Sunday, September 23, 2018



 SOME hungry Dogs saw a number of hides at the bottom of a stream where the Tanner had put them to soak. A fine hide makes an excellent meal for a hungry Dog, but the water was deep and the Dogs could not reach the hides from the bank. So they held a council and decided that the very best thing to do was to drink up the river.

All fell to lapping up the water as fast as they could. But though they drank and drank until, one after another, all of them had burst with drinking, still, for all their effort, the water in the river remained as high as ever.

Do not try to do impossible things.


How to Buy a House the Wall Street Way

How to Buy a House the Wall Street Way

Institutional investors, using algorithms built to scoop up large volumes of rental properties, are becoming more Americans’ landlordsA house in Katy, Texas, sold by Martin Kay, whose company, Entera, is among the technology firms enabling Wall Street investors to buy large volumes of homes, shifting longstanding patterns in residential real estate. DANIEL KRAMER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Ryan DezemberSept. 16, 2018 9:00 a.m. ET

To help Wall Street buy tens of thousands of houses, Martin Kay and his colleagues taught a computer to spot a sunny kitchen.

Ever since last decade’s foreclosure crisis, institutional investors have been gobbling up single-family houses and becoming landlords. They have criteria just like individual buyers: three or more bedrooms, two baths, a garage, good schools, low crime, high rental yields—and bright, sunlit kitchens. Unlike them, investors buy in volume and don’t have time to go to thousands of showings.

Enter Mr. Kay’s computers.

On any given day, there are tens of thousands of properties available for sale in each of the booming markets where these investors are active, including Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville. They have many places to look: the multiple listing services that Realtors compile, online sellers, lists of nonperforming bank loans, foreclosure auctions.

Data scientist Martin Kay founded Entera Technology after using machine learning to comb through home listings to identify plum properties. “Going from 40,000 houses to 12 is a machine problem,” he said. “Going from 12 to one is a human problem.” PHOTO: DANIEL KRAMER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Kay, who had built data platforms for the U.S. Energy Department and ConocoPhillips, started buying rental properties in Texas in 2010 at the depths of the housing crash. He used machine learning to mine mountains of home listings for those that might attract the type of tenants he wanted. For Mr. Kay and like-minded investors, that typically meant families seeking suburban lifestyles.

“Going from 40,000 houses to 12 is a machine problem,” he said. “Going from 12 to one is a human problem.” Rivals noticed Mr. Kay’s knack for snapping up plum rental properties and some asked for help. The company he and his partners created to work with them, Entera Technology LLC, is now one of several racing to apply sophisticated technology to Wall Street’s house hunt.
Bulk BuyersEstimated number of single-family housespurchased by institutional investors.Source: Amherst Holdings LLCNote: 2018 data through June

Progress Residential, which has built the third-largest pool of rental homes in the U.S., says its proprietary technology can find properties fitting its investment criteria within minutes of their listing. Following the housing crash, Amherst Residential, which has purchased and manages about 20,000 rental houses, adapted its existing system for valuing mortgage-backed securities to churn out acquisition leads, estimate renovation costs and predict rental yields. A.J. Steigman, a former child chess champion and investment banker, won funding and a prominent business-school competition this spring for a plan to use pattern-recognition software to identify mispriced homes.

“The financial crisis created a catalyst for a lot of institutional capital and minds to tackle the opportunity, but technology is what really transformed this into a business,” said Drew Flahive, Amherst Residential’s president.

In Amherst’s Manhattan office, employees search screens showing available homes in each ZIP Code. At the click of a mouse, the projected rental yields pops up above each property on a map. The estimates arise from a multitude of inputs, including renovation costs, which machine-learning tools constantly adjust to account for the outcomes of completed jobs on similar properties. Amherst has invested more than $100 million in the system, which has helped the firm pin renovation estimates to within about 5% of actual costs, down from the 20% overruns that were routine a few years ago, executives said.

For Entera, the technology became the business. Mr. Kay and his partners have been selling the Texas homes they bought after the crash to fund Entera’s transition to a software company, reasoning that their specialty was big data, not collecting rent. Plus, their rivals had much more to spend, and there is a potentially huge market of smaller investors for the company’s services.

