Friday, November 20, 2015

Forcing Urban Growth with Plan Bay Area. A Citizen Responds.



No one elected Steve Heminger, Executive Director of MTC yet he wants to force urban growth on communities everywhere in the Bay Area and raise taxes and "fees" to fund the vision.  The allusion to Soviet central planning is not an exaggeration..

A Citizen responds to the comments made in the video:

"The communities we want to create": that is exercise of power at the expense of the power of others to choose for themselves the communities they want to create.

"in a more forceful way.": He is asking, how do we planners get more power to impose our will on others.

"minor update".: creates a perceived as reality.

"aggressive gHg targets: translation, need a bigger stick to get more power. We underestimated our lack of effective use of our power. Need more power.

Grants: Can we further craft the conditions (strings) that come with money that was taken by force as taxes to implement our agenda. Purchasing power. How to use this better to get more power.

The government power is in the hands of we the people not Mr. Heminger. He does not appear to understand the rule of law, rather is using the power of the public purse to implement Plan Bay Area.

It's all about power, power, power. Our constitutions and subsequent rule of law is in place to direct and limit this power.

We the people need to go to Sacramento and get these laws changed and absorb MTC and ABAG (all regional agency) into our State executive branch agency districts ("regions") and counties or we are going to lose our State, our country, our form of government and our freedoms protected by that government.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone..

Editors Note: Many planners like John Raime, Director of San Francisco Planning seen in the video want to force suburbs to absorb all of the growth and build high density developments.  These planners and Steve Heminger with their megalomaniac visions of urbanization will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. They have the power of the purse strings and will inflict harm on anyone in their way.  Democracy be damned.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Will Marinwood Lucas Valley become home to Refugees?



Gov. Jerry Brown: California open to Syrian refugees


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While a growing number of Republican governors have protested the resettlement of Syrian refugees since the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday he would not turn away those seeking asylum.
“I intend to work closely with the President so that he can both uphold America’s traditional role as a place of asylum, but also ensure that anyone seeking refuge in America is fully vetted in a sophisticated and utterly reliable way,” the Democrat said in a statement to The Desert Sun on Monday.
“You can be sure that we will do everything in our power to protect the people of our state.”
Over the past three years, California has accepted 17,664 refugees from throughout the world, by far mostly from Iraq and Iran, respectively. That comes from state-by-state data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Texas saw the most refugees over those same three years -- 2012-2014. The state welcomed 20,612 refugees, mostly from Burma and Iraq, in that order.
The Paris attacks have reopened the debate over the Obama administration's decision in September to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
The Republican governors have taken a range of approaches to the issue, but none has explained how they would legally keep Syrian refugees out. Whether states have to actively cooperate with those resettlements is another question, and that's where many of the governors are trying to exert leverage.
President Obama didn't address the governors directly Monday. But after securing an agreement from industrialized nations to do more to help with refugee resettlement. he told reporters, "the United States has to step up and do its part."
Read the entire USA Today story.

Editors Note: Marin County Supervisors in their questionable wisdom voted to approve a housing element that places 80% of all affordable housing for unincorporated Marin in Marinwood-Lucas Valley. These big box developments may house 300-700 people.including new immigrants and refugees.   We think it is a much better plan to build smaller developments instead of isolated islands so that our new neighbors will become part of our community.

Sanctuary counties like Marin County face a difficult task in dealing with refugees since our law enforcement will will cooperate with the Office of Homeland Security only if laws are broken and a warrant is issued. 

Activists, Planners and Business people meet to discuss YOUR future.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Prosperity Cleaners Toxic Waste Clean up meeting November 16, 2015



The meeting is approximately 1:26 minutes

Key points of the evening.

1.) Recent testing has revealed toxic
 plume is at least 50% larger than the April 2015 map and info sheet.
2.) Testing for toxic soil vapors has begun and more testing will be done inside of Casa Marinwood. Rains may make testing difficult but they hope to complete by Dec 31, 2015
3.) While the substance is dangerous, it also can be treated effectively.
4.) PCE toxic waste (liquid) generally travels in the downgradient towards the Bay. Soil vapors spread in all directiions where there is permable soil, especially around utility trenches. This is the concern at Casa Marinwood.
5.) The top officials at the RWQCB attended and have pledged speedy resolution to the problem. Marinwood Plaza, LLC must submit a plan by Jan 1, 2016.
6.) Supervisor Damon Connolly has provided wonderful community leadership on this issue and will continue to watch over the process.
7.) Community involvement is key to making this happen.

