Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Chinese Duck Farmer opposes the new "Transit oriented development" in his town.

Is this what the planners meant by living close to the transit hub?
Is everyone that disagrees with Government development policy a NIMBY?  


The above video and CBS story is self explanatory.   It shows one heroic struggle of a property owner against the tyranical government planners and the developers who would take his property. 

Unfortunately, the Marinwood Priority Development Area has already been created, signalling big changes to our community by ABAG/ Marin central planners.  Marinwood Plaza is the first of the developments to be attempted.  There are five in the 2012 Housing Element with other large developments  (Rocking H ranch and other parcels under informal consideration).  The current housing plans, if fullfilled, will increase our population 25% with low income, high density apartments.
Is this the future you want for our community?

Sometimes, it takes the simple act of defiance by a duck farmer in a Communist County to understand what freedom means.

What a Wonderful World-Louis Armstrong

The Twin Cities has their own "Plan Bay Area" Regional Power Grab


Editor's Note: Communities all across the country are having their local government and property rights radically altered by regional governments. This will cost the suburbs their independence and local democracy under the guise of "sustainable cities. Here is what is happening in Minnesota. Note how it is earily similar to Plan Bay Area.

Twin Cities suburbs should beware of the Met Council

  • Article by: KATHERINE KERSTEN
  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 4:48 PM
Crusaders for ‘regionalism’ want a more concentrated, centrally planned Twin Cities. Those who don’t may never know what hit them.



  • The Twin Cities of 2040 will likely be starkly different from the place you live now. People will increasingly live in dense, urban concentrations, even if they’d prefer a house with a yard outside the 494 beltway.
Government planners will have power to steer new jobs into central cities and first-ring suburbs, and to set what amounts to quotas for people of different incomes and races in neighborhoods and schools throughout the metro area. Outside the urban core, highway conditions will deteriorate and congestion — encouraged by government — will get worse.

As these changes unfold, you’ll never be sure how the freedom and quality of life you once took for granted slipped away. Plenty of elected officials will be as frustrated as you are. But mysteriously, they too will stand powerless as choices constrict.

What will be the engine of this transformation? An out-of-the-limelight agency we generally think of as running the buses and occasionally approving a new runway at the airport: the Metropolitan Council.
In coming months, the council will release a draft of “Thrive MSP 2040” — its comprehensive plan to shape development in the seven-county region over the next 30 years. Powerful forces are coalescing to use the document as a tool for social planners to use to design their vision of the perfect society — and to impose it on the rest of us.

A huge, unchecked power grab is about to take place beneath our noses. But mayors and city councils will find it hard to push back. That’s because the Met Council will increasingly wield the power to decide which municipalities thrive and which decline. It will both write the rules for development and hold the purse strings.
The Met Council was established in the mid-1960s at the behest of Republican-leaning policymakers, who believed regional planning of infrastructure could enhance efficiency. Its reach has grown dramatically, and today it allocates funds (state, federal and regional) among the region’s 187 municipalities for projects ranging from highway improvement to bridges to sewer lines. In the process, the council’s role has expanded well beyond its original mandate, as government so often does.

We can expect MSP 2040 to put this process on steroids, giving the agency a license, over time, to dramatically remake the entire region.

‘Equity,’ ‘sustainability’

The forces shaping MSP 2040 — whose final vision the council will approve in 2014 — are part of a growing nationwide movement called “regionalism.”

Regional planning of service delivery and infrastructure is important, of course. But “regionalism,” as an ideology, is not, as its name suggests, about promoting the good of a region as a whole. It’s about metro centers — the urban core and inner-ring suburbs — usurping control over outer-ring communities to advance their own interests and, in the process, effectively replacing local elected officials with a handful of regional governments.

In the case of the Twin Cities, the ramifications for democratic self-rule are profound. The Met Council’s 17 members are not elected. Though they come from different parts of the seven-county area, they don’t represent the needs and interests of voters there. They are all appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton, and they owe their allegiance to him.

The press for regionalism is coming from the highest power in the land: the Obama White House. The Obama administration’s campaign to build the regulatory framework to implement the movement’s agenda is documented in political analyst Stanley Kurtz’s 2012 book, “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.”