Early customers included American Residential Properties Inc. and Colony American Homes Inc., which are now part of American Homes 4 Rent and Invitation Homes Inc.,respectively. Entera continues to be among the technology providers to Invitation, which owns more than 80,000 houses.

Like a dating app, Entera starts by asking clients what they want. Besides screening for easily quantifiable characteristics like age, number of rooms, square footage, school district, property taxes and flood-zone status, it also attempts to measure qualitative



Just a few years ago, experts indicated Americans (especially young Americans) were more interested in a different lifestyle than previous generations. Instead of owning a house in the suburbs, the new American dream consisted of renting an apartment in the city.
Recently, though, Americans of all ages have begun to leave major metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles. Over the last five years, population growth in big cities has shrunk, and people are packing up and moving again.
But where are they going now? We analyzed census data from the last five years to explore the counties and states where the most people are putting down roots. Let's take a look.

Living just a train ride away from Manhattan or a few hours from the Santa Monica Pier or Golden Gate Bridge might sound like the life—and for some people, it is—but people may now be looking elsewhere to settle down.
This graphic helps illustrate which U.S. states have seen the highest net migration, both in and out, between 2011 and 2016. As you can see, states in the Northeast saw a larger negative net migration, while Southern states had a strong influx of newcomers.
Additionally, states with some of the most popular metropolitan areas, including New York, California, and Illinois, had substantial negative net migration as well.

"There's no place like home" is meant to convey that even when you live somewhere else, you'll always have a certain fondness for your home. That is unless you can find someplace better.
From the data, we learned there was actually quite a lot of back and forth between state borders. While a majority of people moving to the West Coast (including Utah, Washington, and Oregon) came from California, people from these states typically relocated to California as well. Similarly, people living in states like New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana generally moved from Texas, but people from these same states were also more likely to relocate to Texas.
It's no wonder, though, states like Texas and California continue to be popular destinations considering their successful employment rates. Of course, some states also come with a fairly hefty price

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Marin Voice: The name ‘Dixie’ is a throwback to the days of human suffering

Marin Voice: The name ‘Dixie’ is a throwback to the days of human suffering

September 21, 2018 at 10:00 am

The fight to strike the name “Dixie” from a Marin County school district is as old as the Republic and as young as the memory of those unmindful of the past. The arguments against the name change are straight out of the civil rights resistance playbook.

One of the arguments is that the people advocating change don’t live in the district. But of the 23 speakers at the last Dixie School District board meeting, 18 live in the district. Other longtime veterans who initiated the struggle still live in the county and were asked to participate. Similar “outside agitator” labels were leveled at Martin Luther King Jr. when he left Atlanta to go to Alabama. He answered them in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Truth is no less true because of who says it or where they live. Some whites claim not to have witnessed racism in the district. To tell minorities what to be offended by, when to feel offended and under what circumstances is a refutable presumption. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Only he who wears the shoe knows how tightly it fits.”

Alums of Marin County high schools such as Tina Mitaine had to endure Slave Day in 1988 when white students came to school in black face. Others withstood Mexican Day, when wearing sombreros and bandoleros was thought funny. Sally Matsuishi, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, found “Jap” painted on her locker at a Marin County school. Her counselor excused the slur with another, explaining that it might have just meant she “was spoiled.”

In the past two years the painted “N” word greeted the newly arrived principal at Tamalpais High School. The same word was recently spray-painted at Redwood High with the name of a long-time counselor attached.

Tam High faced its own moment of truth in 1988 when it changed its mascot from the Indians to the Red-Tailed Hawks. San Rafael barbershop owner Tino Wilson told me recently he started the school as an “Indian,” finishing as a “Hawk.”

Researching history clearly shows nothing is new. The arguments then were against political correctness, the desire to maintain history and tradition. Basically, their view? Get over it. Dixie area residents may soon find themselves up Miller Creek without a paddle.

Think back to the resistance to Muhammad Ali changing his name from Cassius Clay. Or Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente demanding to be called by his given name and not Bob, as the sportscasters insisted.

“Dixie” is an anachronistic throwback to an era of slavery, bondage and human suffering. By maintaining the name, we do a disservice to the district, the county and the children we seek to educate. It is disingenuous to maintain that Dixie is anything but synonymous with the Confederacy. That was acknowledged in the Dixie School Foundation’s application for landmark status.

