Friday, December 12, 2014

My Fortune Cookie Wisdom for Today.

A future for all of us in Marinwood-Lucas Valley

Marinwood-Lucas Valley has one of the worst walk-bike scores of any neighborhood in Marin.  We live close to nature but it is also one of it's drawbacks, too.  Every time we need to go shopping, we need to get into a car.  Although Marinwood Market has helped keep shopping local, once its rent concessions evaporate, it's future is anything but secure. It is under no obligation to stay and lose money.

The Marinwood Village project threatens the success of Marinwood Market by reducing the available parking and visibility behind a 14 foot sound wall.  The occupants of the 85 units of affordable housing that will require at least 170 of the parking spaces. Other commercial tenants will also need their share of parking.  That leaves precious few parking spaces for Marinwood Market's customers. 

No wonder why Marinwood Plaza failed to lease out.   The dated structure sits atop of a toxic waste spill at the Prosperity cleaner site.   Suburban shopping trends have change too.  When the center was built more mothers stayed at home and shopped locally.  Now with a mobile workforce, both adults working, retail shopping trends have changed.  Easy access, visibility and abundant parking are essential for today's retail success.   It is more common to see a Marinwood neighbor in the easy access of the Hamilton Safeway than at the dated Terra Linda Safeway.

The center is poorly configured for a big box grocery store.  It is ideally configured and located for a market with a regional appeal.  A gourmet vendor like Marinwood Market or another Farm to Table specialty market along the lines of ( can reap big profits from the location.  It is within minutes of all of Marin and it is the "gateway to West Marin" tourism.  Over 8 million tourists travel up the 101 freeway to wine country. 

Why not have the Marinwood Market as the fresh, local, market of  Northern California?   It could feature fresh cheeses, organic meat, eggs, dairy, wines and other specialities. 

A successful regional business at Marinwood Plaza will insure it's longevity and service to the community. 

Companion businesses could be a bicycle shop,  fitness studio, restaurants, coffeeshop and wine bar.

Weekend cyclists can use it as a rest stop and ride out to west Marin or along the bike path.

A food market close to home is important for the whole community.

Each of us will become mobility impaired someday-either through age or infirmity.  If we cannot drive, we will be forced from our home.  Not only is a walk/bike friendly shopping center more environmentally friendly and healthy,  it is also more compassionate for the mobility impaired.

The toxic waste at the Prosperity Cleaners site can be responsibly cleaned up with proper oversight and effort.  We need to address it. It is not "mitigated" yet as some have claimed.  Once this is done we can build our community anew. The tax revenue can be used to pay for the tax funding gap from non-profit affordable housing elsewhere in the community.

The future is ours.  What do you want it to be? Speak out before it is too late!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt on Victory and Defeat.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
    - Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Susan Adams Wins! Marinwood has 80% of all Low income, Subsidized housing in unincorporated Marin

"I wish I had another term to build some more"

Susan Adams gets a double victory.  The Board of Supervisors voted for Marinwood Plaza (82 units) and St. Vincent's/Silveira Ranch (221 units) for the very lowest income units in the county. See the Marin IJ story HERE

While we are not opposed to all low income housing, we do not like the high density or costs that will come with these tax exempt properties.  Also because of HUD mandates to diversify Marin, the supervisors will be concentrating all of it in two large complexes in our neighborhood.  Together, we can expect to have 600-1000 new low income neighbors.

While we agree with the goal of diversity for the county, we think it is counter productive to build large islands of ethnicity and poverty and expect integration.   The best way to integrate is to build smaller units and spread them throughout the 850 square miles of the county.  These two complexes will be literally a few hundred yards apart.  "Wincup City".  I expect that Kate Sears, Katie Rice and Steve Kinsey got reductions to help them get re-elected.

