Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Different Vision for Marinwood Plaza- A Vibrant Retail Location

Marinwood Village is an excellent location for an Artisan Market like the Barlow or the Oxbow Market in Napa.  Located just off the 101 highway, it is perfectly situated for both local business and tourism.  The Barlow and the Oxbow Market are just two examples of the concept

Affordable housing can be located in a more family friendly, environmentally safe location at a density that makes sense for Marin.

How Walking in Nature Prevents Depression

How Walking in Nature Prevents Depression

A study finds that wild environments boost well-being by reducing obsessive, negative thoughts.

Image Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters
Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

“When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: What would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?” wrote Henry David Thoreau inThe Atlantic in 1862.
Thoreau extolled (and extolled and extolled—the piece was more than 12,000 words long) the virtues of walking in untamed environments. In the decades since, psychologists have proved him right. Exposure to nature has been shown repeatedly to reduce stress and boost well-being.
But scientists haven’t been sure why. Does it have to do with the air? The sunshine? Some sort of evolutionary proclivity toward green-ness?
A group of researchers from Stanford University thought the nature effect might have something to do with reducing rumination, or as they describe it, “a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses.” Rumination is what happens when you get really sad, and you can’t stop thinking about your glumness and what’s causing it: the breakup, the layoff, that biting remark. Rumination shows up as increased activity in a brain region called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a narrow band in the lower part of the brain that regulates negative emotions. If rumination continues for too long unabated, depression can set it.
For a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Stanford scientists examined whether a nature walk could reduce rumination in 38 mentally healthy people. They picked city dwellers because, the researchers predicted, they would have “a somewhat elevated level of rumination resulting from the ongoing and chronic stressors associated with the urban experience.” As in, “Christ almighty, is this the Metro escalator or the ice road to Stalingrad? Move along, people!” 

Views from the nature (A and B) and urban (C and D) walks the participants took. (PNAS)
After some preliminary tests, half the participants walked for 90 minutes through a grassland dotted with oak trees and shrubs (“views include neighboring, scenic hills, and distant views of the San Francisco Bay”). The other half took a jaunt along El Camino Real, a four-lane, traffic-logged street in Palo Alto. The nature walkers showed decreases in rumination and in activity in their subgenual prefrontal cortices. The urban walkers showed no such improvements.

Changes in rumination after walking (PNAS)
In general, decreases in rumination are linked to so-called “positive distractions,” like taking part in a hobby or enjoying a long chat with a friend. You’d think that walking in uninterrupted nature wouldn’t provide many diversions from a whorl of dark thoughts. Surprisingly, the opposite seemed to be true: Natural environments are more restorative, the authors write, and thus confer greater psychological benefits.
This effect should work with many types of natural landscapes, particularly those that engender “soft fascination,” the “sense of belonging,” and the “sense of being away,” the researchers note. So while your back yard might do, those little sidewalk parks that have sprouted up at Manhattan intersections might not.
In part because of studies like this, architects and designers are increasingly taking green space into account in their blueprints and plans. But that might become harder to accomplish: More than half the world’s population lives in cities currently, and by 2050, about 70 percent will.
That’s yet another thing Thoreau warned us about:
“Nowadays almost all man's improvements, so called, as the building of houses and the cutting down of the forest and of all large trees, simply deform the landscape, and make it more and more tame and cheap.”
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

Monday, June 29, 2015

High Density lot splitting in Los Angeles (coming to Marin soon?)

Barbara Bestor's 18-unit Blackbirds: Architectural high density living in Echo Park

Blackbirds is an 18-home development that replaced five single-family houses in Echo Park. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
By LISA BOONEcontact the reporter

As developer Casey Lynch leads a tour of the new 18-unit Blackbirds housing project in Echo Park, he stops in the central courtyard for a moment.

"We call it a living street," he says, taking it in. "It feels good to be out here."

CAPTIONBlackbirds, Echo Park
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Developer Casey Lynch of Local Construct looks out over the flexible parking area and courtyard at Blackbirds, a new 18-unit housing development in Echo Park. “We wanted an open site plan with public space," Lynch says. “When the cars aren’t here, there is more open space."

CAPTIONBlackbirds, Echo Park
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Three freestanding homes are designed to look like one and a half in an effort to conceal density. The homes are separated by a six-inch gap that is covered by a zipper-like flap normally used for waterproofing.

