Saturday, April 18, 2015

Citizen Marin meets the Marin County ABAG representatives on April 9, 2015

The county representatives for ABAG met with Citizen Marin members to discuss Plan Bay Area II.

Steve Kinsey, Supervisor and  Marin's ONLY representative for the MTC did not appear.   In fact, he has refused to engage the public in any open forum regarding the forty year plan for your life known as "Plan Bay Area II".

Public Forums will be held around the Bay Area in April and May 2015

Here Comes SMART!

Does anyone think this ISN'T going to affect the Wetlands?  

Where are the environmentalists Now?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Grady Ranch is still a bad idea

Grady Ranch is still a bad idea

Stop Sign
Stop Sign by thecrazyfilmgirl, on Flickr
Last Thursday, the IJ published an editorial defending the Grady Ranch affordable housing project from critics. If we don’t know what the project will look like, asks the editorial board, how can we criticize? Perhaps it will include a bike lane and sidewalks all the way to 101. Perhaps there will be a place for Marin Transit to run a shuttle, never mind the cost. And perhaps there will be a small grocery store so residents will be able to do at least one errand without getting in the car.
While it’s true that we don’t know how the project will look, the arguments in defense of the project don’t address the fundamental flaw of “affordable” sprawl: the burden of car-dependence on residents, and the burden of maintenance on the County.
Grady Ranch isn’t “a rare opportunity to help meet Marin’s need for affordable housing.” To the contrary, it would doom hundreds of low-income people to an expensive existence of car-dependance. The whole point of creating a walkable, bikeable mix of jobs and housing, which the IJ dismisses so easily, is to free people from the burden of car ownership. A car should be an option for those who want it, not a necessity for those who can’t afford it. Why we would want to give our poor another burden they cannot carry is beyond me.
If car ownership will be residents’ burden, services and infrastructure will be the County’s. MCF, as a nonprofit, doesn’t pay any taxes on any of its land or developments, meaning new residents won’t have to pay. And, even if supervisors could foist the cost of extending services and infrastructure onto developers, that still leaves ongoing costs. Infrastructure needs maintenance and services have payrolls. Will Lucas, or MCF, or “possible grant providers” be willing to pay that expense for the next 50 years? Somehow, I don’t think even George Lucas would be that generous.
These problems and the others I raised before need to be addressed in the first draft of the plan, not later. We cannot give MCF and Lucas “the opportunity to come up with a detailed plan before going on the attack.” Supervisors, citizens, and the two Grady Ranch partners must answer these problems now.
Besides, even if Grady Ranch is an irredeemable project, that doesn’t mean the end result can’t be less terrible. Given how bad the project is just on its face, we need to start to shape it before they’ve put time into a detailed plan. If the county pushes forward, this may be the only chance we’ll get.

Marin Voice: More creativity needed to address local housing goals

Larkspur’s City Council recently approved a draft housing element for its citywide general plan.
The draft was approved by a vote of 4-1. I was the only council member who dissented, and I think it is important to explain the reasons why.
Like most, I support the goal of improving opportunities for affordable housing throughout Marin County. I worry that the lack of affordable options limits the ability of some — especially the growing number of seniors in Marin — to share the benefits of living in this unique community.
But I also am concerned about how the need for affordable housing can be used, sometimes cynically, to serve the private interests of private land developers and property owners.
In casting my vote on Larkspur’s draft housing plan, I focused on three issues: the role state agency officials in Sacramento play in directing local land use decisions; the importance of meaningful public input on the environmental consequences of those decisions; and the need for flexibility in meeting our housing goals.
On the role of Sacramento, there is a common perception that no housing plan can even be considered unless it conforms to the narrow expectations of staff employees at the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
That is not true.
Under the state government code, HCD guidelines are only “advisory” to local agencies in developing draft housing plans. Even if HCD disapproves a plan, the statute allows local government to adopt it anyway, so long as it makes a finding to explain why the plan meets the requirements of state law.
On the importance of public input, some argue that draft housing plans have no significant environmental impacts, so long as they do not change pre-existing zoning determinations — that way, local governments can avoid the public review and comment process that ordinarily is required under the California Environmental Quality Act. This approach ignores the fact that current conditions may be different from those existing at the time earlier zoning decisions were made.
Formal consideration of public views is essential to ensuring that current conditions and potential future consequences are fully addressed.Finally, on the need for flexibility, it is a mistake to assume that our housing needs can only be met through the development of large parcels that conveniently are adjacent to transportation corridors like Highway 101 or the looming SMART rail project.
In a low-growth county like Marin, there are other options, such as encouraging junior second units as an adjunct to the existing housing stock. Affordable junior second units can be particularly attractive to seniors needing less living space than growing families might want.
The promotion of junior second units is sometimes dismissed by planning consultants as not credible, since it doesn’t have a sustained track record showing past success in meeting regional housing goals.
Yet that kind of record will never be developed without a strong commitment to giving this strategy a priority over more traditional approaches.
There is no reason why local government officials cannot do more to foster creative strategies that meet the county’s affordable housing needs. Our constituents remind us repeatedly that they do not want new high-density development cluttering Marin County’s unique landscape.
By adopting innovative approaches to planning, we can meet our community’s expectations in all respects — and be proud of what we have accomplished in the process.
Kevin Haroff is a Larkspur City Council member. He also is the managing partner of Marten Law PLLC in San Francisco.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grady Ranch Is All Wrong

