Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mission Playground is Not For Sale

The tension between  tech workers and local kids of the Mission District reveals the social tensions that exist when outsiders come into the neighborhood and ask others to leave.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What It’s Like To Get Kicked Out Of Your Neighborhood

Smart Growth is the "Gentrification" (or "Hipster-fication" or "Tech Worker-i-fication") of San Francisco. The Mission District, China Town and Marin City in Marin County are on the "hit list" for becoming "mixed use, vibrant, transit friendly urban communities".   Don't believe it.

There are huge social costs to existing communities who are displaced first by government initiatives and secondly by economics.  

Marin City is a target for creation of a "economically diverse" community and likely will end up displacing the vibrant, existing community of largely African Americans from their homes.   While growth may be a good thing, the wholesale "improvement" may do little for existing residents while creating a pot of opportunity for a completely different segment of society and enrich developers.

Government Planning must be for EXISTING COMMUNITIES and not an excuse for removal of one group to benefit another.   

Plan Bay Area is the Sherman's March through the Bay Area for the benefit of "Smart Growth developers.  They have come to town and Steve Kinsey, Kate Sears,  Katie Rice and Judy Arnold are leading the charge to urbanize Marin.

We must Save Marin Again!
"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."
-General William Tecumsah Sherman, Union Army

History's First Smart Growth Planner. General Sherman destroyed the South so a new South could be built.

Muir Woods Transportation Meeting, "The Devil is in the Details"

Here is the full unedited video of the Muir Woods Transportation Meeting held at Mill Valley Community Center on May 26, 2015.  Congressman Jared Huffman created a task force to study the various ways that the National Park Service can increase visitors to the park without causing major parking issues and traffic problems at Tam Junction.

According to Congressman Huffman, a consensus was reached with a reservation/shuttle bus system that allows the park to modify visitation according to seasonal and weekly demand.  Each panel member expressed their support of the plan with major caveat,  "the devil is in the details".

The final report was released to the public only hours before the event,  denying the public's opportunity to examine the "devilish details".  The National Park Service has a major credibility problem in Marin after they were found falsifying scientific data in their case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company.  It may be a generation or more before people are willing to accept the integrity of the National Park Service in any public negotiation.  (Incidentally, non of the NPS employees were fired after the Drakes Bay Oyster Company  incident.  Most were promoted.)

On the surface, I agree that the plan make sense.  It is a reasonable balance between stewardship and access.   But the "Devil is in the Details"  .  Watch for the final plans to emerge.  There may be significant changes yet to come.

No Congressman Huffman. No one is suggesting conspiracies.  We have proof that the NPS has not always been a trustworthy partner to negotiations.  Just ask Kevin Lunny.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sticky Dot "Democracy" for Marin County thanks to Steve Kinsey and the MTC

Plan Bay Area 2040: Join the Conversation

May 19, 2015
Open house participants are encouraged to vote on their top goals for the plan via sticky dots. Photo by Karl Nielsen.
Public outreach for Plan Bay Area 2040 is in full swing this spring, with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) staging open houses in each of the nine Bay Area counties through May 28. Using sticky dots, participants vote on their top goals for the plan, choosing from among seven options: climate protection, adequate housing, healthy and safe communities, open space and agricultural preservation, equitable access, economic vitality, and transportation system effectiveness.
If you missed the meeting in your county, you can still participate virtually, via the online Plan Bay Area Open Forum, which will be active through May 31, 2015. The public comments will feed into the “Goals and Targets” that will form the foundation for this iteration of the region’s long-range plan, which is updated every four years.
Remaining meeting:
Marin County: Thursday, May 28, 2015, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Marin County Civic Center Cafe, 3501 Civic Center Drive, 2nd Floor, San Rafael

Supervisor Steve Kinsey,  Marin Commissioner for MTC (our only one) 

Displacement is Gentrification and Gentrification the Movie

Gentrification is often thought of a problem of poor neighborhoods.  I disagree. It is everyone's problem when government is used for private and ideological ends to strip to enrich a few.  This is the EVIL of the redevelopment schemes of Smart Growth Planners.  Like an invading colonists, they are intent on transforming the landscape into their own imagined "Smart Growth" cities and villages.  Local communities be damned.   