Blackbirds, named for the image of a community of birds resting around a pool of water, is the latest urban infill development built under the city's Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance, which was designed to allow developers to build several detached homes on a single parcel of land. In this case, 18 homes have replaced five dilapidated single-family homes. Residents will own their house and the land and will have no homeowners association fees. Trash disposal, mailboxes and gardens will be communal.

The medium-density, two- and three-story homes on 27,776 square feet, developed by the Los Angeles-based Local Construct and designed by noted architect Barbara Bestor, officially hit the market on June 12, with move-ins scheduled for August.

The homes' pitched roofs and black-and-white exterior cladding are a striking addition to the steep hillside. "Echo Park has a tradition of being a bohemian enclave with informal wooden houses and hunting lodges," says Bestor, who has lived in the neighborhood several times since the 1990s. "That vernacular works in those hills. The question for me was, can I bring that to a dense form of habitation?"

Even critics of small-lot development would probably admit the layout and open courtyard retain the character of the urban but rustic hillside neighborhood.

Rather than design traditional single-family homes in which each one has a garage, Bestor devised an open centralized area where cars can be parked uncovered. Or not. Stand in the parking court, and you can imagine the benefits of having a flexible public plaza. "It's a nice way to create a third space," Bestor says of the shared outdoor area.

When the cars are gone, the courtyard becomes something else. "Maybe only one homeowner has a car?" Lynch suggests. "Or perhaps you want to have a barbecue? You can ask your neighbors to park on the street to give you more space."

Bestor's community-centric design is intended to promote engagement. "Everyone faces their neighbors. When you come in, you see each other. You can have more day-to-day interactions with your neighbors." Adding to the sense of interconnection, Bestor placed all of the kitchens along the perimeter of the courtyard where people enter and exit as a way to "set up a community."

In a whimsical touch, several of the homes are separated by a 6-inch gap that Bestor calls "stealth density." The sliver of space between homes is covered by a zipper-like flap normally used for waterproofing. This "conceals" density by creating the illusion that two houses are one and three units are one and a half.

Blackbirds has four architectural models ranging from a 1,360-square-foot two-bedroom, three-bath home for $795,000 to a 1,930-square-foot three-bedroom, three-bath house (with a two-car garage) for $1.1 million.

The interiors, which are narrow and range from 18 to 24 feet wide, have a spacious feeling due to vaulted ceilings and skylights. The first floors have an open floor plan that includes the kitchen, dining and living rooms. Some units have white oak floors, others polished concrete. Drapes are installed in place of closet doors to add softness. Three of the single-family homes have enclosed garages and ground-level offices; smaller units have cantilevered balconies, sunken courtyards and private backyards. In a nod to Modernist architect Rudolph Schindler, Bestor installed built-ins, such as bookcases, and flexible spaces where you can place a desk at the top of the stairs. "We tried to do as many Schindler-like Aha! moments as we could," she says.

These are the kind of details that developer Lynch thinks will appeal to prospective buyers. "They will be purchasing a new architectural home in Los Angeles starting at $795,000," he says, adding that they could have built more units on the site.

But can infill development, as Lynch suggests, help L.A.'s housing crisis?

At press time, three units have sold and one is on hold. Five are available and nine have yet to be released. Nearly 500 visitors came through the first open house on June 14.