Grady Ranch Is All Wrong

A great place for some infill development. Photo by Skywalker Properties.
A great place for some infill development. Photo by Skywalker Properties.
George Lucas’s great foray into affordable housing is wrong for Marin, wrong for affordable housing, and wrong for the people that would live there. The Grady Ranch development plan needs to be scrapped.
After the collapse of LucasFilm’s Grady Ranch studio proposal, then-owner George Lucas promised to build affordable housing on the site instead. Many observers, including me, saw it as payback to the Lucas Valley anti-development crowd that killed the studio project, but few thought George was serious.
Yet Lucas and his partners at the Marin Community Foundation are charging ahead with 200-300 units of affordable housing anyway. While it does present an opportunity to build affordable homes, the site couldn’t be worse.
Grady Ranch is located out on Lucas Valley Road, far from any downtown, commercial center, or regular transit line. It’s right at the edge of the North San Rafael sprawl line – a car-oriented area even where it’s already built up.
Lucas Valley Road itself is essentially a limited-access rural highway, with cars speeding along at 50 miles per hour. There’s no development on the south side, and the north side only has entrances to the neighborhoods. No buildings actually front the road. Yet, it’s the only access to the Highway 101 transit trunk line, to nearly any commercial or shopping areas, or between neighborhoods.
Development here would be bad by any measure. Car-centric sprawl fills our roads with more traffic, generates more demand for parking, and forces residents to play Russian roulette every time they want to get milk. It takes retail activity away from our town centers, weakening the unique Marin character embodied in downtowns.
The infrastructure, too, is inefficient. Grady Ranch would need to be covered by police service, fire service, sewage, water, electricity, and some modicum of transit, but those costs are based on geography, not population. Serving a square mile with 300 homes is a lot more expensive per home than a square mile with 1,000.
Yet the fact that this will be affordable housing makes the project even more egregious. Driving is expensive, with depreciation, gas, maintenance, insurance, and parking costs all eating up scads of money. On a population level, you can add in the cost of pollution, as well as injuries and deaths in crashes. A home in Grady Ranch would be affordable, but the cost of actually living there would be quite high.
The nonprofit aspect of the project would mean no taxes could be raised to cover its infrastructure and services. Building affordable housing in a mixed area means they’re covered by preexisting services. Though usage is more intense, there is typically enough spare capacity to take on more residents. Building something beyond current development means new infrastructure and services need to be built specifically for that project but without any existing residents to pay for it. It would be a massive and ongoing drain on county coffers.
This is the worst possible place for affordable housing. Grady Ranch, if it’s not going to be a film studio, needs to remain as open space. An affordable housing project out at the exurban edge of Marin cannot be affordable because car-centric development is fundamentally unaffordable.
I respect the efforts of George Lucas and Marin Community Foundation to find a place for the low-income to live, but Grady Ranch is not it. Lucas and MCF need to look at urban infill sites and focus on building up in those areas that are transit-accessible and walkable, places that are actually affordable. Replicating the discredited drive-‘til-you-qualify dynamic in Marin is not the answer; it’s just recreating the problem.

KCBS story on Grady Ranch and "St. George"

See the KCBS story HERE.   The news media are all gushy over St. George's "gift".  What they don't realize that the middle class communities of Marinwood, Lucas Valley and Terra Linda will be stuck paying for all of the infrastructure upgrades to roads, bus lines, public safety and schools.   Low income housing can escape environmental safeguards and infrastructure costs that market rate developers must pay. His generosity will be paid by us over and over again in higher taxes.

Why does he want to put housing on a site that will DOUBLE the development cost because of the landscape?  He could build TWICE the housing at lower cost elsewhere in Marin. Better yet, he could provide more integration if small sites were spread throughout the county.  Why massive big box developments that isolate communities? Clearly there is more than meets the eye.

Setting the Record Straight. The LucasFilm Project was pulled because of Water Regulations not neighbors.

See this 2012 story in the Marin IJ 

We Will Save Marin Again!