The Twin Cities may be a showcase for how far the regionalist crusade can go. Our Met Council is unique, and we already have regional tax-base sharing — one of the movement’s most sought-after tools.

An army of academics, environmental organizations, foundations, and transit advocacy and left-wing religious groups is working to ensure that MSP 2040 greatly expands the Met Council’s regulatory control. And there’s a movement underway to organize politicians from inner-ring suburbs and Minneapolis and St. Paul, with the goal of taking on the outer-ring suburbs and forging a permanent legislative majority for the regionalist agenda.

Regionalism is driven by a core ideological conviction: The cause of the poverty and social dysfunction that bedevil America’s cities is the greed and racial bigotry of suburbanites — especially those in prosperous, outer-ring suburbs, which are viewed as unjustly excluding the poor. Regionalists believe that financial aid for the inner ring won’t remedy this injustice. A profound change in governance is required.


What sort of change? The title of a book by regionalist guru David Rusk puts it bluntly: “Cities without Suburbs.” In regionalists’ view, suburbs with their own tax bases are, by definition, a menace to cities, and the distinctions between the two must be wiped out as completely as possible.

Regionalists’ strategy to effectively merge cities and suburbs turns on two ideologically freighted buzzwords: “equity” and “sustainability.” “Equity” is code for using public policy to redistribute wealth and to engineer economic equality among demographic groups.

Regionalists view metrowide “economic integration” as one of government’s primary responsibilities. Their plan to accomplish it is twofold: Disperse urban poverty throughout a metro area via low-income housing and make suburban life so inconvenient and expensive that suburbanites are pushed back into the city.

“Sustainability” means policies that would override market forces to ensure that in the future, the great majority of new jobs, economic development and public works projects are funneled into the metro area’s urban core and inner ring — where, not coincidentally, regionalists’ own political base is concentrated. “Sustainable” policies promote high-density, Manhattan-style living, and attempt to wean us away from our cars and push us to walk, bike or use public transit to get to work.

As one critic — speculating on MSP 2040’s likely outcome — lamented: “Do we all have to live in a 1,500-square-foot condo above a coffee shop on a transit line?”

Suburbanites will disproportionately shoulder the costs of this socially engineered transformation, paying more in taxes and getting less back in infrastructure and public services.

Purse strings
Regionalists’ strategy for imposing their agenda hinges on giving regional bodies like the Met Council the ultimate trump: the power of the checkbook. The Obama administration’s “Sustainable Communities Initiative” (SCI) provides a model. SCI channels federal funds for land use, transportation and housing projects through regional bodies. The catch is that, to participate, municipalities must embrace redistributive “equity” goals.

The Met Council already has announced that “equity” and “mitigating economic and social disparities through regional investments” will be top priorities of MSP 2040. This explicit embrace of social engineering goals appears to signal an intent to initiate what could be a virtually limitless remake of our metro area.

Special-interest groups are lining up to lobby for proposals to embed “equity” and “sustainability” criteria in Met Council plans and/or funding criteria. These proposals include creating one giant seven-county metro school district to facilitate apportionment of students by race and income, and ensuring that “at least 70 percent of projected growth in population and households” in the next 30 years takes place through “infill and redevelopment of already urbanized land.”

In the future, if Prior Lake or Anoka want to get a grant to expand a major regional highway, officials there may need to demonstrate that their city meets the council’s “equity” criteria on low-income housing and doesn’t allow “exclusionary” zoning, instead of just showing that the project would improve safety or reduce congestion.

Over time, demands could escalate. Eventually, for example, a municipality may have to meet onerous “carbon footprint” or “clean energy” requirements to get approval for a new sewer line. Pressure will mount to make state and federal aid of all kinds contingent on meeting Met Council social planning dictates.
Most likely, the council will continue to operate under the fiction that cities have a choice. Yet a city council or a county board that declines to comply with “regionalist” criteria — citing its citizens’ needs and preferences — would ensure that funds and approval for improvement would stop, and so would remain frozen in time.