Shouldn't the citizens have a voice in their future?  Why should unelected bureaucrats and regional planning bodies be allowed to destroy neighborhoods?   Natural changes occur in neighborhoods in response to economic pressures and changing tastes.  When this happens it can be a good thing.  But when government writes the rules, provides special incentives, tax breaks and direct grants, it is using government to enrich a small segment of development interests over the local population.

This is happen all over the Bay Area including the Mission, China town, Oakland, Berkeley and of course Marin.   In Marin City,  a whirlwind of change threatens to level the tight knit community in favor of market rate housing (i.e. government imposed gentrification).  The residents of mostly renters will become the displaced victims of this government mandate.  Likewise in suburban neighborhoods, tax subsidized big box apartments will be thrust on the community, straining schools, traffic and the local tax base.  

We will Save Marin Again.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall



Circus Osario at Silveira Ranch this Memorial Day weekend



In the May 11 issue of Finance and Commerce, Matt Kramer, a local Chamber of Commerce representative lobbying for additional public transit and transportation spending (currently being debated at the Minnesota Legislature) is quoted as saying “Every person who is riding transit is one less person in the car in front of us.”
This is a fascinating quote. First is the use of “us.” So the Chamber of Commerce (probably correctly) identifies riding transit as something someone else does (since “we” are still in the car) and goes on to imply that it benefits us because there will be fewer cars. (Actually he says fewer people per car, but I think he meant fewer cars, not that it would reduce carpooling.) And I suppose he could mean he rides the bus, and the car in front has fewer people (or there were fewer cars in front), but I don’t think that’s what he meant, since the arguments in the legislature are mostly about building and operating new facilities — such as LRT lines or freeway BRT, rather than supporting existing buses driving in traffic.
But it also suggests transit reduces auto travel. The converse is almost equally true, building roads reduces transit crowding. But that is not an argument road-builders make. (It is an argument urbanists make against roads.)
Of course, some transit users would have otherwise driven, but many would have been passengers in cars, walked, ridden bikes, or telecommuted. No one really knows what the alternative untaken mode would be. We have models, but the form of those models dictates the answer. Logit models, which are widely used by travel demand forecasters to predict mode choice (and whose development resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economics for University of Minnesota graduate Daniel McFadden), have the property called “IIA”, which is short for Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives. In short, if you take away a mode, IIA means people choose the other modes in proportion to their current use. So let’s say there are 3 modes: walk 25%, transit 25%, drive 50%, and there is a transit shutdown (like in 2004). IIA implies the 25% of former transit users would split 1/3 (25%/75%) for walk and 2/3 (50%/75%) for driving. We all know that is not true (and there are various techniques to try to fix the models and use more complicated functional forms), but the question of what istrue is not at all clear.
While there are surveys that have answered those questions, they are all context specific. For instance, Googling turns up a Managed Lanes Case Study report:
95 Express bus riders were asked how long they have been traveling by bus and what was their previous mode of travel before using the bus service. 92 percent of respondents (307 out of 334) mentioned they have been traveling the 95 Express bus before the Express Lanes started. Only, 8 percent of respondents (27 out of 334) began using the bus after the Express Lanes opened. Among them, 50 percent (13 out of 27) had their previous mode as drive alone and none of them carpooled previously. Therefore, 95 Express bus ridership consisted primarily of those who have been using the service prior to Express Lanes implementation and the small mode shift from highway to transit was mostly from SOVs. Note that the number of respondents is too small to make any conclusions (Cain, 2009).
Undoubtedly other services would have different numbers, but transit lines are not generally a direct substitute for driving.
The line of reasoning in the opening quote suggests the primary purpose of transit is reducing auto travel, rather than serving people who want to or must use transit. In other words, building transit is good because it reduces traffic congestion (and almost no one argues building roads is good because it reduces transit crowding).
That is at best a secondary benefit, a benefit which could be achieved must more simply and less expensively through the use of prices as we do with almost all other scarce goods in society, even necessities like water.
Transit today is, in almost all US markets, slower than driving. People who depend on transit can reach fewer jobs than those who have automobiles available. Some people use transit by choice, for instance to save money (if they need to pay for parking), and the rest without choice. In my opinion, it is more important to spend scarce public dollars to improve options for those without choices than to improve the choices for those who already have alternatives. Perhaps ideally we could do both, in practice, one comes at the expense of other.
The idea that transit is for the other person is true for the 95.5% of people who don’t use transit regularly. But it warps thinking that the aim of public transit funding is to benefit those non-transit users.
This post was written by David Levinson and originally published on Follow on Twitter: @streetsmn.
David Levinson is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems (NEXUS) research group. He also blogs at The Transportationist and can be found [@trnsprttnst]. Levinson has authored or edited several books, including Planning for Place and Plexus: Metropolitan Land Use and Transport and numerous peer reviewed articles. He is the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The king owns the land