Marin Voice: Large Grady housing plan 'wishful thinking'

I RIDE my bicycle past the Grady Ranch a couple of times a week. It is a beautiful piece of property bordering Lucas Valley Road, with the upper reaches of Miller Creek and two tributary creeks, as well as steep, highly visible hills and ridges.
Recently, on my ride past the property, I was troubled by the plan put forth by the Marin Community Foundation and county planners to develop 240 housing units on the property.
Past housing approvals for this property allowed less than half this number under less stringent environmental rules. Allowing 240 houses on the property under today's rules seems idealistic at best.
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I live near the property, in Lucas Valley Estates, and I supported the 1996 Lucasfilm Ltd. digital studio master plan and, with some reservations, the recent revised film studio plan that was withdrawn by Mr. Lucas.
I make my living as a land- use attorney representing property owners seeking permits to develop property and formerly worked as a land use planner in the Marin County Planning Department.
In 1983, when a 114-unit housing project was approved for the Grady Ranch by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, I was one of the county planners assigned to review and analyze the application.
Developing 240 housing units of any kind on the property seems like wishful thinking.
The Countywide Plan prohibits development within 100 feet of a creek and designates some of the property as a Ridge and Upland Greenbelt, which prohibits development on visible ridges and hillsides.
The zoning for the Grady Ranch permits one housing unit for every 2.64 acres of land, which does not allow 240 units on the property.
County policies to promote low-income housing would theoretically allow an increase in the number of houses as long as all requirements of the Countywide Plan are met.
Given the environmental constraints associated with the property, including the small amount of flat land, the existence of landslides, and the need to maintain a 100-foot setback from three creeks, it is hard to imagine such an increase in density complying with the Countywide Plan, or the myriad of other state and local regulations applicable to the property.
As Lucasfilm well knows, there are other regulatory agencies (Regional Water Quality and Fish and Game) that will highly scrutinize any development proposal adjacent to these creeks.
Grady Ranch does not seem like a good candidate for high-density, low-income housing. The property is about four miles from the Highway 101 corridor; too far to easily provide the necessary transit and related services to develop and maintain high-density housing for low-income persons.
Because of its remote location, and the need to extend public services such as sewer, water, and power, it will also be very costly to develop — much more than property closer to essential urban services. With landslide repair and creek restoration costs added in, the development of low-income housing seems improbable without large subsidies.
As I recall there were good environmental and policy reasons the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors approved only 114 units on the property in 1983.
Land-use rules and policies have not relaxed since that time. If anything they are more stringent.
Let's hope the coming debate on the county's Housing Element includes a careful look at the Grady Ranch and the appropriate amount of housing — whether market-rate or low-income.
I believe that when all the facts are in, 240 units will be far too many.
Neil Sorensen is a San Rafael land-use attorney. He is a former Marin County planner and served as a trustee on the Dixie School District board.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

George Lucas proposes 224 units at Grady Ranch

George Lucas proposes 224 units at Grady Ranch

The Grady Ranch property is shown in an aerial view looking west over Lucas Valley. Filmmaker George Lucas plans to build rental housing there that accommodates seniors and local workers. IJ photo — Alan Dep

By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal

POSTED: 04/14/15, 6:06 PM PDT | UPDATED: 16 HRS AGO

Filmmaker George Lucas has proposed a 224-unit affordable housing complex at Grady Ranch.

Representatives of the “Star Wars” billionaire’s Skywalker Properties, calling plans for rental housing that accommodates seniors and local workers a “magnificent gift” to Marin County, said Lucas intends to pay for the entire project himself, without federal, state or other grant aid.

“The unique thing about this is George is financing it 100 percent,” said Gary Giacomini, former county supervisor and an attorney for Skywalker. The situation will leave Lucas in charge, and not grantmakers, while eliminating red tape associated with subsidized housing, Giacomini noted, saying units can be set aside specifically for teachers, local workers or anyone else who meets income guidelines.

Reaction to the latest plan for Grady Ranch was mixed, with Supervisor Damon Connolly citing worries about “the cumulative impact on the entire area” of a cascade of development proposals that can “literally and figuratively change the landscape in Marinwood and Lucas Valley.”

But Supervisors Judy Arnold and Steve Kinsey sounded optimistic notes, with Kinsey calling it a “wonderful opportunity.” Arnold noted that affordable housing is in short supply in Marin and “in this case we have the opportunity to be more creative.”

A plan that will be submitted to the county Community Development Agency this week calls for 120 two- and three-bedroom workforce residences in one four-story cluster and two two-story clusters on the site, and 104 one- and two-bedroom residences for seniors in a four-story cluster, as well as four parking garages. None would be visible from Lucas Valley Road.