Advocates insist that the Twin Cities must embrace regionalist policies to remain “economically competitive.” In fact, top-down planning by unaccountable bureaucrats that distorts market forces is likely to constrict overall prosperity and stymie development. Ironically, it’s also likely to increase “sprawl,” as people flee to cities like Delano or Elk River to get beyond the Met Council’s iron grip.

Most importantly, the direction the Met Council is heading is inconsistent with our deepest beliefs as a people. The American dream is about striving for a better life through economic growth, not redistribution of wealth. Regionalists’ Orwellian appeals to “equity” and “sustainability” are hostile to our cherished traditions of individual liberty, personal responsibility and local self-government.
------
Katherine Kersten is a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. The views expressed here are her own. She is at kakersten@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

School Expansion Costs Estimate $2.5- 3 Million Dollars,

According to Luke McCann, deputy Superintendent Marin County Office of Education, the cost to build a 6000 square foot modular addition is $2.5 - $3 million dollars. It is being built to accomodate the County Community School at the Las Gallinas campus. The school will house 40 students and instructors.  The amount does not include instructors, books, computers or furnishings.   Above is the budgeted cost estimate.  The structure is modular and built on a slab foundation.

The cost of portables can run around $170,000 installed each.  We will need 5-7 portables for a total cost of $1.5 million dollarsl

The Marinwood Village project by Bridge Housing was initially estimated to bring 150 students which will definitely trigger expansion of our schools. Through the  "magic" of statistics they revised their estimates to 60 students.  Bridge Housing "school impact fee" is estimated to be only $200,000 total.  

For this reason alone, the Marinwood Village project should be halted until an equitable financing scheme can be found that will not erode the funding of our Dixie School district.

We must insist that the supervisors get the math right on school funding when planning for non-profit developments. 

Our children's education, our community is not "for sale".

Save Marinwood. Our community. Our future.


Smart Growth: Why It's Not Working in the Bay Area

Remember when free expression and "back to the land" were a popular movement?


New: Smart Growth: Why It's Not Working in the Bay Area (Public Comment)

James Shinn
Tuesday August 11, 2015 - 10:23:00 PM
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Smart growth is simply not working in highly attractive urban settings such as San Francisco. The reason is that smart growth in these areas has a paradoxical effect. The reasons are as follows: 