Marin Voice: Standing up to Housing push

BEFORE there was ventilation in coal mines, early legend has it miners would bring canaries in cages into the mines. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, and a singing canary meant a good air supply.
If the canary died it was a time to evacuate. The canary served as the early warning system of imminent danger.
Marin is experiencing its "canary in the coal mine" moment, and it comes by way of two specific events.
The first canary, barely able to breathe, is the building of the massive Wincup development in Corte Madera which provides a never ending reminder of what the Association of Bay Area Governments, and the compliant Marin supervisors, want Marin to look like in the future.
ABAG has set the stage with its massive overestimation of population and jobs for Marin from 2010 to 2040. Its projections are not defendable, and solely a poor top-down allocation to Marin, 482 percent higher than the state's projections for the same period for the county.
Marin supervisors clearly agreed the projections were excessive in their response to the Plan Bay Area, but then agreed to the allocation. Their failure to stand up for Marin County on this issue is appalling and reason alone for voting them out without considering the failed $30 million computer system, out of control pensions and the much-discussed district discretionary funds.
The warning to all of Marin is ABAG, with compliant Marin supervisors, has approved developer-friendly plans that could turn Marin into a high-density corridor like Walnut Creek and the East Bay.
The second canary, that has certainly quit singing, is the current lack of rain.
Marin gets a large portion, 80 percent in North Marin, from Sonoma and the Russian River. Sonoma continues to grow. Will they provide our current 80 percent if there is a major drought?
Anyone who remembers the major drought of the '70s, with a smaller population than currently in Marin, does not have to imagine what those conditions would be like if we build out per the ABAG projections.
Peter Hensel has completed an extensive review on the water issue in his comment on Plan Bay Area, and it is posted on Citizen Marin titled "What about the water?"
Mr. Hansel's public comment clearly outlines the flaws and issues not addressed or glossed over by Plan Bay Area regarding adequate water.
What are the canaries warning us about?
Upcoming massive traffic issues on Highway 101 caused by overbuilding high- density housing like Wincup, up and down the freeway corridor. The current lack of rain, and the impact on water resources with 180 units at WinCup and 920 units proposed at Larkspur Landing, the next beachhead in Marin for ABAG and developers that must be stopped.
Marin needs to wake up, and there is time for action, or Marin County will be changed forever.
Write to your supervisor and city council, and put them on notice we do not want to become another highly-dense Walnut Creek/East Bay corridor to San Francisco without sufficient water resources.
Al Dugan of Novato is an opponent of Plan Bay Area's push for high-density housing.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Disparate Impact: Anthony Kennedy’s Economic Time Bomb

Disparate Impact: Anthony Kennedy’s Economic Time Bomb

The Supreme Court’s disparate impact decision is way worse than its Obamacare decision.

By Bill McMorris
JUNE 26, 2015

Chief Justice John Roberts stole the spotlight when he swooped in to save Obamacare from the English language. The conservative backlash was predictable, brief, and damning, which is a shame. We could have saved that energy for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who issued an opinion in another case that will prove far more consequential in the lives of everyday Americans.

While Roberts’ decision can be reversed through legislation, Kennedy affirmed a dubious legal theory that only the courts can remedy. In so doing, the libertarian darling has upheld the college bubble and immanentized the eschaton of a future housing crash.

What Is Disparate Impact?

Like many bad ideas, this one traces back to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and terrible jurisprudence. As passed by Congress, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is straightforward, unobjectionable, and just: it outlaws racial discrimination in employment matters. But in the hands of an activist court, the passage transmogrified into one of Big Government’s most effective cudgels for greater regulatory power.

The regulation led formerly segregated companies, such as the North Carolina-based Duke Power Electric Company, to integrate the workforce. One way to prevent the reimplementation of the Good Ol’ Boy network was to create aptitude metrics to ensure that promotions were given in a fair measure. Duke adopted a simple requirement: employees could move on to management with the help of a high-school diploma, as well as a passing grade on a test designed to ensure plant safety and basic math skills. It sought to address the high-school graduation gap between black and white workers by offering to subsidize the educations of its employees. Still, 14 black applicants failed to meet the standards. Willie Griggs and 12 other black workers took the company to court.

The company argued it did its due diligence, since it rejected every worker, white or black, that failed to qualify. The justices found that regardless of what the Civil Rights Act said, the spirit of the law (that most artful of phrases) dictated that if blacks failed to meet a standard at a similar rate to whites, the standards themselves were racist—a legal doctrine known as disparate impact.

The theory proved an immediate boon to trial lawyers and government regulators, but by the 1980s the courts appeared to be going wobbly. Companies began pointing out that disparate-impact suits threatened their ability to hire quality workers and the Supreme Court started to rule in favor of the meritocracy. In stepped Ted Kennedy. He amended the 1991 Civil Rights Act to include disparate-impact theory, knowing that no Republican would dare oppose.

Credentialism over Meritocracy

Disparate impact laid the foundation for the college bubble and the depreciating value of the high-school education, enshrining the baccalaureate degree as the barrier of entry to the middle class. The irony would be lost on Chief Justice Warren Burger, who thought that eliminating tests would liberate the working man.