The proposal includes a community center and pool, terraced gardens, an orchard and a “micro farm” or community garden, and a barn. It limits development to a 52-acre tract of the 1,039-acre ranch, 800 acres of which already have been dedicated as open space. Zoning allows as many as 324 dwellings on the site.

The architect for the project is Robert W. Hayes of Sausalito, a designer who won acclaim for his Toussin Senior Apartments affordable complex at 10 Toussin Ave. in Kentfield. The project is being coordinated and managed by PEP Housing of Petaluma, which developed Toussin as well as affordable housing complexes at 13 sites in Petaluma, among other projects.


Mary Stompe of Novato, executive director of PEP Housing for the past decade, said regulatory controls will be filed with the county ensuring affordability of the residences, with targets set so that workforce housing applicants earn less than 80 percent of median income, and senior renters falling somewhere between 30 to 60 percent of the median.

Aside from meeting income level requirements, renters must clear “an extensive background check” that includes a review of criminal and other records, as well as interviews with former landlords, Stompe said, adding her organization maintains a tight grip on tenants.

“We all are very proud to be part of this,” Giacomini said. “This will provide 224 families with places to live, and you’ll drive by and not be able to see anything.”

“It’s a huge public gift and I am confident the public will embrace it,” Stompe added. “We’re providing homes for teachers and others in the county.”

“The standard naysayers will be hanging around, but an awfully lot of people will support it,” Giacomini added. “We will have a healthy public process but it will not be one-sided,” he said. “There will be in-depth scrutiny.”

If all goes well, the development could break ground in 2018 and be completed the next year, Giacomini said.

Thomas Peters, CEO of the Marin Community Foundation, called Lucas’ plan an “extraordinary offer” that underscores the filmmaker’s commitment to the housing needs of the vibrant workforce that drives the region’s vitality.


The latest chapter in the Grady Ranch saga unfolded two years after the foundation bailed out of a plan to join Lucas in developing affordable housing at Grady Ranch. Peters said at the time that after extensive study, the “considerable cost” of a $120 million to $150 million affordable complex of from 200 to 240 “beautiful and environmentally sensitive” dwellings was too daunting despite “the generous land offer by Mr. Lucas.”

When the foundation departed, Angelo Garcia, president of Lucas Real Estate Holdings, pledged to “start immediately to engage in discussions” with developers identified during the foundation study. These included PEP Housing. “George Lucas feels that affordable housing is necessary so that people who are important in this community such as teachers, home health care workers and nurses don’t have to live outside Marin,” Garcia said then.

Brian Crawford, head of the county’s Community Development Agency, noted the site and adjacent areas are targeted for residential development by county land use regulations.

A Lucas studio project was approved by the county in 1996, but when the filmmaker finally decided to proceed four years ago, he consolidated buildings and required new permits. A lawyer for neighbors opposed to the plan threatened to sue and disclosed that state regulatory agencies had concerns about a $70 million creek and watershed improvement planned by Lucas. The filmmaker, then in talks to sell his Lucasfilm enterprise to Disney, walked away, saying he could not afford more delay, and backed development of affordable homes.

Stompe noted the Skywalker Properties housing plan for Grady Ranch does not include a watershed improvement element.

Connolly worries about Grady Ranch ‘cumulative impact’

Connolly worries about Grady Ranch ‘cumulative impact’

By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal


Supervisor Damon Connolly, propelled into office last June by voters upset about development plans, doesn’t think a residential complex at Grady Ranch is going to be a big hit in the neighborhood.

“During my campaign, and through my first months in office, I have heard loud and clear from the residents in Lucas Valley and Marinwood about their concerns over the number of potential developments in their communities,” Connolly said about George Lucas’ plan for 224 homes at Grady Ranch. “I share their concerns.”

Connolly added his job is to make sure that any proposal is “viewed in the context of the cumulative impact on the entire area, and not just in isolation.”

The freshman supervisor said that after only a few months on the job, “We are already grappling with potential development at Marinwood Plaza, now Grady Ranch, and the Oakview property, where a developer is now looking to build 132 senior housing units pursuant to a master plan that was approved 10 years ago.” In addition, “talk of St. Vincent’s and its allocation of 221 units in the 2007 Countywide Plan is never far from the minds of enterprising developers.”

“In totality these proposals have the potential to literally and figuratively change the landscape in Lucas Valley and Marinwood,” he said.

Other reaction to the development plan varied.

“Mr. Lucas’s sensitivity to the landscape and commitment to sustainability will no doubt be reflected in the proposal,” said Supervisor Katie Rice. “Obviously we have a crying need for senior housing and workforce housing, (and) the key is designing something that not only fills these important needs but is also a good fit for the site and surrounding community.”
“I look forward to seeing the plan,” Supervisor Judy Arnold said. “We know there is a need for workforce and senior housing in Marin and in this case we have the opportunity to be more creative.”