The goal of "affirmative fair housing" uses the theory of "disparate impacts" to determine racism.  That is if you a Caucasian and your neighbor is Caucasian, you could be in a racist neighborhood.  This is of course ridiculous, as most reasonable people assert, economics and neighborhood preferences determine the demographic mix.  Also, since many people, (like my family) could be considered "bi-racial", terms for racial identity are ambiguous and misleading.  How then is "racial equity" determined? I abhor racism but I feel such government policies are inherently racist by definition.

Diversity is great for a community. Differing points of view, different cultures enrich us all.  Variety is the spice of life.  We wish the county would adapt policy that actually diversifies AND integrates us.

Ps. On a positive note, Supervisor Kinsey volunteered for 2 low income units in Pt Reyes Station that he admits will probably never get built.  
Thanks Steve for your leadership and especially the lectures on charity for your fellow man!
Supervisor Kinsey deep in thought at BOS meeting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Principles of Transit Development- Urbanize the Suburbs.

This infographic outlines the principles of Transit Oriented Development and is found at the Slow Ottawa 'Streets for Everyone' Pinterest page.   Pay attention to the last box "Compact" It shows that suburbs will be replaced by high density cities.  This is exactly what we don't want in Marin.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Toto must go go!/ Once upon a time in Marinwood

Marin Voice: Flawed housing plan promotes higher densities By Sharon Rushton

Sharon Ruston  Sustainable Tam Almonte
Marin Voice: Flawed housing plan promotes higher densities
By Sharon Rushton

POSTED:   12/07/2014 03:05:47 PM PST

Below is the article as I submitted it to the Marin IJ.  (The paper made a couple of edits):

Marin County’s Draft Housing Element (a state mandated document that plans to meet the existing and projected housing needs of Unincorporated Marin) is currently under review by the Supervisors.  Unfortunately, the proposed plan is gravely flawed and does not represent the concerns and values of Marin residents throughout the County.

One of the core values that most Marin residents share is a love and respect for nature, which has been demonstrated by a long history of environmental conservation. Residents moved to Marin because they treasured the small-town, semi-rural and rural character of their neighborhoods and the nearby parks and open space. Such values are still current, as reflected by residents' recent outcry against the huge WinCup apartment complex in Corte Madera. Regrettably, the draft housing plan — a state-mandated document that plans to meet the existing and projected housing needs of unincorporated Marin — ignores this revered history and recent uproar.

As currently written, the Housing Element unnecessarily plans for over 200 percent more housing units than required by law and includes detrimental programs geared to housing developments that could:

• Greatly increase density by changing the definition of a "unit," such as calculating studios as 50 percent of a unit, one-bedroom apartments as 66 percent of a unit, two-bedrooms as one unit, and three or more bedrooms as 1.5 units.

• Dramatically raise height limits — up to 45 feet (similar to the WinCup apartments).

• Cluster housing units at 30 units per acre even in single-family neighborhoods.

• Reduce onsite parking and force residents to park on crowded streets or in public parking areas that are meant for other purposes.

• Promote streamlined and ministerial "over-the-counter" permit review.

• Allow the number of units in traffic impact areas to exceed pre-established housing unit CAPs.

Including a site in the "Housing Element's Site Inventory" increases the likelihood that it would be developed and developed at a higher density. State laws restrict the County from disapproving housing development or reducing residential density at a site listed in the inventory, with extremely limited exceptions.


The housing plan promotes an excessive number of high-density housing developments with even greater potential density, height, and size than currently allowed. The plan could change the entire architectural landscape of unincorporated Marin!  Such densification with the ensuing population growth would increase the risk of adverse impacts on the environment, public health and safety, traffic congestion, infrastructure, utilities (water), public services (schools), views, sunlight, privacy and neighborhood character.

Streamlined and ministerial "over-the-counter" permit review of housing projects would hinder thorough and accurate review, constrain valuable public input on planning decisions, and reduce transparency, thereby diminishing the quality and safety of the developments.

Marin County's fate is in the supervisors' hands:

According to the recent Marin IJ article — "Governor Brown signs bill easing pressure for dense development in Marin" — the supervisors expressed commitment to lowering Marin's density.
"The county of Marin is dedicated and committed to affordable housing that is consistent with the community in which it is located," Supervisor Kate Sears said. "We will continue to engage all of our partners in an effort to develop affordable housing opportunities that recognize and complement the suburban and rural character of our county."

We commend the Supervisors on their above goal. We now urge them to make decisions about the Draft Housing Element that are consistent with their commitment and: 1) Reduce the number of sites and units identified in the plan’s Inventory – Especially remove sites with multiple constraints and hazards; and 2) Eliminate proposed programs that foster incongruent high-density housing and inadequate permit review.  Such revisions to the plan would help to protect Marin's environment, safeguard public health and safety and preserve our suburban and rural neighborhoods.

If you agree, then please sign our online petition at:

Sharon Rushton of Mill Valley is Chairperson of Sustainable TamAlmonte.

Why I Spend Millions on the Cause of Liberty

 Libertarian mega donor breaks his silence.

 My peers, associates and supporters often ask me why I have chosen to dedicate my entire life, reputation and millions in personal treasure to the cause of freedom and liberty.  Some say that I’m squandering the great family and personal fortune with which I’ve been blessed, while others accuse me of “buying the system” for personal gain.  Some call me foolish for not engaging with lobbyists and other corrupt bureaucrats and businessmen that game the system to profit off of insider deals, government contracts and wars.  As a case in point, I recently had the opportunity to invest in a government subsidized company which specialized in creating bombs, missiles and other various tools of human destruction.  While this deal would have likely been very financially lucrative, I would not have been able to sleep at night knowing that I would have been investing in the murder of fellow humans around the world; unfortunately, I already contribute far too much to this carnage with the money that is forcibly taken from my businesses via taxation.   I cannot express the frustration and anger that I feel when the money that is taken from one of my businesses goes toward throwing a black kid in jail for smoking a plant, instead of starting a new value creating business or philanthropic endeavor.  So the question remains, why on Earth would someone spend countless hours and millions of his or her own and their generous supporters’ wealth on something that does not yield a financial return on investment?  The short answer is I don’t want future generations to grow up in a vicious system that stifles innovation, throws people in cages for victimless crimes and sends our young men and women to die in unconstitutional wars that only benefit special interests.  The long answer is much more complex and one that only becomes more evident with time.  After another successful year of political and philanthropic achievements, I’ve set out to answer this question, honestly and to the best of my ability, for my friends and detractors alike.
My primary basis for advocating libertarianism revolves around the fact that it is the philosophy that has proven to be most beneficial to the most vulnerable in our society.  Contrary to what some would have you believe, I grew up very modestly, working various odd jobs during the brutal Texas summer heat.  Growing up humbly in a poor community in East Texas, I saw first hand how mom and pop enterprises were constantly driven out of business with punitive regulations.  Although it certainly does not help that East Texas’ rural, agriculturally based economy is one of the most heavily regulated and insider dominated in the country, I often find it quite insulting in my travels to Washington DC (although I stay away from that Hell hole as much as possible), to see just how well the bureaucratic and lobbyist culture is thriving, all at the expense of hard working families across the country.  The solution is to allow local marketplaces to create sustainable environments and communities in which entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers can thrive with mutually beneficial exchange, as opposed to chummy bureaucrats and politicians picking winners and losers via legislation which is bought and paid for.  Unfortunately, the media and naïve academics falsely, perhaps maliciously, label this type of activity as “free market capitalism”.  Since taking on this endeavor, I have seen first hand the way in which the majority of wealthy people favor big government authoritarianism, particularly when it is beneficial to themselves and/or their businesses.  After all, this is to be expected in a system that rejects individual liberty and economic value creation, in favor of corrupt bribery and elitism.  It is not overly difficult to realize that the big government policies advocated and enforced by the establishment left and right would benefit their corrupt financial backers, while stifling emerging competition, aspiring entrepreneurs and small family businesses.  The undeniable, though non-discussed result of this legislative fraud has been the creation of the tremendous degree of income inequality that we see today; this amplifying disparity will never be solved by government, because it is a direct symptom of the state’s very essence.  The only approach that has ever proven to lift the impoverished, reduce the gap between the rich and poor and increase the quality of life for all, is free people voluntarily cooperating, innovating, trading and empowering one another to succeed.  This is the system that built America into the most incredible place on the planet, with the most thriving cities, the most beautiful women and the most human prosperity and flourishing in history.
One of my biggest sources of inspiration is the brave souls who have rejected participating in the dark, yet profitable opportunities that our current oligarchy offers.  Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending a handful of these individuals who have created value for millions of people by building successful business enterprises and philanthropic entities without the help of lobbyists and government manipulation.  These selfless heroes have opted instead, to put their wealth to use in taking down this sinister system, in favor of a truly equitable society which offers opportunity to all individuals, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation and gender.  I feel strongly that it is our role to fill the information gap between well-intentioned, intellectually honest Americans on both sides of the political spectrum.  For example, it is an outrage that many well meaning Christian Conservatives support the likes of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Rick Santorum, in spite of the fact that they’ve all voted to expand the size of government time and time again.  Conversely, it is absurd to see anti-war left continually praising Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, in spite of the fact that they’ve embarked upon one of the most war hungry foreign policies in U.S. history.  I can’t exactly blame these well-intentioned people, since the mainstream media has become one of the most unreliable, intellectually dishonest and outright corrupt institutions that we face.  Overall, this battle is one of minds and ideas; the future of our country largely hinges upon our ability to wake up not only the masses, but also the well-intentioned wealthy and influential, which will enable us to reach the masses with this uplifting message of truth and self-ownership.
For those of us who have seen the light of true liberty, it is important to understand that the world is counting on us for legitimate progressive change, not the false promises of progress espoused by the Democratic Party.  Collectivism is by far the most dangerous philosophy that has ever existed, as it has directly resulted in horrific genocides and mass suffering throughout human history.  In the 20th century alone, hundreds of millions were killed based on government sponsored propaganda which motivated groups of people to commit heinous acts of violence against one another in the name of “the greater good”.  The powers that be will continue their attempt to pit us against one another on racial, sexual and religious grounds; and although they have monopolistic control of media, education and financial markets, I am confident that we will rise as Americans to stop this outcry against humanity.  Education, effective marketing and distribution are essential to our ideas prevailing.  For those corrupt individuals who consciously have a malevolent interest in the current system, may God forgive you, because I never will.  For those who are well intentioned, but misguided and misinformed, we must gently, kindly and persistently SHOW them the light of liberty through principled actions.  After all, we were ALL in their shoes at one point or another.
People often ask me what they can personally do to further the cause of liberty.  In my humble opinion, it is imperative that we maintain, grow and start new innovative ventures that create value and improve lives, locally and globally.  The reason that I believe that entrepreneurship and innovation are major foundations to the success of the movement is because it garners credibility, creates financial independence and allows for the creation of well funded advocacy groups and charities which can provide real solutions to the problems that government perpetuates, accelerates or is simply unable to recognize.  After all, we cannot print money, so we must create value in order to finance the distribution of this message.
One of my mentors recently stated to me that this struggle is not one of politics or policy, but very simply a battle of liberty against tyranny.  With monetary policy wreaking havoc on the majority of Americans (while benefiting the wealthiest 1%), the steady deterioration of our God-given rights and corruption trickling down from the federal level all the way down to local municipalities, I have no choice but to side with liberty over tyranny.  To those who may be disheartened by the current socioeconomic situation, please know that solutions to this madness exist and that there are many people actively engaged in this struggle, including some very wealthy individuals who could be profiting off of the current rigged system instead.  This beautiful commitment of selfless devotion to humanity has profoundly inspired much my life and work.  I hope you’ll join me and the other amazing people who are working tirelessly for a free world in which we can all live in peace and harmony.