’s never been to Ukiah, or at least never tried to build anything within city limits. 

Strong Town advocates are particularly focused on halting highway construction, favoring instead what they call “sustainable” travel. 

QUESTION: Has our past century of reliance on cars and trucks proven unsustainable?

In the real world Ukiah needs more freeway construction, not more wind-powered blimps. This is wildfire and earthquake country, and to be able to flee disaster we need more than two paved lanes north, south, east and west. 

We need easier commute times to Santa Rosa, not Rail Trail strolls to nowhere. 

Ukiah made a commitment to mass transit 40 years ago with the laughable Mendocino Transit Authority, a bus service that would disappear by tomorrow if not 98% funded by government. No one we know rides the MTA anywhere.

Do Strong Town enthusiasts consider the state’s catastrophically expensive and utterly failed Bullet Train a fine example of mass transit? How about Ukiah’s infamous Hobo Highway? Many millions of dollars shoveled out for a paved strip through dangerous turf, sold to us as an “Urban Trail.”

NOTE: We already have plenty of urban trails. They’re called sidewalks.

Dear friends and occasional readers, this entire Save-the-World-by Riding-a-Bus movement has been spinning its wheels for as long as any of us can remember. 

The secret to making bus service work, and also the answer to why it will never gain traction in Ukiah: It only makes sense in big cities. Mass transit needs a lot of customers in a relatively confined area. It’s impossible, and always will be, to take trains on tracks to jobs in Ukiah.

We can’t commute around Ukiah via buses, rail trails, unicycles, hot air balloons or walking. Can’t be done. Nor can we routinely go to Hopland, Lakeport or Fort Bragg. Santa Rosa? Maybe a few cars a day.

Bear in mind that Ukiah is the lone candidate for this prestigious (not!!) award because competition is limited to members of the Strong Town club. 

It’s the equivalent of a Beauty Pageant winner selected from the only 16 people who show up at your family reunion.


1) What’s the future for Ukiah’s JC Penney building?

A) Executive Administrative Offices, City of Ukiah

B) Hauled over to North State and West Smith Streets, refurbished as Palace Hotel II.

C) $600 million renovation as homeless shelter for 3000 nightly guests; currently booked through 2145.

D) Six dozen Asian Massage Parlors

2) Who had the deadliest punch?

A) Mike Tyson

B) Jack Dempsey

C) Sonny Liston

D) Jim Jones


  1. izzy March 25, 2024

    “You will own nothing and be happy” is the WEF’s stirring slogan for the future. Top-down progressivism at its best.
    We’re moving right ahead on the first part; the second is more of a challenge.

  2. Ron43 March 25, 2024

    Ukiah was a nice town from 1950 to about 1980. Affordable homes, TWO hospitals, (these two items alone caused doctors to stay here), lots of activities like bowling ally, skating rinks, swimming pool, park, safe streets, sport activities. Only a fraction of these are here now. We need over a hundred new medium priced homes, another hospital, and a new movie theater. The city and county needs to install super high speed Internet to encourage work at home people to move here in the needed homes. This will increase the tax base long term, enabling more modern services.

  3. Joe Lynn March 25, 2024

    Where did all the nice people go?

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