“Even the dedicated housing advocates said it is a bad site for affordable housing,” observed Nona Dennis, vice president of the Marin Conservation League. “Many reasons.”

“Deja vu all over?” wondered Stephen Nestel, founder of Save Marinwood. “The sensitive habitat and the slide conditions remain at the site,” he noted. “Why can’t these developments be located in appropriate locations like Rotary Village? Why must Lucas Valley host all the development? Should Steve Kinsey’s district have its fair share?”
“I commend Mr. Lucas on his continued commitment to the housing needs of the many individuals and families in our community who contribute to our community’s vitality,” said Marin Community Foundation CEO Thomas Peters. “That he is willing to step forward with this extraordinary offer is certainly a clear testament to his conviction.”

Janice Cunningham, president of the Lucas Valley Homeowners Association, had no comment on the Grady Ranch proposal.

“We have no idea” what is being proposed, the homeowners association chief said. “I can’t comment at this time.”

Dick Spotswood: Marin Supervisor Arnold ramps up divisive rhetoric

Dick Spotswood: Marin Supervisor Arnold ramps up divisive rhetoric

Dick Spotswood writes a weekly column on local politics for the Marin Independent Journal. (IJ photo/Robert Tong) 

Divisiveness is a plague on 21st century America civic life. If someone disagrees with us, they are by definition not only wrong but morally suspect. Trying for middle ground is perceived as cowardly.
American public affairs are never elevated by demonization. Marin's nadir was excesses in the debate over high-density housing. Insults and hate-filled code words like "racist" and "NIMBY" or accusations that committed activists are on the payroll of developers and their allies are still bandied about.
While in a democracy citizens should take strong positions and often will disagree, discussions should be dominated by fact, not by emotionally charged pejoratives.
It's made worse when elected officials join the chorus of negativity. Novato-based Supervisor Judy Arnold stepped over the line when she charged that she was almost defeated in the June primary because her opponents were, in effect, Tea Party members.
Those are fighting words in Democratic Marin.
While speaking at the Marin Women's Political Action Committee, Arnold remarked in a widely-circulated YouTube video, "My campaign really didn't have just one opponent. It was about the Tea Party and property rights activists."
"My opponent was a Democrat and ... her verbiage was vintage Tea Party. She used phrases like 'no top-down policies.' She started a local organization called Citizen Marin, which by its very name means that any refugee from Latin America probably isn't welcome with that organization."
Citizen Marin isn't any more exclusionary than the Marin Conservation League or Sustainable Fairfax. Arnold petulantly used the term "property rights activists" as a synonym for homeowners.
The supervisor's evident bitterness is understandable. The hard-working and dedicated Arnold was humbled when re-elected by a scant 215 votes. Her opponent was unknown and underfunded. It's hardly gratifying when 49 percent of your longtime constituents vote for someone else.
It's preposterous to believe Novato is a hotbed of Tea Party activity. It's an insult to North Marin voters who cast ballots for another candidate to imply they were Tea Party sympathizers.
It's troubling that Arnold didn't comprehend what the election was really about.
June's county contests were a referendum on the current Board of Supervisors' overall performance. In addition to housing, the supervisors' so-called slush fund, the unsustainability of county employee pensions, over-reliance on expensive consultants, SMART, Marin Clean Energy, the Lucasfilm/Grady Ranch fiasco and, as always, traffic were among voters' concerns.
It's the same reason that equally hardworking and dedicated Supervisor Susan Adams lost in a landslide to San Rafael Councilmman Damon Connolly. No one claims the liberal Connolly is a Tea Party surrogate. The only way for voters to communicate unhappiness with the county board's policy direction is by voting against an incumbent and for a more-representative replacement.
Instead of demonizing opponents and voters, Arnold should emulate Supervisor Steve Kinsey.
After June's election, Kinsey, understanding that voters were demanding changes, reached out to two leaders in the housing debate who disagreed with the supervisors' approach. He quietly met with author Bob Silvestri and Susan Kirsch, one of the actual founders of Citizen Marin. Kinsey sought points of common ground. What a refreshing idea.
The question tabled was whether it's possible to build truly affable and diverse housing without destroying Marin's much-envied small-town character. That's a goal all the participants embraced.
While it's too early to see if these preliminary contacts pay off, Kinsey's approach demonstrates to his colleagues an old-fashioned route toward effective problem-solving.
Columnist Dick Spotswood of Mill Valley shares his views on local politics on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Citizen pulled over by a Militarized Police Unit

Assuming, every fact that the police says are true about the driver, (he gave them the finger and he was receiving fellatio from his girlfriend) you have to ask the question WHY ON EARTH are the police dressed for war?  This is America. Unless there was martial law imposed and a massive terrorist threat, I can see no justification for these "robocops" roaming the streets with massive firepower and armor plate.  This is the stuff of third world tyranny not the "the land of the free, home of the brave".   Clearly the driver was provoking a confrontation and the police acted professional although one cop claimed the cellphone could be a weapon.   The policy of militarized police should concern everyone.