See the full article HERE

Editor's Note: I do not know anyone who associates the name of the Dixie School District with the Confederacy but still I feel this issue should be discussed.  Unfortunately, the rhetoric has gotten very heated.  Let's listen to each other anyway and try to sort this out as neighbors.

Calpers, Pensions and the Managers Fiscal Report

Friday, September 21, 2018

CSD meeting on 9/11/2018 Full Video

Marinwood CSD approves to "Rent a Fire Chief" from San Rafael for $98,000

After lamenting how expensive the contract is with San Rafael, the Marinwood CSD board votes unanimously to approve a $98,000 contract that is already covered in our shared services agreement. Irv Schwartz wants to revisit this soon.  

Marinwood Fire Department spends 66% of all emergency calls responding to the City of San Rafael and we receive little in return.  In the past we were paid $300k annually.  In addition we have been paying a paramedic tax for SEVEN years to San Rafael and still do not have a paramedic on staff in Marinwood as promised. 

Clearly, neither the CSD board, or our staff is up to the task of negotiation.  We need to find a new approach to our fire service that does not exploit Marinwood taxpayers.

Why hasn't the Architect submitted a bill since May 2018? (What are they hiding?)

Watch these videos together.  In the first one a Citizen asks why the architect for the Marinwood Maintenance Shed Compound has not submitted a bill since May 2018.  He has attended many meetings since then and it appears that he is "sandbagging" his billing to keep under the $12,000 limit that CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen estimated in April 2018 in the second video.

We are not getting the full story from the Marinwood CSD.  They have refused to release an estimated budget for the Maintenance Compound.  This is unethical and in violation of the Brown Act and the spirit of open government.  

Can we trust the CSD to represent OUR financial interests?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Big Lie: "Story poles are misleading"

The Marinwood CSD directors and the Architect, Bill Hansell tries to explain why they will not install story poles and lot markers to give the public an idea of the size of the Maintenance Compound.  The citizens have installed their own based on the architects drawing and have asked for "official lot markers and story poles" from the CSD so that the public understands the mass of the Maintenance compound.  CSD Director Perry gives a weak response that it will block the walking path .  (Just as the completed build will).  Then the architect condescends to respond to the public with more weak reasons.

We should certainly be able to agree on the actual dimensions of the building but clearly the Marinwood CSD and the architect want to avoid this.   We citizens will be sacrificing OUR Marinwood Park and paying for this "white elephant".  The very least we should require is full public disclosure about the size of the building.   We will continue our efforts to inform the public by any means necessary.

The new building is 14' high by 80' long with 70' storage yards.
It is FOUR TIMES the mass of the existing 1400 shed and 150' long. In addition, there will be a large outdoor day parking area in front of the compound leaving only a narrow footpath on the edge of the creek for access.

Vehicles must be "shoe horned" every day

It will take our three workers an extra 1/2 hour every day to move vehicles inside the facility. They will need to avoid other vehicles, support columns, materials and people. There will be accidents. This will be very costly over time. 

 Why does the architect insist on his impractical facility instead of a conventional side access garage found at every other parks department in Marin County?  Side access garages are preferred for their easy access, flexible floor space and cost efficiency.

Workers need accessibility and efficient work space design. The current Marinwood Maintenance Compound design is a FAIL.

This is why the Maintenance Compound is known as the "White Elephant".

Sign Petition HERE

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

CSD Maintenance Compound parking lot FAIL

The Marinwood CSD Maintenance Compound is designed only to store vehicles at night. During the day, vehicles will park in front of the facilty.  The dump truck, trailer, landscaping debris and bulk
materials will remain outside permantly as before.  Due to the "drive through" design and poor soils at the Eastern end of the building, vehicles will be forced to turn around in the meadow 300' to the east.

This is simply unacceptable. The unusual design is expensive and inefficient for material storage and vehicle movement. A conventional side access garage like the one below allows easy access to
vehicles, tools and equipment.  Unfortunately, the architect does not like garage doors for aesthetic reasons and is forcing his design on the workers and the people who object to the excessive size.

Side access garages allow easy access to vehicles and equipment. A narrow garage like this will not block the walking path.