From a climatological and topographical standpoint, San Francisco has always been a desirable place to live. There has never been a time when people didn’t want to live there. On the other hand, something very strange has happened in the last 10-15 years. The city has vaulted dramatically to the top in our country to become the most expensive major urban city in the USA for rentals, and the second most gridlocked city in the nation. Why has this happened at the same time that smart growth policies became fully imbedded in local urban planning decisions!? We are getting the exact opposite of what smart growth policy promises should happen! High rise residential structures have exploded all over San Francisco, but the gridlock and prices just seem to be getting worse and worse.  
The reason is two-fold. The Bay Area happens to be the cradle for one of the greatest economic revolutions in human history—the high-tech revolution. But this revolution was born in the Santa Clara valley, which does not have the topographical and climatological assets that are characteristic of the North Bay. For a considerable period of time, this did not make much difference in habitation patterns. The techies involved in the industry remained in the valley close to their companies. Being well-paid, they bid up residential prices in the area to quite high levels. Then came the smart phone app application revolution, combined with the move of financial firms to San Francisco, and the concomitant decisions by city planners to start driving the city skyward. San Francisco suddenly became THE place to live if you wanted to show you had “made it”, and all these techies decided they wanted to live in this new “Manhattan”. High rise buildings are part of this “vibe”. As one Bay Area city planner told me when I objected to skyscrapers for Berkeley, “Americans love skyscrapers!”. For awhile, techies started moving to San Francisco and taking corporate buses back to the Valley for their jobs each day. This still goes on. But, increasingly, they now have such high salaries that they can actually buy a condo in the city—and that is the key variable driving the current price explosion.  
The other key variable is the fact that, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, about 20% of SF residential purchases are by foreign buyers, primarily from China, as investment vehicles for getting assets offshore. And, frequently, these foreign purchases are empty most of the year. Everybody wants to be part of the new “Gotham by the Bay”. This is why, the more you build, the more they will keep coming—with the disastrous environmental effects of gridlock that we are now seeing. The smart growth theory is that this high-rise density actually can be used to force people out of their cars. Some of the more cynical smart growth advocates actually say that, eventually, the gridlock will get so destructive that people will have no other choice but to virtually abandon the automobile. This mantra is particularly prevalent among young techies. But, sadly, this is the fallacy of hope over experience. It simply is not happening in any urban area that has very limited land availability(SF), high topological/climatological desirability(SF), and high disposable income among the professional class(once again, SF).  
To date, Berkeley has not yet become totally infected with this virus—but we are on the cusp. This drive by techies, and out of country buyers, to live in SF at all costs can not be realized by all. Some just don’t have quite enough money to realize the dream. What to do? Move across the bay to the next best alternative—Oakland and Berkeley, commute to our jobs in SF and hope that the “Manhattanization” of Berkeley(for example) moves ahead fast enough so that it can be seen as an “acceptable life-style” type of place to live. The sad fact is that, then,what has happened to SF is going to happen to Berkeley—and fast! We are already starting to see the first wave of this impact. Gridlock is growing, prices are going up steadily, lower income residents are being pushed out. And we are rapidly losing the particular aesthetic, architectural, and livable character of this low-rise city. And the city planners plan for even more of this by urging the construction of high rises because this, allegedly, will provide more housing, at more affordable rates, for all. Unfortunately, this won’t happen.  
What we will get instead is "Manhattan by the East Bay”, ever more unaffordable as it becomes a perhaps equally “acceptable" place to live as SF. The bottom line is that, for high desirability, land deficit, urban areas, the high rise codicil to smart growth philosophy simply doesn’t work. The problem is that urban planners simply are refusing to believe that “the emperor has no clothes”. In the face of reality staring them in the face they simply can’t admit what is happening before their very eyes—and ears and noses! When the Downtown Plan was passed several years ago, the people of Berkeley had not come to realize this either. But in the meantime, this revolution in urban development has exploded with exponential force. More and more of the public is beginning to come to terms with what urban planning, by “the best and the brightest” hath wrought—and they don’t like it. This is why Harold Way must be stopped at all costs, Once the people of Berkeley allow city development to cross this high-rise Rubicon, and set a true high-rise precedent in our fair city, there is no turning back. The die will have been cast. 
And finally, what happens if this current tech bubble bursts—as it has before—and many are predicting that it will soon—and real estate prices begin to tumble rapidly—as they did so recently. Then we will have a downtown stuck with high-rise structures that don’t appear to be such good investments, and tax reservoirs, after all. In fact, they will be white elephants. This is why true, “smart growth” for Berkeley is to proceed with mid-rise, 4-6 story infill development along the lines of what is presently going on. After all, this has been good enough for Paris, why should it not be good enough for us! There is plenty of opportunity for this to be done—despite what some city planners say. One can argue about the aesthetics and neighborhood impact of these structures, and this is the proper purview of the Design Review Committee, but this more cautious approach to downtown development provides far more protection against the inevitable real estate bust that is coming. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Save Marin (again)

Tell Marin County: Let Tomales Bay Oyster Co Keep Their Picnic Area Open for Shucking!

Sign the Petition!
Tell Marin County: 

"Let Tomales Bay Oyster Co 
Keep Their Picnic Area Open for Shucking!"






On September 16, 2015 the Marin County Community Development Agency ordered that Tomales Bay Oyster Company remove its picnic tables and barbeque facilities, cut our hours of operation from seven days a week to only three days and additionally the total number of employees can be only eight for the entire operation including farming and retail sales which will eliminate several employee positions.



Marin County Community Development Agency Code Enforcement says, “all picnicking and barbeque facilities must be removed, there cannot be any special events and the business must operate with the 1987 approved retail hours [Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.]."



We would like to work with the Marin County Community Development Agency , The Marin County Planning Department and Marin County Board of Supervisors to find a solution where we can continue to support barbeque facilities, picnicking, and retail sales every day and keep the current employees. The CDA action is causing TBOC to lay several full time and numerous part time employees and will severely curb retail sales making the business less profitable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We Don't Need your Facilitation! Leave us alone!

The 'Affordable Housing' Fraud

Thomas Sowell
Nowhere has there been so much hand wringing over a lack of "affordable housing," as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.
A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.