A No Name Armored Humvee with 50 cal Machine Gunners turret behind the Twin Cities Police department.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

California Drought: All About Control

Leftist statists that run California refuse to prepare for drought conditions, and environmentalists block all efforts to create more reservoirs

California Drought: All About Control

By Douglas V. Gibbs  April 13, 2015 | CommentsPrint friendly |
If Barack Obama can bypass his legislature, and seize executive control like a dictator at the national level, California Governor Jerry Brown has determined he can do the same at the state level.  The liberal left blames Pat Brown, the California governor that was Jerry Brown’s father, for the water crisis California faces by determining it was Pat Brown’s decision to bring water to Southern California which encouraged millions upon millions to come to Southern California, which in turn created a population so big that there isn’t enough water to quench the thirst of all of them.

More than half of a century ago, California Pat Brown went on a crusade, to bring water to Southern California, at any price.  Pat Brown was governor of California from 1959 to 1967, and during his reign, he launched the California Water Project, a $1.8 billion initiative that turned California into an oasis.  The San Joaquin Valley in Central California was lush with farms, and became the Salad Bowl of the World. Today’s farmland, minus the sacrificial lamb of the Central Valley, of which has been made into a dust bowl in the name of a little fish called a delta smelt, still covers 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.The truth is, the fault does not lie in Pat Brown’s “water evangelism,” as much as the largely liberal left leadership of California’s past and present did not, and refuses to, prepare for the consequences of Pat Brown’s incredible water projects that, yes, attracted millions of new people to California.

Pat Brown’s water crusade recognized that the rain was in Northern California, but the need for water was in Southern California, where, if not for humanity’s manipulation of the landscape, it would be an arid desert.

With all of the new people in Southern California came new freeways to accommodate the sudden jump in population.  The water demand was on the rise as they came seeking a new life under the California sun.  Finally, now that a natural drought has reached us, a lack of preparation for what Sacramento knew could be a problem, and would be a problem, has put California into a situation where Governor Jerry Brown has decided he needs to take a dictatorial role and force the residents of California to cut water use by 25 percent.Brown succeeded, creating an incredible system that encouraged the population of California to boom from 1959’s 15 million, to today’s nearly 40 million people.  Much of the migration was from the old dust bowl in the midwest and the south, most of those people seeking to work on farms.  My grandfather was one of those folks - a poor sharecropper from Arkansas willing to work incredible hours in the fields to make a living, and live in a shack with no comforts of civilized life. . . a job today, we are told, Americans aren’t willing to do, so we must import new workers, illegally, from south of the border.

However, along with that governmental mandate, the same attitude of non-preparation remains intact.  To appease screaming environmentalists, there are no plans, as there should have been from day one (and there wasn’t), for building infrastructure to increase storage capacity, nor any plans for seawater desalination so that we may farm that big blue thing filled with water to our west called the Pacific Ocean.  The House of Representatives has even passed bills, H.R. 1837 and H.R. 3964, but the Democrats in the U.S. Senate have been unwilling, since the proposals emerged in 2012 and 2014, to allow the bills to pass. The bills would both restore water to the Central Valley/San Joaquin Valley, and create with federal funding help for California in creating infrastructure to increase the storage capacity of water with reservoirs and canals, and bring water from the north down into the areas most severely hit by drought conditions.

From a constitutional point of view, considering that the condition of “all’s well throughout the republic” largely depends on the food coming from California, if the State of California wants (and asks for) the help, the federal government can offer it.  However, Governor Brown is not asking, and the Democrats at the federal level are refusing to offer.

Rahm Emanuel told us when Barack Obama had emerged on the scene, “never let a crisis go to waste.”  To increase government intrusion on matters that is none of government’s business, the people who consider themselves to be the ruling elite need a crisis as an excuse to impose such government intrusion.  Remember, for statists, the goal is not what is best for the country, the several States, or the people, but what is best for their agenda, which includes an increase of government control - eventually over every aspect of an individual’s life.

Individualism is the problem, they believe, and so collectivism through government control must be thrust upon the people.

Or, as Jean Jacques Rousseau put it, prior to engaging in his part in the French Revolution, “Men must be forced to be free.”