8.) Of special note, the RWQCB agreed to be available to make corrections to the January 27, 2015 Marin IJ article "Plaza Pollution Analysis: All's Fine ": which inaccurately implied there is no further risk to the community.  The risk is much greater than known at the time and a cause of immediate concern.




A Driverless Future?

A driverless future?


This artwork by Mark Weber relates to the development of the driverless automobile.


BY STEVEN STRAUSS



STEVEN STRAUSS IS A VISITING PROFESSOR AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY’S WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS.
November 15, 2015, 12:01AM


In 1898, just before the dawn of the automobile age, delegates from around the world came to New York for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It wasn’t the effects of the coming car revolution on urban land use, the need for gasoline stations or the implications for economic development. It was horse manure. At that time, Americans used roughly 20 million horses for transport, and cities were drowning in their muck.

But we shouldn’t mock our forebears because our current planning debates are just as rooted in the present, just as ignorant of the oncoming avalanche of changes. As the delegates in New York obsessed over horses when they should have been thinking about cars, our policy wonks obsess over cars when they should be thinking about autonomous vehicles.

Consider that the first semi-autonomous vehicles are already on the roads. Fully autonomous cars could be available for purchase as soon as 2020.

It’s widely expected that autonomous vehicles will be cheaper to operate and travel faster than cars; be fleet-owned (individual ownership won’t be worthwhile if self-driving cars are both affordable and guaranteed to arrive promptly); and mostly use electric and/or hybrid power.

Given these assumptions, let me sketch out a few high-level implications.


Fleet ownership of autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of cars on the road by 60 percent to 90 percent due to more efficient usage and, consequently, reduce car sales by an equivalent percentage. Many of the 1 million jobs in U.S. auto manufacturing will probably disappear.

More than 2.5 million driving jobs (there are 1.7 million truck drivers, 650,000 bus drivers and 230,000 taxi drivers — about 2 percent of the U.S. workforce) will also be eliminated or transformed. In terms of the resulting human disruption, remember that all of these workers are part of families and communities; the loss of their jobs will produce a ripple effect.

On a positive note, self-driving cars will make our roads safer and bring major savings in health care and auto repair. About 33,000 people die each year in auto accidents. In 80 percent of the cases, the cause is alcohol consumption, driving in excess of the speed limit or a distracted driver. Computers should have none of these problems. Highway accidents have direct costs of about $240 billion a year and more than $800 billion a year if quality-of-life issues are included. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to eliminate most of these deaths and costs.

Relatedly, the automobile insurance industry (which now has revenue of about $200 billion) will shrink dramatically. Fewer accidents will mean fewer claims and lower premiums. The benefit to the economy from these savings could be $400 billion to $1 trillion a year, and should be reflected in lower transportation costs.

More good news is that land currently tied up for parking can be repurposed for other uses. Again, assuming expanded fleet ownership and less individual ownership, autonomous vehicles won’t need to park in city centers. Of course, changes in land use won’t benefit everyone equally. Self-driving cars could facilitate a significant shift to housing away from city centers, thereby reducing central urban property values and increasing values in outlying areas. For example, New York has several neighborhoods not accessible to mass transit, but autonomous vehicles may open these areas to development.In 1898, the U.S. population was about 74 million, and there were only 800 registered cars. By 1927 — less than 30 years — the U.S. had more than 19 million cars on the road, and more than 55 percent of American families owned one. The 20th century shift to automobiles, within the span of a normal human life, destroyed many existing sectors (anything to do with maintaining 20 million horses, for example). Entirely new laws, regulations and infrastructure (roads, tunnels and bridges suitable for motor vehicles, gasoline distribution and much else) had to be created.

The delegates to the 1898 urban planning conference failed to recognize the developments that would transform their world. Today’s transportation infrastructure discussions — about building a $10 billion bus terminal in New York, or a $70 billion high-speed rail system in California — may prove similarly shortsighted. These transportation mega-projects don’t seem to take self-driving cars into account. Yet by the time these initiatives are completed, these vehicles will be a major part of the transportation landscape. Self-driving minibuses, providing home to office direct service, may completely replace traditional buses. And there’s little doubt that autonomous vehicles will radically change the economic calculations and assumptions that make high-speed rail projects seem worthwhile (i.e. the speed and cost of travel by conventional car).

Policy leaders need to seriously consider winding down vocational schools that teach bus and truck driving as a career. Cities need to start rethinking their housing policies. And that’s not all. As self-driving technology facilitate a shift to electric and hybrid vehicles, highway trust fund revenue, which comes from the gasoline sales tax and pays for most federal road work, will collapse. How will road repair be funded going forward?

All sorts of technological, legal and regulatory barriers must be addressed for autonomous vehicles to deliver their full potential. But these barriers aren’t higher than those encountered in the shift from horses to conventional cars. Autonomous vehicles are coming. We need to stop thinking within the limitations of the past and focus instead on the tectonic shifts of the future.

Steven Strauss is a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. From the Los Angeles Times.

Charting culture. Born Here. Died there.

Who needs Elections when you have the unelected Bay Area Council?

 Who needs Elections when you have the unelected Bay Area Council?
Who needs elections when you have the “Bay Area Council” an organization that consists of appointees of local and county government. This group, ALL unelected to the position, now want to raise taxes—and take the responsibility for housing and zoning from the local city council and community. The crony capitalists and unions want to close down YOUR city council, except to issue resolutions congratulating the local blood bank for meeting its quota.
“The report continues: “Given the nature of the economy, its labor pool, housing sheds, job centers, and commute flows, viable solutions must reflect a regional perspective.”
The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored group that studies public policy.
The Bay Area Council Roadmap calls for strengthening a California-wide program called The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). RHNA “needs teeth,” the report says. The RHNA program demands that each Bay Area city build housing for low-income individuals.
The solution is simple—stop you city from participating or financing this totalitarian organization. Think about unelected people deciding the density of housing in your community—folks you never heard of, who hold meetings and make decisions without telling you. Angry yet?
taxes

Bay Area Council Roadmap calls for even more taxes, regional government

by Richard Colmana Costa Bee, 11/11/15
More taxes, bigger government, and loss of local control are just down the road according to proposals contained in the Bay Area Council Roadmap, a chilling document released by the think-tank that examines the local economy.
The Bay Area Council Roadmap document, “A Roadmap for Economic Resilience” states, ” . . . the Bay Area lacks any cohesive and comprehensive regional economic strategy for sustaining economic growth, weathering business cycles and supporting shared prosperity across the region.”
The Bay Area Council Roadmap was presented during a recent Bay Area Regional Economic Summit, held November 6 in Sacramento, California.
The report continues: “Given the nature of the economy, its labor pool, housing sheds, job centers, and commute flows, viable solutions must reflect a regional perspective.”
The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored group that studies public policy.
The Bay Area Council Roadmap calls for strengthening a California-wide program called The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). RHNA “needs teeth,” the report says. The RHNA program demands that each Bay Area city build housing for low-income individuals.
Part of the California’s housing plan demands the creation of Secondary Units also called “in-law” units. Secondary Units allow a property owner to construct — on his property — a guest home for low-income people.
The report says, “Lack of investment in the region’s aging and overcrowded transportation systems is undermining the Bay Area’s future prosperity.”
The Bay Area Council Roadmap calls for higher taxes. The report says, “Funding tools such as expanded tolling on bridges, highway corridors, and express lanes can be leveraged and allocated to key projects.”
Is the answer to the Bay Area’s problems more government?
To answer this question, all one has to do is examine what the last several years have been like.
In 2000, stocks in Silicon Valley companies began a steep decline. In 2000, the NASDAQ stock market, on which many Silicon Valley companies are traded, reached 5048.62. By 2002, NASDAQ declined to 1114.11. On November 9, 2015, NASDAQ closed at 5,095.30, a number higher than that reached in the year 2000. However, when one corrects for inflation, NASDAQ has not returned to where it was in 2000.
During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, stocks on all American stock exchanges dropped. Housing values in the Bay Area plummeted. For example in Pittsburg, California, houses prices that were at $600,000 in 2007 dropped to $300,000 in 2009.
The Bay Area, like the rest of California, is pricing itself out of business. Today’s California has the nation’s highest sales tax, the nation’s highest gasoline tax, and the highest top bracket for any state’s personal income tax: 13.3%. The California State Legislature is the highest paid state legislature in the nation. California’s corporate income tax (8.84%) in the seventh highest among the 50 states.
California already has had experience with regional government. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), an organization that does transportation planning for the nine-county Bay Area, and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), which is involved in housing matters, adopted Plan Bay Area in July 2013. The plan calls for high-rise, high-density housing in Bay Area cities. The members of the MTC and ABAG boards are not directly elected by voters. Why should Bay Area residents trust unelected — and, hence, unaccountable — people who might be in charge of regional government.
Plan Bay Area does not give local communities any choices about high-rise, high-density housing.
No one knows if there will be another crash in Silicon Valley or NASDAQ. No one knows if there will be another financial crisis like the one that occurred in 2008-2009.
Instead of big housing and transportation projects, Bay Area residents might want to do nothing at all. If people, jobs, and businesses start to leave the Bay Area for other states or other nations, there might not be any need for more infrastructure.
"We little people are sure happy to have the Bay Area Council to make the big decisions for us"

Monday, November 16, 2015

"We've got your Metadata"

Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes




Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes


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BALTIMORE — The crime itself was ordinary: Someone smashed the back window of a parked car one evening and ran off with a cellphone. What was unusual was how the police hunted the thief.
Detectives did it by secretly using one of the government’s most powerful phone surveillance tools — capable of intercepting data from hundreds of people’s cellphones at a time — to track the phone, and with it their suspect, to the doorway of a public housing complex. They used it to search for a car thief, too. And a woman who made a string of harassing phone calls.
In one case after another, USA TODAY found police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges. In the process, they quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing.
The suitcase-size tracking systems, which can cost as much as $400,000, allow the police to pinpoint a phone’s location within a few yards by posing as a cell tower. In the process, they can intercept information from the phones of nearly everyone else who happens to be nearby, including innocent bystanders. They do not intercept the content of any communications.
Dozens of police departments from Miami to Los Angeles own similar devices. A USA TODAY Media Network investigation identified more than 35 of them in 2013 and 2014, and the American Civil Liberties Union has found 18 more. When and how the police have used those devices is mostly a mystery, in part because the FBI swore them to secrecy.
Police and court records in Baltimore offer a partial answer. USA TODAY obtained apolice surveillance log and matched it with court files to paint the broadest picture yet of how those devices have been used. The records show that the city's police used stingrays to catch everyone from killers to petty thieves, that the authorities regularly hid or obscured that surveillance once suspects got to court and that many of those they arrested were never prosecuted.
Defense attorneys assigned to many of those cases said they did not know  a stingray had been used until USA TODAY contacted them, even though state law requires that they be told about electronic surveillance.
“I am astounded at the extent to which police have been so aggressively using this technology, how long they’ve been using it and the extent to which they have gone to create ruses to shield that use,” Stephen Mercer, the chief of forensics for Maryland’s public defenders, said.
Prosecutors said they, too, are sometimes left in the dark. "When our prosecutors are made aware that a detective used a cell-site stimulator, it is disclosed; however we rely upon the Police Department to provide us with that information," said Tammy Brown, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore's State's Attorney. "We are currently working with the Police Department to improve upon the process to better obtain this information in order to comply with the law.”




Baltimore is hardly alone. Police in Tallahassee used their stingray to track a woman wanted for check forging, according to records provided to the ACLU last year.Tacoma, Wash., police used theirs to try to find a stolen city laptop, according torecords released to the website Muckrock. Other departments have acknowledged that they planned to use their stingrays for solving street crimes.
As that surveillance became more common — and more widely known — state and federal lawmakers moved to put new limits on the circumstances in which it can be used. Some states require the police to get a search warrant before they can use a stingray, and Congress is considering a similar rule for the federal government.
Federal officials have said stingrays allow them to track dangerous criminals. “It’s how we find killers,” FBI Director James Comey said last year. “It’s how we find kidnappers. It’s how we find drug dealers. It’s how we find missing children. It’s how we find pedophiles.”
In Baltimore, at least, it’s how the police tracked the man they suspected stole a phone from the back seat of a car parked outside the city’s central booking facility in 2009. Two days after the theft, an officer said in a court filing that detectives found Danell Freeman holding the phone in the doorway of an East Baltimore public housing complex. The court filing did not say how detectives knew to look for the phone there, but a police surveillance log indicates they used a stingray.



Police charged Freeman with misdemeanor theft. Prosecutors dropped the case a month later.
“The problem is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have it be some super-secret national security terrorist finder and then use it to solve petty crimes,” Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Hanni Fakhoury said.
FBI spokesman Chris Allen said the bureau does not have the authority to tell police departments how they should use stingrays. It has asked them to keep that use confidential, requiring them to sign non-disclosure agreements that prohibit officers from revealing how the phone-tracking technology works. Baltimore police officials signed one in 2011.

CRIMES LARGE AND SMALL  
Baltimore’s police are prolific stingray users. In April, Det. Emmanuel Cabreja testified that officers had used cell-site simulators more than 4,300 times since 2007, a figure

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Martin O'Mally: Terrorism and Sustainable Development (Is he kidding!?)






"This O' Malley guy does not make any sense."

FABLE: THE PLANE TREE

THE PLANE TREE

TWO TRAVELLERS, walking in the noonday sun, sought the shade of a widespreading tree to rest. As they lay looking up among the pleasant leaves, they saw that it was a Plane Tree.

"How useless is the Plane!" said one of them. "It bears no fruit whatever, and only serves to litter the ground with leaves." 

"Ungrateful creatures!" said a voice from the Plane Tree. "You lie here in my cooling shade, and yet you say I am useless! Thus ungratefully, O Jupiter, do men receive their blessings!"

Our best blessings are often the least appreciated.


[Illustration]

The Coming Storm Over 'Stingray' Surveillance by Police

The Coming Storm Over 'Stingray' Surveillance by Police

The technology is being deployed in secret by departments across the country, according to a recent investigative report.



Image AP Photo/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
This undated handout photo shows the StingRay II, a cellular site simulator used for surveillance purposes. (AP Photo/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)

The storm trooper-level police response to protests in Ferguson last summer shocked many observers, and put a federal program that distributes surplus military weapons and equipment to local law enforcement under heavy scrutiny. But the creep of War on Terror technology into domestic policesurveillance tactics, and the Orwellian legal bases upon which it stands, has been more subtle.
One little understood tool is known as "stingray," a device that can locate a phone's location by posing as a cell tower. The system is good at tracking down criminal suspects but also intercepts the location of people who happen to be in the area.




In Baltimore, police are secretly employing the devices with great frequency to track down not only suspected murderers but small-time crooks, according to an important USA Today investigation published Monday. The upshot is that police nationwide have "quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing."
“The problem is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have it be some super-secret national security terrorist finder and then use it to solve petty crimes,” Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Hanni Fakhoury told the paper.
Dozens of police departments own such devices, according to USA Today,which it has reported were first created for military and spy agencies. But "when and how the police have used those devices is mostly a mystery, in part because the FBI swore them to secrecy," according to the paper. In Baltimore, investigative reporter Brad Heath compared a police surveillance log he obtained to court files, and found that police often "hid or obscured that surveillance once suspects got to court and that many of those they arrested were never prosecuted."
That secrecy has contributed to a disturbing lack of judicial review of stingray. In many cases, police are not securing search warrants before deploying the technology, and they don't even reveal that they have used it in court, depriving defense lawyers of their ability to argue that evidence was illegally obtained—a key Fourth Amendment safeguard.
Spy first, ask judges later.
“We can’t challenge it if we don’t know about it, that’s sort of the horror of it,” Baltimore public defender David Walsh-Little told USA Today.
Ironically, the secrecy is also causing cases to be tossed. Prosecutors, citing the non-disclosure agreement, have agreed to forgo evidence so as to avoid being forced to reveal that stingray was involved. The FBI has claimed that disclosing information on stingray could allow suspects to evade the technology—without explaining why stingray's very use must be hidden from judges and defendants in court.  
So far, there has been little legal scrutiny and, given the judiciary's light-touch approach to the national security state, it's easy to be pessimistic. But the U.S. Supreme Court has evidenced an inclination toward reining in law enforcement's opportunistic use of surveillance made possible by the widespread adoption of mobile digital technology—at least when it comes to exclusively domestic policing.
In 2012, the court ruled in United States v. Jones that placing a GPS device on a suspect's car, and then using that device to track the subject, did indeed constitute a search—but stopped short of clarifying whether such a search required a warrant and whether, independently, either the placing of the device or the ensuing tracking are warrant-necessitating searchesIn a 2014 case, the court ruled that police must almost always obtain a warrant before searching an arrestee's cell phone, and that its locational data was one reason why.
"Data on a cell phone can also reveal where a person has been," the court ruled in Riley v. California. "Historic location information is a standard feature on many smart phones and can reconstruct someone's specific movements down to the minute, not only around town but also within a particular building."
Key to determining stingray's legal future will be the Supreme Court's interpretation of the "third-party doctrine." That doctrine holds that people have no reasonable expectation of privacy over information voluntarily disclosed to a third party, and it has been used to uphold NSA dragnetmetadata collection, as this 2014 Ars Technica piece explains.
The handful of federal court rulings on stingray have not "really tackled the constitutionality of them or the legal standards that apply to using them," emails