It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of "affordable housing."

Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for "affordable housing" occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a "complex" issue.

Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was "complex." President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, "but it is not easy."

Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.

One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.

This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries -- and so have many other people who never studied economics.

Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.

Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving "open space," and "open space" has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don't have to worry about housing prices.

Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.

How "complex" is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of "open space" would keep housing from becoming "unaffordable"?

Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of "open space," "saving farmland," or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?

When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the "complex" question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?

However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom "open space" is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How "complex" is that?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com.

California’s Green Bantustan


California’s Green Bantustans


One of the core barriers to economic prosperity in California is the price of housing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Policies designed to stifle the ability to develop land are based on flawed premises. These policies prevail because they are backed by environmentalists, and, most importantly, because they have played into the agenda of crony capitalists, Wall Street financiers, and public sector unions. But while the elites have benefit, ordinary working families have been condemned to pay extreme prices in mortgages, property taxes, or rents, to live in confined, unhealthy, ultra high-density neighborhoods. It is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, but instead of racial superiority as the supposed moral justification, environmentalism is the religion of the day. The result is identical.

Earlier this month an economist writing for the American Enterprise Institute, Mark J. Perry, published a chart proving that over the past four years, more new homes were built in one city, Houston Texas, than in the entire state of California. We republished Perry’s article earlier this week, “California vs. Texas in one chart.” The population of greater Houston is 6.3 million people. The population of California is 38.4 million people. California, with six times as many people as Houston, built fewer homes.

And when there’s a shortage, prices rise. The median home price in Houston is $184,000. The median price of a home in Los Angeles is $530,000, nearly three times as much as a home in Houston. The median price of a home in San Francisco is $843,000, nearly five times as much as home in Houston. What is the reason for this? There may be a shortage of homes, but there is no shortage of land in California, a state of 163,000 square miles containing vast expanses of open space. What happened?

You can argue that San Francisco and Los Angeles are hemmed in by ocean and mountains, respectively, but that really doesn’t answer the question. In most cases, these cities can expand along endless freeway corridors to the north, south, and east, if not west, and new urban centers can arise along these corridors to attract jobs. But they don’t, and the reason for this are the so-called “smart growth” policies. In an interesting report entitled “America’s Emerging Housing Crisis,” Joel Kotkin calls this policy “urban containment.” And along with urban containment, comes downsizing. From another critic of smart growth/urban containment, economist Thomas Sowell, here’s a description of what downsizing means in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb Palo Alto:
“The house is for sale at $1,498,000. It is a 1,010 square foot bungalow with two bedrooms, one bath and a garage. Although the announcement does not mention it, this bungalow is located near a commuter railroad line, with trains passing regularly throughout the day. The second house has 1,200 square feet and was listed for $1.3 million. Intense competition for the house drove the sale price to $1.7 million. The third, with 1,292 square feet (120 square meters) and built in 1895 is on the market for $2.3 million.”

And as Sowell points out, there are vast rolling foothills immediately west of Palo Alto that are completely empty – the beneficiaries of urban containment.

The reason for all of this ostensibly is to preserve open space. This is a worthy goal when kept in perspective. But in California, NO open space is considered immediately acceptable for development. There are hundreds of square miles of rolling foothills on the east slopes of the Mt. Hamilton range that are virtually empty. With reasonable freeway improvements, residents there could commute to points throughout the Silicon Valley in 30-60 minutes. But entrepreneurs have spent millions of dollars and decades of efforts to develop this land, and there is always a reason their projects are held up.

The misanthropic cruelty of these polices can be illustrated by the following two photographs. The first one is from Soweto, a notorious shantytown that was once one of the most chilling warehouses for human beings in the world, during the era of apartheid in South Africa. The second one is from a suburb in North Sacramento. The scale is identical. Needless to say, the quality of the homes in Sacramento is better, but isn’t it telling that the environmentally enlightened planners in this California city didn’t think a homeowner needed any more dirt to call their own than the Afrikaners deigned to allocate to the oppressed blacks of South Africa?