What a lot of folks don’t realize is that much of the water that has been denied to the Central Valley, and denied to the consumers in Southern California, has been dumped into the Pacific Ocean.
Due to environmentalist demands, much of the rainwater we get here in California goes into the gutters, into the storm drains, and then out to the ocean.  Enough water to sustain 2.6 million California families was dumped into the ocean last year because there isn’t enough storage capacity in the northern portion of the state, and environmental rules limit the amount of water that can be pumped to reservoirs in the south.  Last November’s Water Bond, Proposition 1, passed because people know we need help regarding our water situation, and other bonds have passed in recent years as well, all of them totaling more than $22 billion.  The money, however, did not go into building more reservoirs, or working to change the laws limiting the amount of water than can be sent, or stored, in the south.  Most of that money went to funding environmental projects - projects being spearheaded by the same groups that refuse to allow more water to be sent or stored in the south or build more reservoirs in the north.  As a result, when it rains, fresh water is instead dumped into the ocean.

Leftist statists that run California refuse to prepare for drought conditions, and environmentalists block all efforts to create more reservoirs

Droughts happen.  We know they do because we’ve had four here in California in the last 50 years.  The politicians know we have droughts, yet the leftist statists that run California refuse to prepare for drought conditions, and environmentalists, who are not in short supply in this State, block all efforts to create more reservoirs.

So, we must ask, “Why is it that these people are forcing us into a drought that we don’t have to suffer through?”  If proper precautions were in place, we would not be faced with Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restrictions.

Occam’s Razor is a principle that provides us with a clue, “the simplest answer is often correct.”
The simplest answer is that there is some kind of motive that is influenced by power, or money, or both - and that is exactly the reason why millions of families are being told they must fall under stricter government control regarding water.  With statists, individual needs will not be tolerated even when the answer is obvious.  And it is all being accomplished under the guise of “for the collective good.”
Collective good, indeed.

Since the 1960s, there has been no real investment in water infrastructure , aside from smaller projects that barely survived the onslaught of environmentalist attacks.  The Diamond Valley Reservoir in Southwest Riverside County comes to mind.  The man-made lake in the Dominigoni Valley between the cities of Hemet and Murrieta was nearly impossible to build, staggering under the weight of a massive number of required permits, studies, and restrictions.  The Environmental Impact Report was voluminous.  The project somehow made it through all of the flaming hoops and hurdles.  Most projects don’t, because of environmental impact lawsuits and lobbying by environmental groups .  In the end, what that means, is a population that has more than tripled in the last fifty years is using the same water infrastructure from fifty years ago.

Few reservoirs have been built, no new canals have been added, the laws limiting water have not been changed, and desalination plants (which have turned Israel into a lush nation in the middle of the great desert of the Middle East) have been rejected because they are not affordable when you take into consideration the costs attached to mandated ‘green’ energy that has led to electricity costs that are 50 percent higher in California than the rest of the country.

On top of all of that, the attempt to fix California’s water problem is also saddled with environmental litigation costs, because every solution to California’s water problem is immediately attacked by rapid, militant environmentalists who have decided that humanity is a parasite on the Earth, so we must thirst to death in order to save a delta smelt, and whatever else the environmentalists list above the safety of people.

At a Wal-Mart in Murrieta solar parking lot overhangs are being put in, which is fine by me, but in order to accomplish their “save the planet” (and I assume a reduction in electricity costs) strategy, they had to remove and kill nearly a hundred trees - yet these are the same kind of folks that refuse to stand aside for the logging of trees needed to build homes for an increasing population (trees, by the way, that are normally taken through selective logging, and replaced by two new plantings for the removal of each one tree).

Poseidon has spent six years in court getting permits for its desalination plant, and through the process has been told they have to restore 60 acres of wetlands.  Did you get that?  In order to create fresh water in the future they are being ordered to waste fresh water by creating even more swamps now, while southern Californians are forced to ration.

Sure, we have a lack of snow right now, and we are in a drought.  The result of a natural drought, however, should not be what it is.  We, as a State, have been unable to properly prepare for these natural drought conditions largely because of a political class of liberal left progressives unwilling to save during a rainy day because of lawsuit-driven environmentalism, a political agenda that puts money in the hands of those environmentalists (rather than money into our water problem), and a political agenda that wants to create more government control and more statism while bowing in submission to United Nation mandates.

Oh, did I forget that part?  Yeah, much of the statist drive is associated with the concept of “Sustainable Development,” a United Nation’s mandate that was never ratified by the United States Senate from a United Nations Resolution called “Agenda 21.”  The ultimate goal?  Turn the Earth back over to its natural condition, stack and pack humanity into geographically small population centers, and resort to population reduction if necessary - all of which must be administered by a ruling elite that knows what’s best for you more than you do as an individual.

You know, because “men must be forced to be free.”

The Man-Made California Drought - House Committee on Natural Resources
California’s Green Drought - Wall Street Journal
Water: United Nations Sustainable Development - Citizens Against Agenda 21

Monday, April 13, 2015

There are only Two Ways that any Economy can be organized.

The SMART train reality from Dawn to Dusk

All I can say, is where are the environmentalists now?

Harvard Trained Developer Claims Town's Racist Policy won't let him Earn Millions.

Dad: Affordable housing plan led to son's demotion in league

Associated Press 
In this April 6, 2015 photo, Christopher Stefanoni poses at the Darien Little League park in Darien, Conn., Stefanoni is suing the Darien Little League in federal court, saying league officials demoted his 9-year-old son to a lower-level team as retribution for his affordable housing proposal. Lawyers for the Little League deny the allegations. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)
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DARIEN, Conn. (AP) — In one of the country's richest towns — where Mercedes, BMWs and Land Rovers cruise tree-lined streets of multimillion-dollar homes — a man who proposed building more accessible housing says angry neighbors took out their frustration on his son: a 9-year-old boy who was demoted to a lower-level Little League team.
Christopher Stefanoni says in a federal lawsuit that residents of Darien are so worried that affordable housing will draw black people to town that they'll do just about anything to stop it, including using his son to retaliate against him. Town and Little League officials say that's completely false.
"Darien is a little white enclave, sort of a holdout segregated town," said Stefanoni, 50, a Harvard-educated father of five who has lived in town since 2000. "The attitudes that people in Darien have are very exclusionary, demeaning. When they go after your kids, they've crossed the line."
The town of nearly 21,000 people on Connecticut's Gold Coast consistently appears in Top 10 lists of America's wealthiest towns, with a per-capita income around $95,000. About 94 percent of the population is white, with about 620 Hispanics and 70 blacks, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
The lawsuit and a federal housing investigation reopened old wounds in Darien, a New York City suburb depicted in the 1947 Oscar-winning movie "Gentleman's Agreement" starring Gregory Peck where residents conspired not to sell their homes to Jews.
Stefanoni and his wife, Margaret, filed the lawsuit in 2013 against the Darien Little League and its leaders over the demotion of their son for the fall 2010 season, just days after Stefanoni filed an affordable housing application for property right next to the home of a former league official. Several months later, Stefanoni was banned indefinitely from coaching in the league.
Lawyers for the defendants deny the allegations. A federal judge in Bridgeport is now mulling a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. According to court documents, league officials say they made a mistake placing the Stefanonis' son on a higher-level team, after the housing application was filed, and corrected the error by moving him to another team.
"Mr. Stefanoni is pursuing a baseless litigation as a means to harass and retaliate against defendants for an imaginary slight that has no connection to reality or to the civil rights laws that he purports to vindicate," the defendants' lawyers, Michelle Arbitrio and Fred Knopf, wrote in the motion to dismiss. Knopf has since withdrawn from the case.
Former Little League board members named in the lawsuit declined to comment.
Stefanoni said he has had three affordable housing proposals rejected by the town. They include a 16-apartment complex with five affordable units and a 30-apartment development with nine affordable units. A court sent both of those back to the town's planning and zoning commission for review and approved a third. The commission cited traffic safety and other concerns.
The lawsuit includes allegations about city officials blocking affordable housing applications to keep blacks from moving into town, claims identical to those in another pending federal lawsuit against the town by a different affordable housing developer whose project was rejected.
The U.S. Department of Justice in 2010 began investigating whether the town was violating the Fair Housing Act with a zoning policy approved in 2009 that gave top priority for new affordable housing to Darien residents and other people with ties to the town, including town employees. The planning and zoning commission rescinded the policy later in 2010, and the Justice Department closed the investigation in 2012 without taking any action, the Darien Times reported.
According to state data, 2.6 percent of Darien's nearly 7,100 housing units qualify as affordable. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called affordable housing one of the state's most pressing needs and has committed hundreds of millions of dollars for more affordable housing.
In 2010, Darien won a four-year exemption to a state law making it easier for developers to build in towns with less than 10 percent affordable housing, and town officials expect to win another after resolving a dispute with the state. The town says it is entitled to the exemption under a complicated formula involving existing affordable housing units.
Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the town has made significant efforts to increase affordable housing and its housing practices aren't discriminatory.
"The Darien of today bears no resemblance to the allegations that the Stefanonis ... are intending to propagate," she said. "These folks are developers and they're looking to develop housing and make some money."
Rob Williamson, owner of Uncle's Deli in downtown Darien, said he doesn't believe the town is being discriminatory in rejecting affordable housing applications.
"The town's small, very tight knit," the resident of nearby Stamford said. "That doesn't mean we want to keep anyone out. It's a small, little New England town and I think they want to keep it that way."