Companies fearful of disparate-impact lawsuits began relying on colleges to whittle down their applicant pool.

“What is required by Congress is the removal of artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers to employment when the barriers operate invidiously to discriminate on the basis of racial or other impermissible classification,” he wrote in Griggs. “Diplomas and tests are useful servants, but Congress has mandated the common sense proposition that they are not to become masters of reality.”

Burger’s ruling simply changed the nature of who the “masters of reality” were, sparking the first major onslaught of outsourcing the country would see. Companies fearful of disparate-impact lawsuits began relying on colleges to whittle down their applicant pool.

In the pre-Griggs world, companies used aptitude tests to screen applicants—an approach borrowed from the military during World War II. Exams worked for the employer because they were simple, cheap and, most of all, effective, favoring raw talent above all else. “Despite their imperfections, tests and criteria such as those at issue in Griggs (which are heavily…dependent on cognitive ability) remain the best predictors of performance for jobs at all levels of complexity,” University of Pennsylvania professor Amy Wax found.
If businesses were allowed to recruit and screen candidates using testing, workers could start working earlier, advance quicker, and do it debt-free.

Test scores at matriculation are a near-perfect predictor of class rank come graduation—a testament to the fact that students are learning less now that institutions have lowered their standards. Research has found a strong correlation between master of business administration entrance exams and final grades. If businesses were allowed to recruit and screen candidates using testing, workers could start working earlier, advance quicker, and do it debt-free.

Businesses, however, can no longer afford to administer aptitude tests under the constant threat of lawsuits from those who fail. The influx of student loans coupled with the college degree’s emergence as the ticket to the middle class freed colleges from keeping admittance affordable.

How Disparate Impact Hurts Black Men

“We began using college education as a screening device for being reasonably productive, and it’s incredibly wasteful of time and money,” Wax told me in a 2013 interview. “Ironically, this overtly seems to be hurting black men because they do not go to college at the same rate as whites or Asians or black females.”

‘This overtly seems to be hurting black men because they do not go to college at the same rate as whites or Asians or black females.’

No group has been hurt more by this arrangement than black men, those Griggs was supposed to help. Burger noted in Griggs that white workers had an innate advantage because 34 percent of white males in North Carolina had high-school diplomas, nearly double that of blacks. The baccalaureate’s degrees gap is about the sametoday among black and white men, and is even larger between men and women.

“The court decision accomplished very little in blunting biased company hiring practices. In fact, it’s probably true that it’s only helped make discrimination more rampant,” an editorial at the Vault Education blog says.

The employment factors aren’t just limited to the private sector. Employment tests remain a mainstay in public safety, but the standard is starting to erode there, as well. The beauty of disparate impact is that it never has to be consistent. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has been forced to hire women who failed the entrance exam because it was too physical and minorities who have failed the entrance exam because it is too cerebral.

Who Needs Competent Firefighters?

The Department of Justice under the Bush administration sued the New York City Fire Department because minorities did not perform well on its 1999 and 2002 entrance exams. More than 20 firefighters developed the tests’ 85 multiple-choice questions focused on math and the proper way to combat fires. The New York Times interviewed no firefighters in its coverage, but gave the floor to University of Michigan constitutional law professor Richard Primus. Condescension, not egalitarianism bled through the page.
The last thing we need is a fire department filled with professionals.

“Much of what appears on written exams for firefighters is legitimately material that we should want firefighters to know,” he said, but some of it tends to be knowledge that “firefighting junkies have, even though it is not really necessary for fighting fires.”

The last thing we need is a fire department filled with professionals. One imagines he would dismiss any fireman who showed up at the University of Michigan in 2013 to decry the fact that only nine of the law school’s 188 professors is black. One hopes the professor will protest if the president’s next Supreme Court nominee is a fireman whose sole knowledge of the Bill of Rights is that there are ten amendments. Only constitution junkies know what disparate impact is, and we don’t want to give them a leg up.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreed in a typo-riddled opinion—at one point, he admitted that plaintiffs “did not asses [sic] the reading level of the Academy’s training materials”—that declared the tests racist. He awarded the failed firefighter plaintiffs nearly $129 million and appointed Obama Securities and Exchange Commission chief Mary Jo White to develop a test short on words and high on “more visual elements like photos and drawings.” White, an attorney known in FDNY circles for forcing the department to hire women who had failed the physical 30 years earlier, ditched questions about math and equipment and opted to test for “establishing and maintaining relationships”—no doubt the most important skill in extinguishing five-alarm blazes.