The king owns the land

This was extremely clever, and a pivotal moment in the development of common law. Remember the pyramid of land holding and obligations? William decreed that, instead of relying only oaths, he would personally enforce property rights as owner. In the past, if a dispute arose between two property holders, they (and allies) settled it themselves. As owner of the land, though, William promised to use his armies to make sure that those who swore fealty honoured their oath. His superior right of ownership would let him enter land and end the dispute. Although you might suspect that English lords were offended when the king said, "Your land is now owned by me," it wasn't really too different than what they already knew. While William owned the land, land holders would still enjoy most of the rights they had before. For those already high on the food chain, this was a good deal: As long as they kept their oaths of fealty to the king, they didn't have to worry about those underneath them. The king would back them. For William it was political gold, because, as owner, he could reassign property. Just like a landlord can evict a lousy tenant, the king could "evict" a rebellious baron or earl. If you were the king's friend, and I was the king's enemy, the king could simply turn to you and say, "Kent's lands are now yours. If you need my help removing Kent, I'll gladly send in my troops." Now, I would be lying if I suggested that everyone was immediately happy with this arrangement. But William became Duke of Normandy at age seven, and by the time he took the English throne, he had lived through three murder plots and had 31 years' experience putting down rebellions in France. Those lords who didn't like the new arrangement faced William's sword and having their lands divided among William's supporters.

King William the Conqueror

Editors Note:  Just like the Kings of old,  planners want to diminish the rights of private property rights in favor of regional planning and central government.  This is at odds with our Constitutional liberties and a dangerous trend for democracy.



[76] A BULL once escaped from a Lion by entering a cave which the Goatherds used to house their flocks in stormy weather and at night. It happened that one of the Goats had been left behind, and the Bull had no sooner got inside than this Goat lowered his head and made a rush at him, butting him with his horns. As the Lion was still prowling outside the entrance to the cave, the Bull had to submit to the insult.

"Do not think," he said, "that I submit to your cowardly treatment because I am afraid of you. When that Lion leaves, I'll teach you a lesson you won't forget."

It is wicked to take advantage of another's distress.


San Francisco Bay Area Citizens protest SB-1 and Darrell Steinberg responds in 2013.

Skeptical Citizens are not buying SB-1- California's Redevelopment Land Grab Legislation in 2013.
The Measure was tabled but new MORE POWERFUL land grab legislation passed this year HERE

The colorful Jimmy Fishbob Geraghty watches over the proceeding.

MTC No Money for SMART train because of Questionable Statistics.

May 13, 2015 meeting of the MTC Regional Advisory Board of San Francisco explains why the SMART train in the North Bay won't be receiving funds because of questionable ridership projections. 

MTC staff ran the math and realized SMART were peddling Greenhouse Gas reductions based on ridership assuming:
- every train was packed full (with as many standing as could fit)
- they were packed the length of the line
- all 22 trains per day were packed

Essentially the MTC is calling them liars because they use train capacity vs. realistic ridership projections.  The "train to nowhere" is along a sparsely populated corridor with few businesses to support large movements of people.  Commuter rail is only economically feasible in highly dense urban corridors like New York City.  

But they have a billion dollars of our Cap and Trade tax money to spend.....

Very informative clip on the real politics at the MTC and Plan Bay Area.  

We must Save Marin Again!