The Racist Bantustan
201402_Soweto-500px
Soweto, South Africa  –  40′ x 80′ lots, single family dwellings

When you view these two studies in urban containment, consider what a person who wants to install a toilet, or add a window, or remodel their kitchen may have to go through, today in South Africa, vs. today in Sacramento. Rest assured the ability to improve one’s circumstances in Soweto would be a lot easier than in Sacramento. In Sacramento, just acquiring the permits would probably cost more time and money than doing the entire job in Soweto. And the price of these lovely, environmentally correct, smart-growth havens in Sacramento? According to Zillow, they are currently selling for right around $250,000, more than five times the median household income in that city
.
The Environmentalist Bantustan
201402_Sacramento-500px
Sacramento, California  –  40′ x 80′ lots, single family dwellings
When you increase supply you lower prices, and homes are no exception. The idea that there isn’t enough land in California to develop abundant and competitively priced housing is preposterous. According to the American Farmland Trust, of California’s 163,000 square miles, there are 25,000 square miles of grazing land and 42,000 square miles of agricultural land; of that, 14,000 square miles are prime agricultural land. Think about this. You could put 10 million new residents into homes, four per household, on half-acre lots, and you would only consume 1,953 square miles. If you built those homes on the best prime agricultural land California’s got, you would only use up 14% of it. If you scattered those homes among all of California’s farmland and grazing land – which is far more likely – you would only use up 3% of it. Three percent loss of agricultural land, to allow ten million people to live on half-acre lots!

And what of these lots in North Sacramento? What of these homes that cost a quarter-million each, five times the median household income? They sit thirteen per acre. Not even enough room in the yard for a trampoline.

There is a reason to belabor these points, this simple algebra. Because the notion that we have to engage in urban containment is a cruel, entirely unfounded, self-serving lie. You may examine this question of development in any context you wish, and the lie remains intact. If there is an energy shortage, then develop California’s shale reserves. If fracking shale is unacceptable, then drill for natural gas in the Santa Barbara channel. If all fossil fuel is unacceptable, then build nuclear power stations in the geologically stable areas in California’s interior. If there is a water shortage, than build high dams. If high dams are forbidden, then develop aquifer storage to collect runoff. Or desalinate seawater off the Southern California coast. Or recycle sewage. Or let rice farmers sell their allotments. There are answers to every question.

Environmentalists generate an avalanche of studies, however, that in effect demonize all development, everywhere. The values of environmentalism are important, but if it weren’t for the trillions to be made by trial lawyers, academic careerists, government bureaucrats and their union patrons, crony green capitalist oligarchs, and government pension fund managers and their partners in the hedge funds whose portfolio asset appreciation depends on artificially elevated prices, environmentalism would be reined in. If it weren’t for opportunists following this trillion dollar opportunity, environmentalist values would be kept in their proper perspective.

The Californians who are hurt by urban containment are not the wealthy elites who find it comforting to believe and lucrative to propagate the enabling big lie. The victims are the underprivileged, the immigrants, the minority communities, retirees who collect Social Security, low wage earners and the disappearing middle class. Anyone who aspires to improve their circumstances can move to Houston and buy a home with relative ease, but in California, they have to struggle for shelter, endlessly, needlessly – contained and allegedly environmentally correct.


Monday, September 28, 2015

San Francisco Bay Blues

Redevelopment agencies return, in new guise, to California




PRESS-ENTERPRISE EDITORIAL
Well, it was nice while it lasted. In 2011 Gov. Jerry Brown abolished the hundreds of redevelopment agencies in the state, and for four years property owners did not have to fear that an unaccountable local agency would abuse its eminent domain powers to take their property and give it to a politically connected developer for his private gain. Now, regrettably, the governor has reversed course by signing Assembly Bill 2, which will usher in the return of redevelopment agencies under the friendlier-sounding name “Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities.”
The new law strips away the few protections property owners had under the old redevelopment law, such as the elimination of a blight study, which required at least some objective evidence and documentation of blight in an area targeted for redevelopment.
Under AB2, properties may be redeveloped if, for 80 percent of the redevelopment area, the annual median income is less than 80 percent of the statewide median, and other conditions are met, such as: The unemployment rate is at least 3 percentage points higher than the statewide rate, the crime rate is at least 5 percentage points higher than the statewide rate, and municipal infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks and parks, is “deteriorated.”
But as the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm that has fought numerous instances of eminent domain abuse, including the infamous Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court case in 2005, notes: “These criteria punish property owners for things they are powerless to change: unemployment, crime and poor infrastructure. Furthermore, the bill would allow, and actually incentivizes CRIAs to target the most vulnerable populations: those with lower incomes and fewer resources to fight to keep what they have worked so hard to own.”
Research cited by the Legislative Analyst’s Office showed redevelopment agencies do not create any net economic benefit but, at best, merely shift development from one part of the state to another, and that most of the growth that occurs in such areas would have happened with or without RDAs.
Redevelopment agencies were notorious for their corruption, cronyism, mounting debts and abuses of property rights. Property owners in California should brace for more of the same – and then some – from the new Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The United Nations has a radical, dangerous vision for the future of the Web

The United Nations has a radical, dangerous vision for the future of the Web

By Caitlin Dewey September 24

(United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development)

It may not have intended to, precisely, but the United Nations just took sides in the Internet’s most brutal culture war.

On Thursday, the organization’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development released a damning “world-wide wake-up call” on what it calls “cyber VAWG,” or violence against women and girls. The report concludes that online harassment is “a problem of pandemic proportion” — which, nbd, we’ve all heard before.

But the United Nations then goes on to propose radical, proactive policy changes for both governments and social networks, effectively projecting a whole new vision for how the Internet could work.

Under U.S. law — the law that, not coincidentally, governs most of the world’s largest online platforms — intermediaries such as Twitter and Facebook generally can’t be held responsible for what people do on them. But the United Nations proposes both that social networks proactively police every profile and post, and that government agencies only “license” those who agree to do so.

“The respect for and security of girls and women must at all times be front and center,” the report reads, not only for those “producing and providing the content,” but also everyone with any role in shaping the “technical backbone and enabling environment of our digital society.”

How that would actually work, we don’t know; the report is light on concrete, actionable policy. But it repeatedly suggests both that social networks need to opt-in to stronger anti-harassment regimes and that governments need to enforce them proactively.

[Contrary Internet crybabies, online speech in the U.S. is really free, actually]

At one point toward the end of the paper, the U.N. panel concludes that “political and governmental bodies need to use their licensing prerogative” to better protect human and women’s rights, only granting licenses to “those Telecoms and search engines” that “supervise content and its dissemination.”

This question, of course, mirrors other, larger debates playing out across the culture, including tiffs over academic “trigger warnings” and debates about Reddit’s foggy future. Writing at Breitbart several weeks ago, the conservative columnist Allum Bokhari described a growing social movement that he dubs “cultural libertarianism”: the rejection of any and all limitations on absolute free expression.

It’s no coincidence that the “cultural libertarians” Bokhari cites are all leading figures in Gamergate, just as it’s no coincidence that the U.N. report references Zoe Quinn, the first victim of that movement. Well over a year after Quinn’s harassment became international news, we still haven’t answered these fundamental questions about what values the Internet should protect and who is responsible for it.

This U.N. report gets us no closer, alas: all but its most modest proposals are unfeasible. We can educate people about gender violence or teach “digital citizenship” in schools, but persuading social networks to police everything their users post is next to impossible. And even if it weren’t, there are serious implications for innovation and speech: According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, CDA 230 — the law that exempts online intermediaries from this kind of policing — is basically what allowed modern social networks (and blogs, and comments, and forums, etc.) to come into being.

As reports like this are making increasingly clear, however, these platforms were developed by people who never imagined the struggles that women face online. We’re using tools that weren’t designed for us; they had other people and values and priorities in mind.

Is a reckoning — or at least rebalancing — imminent? The United Nations suggests it has to be. But it certainly won’t look like the model dreamt up in this report. For better or worse, that’s several steps too revolutionary.
In other words, the United Nations believes that online platforms should be (a) generally responsible for the actions of their users and (b) specifically responsible for making sure those people aren’t harassers.

Regardless of whether you think those are worthwhile ends, the implications are huge: It’s an attempt to transform the Web from a libertarian free-for-all to some kind of enforced social commons.

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