“They said that because we communicate verbally at the scene of a fire, that’s what’s important. But, in order to…communicate intelligently, you have to read the manual and understand the material,” FDNY Deputy Chief Paul Mannix said of the judge’s dismissal of reading comprehension on the firefighting exam.

‘Ideologues are making a dangerous job more dangerous all because they don’t like the way the fire department looks. If diversity is your number-one goal, then safety and competence can’t be.’

Mannix heads Merit Matters, a group he started after the Department of Justice launched the disparate-impact suit. Merit Matters is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are not created equal, that certain individuals possess certain traits that make for the ideal firefighter and that those realities should trump political idealism that declares everyone the same.

“We now have females claiming that the FDNY’s physical test has a disparate impact because women don’t pass often enough. They say that it’s discriminatory that women don’t have 50 percent of the jobs. They say that most of the job doesn’t require brute strength. They’re right, but every once in a while the line between life and death depends on my ability to tear a metal gate from a window frame,” he said. “Ideologues are making a dangerous job more dangerous all because they don’t like the way the fire department looks. If diversity is your number-one goal, then safety and competence can’t be.”

Disparate Impact and the Coming Housing Bubble

Firefighting has played an enormous role in disparate impact of late. The Supreme Court affirmed in Ricci v. DeStefano that the New Haven Fire Department violated the equal-protection clause when it nullified the results of a promotion exam because not enough minority firefighters passed. The decision so spooked the Obama administration that it dropped a $200 million whistleblower suit against St. Paul, Minnesota, if the city agreed not to bring Gallagher v. Magner, a disparate-impact lawsuit, to the Supreme Court. They should have had more faith in Justice Kennedy, who cited the suit approvingly in his decision extending disparate impact to housing.

Regulators and trial lawyers used disparate impact to sue banks and lenders for denying home loans to people with bad credit because blacks had worse average credit rates than whites.

“Although the Court is reluctant to approve or disapprove a case that is not pending, it should be noted that Magner was decided without the cautionary standards announced in this opinion and, in all events, the case was settled by the parties before an ultimate determination of disparate-impact liability,” Kennedy writes. “Were standards for proceeding with disparate-impact suits not to incorporate at least the safeguards discussed here…that, in turn, would set our Nation back in its quest to reduce the salience of race in our social and economic system.”

The truth is, disparate impact has long been applied beyond the job market, where it was originally established. The federal government has sued insurance companies for raising premiums on houses with deficient roofing because it turned out that the shoddier structures were largely occupied by black people. Insurers opted to drop coverage in the area altogether, rather than take on the risk of paying out inflated roofing claims. With Justice Kennedy’s blessing, that’s not an option anymore.

Regulators and trial lawyers used disparate impact to sue banks and lenders for denying home loans to people with bad credit at the turn of the century because blacks had worse average credit rates than whites. Lenders opted against pulling out of the market and decided to double down and give wild mortgages to bad borrowers—a practice that resulted in 2007’s financial collapse. We can expect similar results now that Kennedy has entrenched disparate impact in housing. He has taken a regulatory assumption and established it as precedent. No lender will dare run afoul of that.

Soon, Kennedy will make gay marriage the law of the land. The media and certain thought leaders will laud him as a man dedicated to liberty and freedom above all else. His real legacy is disparate impact and eminent domain.

Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He previously worked at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog

FABLE: Crow Brings the Daylight-an Inuit Myth

Crow Brings the Daylight

An Inuit Myth

retold by
S. E. Schlosser

Long, long ago, when the world was still new, the Inuit lived in darkness in their home in the fastness of the north. They had never heard of daylight, and when it was first explained to them by Crow, who traveled back and forth between the northlands and the south, they did not believe him.
Yet many of the younger folk were fascinated by the story of the light that gilded the lands to the south. They made Crow repeat his tales until they knew them by heart.
"Imagine how far and how long we could hunt," they told one another.
"Yes, and see the polar bear before it attacks," others agreed.
Soon the yearning for daylight was so strong that the Inuit people begged Crow to bring it to them. Crow shook his head. "I am too old," he told them. "The daylight is very far away. I can no longer go so far." But the pleadings of the people made him reconsider, and finally he agreed to make the long journey to the south.
Crow flew for many miles through the endless dark of the north. He grew weary many times, and almost turned back. But at last he saw a rim of light at the very edge of horizon and knew that the daylight was close.
Crow strained his wings and flew with all his might. Suddenly, the daylight world burst upon him with all its glory and brilliance. The endless shades of color and the many shapes and forms surrounding him made Crow stare and stare. He flapped down to a tree and rested himself, exhausted by his long journey. Above him, the sky was an endless blue, the clouds fluffy and white. Crow could not get enough of the wonderful scene.
Eventually Crow lowered his gaze and realized that he was near a village that lay beside a wide river. As he watched, a beautiful girl came to the river near the tree in which he perched. She dipped a large bucket into the icy waters of the river and then turned to make her way back to the village. Crow turned himself into a tiny speck of dust and drifted down towards the girl as she passed beneath his tree. He settled into her fur cloak and watched carefully as she returned to the snow lodge of her father, who was the chief of the village people.
It was warm and cozy inside the lodge. Crow looked around him and spotted a box that glowed around the edges. Daylight, he thought. On the floor, a little boy was playing contentedly. The speck of dust that was Crow drifted away from the girl and floated into the ear of the little boy. Immediately the child sat up and rubbed at his ear, which was irritated by the strange speck. He started to cry, and the chief, who was a doting grandfather, came running into the snow lodge to see what was wrong.
"Why are you crying?" the chief asked, kneeling beside the child.
Inside the little boy's ear, Crow whispered: "You want to play with a ball of daylight." The little boy rubbed at his ear and then repeated Crow's words.
The chief sent his daughter to the glowing box in the corner. She brought it to her father, who removed a glowing ball, tied it with a string, and gave it to the little boy. He rubbed his ear thoughtfully before taking the ball. It was full of light and shadow, color and form. The child laughed happily, tugging at the string and watching the ball bounce.
Then Crow scratched the inside of his ear again and the little boy gasped and cried.
"Don't cry, little one," said the doting grandfather anxiously. "Tell me what is wrong."
Inside the boy's ear, Crow whispered: "You want to go outside to play." The boy rubbed at his ear and then repeated Crow's words to his grandfather. Immediately, the chief lifted up the small child and carried him outside, followed by his worried mother.
As soon as they were free of the snow lodge, Crow swooped out of the child's ear and resumed his natural form. He dove toward the little boy's hand and grabbed the string from him. Then he rose up and up into the endless blue sky, the ball of daylight sailing along behind him.
In the far north, the Inuit saw a spark of light coming toward them through the darkness. It grew brighter and brighter, until they could see Crow flapping his wings as he flew toward them. The people gasped and pointed and called in delight.
The Crow dropped the ball, and it shattered upon the ground, releasing the daylight so that it exploded up and out, illuminating every dark place and chasing away every shadow. The sky grew bright and turned blue. The dark mountains took on color and light and form. The snow and ice sparkled so brightly that the Inuit had to shade their eyes.
The people laughed and cried and exclaimed over their good fortune. But Crow told them that the daylight would not last forever. He had only obtained one ball of daylight from the people of the south, and it would need to rest for six months every year to regain its strength. During that six month period, the darkness would return.
The people said: "Half a year of daylight is enough. Before you brought the daylight, we lived our whole life in darkness!" Then they thanked Crow over and over again.
To this day, the Inuit live for half a year in darkness and half a year in daylight. And they are always kind to Crow, for it was he who brought them the light.

Leadbelly Mix

New Laws proposed that ELIMINATE parking requirements for affordable housing!

This is a Six Story Senior Apartment Building like the one George Lucas wants to build out at Grady Ranch, a full four and miles up a country road.  It has little access to essential services, shopping, doctors, ambulance service, water and infrastructure.  It is merely vertical sprawl.
Several state legislators are pushing through amendments to the density bonus law that will take away cities' rights to require a minimum number of on-site parking spaces in density bonus projects. Most density bonus projects consist of a majority of market rate housing and just a few low income. Assemblyman Chau, the author of the bill, also added wording called the legislative intent "allowing builders and the market to decide how much parking is needed."

