Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saving the Bay. PBS special on Conservation of San Francisco 26 parts

San Francisco Tops List As 'Worst City For Saving Money'

San Francisco Tops List As 'Worst City For Saving Money'

Posted: Updated: 

People are not only leaving their hearts in San Francisco, but apparently all of their money, too.
As someone who lived in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, I can certainly understand why someone would want to consider moving out of California if they're interested in a less expensive lifestyle and saving money.
People, especially retirees, have been leaving California for years because of the high cost of living, and moving to the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
A new study bears that out: if people are interested in saving money, someone will have to turn out the lights when they leave California.
Nine of the 10 most expensive cities in 2015 reside in California, led by San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Portland in neighboring Oregon is likely to continue to benefit from that.
Portland is listed by the personal finance website as the No. 1 big city in the nation if your goal is to save money.
"If the last decade has shown us anything, it's that saving money is hard work -- even when you're motivated to do it," says Casey Bond, GOBankingRates' managing editor. "And our study proves that it's even harder in some places than others. Living expenses, taxes and the local job market have a huge impact on how much money you'll be able to keep in your savings account -- if you're ignoring these factors, you're not giving yourself the best chance to be financially healthy."
The website looked at the largest 100 cities in the nations and came up with its rankings based on sales taxes, home and condo values, monthly rent, income, gas prices and the unemployment rate -- factors it deemed to impact people's wallets the most. To see where your city ranks, go here.

 The 20 Worst Cities For Saving Money:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Irvine, CA
  4. New York
  5. Oakland, CA
  6. San Jose, CA
  7. Long Beach, CA
  8. Fremont, CA
  9. Stockton, CA
  10. Santa Ana, CA
  11. Detroit, MI
  12. San Diego, CA
  13. Honolulu, HI
  14. Anaheim, CA
  15. San Bernardino CA
  16. Newark, NJ
  17. Fresno, CA
  18. Miami, FL
  19. Chula Vista, CA
  20. Cleveland, OH

The 20 Best Cities For Saving Money:

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Anchorage, AK
  3. Lincoln, NE
  4. Boise, ID
  5. Madison, WI
  6. Omaha, NE
  7. Wichita, KS
  8. Fort Wayne, IN
  9. Arlington, TX
  10. Corpus Christi, TX
  11. Lexington, KY
  12. San Antonio, TX
  13. Oklahoma City, OK
  14. Lubbock, TX
  15. Richmond, VA
  16. Raleigh, NC
  17. Fort Worth, TX
  18. Aurora, CO
  19. Irving, TX
  20. Chesapeake, VA
The survey showed that San Francisco topped the list in part because it had the highest housing costs of the leading cities with a median home value of $727,600. Fort Wayne, Ind., which was ranked No. 8 for its savings, had the cheapest housing with a median price of $98,900.
Sales taxes also played a huge role in the rankings with the average sales tax for the 10 worst cities for saving money coming in at 8.74 percent compared to 5.59 percent for the 10 best cities, says Morgan Quinn, the finance site's feature writer. Property taxes and income taxes aren't used in calculating the ratings, a factor that could put California at an even greater disadvantage for saving.
California voters have made 13.3 percent the top rate for earners as part of its Proposition 30. It increased the tax rate on households making more than $250,000 a year and that raises billions of additional dollars a year.
Retirees are in savings mode because they don't have the same amount of income coming in, Quinn says. Many are moving to cheaper locales or moving to be closer to family to make their money go further.
"With nine of the 10 of the worst cities for saving money in California, that's definitely a strong message that California is not the best place to be if you're trying to save money right now, especially if you're older than 50," Quinn says. "I know a lot of older people move out of California for retirement. I have experienced it with my own family. It's expensive to live here. You pay a lot for the weather, beaches and other amenities."
The cities that did make the top of the list are less populated and have features that would be attractive for people that want to retire there, Quinn says. She said it's understandable how Portland made the list even though it's on the Pacific coast and north of California.
"I have family in Portland. They don't have sales tax and the property values are low as are the median rents. I wasn't surprised because I know the city well," Quinn says.
Seattle, however, which is north of Portland, compares more to San Diego than it does to Oregon, Quinn says.
The one surprise in the study is that New York City didn't rank even higher than fourth, Quinn says. What the data shows is that rent controls in New York drive down the median rents to $1,200 a month. If the study looked at average rents, New York would be listed as $3,000 a month, she says.
Quinn says she was surprised by some of the smaller California cities that made the list like Stockton -- but attributes that to a high unemployment rate.
Several of the cities listed as a great place to save money are university towns like Madison, Lexington and Lincoln but not all of them are on the forefront of people's minds for relocation like these:
"If you want a lot of culture and theater and go to a lot of different restaurants and live more of a vibrant suburban lifestyle, some of these cities may not be as attractive, but if you want to save money and simplify and downsize and not have to stress than perhaps the top 10 are places to consider," Quinn says.
Read more about some of the best places to retire by going here.
Visit, the new destination for Americans 50+ covering financial, health, beauty, style, travel, news, entertainment and sports.
What do you think of these cities? Let us know in comments.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Creepy Robots that Police are Using against the Public

"Saving San Francisco" Filmmaker sells out for Seven Million Dollars (Smart Growth Propaganda Film)

Saving San Francisco By Joel P. Engardio

“Saving the Bay” is an Emmy award-winning PBS series about the local activists and environmentalists who fought and stopped development plans in the 1960s that would have filled in San Francisco Bay until it became a river.

Now the docuMission Baymentary filmmaker and San Francisco native who told the “Saving the Bay” history is working on an even bigger and more immediate topic: “Saving the City.”
Ron Blatman, 57, sees that San Francisco is in crisis without enough housing, public transportation and infrastructure for all the newcomers driving up prices.
At first glance, Blatman looks like the anti-change and not-in-my-backyard demographic that wants to strictly preserve and protect San Francisco’s neighborhoods with the same playbook that saved the Bay. But the solutions in Blatman’s “Saving the City” will surprise fans of “Saving the Bay.”
Start with Blatman’s view of the “No Wall on the Waterfront” campaign that fought against new housing by the Bay.
“Where was the wall? The plan I saw wasn’t on the water. It would have turned a parking lot on the westside of the Embarcadero into something really nice,” Blatman said. “San Francisco is so afraid of its waterfront, but that’s where people go in other great cities.”
For Blatman, a saved urban Bay is squandered when people can’t live or recreate near it.
Initial footage of “Saving the City” compares San Francisco’s newly developed Mission Bay neighborhood to a similarly situated area of Vancouver.
The difference is striking. Tall, skinny housing towers in Vancouver leave lots of green, open space between the structures for families to picnic and play. Schools and recreation centers anchor the high rises to create a vibrant community.
Short, squat buildings dominate San Francisco’s Mission Bay because anti-height activists got their way. Sites for schools and parks to attract and retain families remain empty.
“San Francisco likes to get mired in its planning process without concern for the end product,” Blatman said. “Now we have Mission Bay, which is broken from the start. It’s blocky and sterile with no sense of place. Community facilities should have come first, not last.”
Blatman’s expertise goes beyond filmmaking: He was City Hall’s director of business development in the early 1990s and he has masters degrees in city planning and business administration from the University of Pennsylvania. He studied architecture as an undergrad at Berkeley.
Blatman said he wants his “Saving the City” series – 13 hours of public television with a $7 million budget – to teach lessons and change mindsets by letting people see for themselves what works and doesn’t work in today’s cities.
“The Transbay Terminal we’re trying to build in San Francisco is a mess,” Blatman said. “But everything our Transbay Terminal is supposed to be, Denver’s Union Station is.”
While Blatman calls for more density and height in San Francisco, he is not an urban purist. For example, he doesn’t believe cars are the enemy.
“It’s ludicrous to think people don’t need or won’t use cars,” Blatman said. “How can we enforce people to live like we have the Paris Metro when all we have is Muni?”
Blatman also said neighborhoods with single-family homes are good for keeping larger families in San Francisco, as long as adjacent transit and commercial corridors provide more multi-story housing for young professionals, couples and downsizing seniors.
“You don’t want to see 10 stories in West Portal, but four stories of condos above retail will retain its village quality,” said Blatman, who grew up near West Portal Avenue. “Just don’t touch the family homes behind it.”
In his effort to save San Francisco, Blatman’s series will highlight successful cities willing to embrace change to meet future needs — cities that know what to preserve and what to let go.
“The idea that everything should be frozen is nuts,” Blatman said. “Cities change, and if they don’t, they die.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Misunderstanding the millennials

Misunderstanding the millennials


The millennial generation has had much to endure – a still-poor job market, high housing prices and a generally sour political atmosphere. But perhaps the final indignity has been the tendency for millennials to be spoken for by older generations, notably, well-placed boomers, who often seem to impose their own ideological fantasies, without actually finding out what the younger cohort really wants. The reality, in this case, turns out far different than what is bespoken by others.
Nowhere is this tendency clearer than in the perception of what kind of life – and what places – will millennials find attractive. Generally, the narrative goes like this: Millennials are different, they don’t care about owning homes, detest the suburbs and would prefer to spend their lives in dense apartment blocks, riding the rails or buses to whatever work they might be able to find.
Urban theorists, such as Peter Katz, insist that millennials (the generation born after 1983) have little interest in “returning to the cul-de-sacs of their teenage years.” Manhattanite Leigh Gallagher, author of “The Death of Suburbs,” asserts with certitude that “millennials hate the suburbs” and prefer more eco-friendly, singleton-dominated urban environments.
Such assessments thrill the likes of real estate speculators, such as Sam Zell, who welcomes “reurbanization” as an opportunity to cash in by housing a generation of Peter Pans in high-cost, tiny spaces unfit for couples and unthinkable for families. Others of a less-capitalistic mindset see in millennials a post-material generation, not buying homes and cars and, perhaps, not establishing families. Millennials, for example, are portrayed by the green magazine Gris as “a hero generation” – one that will march, willingly, even enthusiastically, to a downscaled and, theoretically, greener future.
In reality, these views reflect more fantasy than reality, as a host of surveys of millennials demonstrate. When asked – in a 2010 survey by Frank Magid and Associates – where would be their “ideal place to live,” more millennials identified suburbs than previous generations, including boomers. Another survey, published last year by the National Association of Homebuilders, found that 75 percent of millennials favor settling in a single-family house, 90 percent preferring the suburbs or even a more rural area but only 10 percent the urban core.
This, not surprisingly, is not what you read about regularly in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Young reporters, virtually all of whom live in dense, expensive places like New York or Washington, instinctually believe the world they know first-hand, the one in which they and their friends reside, epitomizes their generation. Most Americans, however, are not young, highly educated or likely to ever be Manhattan or Brooklyn residents. Indeed, only 20 percent of millennials live in urban core districts; nearly 90 percent of millennial growth in major metropolitan areas from 2000-10 occurred in the suburbs and exurbs.
What about homeownership? Much has been written about how the under-30 population is either living at home or cannot buy a house. This is true to a large extent, but does not reflect their deepest aspirations, note authors Morley Winograd and Mike Hais. A full 82 percent of adult millennials surveyed said it was “important” to have an opportunity to own a home. This rose to 90 percent among married millennials, who generally represent the first cohort of their generation to start settling down.
Another survey, this one by the online banking company TD Bank, found that 84 percent of renters ages 18-34 intend to purchase a home. Still another survey, this one from Better Homes and Gardensfound that three in four saw homeownership as “a key indicator of success.”
In a 2014 survey by the Demand Institute (sponsored by Nielsen and the Conference Board), millennials also were found to favor suburbs, embrace homeownership and crave more space, much like previous generations. If they are not buying now, the survey suggested, economic reasons seem to be the predominant explanation. The vast majority plan to get married, and most plan to have children in the next five years. “They are still,” the study notes, “seeking the American Dream.”
Some of this simply reflects the aging of millennials. As Jed Kolko at the real estate website Trulia has pointed out, the proclivity for urban living peaks in the mid-to-late 20s and drops notably later. Over 25 percent of people in their midtwenties, he found, live in urban neighborhoods; but by the time they move into their midthirties, it drops to no more than18 percent.
The impact of the aging process – the maturation, however delayed, upon millennials – will soon become acutely obvious to all but the most emotional retro-urbanist. In 2018, according to Census Bureau estimates, the number of millennials entering their 30s will be larger than those in their 20s, and the trend will only get stronger, with the numbers tilting ever more in favor of the thirtysomethings. Kolko suggests that we may already have passed “peak urban millennial.”
Some in the media portray this as reflecting the fact that core cities are so attractive that they have become unaffordable for all but the wealthiest. Millennials are thus “driven” to the suburbs by cost considerations, but not preference.
In trying to conform the suburban trend with their belief in high density, some insist that millennials are heading to the suburbs, but only to transfer the urban way of life there. This thesis that young people are moving into suburbs to create faux cities misreads why millennials move. Sure, younger people, like most others, would like convenient places to work, nice parks and perhaps a traditional Main Street, or even something like the Irvine Spectrum or the Valencia Town Center. However, don’t expect them accept many of the things – greater congestion and density, much higher rates of crime and poverty and, most importantly, poor schools – that chase families out of cities.
Of course, some close-in suburban areas – think Bethesda, Md., Newton, Mass., Beverly Hills, South Pasadena or Palo Alto – have done well, but are also prohibitively expensive. Overall, though, the inner-ring suburbs – as we saw with events last year in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. – now often exhibit many of the very negative characteristics associated with cities. In fact, inner-ring suburbs have experienced the largest outmigration in metropolitan America – even as downtowns have grown – while the fastest-growing areas are once again those on the periphery.
If you want to see the millennial future, the places to focus on may not been trendy downtowns, where relatively few younger adults reside, but in more far-flung suburban communities, such as Eastvale, in Riverside County, or those now growing in south Orange County, as well as the new planned developments going in from Denver to Houston.
Misunderstandings about millennial expectations and realities extend beyond geography. Politically, for example, they may harbor liberal social attitudes, notes chronicler Winograd, but not the messianic, ideological orientation of many baby boomers, particularly in the pundit class. Millennials are less likely, for example, to call themselves environmentalists than their boomer parents or embrace their parents’ strident politics, whether left or right. Millennials, notes Winograd, are “pragmatic idealists” who think the best way to achieve change is to work at it at the local level and adopt practical, inclusive solutions.
They may not be conservative, but millennials are not largely mimicking the the hippie generation. They are, if anything, more focused on being good parents than were their elders, notes Pew, perhaps reflecting the ubiquity of divorce in their parents’ generation. Some also suggest they are also fundamentally more “Victorian” – for example, in terms of drugs, violence and drinking – than their boomer predecessors.
This suggests that the future may prove more nuanced than many progressives hope, and some conservative fear. Most millennials will end up married, and with children, and living, if they can, in single-family homes, although perhaps later in life. When they arrive en masse, though, they will transform the suburbs, but not destroy them. City planners, like those in Atlanta, who are bending over backward to appeal to “urban-oriented” millennials, by building such things as streetcars, may have a better chance if they offered potential suburbanites important things such as good schools and safe streets.
What the millennials are not about being a “hero generation,” sacrificing themselves at the altar of progressive ideology. Similarly, their communitarian values mean they likely won’t embrace a “me generation” mindset, as suggested by some libertarians. They will muddle along, finding their own way, but odds are that, in the end, they will grow to resemble earlier generations of Americans in ways that may surprise us older folks, and maybe even the millennials themselves.
Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University in Orange and the executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism (
His most recent book is “The New Class Conflict” (Telos Publishing: 2014).

Make yourself Sheep and the Wolves will eat you.-Ben Franklin

TAM meeting 7/14/2014 Steve Kinsey/Dan Hillmer criticize opponents of Plan Bay Area

Steve Kinsey (Marin Supervisor) and Dan Hillmer (Larkspur City Council) on TAM criticize Marin's ABAG representative, Pat Ecklund (Novato Council) and the public who oppose the urbanization of Marin. 

Kinsey, who has refused to engage the general public on the issue of housing. tears up Pat Ecklund who stands alone among the politicians as openly questioning the policies of Plan Bay Area.  Dan Hillmer of Larkspur City Council piles on too.  Is this the same Dan Hillmer who drew enthusiastic public support for opposition to the Larkspur Station Area plan?  Local people tell me that he is actually tied to the pro development group of politicians currently running the county.  His performance that evening may have just been political posturing.

All present seem to dismiss the concerns of any of the opponents of Plan Bay Area and misrepresent the position of Citizen Marin which functions as a coalition of neighborhood groups. 

Clearly, Steve Kinsey and Dan Hillmer seem determined to urbanize Marin despite the widespread opposition and seems willing to steamroll everyone who gets in his way.

We are not going to let that happen Steve and Dan.

Citizen Marin is over 10,000 members and is the largest grassroots organization in Marin.  

We will Save Marin Again!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Steve Kinsey Eight Minute Blizzard of new Taxes for EVERYONE in the Bay Area.

Steve Kinsey, Marin County Supervisor District 4 and MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission Commissioner) is one of the most influential politician in the Bay Area. This is his testimony at the "Regional Transportation Summit" organized by Jared Huffman on June 30, 2014.

he is proposing a massive increase in local taxation to build his Smart Growth Cities, the SMART train, Freight Service, Bus Corridors, Bike Bridgeway on the Richmond Bridge and new bikeways.  Listen closely for all of the new taxes he proposes on your right to travel, shop tax free on the internet and choose the communities where you want to live.  He is for the massive urbanization of the entire 101 corridor right up through Mendocino County.

In fact he wants a new "Redwood Empire" which I suppose he will appoint himself "King".  His ambition appears to have no end.  Gosh, I guess he needs the money more than you need it for retirement,  housing, sending your kids to school and enjoying life.  We must Save Marin and we must Save California from the reckless ambitions of politicians and bureaucrats.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Kinsey Report Building and Septic Violation Negotiations Drag On and On

The Kinsey Report Building and Septic Violation Negotiations Drag On and On 

Article from the Coastal Pilot March 2001

By James Scanlon
A year ago last March, Supervisor Steve Kinsey was officially notified by the County Building Code Enforcement Officer that the buildings that he had constructed in setbacks on his property in Forest Knolls were in violation of county codes and needed permits. He was also notified that his septic system was illegally installed, unpermitted and in violation of county codes. The letter threatened an abatement hearing if the violation was not corrected within ten days.

To make a long story short, Kinsey was granted several extensions because he was "working with Questa Engineering", "had hired a surveyor,Ó "had health problems,Ó "needed time to negotiate easements or consider other options," etc.

On November 17, 2000 he was again notified by certified letter that he had not corrected his violation and that he had ten days to do so or the County would proceed with "an abatement hearing.Ó County records reveal that on November 30, thirteen days later, a verbal message (on an answering machine) was received from Kinsey that he was "working directly with Questa Engineering and Marin County Environmental Health.Ó Kinsey said he would follow up with a letter and suggested that the Enforcement Officer contact Phil Smith of Environmental Health.

As of February 21, 2001 there was no follow up letter from Kinsey in response to the Certified notification of November 17, 2000 and no other contact besides the voice mail message of November 30. That is, there is no further documentation in enforcement and therefore Kinsey's extenuation seems to be open ended.

Environmental Health
The recently appointed Director of Environmental Health Services, Phil Smith said that it is not unusual for a compliance case such as Kinsey's to take so long to resolve. He said there had never been a report of surfacing sewage and that he and his staff had inspected the site under different weather conditions and had seen no evidence of septic failure. His best guess is that there was, and is, no danger of ground water contamination.

Smith said that the specialist handling the Kinsey septic violation was planning to meet with Questa Engineering on February 22 to discuss the "conceptual design" of Kinsey's septic system and within a reasonable period of time come up with a consensus on how to proceed. He said that Kinsey's site was not a "bad one,Ó but "one that did present technical challenges." With regard to the amount of time that had passed, Smith said he understood that Questa was quite busy and, as far as he was concerned he "would rather have a better system and take some time"

(It should be noted that on August 1, 2000, Smith, in effect, assessed a penalty on Kinsey of $2,025.00 for "work undertaken... without permit..." If and when Kinsey receives approval for some kind of septic system he will be required to pay double fees.)

The Coastal Post questioned Smith about Supervisor Kinsey's involvement with the committee (SepTac) currently revising county codes on septic systems. He said that all members of the committee were appointed by the board of Supervisors and that Kinsey attends meetings as a non voting member. The committee's preliminary report is due this Spring and its final report in the Fall---and the report is non binding. He said he was extremely pleased that the committee had gained the services of a facilitator from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

SepTac members were indeed appointed and approved by the Board of Supervisors with Kinsey as President of the Board making the announcements. Its meetings are set up and facilitated by Smith and his staff at Environment Health. Smith was appointed head of EHS after its previous chief Ed Smith was fired after clashing with Kinsey over alleged interference in his department, mainly over septic issues. Kinsey chairs the SepTac subcommittee on "growth.Ó

On February 22, Environmental Health staff and a representative from Questa Engineering met and reached an agreement to proceed with an experimental, alternative waste water system called "Nibbler" which will pre-treat sewage and pump it into leach fields in the narrow down slope of the property. The "Nibbler" is an expensive commercial strength waste water treatment system which is not commonly used for residential dwellings. It is said to be especially effective in breaking down the greasy effluent from restaurants.
Because the system is new and experimental, the operational permit will be provisional and monitoring and testing will be required. If the system does not perform, the leach field will have to be abandoned and a sand filter type system constructed.

Letter From Reader

In the February issue of the Coastal Post, a reader submitted an unsigned letter to the Editor, asking several questions regarding Supervisor Kinsey's permit violations. Among them: what was the position of the Marin County District Attorney's view of the situation? The District Attorney's Office investigates all complaints of felonies and misdemeanors, i.e. which are subject to imprisonment. Only on rare occasions are infractions investigated--- that is, those which do not carry provisions for jail time, such as violations of county codes.
The District Attorney has a small staff of investigators to enhance and supplement official reports of crimes originally investigated by police agencies. The only recent case that a representative of the District Attorney's Office could think of, was of a complaint that a Medical Doctor had inappropriately used children's vaccines. In that case the investigation proceeded only after the State Medical Board refused to look into the complaint.
Nevertheless, the unnamed reader's point is well taken---what is the position of Marin County government with respect to long standing, blatant violations of county codes by an elected official responsible for enforcing those same codes? And, in addition, is it appropriate for an elected official in violation of specific county codes to participate in revising and liberalizing those same codes? In other words, is this situation illegal or appropriate? Does it contribute to a loss of confidence in government? Are other Supervisors, who are fully aware of this situation, negligent in allowing Kinsey to participate in revising septic rules?

Patrick Faulkner, Marin County's legal advisor, was on vacation when the Coastal Post contacted his office, and was not due back until February 26, a time which would make it unlikely that he would be able to reasonably respond before the newspaper's deadline for March. A letter will be submitted to his office (see below) Since this case seems to be in no hurry to resolve itself, Faulkner's response will be reported in the April's edition.
Our county government has, on at least two occasions, severely sanctioned illegally constructed buildings. A rancher at Two Rocks was subjected to a highly publicized abatement hearing and had to obtain costly permits on all structures including an illegally constructed septic system. The Supervisors are currently considering a lawsuit against Dutra Quarry a Peacock Gap for violations of its use permit, illegally constructed buildings and additions to its septic system.

Kinsey's Partnership

Last month, the Coastal Post also printed a letter to the editor from Steve Holt of Forest Knolls, Steve Kinsey's former partner in Design/Build Alliance, a general contracting firm. Holt expressed thanks to the Coastal Post for reminding him that his fictitious business ownership statement with the Marin County Clerk's office had expired. (We actually reported that there was no record of his ever having had one not that it had expired). Holt also complained of "insinuations and outright lies regarding [his] relationship with Steve Kinsey"
Essentially the Coastal Post reported that Kinsey and Holt were partners in Design/Build Alliance and that Holt, when he wrote letters and editorial pieces in the Point Reyes Light and Gannet Independent Journal supporting liberalization of county rules on septic systems, never mentioned that he was Kinsey's partner. The source of information used by the Post was Kinsey's official financial statements on file at Civic Center in the Elections Department.
Holt wrote: "To set the record strait, Steve Kinsey has received no income from DBA (Design/Build Alliance) since I became sole proprietor ...[in January 1998] ...and he received less than $6,500 for the short time we were partners in 1997."

In his "Statement of Economic Interests" on file with the County which Kinsey executed on February 23, 1998 under penalty of perjury, he lists himself as an "owner/partner of Design/Build Alliance, a Business Entity or Trust with a fair market value of between $10,001 and $100,000 and his gross income received for 1997 as "over $10,000.Ó
On March 15, 1999 and December 10, 1999 Kinsey again certifies himself as an owner/partner of Design/Build with the same dollar amounts listed above. While, for one reason or another, people frequently forget, or misstate dollar amounts, a misstatement of one's being an "owner/partner" would seem to be unusual. As we said previously, something is amiss

Other Conflicts of Interest?

Kinsey and Holt have been the most outspoken critics of County rules regarding septic systems and the financial burden this has on "the little guy,Ó the home owner prevented by aggressive, oppressive, expensive County enforcement from obtaining permits to legally repair homes and legally upgrade failing septic systems.

While it certainly is true that the high cost of building and making repairs according to County codes are a factor in the decision of scofflaw home owners and contractors to perform construction and repairs without permits, relaxing or eliminating standards might not be in the public interest.

Aside from the small, financially challenged homeowner, there are others who stand to benefit greatly from relaxing the rules which require archaic septic systems to be upgraded when permits for remodeling are sought. Contractors who buy and sell run down homes would be able to complete an upgrade of the home without an upgrade of the septic system which might be costly and "technically challenging" thus, adding to the price of the home on sale---and make it more difficult to sell quickly.

Allowing "new, innovative waste disposal technology" to be used in West Marin, as Kinsey has forcefully advocated as a Supervisor, would allow previously undevelopable parcels to be developed, benefiting the home construction industry, a segment of society that has strongly supported him in all his election campaigns.

There are many in Marin that believe that rather than being overbearing, restrictive and oppressive, county enforcement and oversight of failing septic systems and construction is minimal and inconsistent and that home expansion and construction without permits is widespread. Allowing a small group representing mostly the home construction industry change the rules does not seem to be in the long term interest of home owners and might eventually endanger their health and also that of the public at large.

Dana King urges us to Urbanize and "Spread the Wealth"

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Courage is in far shorter supply than Genius

Dick Spotswood: Pinning down moving bridge plan cost estimates

Dick Spotswood: Pinning down moving bridge plan cost estimates

Dick Spotswood writes a twice-weekly column on local politics for the Marin Independent Journal. (IJ photo/Robert Tong) 
On Nov. 6, MTC indicated the cost of the job was $68 million. On Feb. 5, the estimate plunged to $29 million.
Who knew an alphabet agency could be so efficient?
It’s not just that the bureaucrats sharpened their pencils, though there was some of that. Unsurprisingly, there’s an element of smoke and mirrors. The true cost of the bike lane is give-or-take about $47.5 million.
Even if the revised $29 million estimate was accurate, which it’s not, that’s still an appalling expenditure for a bike lane across a five-mile windy span few will use.
Accounting tricks aren’t new. A tried-and-true maneuver to lower apparent costs is shifting figures to other accounts. The Nov. 5 bikeway estimate included $15 million to replace bike access on the bridge’s east side approach from Point Molate to Richmond.
That $15 million hasn’t gone away. It’s just missing from the Feb. 5 bikeway numbers.
MTC’s excuse is that since there’s technically bike access to the bridge from Richmond, replacing it with improved bike access should be treated as an auto-related expense.
That contention is pure spin.
There’s a sign on Interstate 580 saying bikes may use the route, but few dare to do so. A new bike route would surely be an improvement for cyclists, but its cost has little to do with restoring the Richmond bridge’s third auto lane. If bikes are kept on the highway’s shoulder as at present, costs are negligible. If an enhanced bikeway is desired, place the cost where it belongs: on the new transbay bike lane.
It’s all just an accounting device to make the bridge bikeway easier for a dubious public to tolerate.
MTC now optimistically contends the link can be built more cheaply, but I’m dubious. Add that $15 million back in and the transbay bikeway cost rises to $44 million.
The February estimate includes $13 million for long-term operational costs assuming a movable upper deck auto-bike barrier is moved daily. This cost evaporates when it turns out that the barrier needs to be moved only “for specific Caltrans maintenance activities,” possibly four to six times a year.
This is what happens when the powers-that-be want to sell a concept. They’re forced to think about reality.
If it’s true the bike barrier needs to be moved only bimonthly, Caltrans needs to revise its planned utilization of the restored third auto lane to keep it open continuously. Right now, it is saying it can be used only during weekday evening peak travel hours. Otherwise it’ll be closed for pressing maintenance needs.
Oddly, its access concerns evaporate when bikeways are involved.
Instead of reducing the cost of occasionally moving the bike-auto barrier, including rental of a zipper truck to move the barrier, it goes to zero with Caltrans’ budget absorbing all costs. Adding back $1 million to move the barrier over five years brings the total to $45 million.
By magic, the initial budget’s $10 million inflation-related escalation cost disappears.
We’re told MTC forgot to consider anti-inflationary effects of the Great Recession. The return of relative prosperity goes unmentioned. Prudence adds 5 percent or $2.5 million for inflation, bringing the total to a realistic $47.5 million.
While the initial $68 million estimate was too high, the $29 million cost currently touted by MTC and Caltrans is too low. The bridge bikeway’s true cost is in the range of $45 million to $50 million.