Density bonus law amendment to change to no parking spaces required, no parking minimums, if developer requests density bonus. "

AB 744 by Chau and Gonzalez, and now includes Quirk has passed the Assembly and will be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on June 30. AB 744 adds a long, non-required section on legislative intent on density bonus, mixed-use, eliminating vehicle parking, and declares that infill development and excessive parking requirements is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair.

The League of California Cities requested a "No" vote on the Assembly Floor on June 3.

Among the reasons listed in the League of California Cities alert for voting no on this bill that will remove parking minimums:
AB 744 offers a complete exemption from city parking requirements for senior housing, 62-plus, with no connection to transit.
AB 744 offers a complete exemption from city parking requirements for housing for lower (80 percentage of median) income, near transit.

Also, the letter request for a no vote states:
The cities of California and their elected councils take no comfort in subdivision (q) of the intent language which advocates: "allowing builders and the market to decide how much parking is needed."

If you oppose this bill contact your State Senator, Assembly member, and the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee before the hearing date of June 30. If AB 744 is passed out of the committee, it is on its way to becoming law. Also contact your City Council.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Largesse for Losers

Largesse for Losers 
Translating the Left’s rhetoric, and other random thoughts. 

How long do politicians have to keep on promising heaven and delivering hell before people catch on and stop getting swept away by rhetoric?

Why should being in a professional sport exempt anyone from prosecution for advocating deliberate violence? Recent revelations of such advocacy of violence by an NFL coach should lead to his banishment for life by the NFL, and criminal prosecution by the authorities. If you are serious about reducing violence, you have to be serious about punishing those who advocate it. 

Have you noticed that what modest economic improvements we have seen occurred during the much-lamented “gridlock” in Washington? Nor is this unusual. If you check back through history, doing nothing has a far better track record than politicians’ intervening in the economy.

With all the talk about people paying their “fair share” of income taxes, why do nearly half the people in this country pay no income taxes at all? Is that their “fair share”? Or is creating more recipients of government handouts, at no cost to themselves, simply a strategy to gain more votes?

Some people are puzzled by the fact that so much that is said and done by politicians seems remote from reality. But reality is not what gets politicians elected. Appearances, rhetoric, and emotions are what get them elected. Reality is what the voters and taxpayers are left to deal with as a result of electing them.

Instead of following the tired old formula of having politicians and bureaucrats give college commencement speeches, in which they say how superior a career as a politician or bureaucrat — “public service” — is to other careers, why not invite someone like John Stossel to tell the graduates how much better it is to go into the private sector, where they can supply what people want, instead of imposing the government’s will on them?

In politics, few talents are as richly rewarded as the ability to convince parasites that they are victims. Welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic have discovered that largesse to losers does not reduce their hostility to society, but only increases it. Far from producing gratitude, generosity is seen as an admission of guilt, and the reparations as inadequate compensations for injustices — leading to worsening behavior by the recipients.
Some people say that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. But the runaway taxes of our time are the price we pay for being gullible.

Whatever the ideology or rhetoric of the political Left, their agenda around the world has been preempting other people’s decisions and regimenting other people’s lives.
People who believe in evolution in biology often believe in creationism in government. In other words, they believe that the universe and all the creatures in it could have evolved spontaneously, but that the economy is too complicated to operate without being directed by politicians.

The United States now has the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate-tax rate in the world. And people wonder why American corporations are expanding overseas, providing jobs to foreigners. The Left may get its jollies attacking “the rich,” but its real victims are other people, the ones who need the jobs that are sent overseas to escape a hostile business climate at home.

Different people prefer different exercises. The Republicans’ favorite exercise is running for the hills. The Democrats’ favorite exercise is kicking the can down the road.

When politicians say, “spread the wealth,” translate that as “concentrate the power,” because that is the only way they can spread the wealth. And once they get the power concentrated, they can do anything else they want to, as people have discovered — often to their horror — in countries around the world.

In an old Western movie, John Wayne encounters a black man. Wayne tells him, “I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. I would shoot you as quick as I would shoot any white man.” That is what equality is supposed to mean.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc.