Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life in High Density

Ontem (Yesterday) from FalcaoLucas on Vimeo.

Susan Adams can't get Off the Stage (Advocating for High Density housing for "all of us")

Did you know former Supervisor Susan Adams has been  "representing us" ever since leaving office?

Former Supervisor Susan Adams didn't get the message after losing in a landslide election in 2014.  Apparently, the lure of power is too much and she is serving as a public representative for "public health" in the Bay Area despite living in Sacramento.  Susan Adams is part of the "permanent government" that wants to tell us how to live our lives.  It is time to go home, Susan 

Friday, December 11, 2015

From AngryRenter to SFBARF: Co-opting Tenants for Political Gain

From AngryRenter to SFBARF: Co-opting Tenants for Political Gain
The so-called San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation (“SFBARF”) takes money from the real estate industry and mobilizes against renter protection legislation and pro-tenant candidates. The group’s leader has even spoken out against inclusionary housing laws. Despite its name, the group does nothing to assist renters.
Front groups claiming to speak for tenants are nothing new. In 2008, with the housing market falling off a cliff, calls for the government to provide relief to homeowners facing foreclosure were on the rise. Republican Dick Armey sprung to action with a fake renter group called “” Michael Phillips of the Wall Street Journal covered the story: “Though it purports to be a spontaneous uprising, is actually a product of an inside-the-Beltway conservative advocacy organization led by Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, and publishing magnate Steve Forbes, a fellow Republican. It’s a fake grass-roots effort — what politicos call an AstroTurf campaign — that provides a window into the sleight-of-hand ways of Washington.”
The idea of was to defeat a so-called homeowner bailout by pretending that renters opposed it. Armey even got some renters on board through the grassroots-looking website. But the agenda was not to help renters in any way. It was to kill homeowner relief.
In some ways, SFBARF is worse than At least AngryRenter tapped into a real sentiment among renters that government policy favors homeowners over renters. In contrast, not many renters support SFBARF’s increasingly bizarre anti-renter, anti-affordable housing positions.
SFBARF is best understood by following the money. A political group with the word “renters” in the name, SFBARF provides a vehicle for real estate interests to pose as renter-friendly and fund candidates and legislation that undermine renters. SFBARF’s founder recently stated (as reported in the SF Examiner and in an online forum) that “SFBARF’s goals are simply aligned with those who have money.”
SFBARF received $10,000 from “SF Moderates” and an undisclosed amount from another source SFBARF refused to name, as reported in the San Francisco Business Times. SF Moderates (formerly Plan C) is a PAC funded by real estate interests — including major contributions from the San Francisco Association of Realtors — that regularly oppose pro-tenant candidates and legislation in San Francisco. Since SFBARF formed a PAC ( Bay Area Renters PAC), it must file additional disclosures, but the group has elected to form as a “general purpose PAC” (a legally questionable designation in light of its November 2015 electioneering), so it won’t need to fully disclose its Nov. 2015 election spending any time soon. But even the limited disclosures to date tell the story of real estate industry money funding this group.
Meanwhile, rather than standing up for tenants, SFBARF is busy denouncing SF District 3 Supervisor Candidate Aaron Peskin, one of the strongest tenant allies in San Francisco. Peskin accomplished more for tenants in his 8 years on the board of supervisors than many advocates do in a lifetime. His opponent, Julie Christensen, is endorsed by SFBARF, and by Thomas Coates, the mega-landlord who spent nearly $1 million in a failed effort to abolish rent control in 2008. He dumped over $100K into the D3 supervisor race this week against Peskin. The district at issue is more than three quarters tenants. SFBARF, supposedly a renters’ group, would like to see the district represented by Julie Chistensen, a candidate not supported by a single tenant rights advocate. SFBARF’s candidate recently suggested that tenants are making up their eviction horror stories in San Francisco.
Nobody better than vocal SFBARF leader Donald Dewsnup illustrates the sham that is SFBARF. He is a licensed luxury housing real estate agent who serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the San Francisco Association of Realtors. His LinkedIn page notes that the “world of Luxury Real Estate is a natural fit for me.” He simultaneously sits on the lobbying committee of the SF Association of Realtors — a rabidly anti-tenant organization — and then claims to represent the interests of tenants. Dewsnup was busy in recent weeks urging San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to veto the Eviction Protection 2.0 Ordinance backed by every tenant organization in San Francisco.
As noted above, SFBARF’s leader, Sonja Trauss, even opposes inclusionary housing laws. I was stunned to hear her take this position at a housing panel earlier this year. Inclusionary laws simply require a percentage of below-market rate units in new residential developments, an important way to create affordable housing opportunities. No renter group I’m aware of in the entire state opposes inclusionary laws.
As revealed in a SFBARF powerpoint, SFBARF has a goal to “disrupt the alliance between rent-control advocates and affordable housing advocates.” Apparently, the idea that advocates would simultaneously want to expand the affordable housing supply while protecting tenants from rent hikes and displacement is too much for this self-proclaimed renters’ group to bear.
Tenant groups have shown remarkable restraint in dealing with SFBARF. Perhaps that is because tenant advocates are far too busy fighting for real protections against greedy landlords and speculators in an out of control Bay Area real estate market.
SFBARF was formed in 2014 to support high-density development projects, or so it appeared. The group has strayed from its original pro-development message into attacking tenant legislation, tenant advocates, and affordable housing laws. This is where the mask comes off and we see SFBARF for what it is (or at least what it has become): an industry funded political committee that works to undermine pro-tenant candidates and legislation. Responsible reporters should remove SFBARF from their list of sources, and voters who care about renters’ rights and affordable housing should ignore any SFBARF (or Bay Area Renters PAC) endorsements

SFBARF activists want to take over the Sierra Club in San Francisco

Why Are Redditors and a Cyber Bully Trying to Take Over San Francisco's Sierra Club?

November 19, 2015
by Kevin Montgomery

Every day it seems like the housing situation in the Bay Area becomes more and more fucked. Approximately 100,000 people moved to the region between the summers of 2013 and 2014, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Meanwhile, San Francisco only has 55,000 units of new housing (i.e., apartments, condos, and single-family houses) in its construction pipeline, with many of the largest developments expected to take over a decade to complete.
As the tech boom lures tens of thousands to the region, workers are finding that the industry's notoriously lavish salaries aren't enough to make market rate housing affordable. Rents have gotten so high that local publications have openly wonderedwhether commuting by air from Las Vegas makes more economic sense than trying to rent in the Bay Area. In response to the housing crisis, a loud army of activists, journalists, community leaders, politicians, and trolls has emerged to accuse each other of spurring the outrageous upsurge in regional housing costs.
But not everyone is content to merely debate the issue. The San Francisco Bay Area Renters' Federation (SFBARF), a pro-development political action committee, is attempting a new strategy: Find a powerful progressive organization, pack its ranks with sympathizers—heavily recruited off Reddit—then use this new voting bloc to take that organization over, and leverage its platform and influence to convince voters to change the city's housing policy.
The organization is putting this strategy into action with the local Sierra Club chapter. Sonja Trauss, the founder of SFBARF, told VICE that her group has already recruited 210 supporters to join the venerable environmental advocacy group, whose executive committee elections begin today and run through December 18. The effort has received praise from local newspaper columnist Robyn Purchia and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.
This is not the first time outsiders have tried to hijack the Sierra Club: in 2004, reports surfaced that anti-immigration activists had engaged in a decades-long attempt to stage a hostile takeover of the organization's national branch that would have allowed hate groups to advance their views without seeming racist. And even if SFBARF fails to take over the club, the campaign could serve as a blueprint for how real estate and other monied interests can seize control of influential liberal groups with open elections.
Over the course of reporting on SFBARF's efforts to take over the San Francisco city branch of the Sierra Club, VICE uncovered evidence that Donald Dewsnup, the SFBARF member spearheading the campaign, has a track record of using shady activism tactics in his attempts to make the San Francisco housing market more amenable to development, including providing multiple false addresses to the Department of Elections to gain access to a neighborhood organization he wished to influence. VICE also learned that Dewsnup has been banned from the neighborhood-oriented social network Nextdoor for making online threats so severe that they led users of the service to file a restraining order against him.

The Sierra Club Becomes a Target

Before we get into all that, though, it's important to understand why anyone would want to take over a local Sierra Club chapter at all. In recent years, the San Francisco city chapter of the Sierra Club has come to represent the interests of a variety of local progressive causes such as the solar energy initiative CleanPowerSF and thecounty's 2010 vehicle registration fee increase. Though protecting the environment is the national organization's chief concern, this often manifests itself locally in different public policy stances. This includes a commitment to supporting what a Bay Area Sierra Club spokesperson termed "transit-oriented housing," referring to housing built near public transportation with the intention of reducing the number of cars on the road.
In 2013, as part of a broad coalition of organizations, the San Francisco Sierra Clubbacked an effort to block a proposed 134-unit, 136-foot-tall condo project at 8 Washington, a parking lot steps away from the city's waterfront Ferry Building. The groups argued that the project, which would have sold bayside units for an estimated $5 million, would create a "wall on the waterfront," and kick off a wave of development that could transform the San Francisco shoreline into Miami Beach. Although the city's Board of Supervisors had previously approved the project, two separate initiatives made it on to the citywide ballot in 2013, allowing voters to determine the outcome of the project.
The campaign against the development was run by Jon Golinger, an environmental attorney and longtime activist living on nearby Telegraph Hill. When voters handily rejected the project, Golinger credited the Sierra Club (of which he's a longtime member) with helping sway voters against the project.
SFBARF has repeatedly used the Club's opposition to this project as evidence that the local chapter has gone rogue. That's not hyperbole: SFBARF founder Sonja Trauss literally referred to it as a "rogue chapter" when I spoke with her recently. She feels that anti-housing activists have taken over the Club's Executive Committee and have turned the Sierra Club into a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) organization. "If nobody is paying attention," Trauss told me, "any old asshole can take over the board, and that's kinda what happened here."
The irony of her statement, of course, is that her organization is trying to do the same thing, but sway the Sierra Club in the opposite direction.

The Beginnings of SFBARF

For nearly two years, the San Francisco Bay Area Renters' Federation has had a singular message: build more housing, and build it now. It's a mantra that plays well with libertarian-minded Redditors (the San Francisco subreddit boasts over 48,000 subscribers) and with the scores of downtown strivers moving into the region, compelled by the booming tech industry.
Trauss, a former math teacher from Philadelphia who now lives in Oakland, started SFBARF in early 2014 as an email listserv she ran as a passion project. It has since grown into a burgeoning political operation, converting cash and outspoken support from the likes of Yelp's Stoppelman and Y Combinator partner Garry Tan into widespreadcredibility in the tech scene. The group has become a regular feature on the San Francisco subreddit, where users have praised Trauss and her "important activism." And Mike Schiraldi, a former Reddit employee and administrator, once referred to as "the face of our company" by a Reddit colleague, is an active member of SFBARF whopromotes the club online and off. See full article HERE

Dinesh D'Souza: Racism Is Not The Cause Of Black Failure

Racism is not the main problem facing blacks in the U.S.—their own dysfunctional culture is. Originally aired January 1996. 

Read "The End of Racism" by Dinesh:

Editor's Note:  You can learn a lot about culture from what is taboo.  D'Souza makes the case that it is not racism or genetics that determines success.  It is the culture that determines the fate of a people.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Marinwood CSD Meeting December 8, 2015

Marinwood CSD Meeting December 8, 2015

-Solar contract for pool shade structure

-Elect president, vice president of the CSD board
-appoint commissioners,
-creation/appointment of private ad hoc committees that will be off the public record and not subject to Brown Act.
-general business.

The Board Packet containing the Solar Contract and Financial projections is available

The attack on local zoning control

The attack on local zoning control

A sweeping regional-government plan promotes growth at all costs, and seeks to cut community input out of the picture
By Zelda Bronstein
DECEMBER 8, 2015 — My last story about the continuing power struggle between the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission ended with a question: do the executive directors of these two agencies endorse the recommendations to expand regional planning authority at the expense of local control that are put forth in the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s recently publishedRoadmap for Economic Resilience: The Bay Area Regional Economic Strategy?
The story was posted around 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 12.
Twenty-four hours later, the answer was clear, at least with respect to ABAG Executive Director Ezra Rapport. Speaking in Oakland at the annual conference of the Bay Area Planning Directors Association, Rapport said that “in my opinion” the Roadmap was one of three documents that would be “foundational” in the forthcoming discussions about merging ABAG and MTC—the other two are the HUD-funded, SPUR-directed Economic Prosperity Strategy and the ABAG staff report, People, Places, and Prosperity.
If Rapport’s opinion presages reality, it’s not just local control of land use and transportation planning that’s going to take a big hit. The BACEI white paper targets publicly accountable governance and government at large. It denounces impact development fees, asserting that “[e]xisting landowners are not paying their fair share to solve the regional housing problem.” It praises Lfyt, Uber and Sidecar for “not…accommodat[ing] the strictures of decades-old government planning,” that is, for ignoring existing laws. It calls the California Environmental Quality Act “a threat to the
These extreme positions should not be a surprise. They simply flesh out the market-guided, supply-side, privatizing, growth-to-the-max priorities that the BACEI and the Bay Area Council, the lobby for the region’s biggest businesses, have always embraced.
What’s a surprise—indeed, a shock—is that these priorities have been endorsed by the executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments, an organization that was founded to protect municipal authority.
True, Rapport preceded his espousal of the “Roadmap” with a hymn to the power of the region’s city councils, calling them “the kernel of all regional planning.”
But it’s impossible to reconcile that tribute with the Roadmap’s list of penalties for cities that “[fail] to permit the required number of new housing units” specified by the Regional Housing Allocation [RHNA] Process:
loss of local approval authority, state-mandated “by right” approvals of housing projects (which removes some discretionary approvals from project review processes), the creation of more “by right” zoning districts, or the creation of a regional hearing body to approve housing developments.
For the record: state law does not require cities to permit a certain number of housing units. It requires the Housing Element in each city’s General Plan to zone for a certain number of units at a range of income levels in accordance with projected household growth. The RHNA numbers are determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

The recommendation to put “real teeth” in the RHNA process is not the Roadmap’s only assault on the local control of planning and on democratic government at large.
I’ve noted the swipe at development impact fees. Calling for “both existing and new residents” to share “the costs of promoting livable communities and affordable housing, the Roadmap opines that “[o]nly cities that agree to [a region-wide] fee cap, should be eligible for MTC discretionary funding.” The BACEI also wants to “creat[e] consistent business permitting guidelines across jurisdictions and [to] aggregat[e] zoning, tax incentive, and local developments.” It plugs Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts, whose financing plans can be adopted “by the act of a county or city legislative body, instead of requiring a vote by two-thirds of the electorate.” It contends that the way to lower housing prices is to eliminate or possibly to just disregard “local, regional, and state regulations”—call it the “no stinking badges” approach to development:
Build—not plan, or zone, or even permit—but build sufficient housing stock to meet the demands of a growing regional population and to fill historic deficits.
The Roadmap craves an “Economic Development Corporation” that would “provide a 
Read more on 48 Hills HERE

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The "Improvements" to Sir Francis Drake will put you in a Traffic Jam.

Sir Francis Drake "Improvement" Project

Don Quixote "fixes" Sir Francis Drake.

Our County has rather quietly put together a plan to help alleviate traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Well, at least that’s the stated goal. The plan has been developing below most everyone’s radar and that’s seldom a good sign.

$13.2 million will be spent on SFD between the Ross-Kentfield Line and the Bon Air Shopping Center. Half of this goes to repaving. The remainder buys relatively little but potential headaches. The existing surface on this stretch of SFD is in far better shape than most Marin roads. But the money’s allocated and hey, it has to be spent, even wastefully.

I think most of us know the backups on SFD in that sector are really caused by the bottleneck at the 101 interchange and the lack of that third lane on the Richmond Bridge. But not one dime of the $13.2 million goes to fixing that.

The repaving and “improvements” will take two years to complete. That means two years with conditions even worse than they are now. And what are those “improvements” that will result from this extended test of our patience?

Bike lanes are high on the list. That's ludicrous for several reasons. The road isn’t wide enough without further narrowing the existing lanes for motor vehicles, which will slow traffic, and likely result in accidents. Bicycles account for less than 1% of traffic on SFD. Cars, commercial vehicles, public transport and motorcycles account for more than 99%. So, we’re going to perhaps get bicycle usage up to 2% at the enormous inconvenience of the 98% - motorists and riders of public transit? And do this in spite of there being a perfectly good bike path close by along the Corte Madera Creek? OK, there’s a gap in between Bon Air Road and the end of South Eliseo Drive, but South Eliseo has relatively little traffic and bikes are easily accommodated.

“Bulb-outs” may be built at some intersections. These take away right-hand turn lanes and have a very detrimental effect on traffic flow.

More crosswalks are in the plan. Even a crosswalk at Wolf Grade, as it seems some of the kids at Bacich Elementary School don’t like climbing up the stairs to the pedestrian bridge. Maybe their parents didn’t tell them about how they had to walk miles to school in the snow. Barefoot.

As we ponder whether any of this will be money well spent it’s important to keep in mind that this section of SFD is District 2 Supervisor Katie Rice’s turf. Both she and District 4’s Steve Kinsey are on record for opposing the addition of a second level of parking at the ferry terminal because they don’t want to encourage all day parking. They want you to find your way there by public transportation or by bike. Anyway, underneath all this is the political goal to get us out of our cars.
Kinsey just announced he is not running for reelection next June. But Ms. Rice is.
Just sayin’.
You have until Friday Dec 11 at 5 pm to comment.

Editor's Note:
Here is a promotional video for Traffic Calming.  As you can see, the improvements they want to do to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard are meant to SLOW TRAFFIC and create even more CONGESTION so people will magically switch to taking public transit, bicycling or walking.

Monday, December 7, 2015

MTC No Money for SMART train because of Questionable Statistics.

May 13, 2015 meeting of the MTC Regional Advisory Board of San Francisco explains why the SMART train in the North Bay won't be receiving funds because of questionable ridership projections. 

MTC staff ran the math and realized SMART were peddling Greenhouse Gas reductions based on ridership assuming:
- every train was packed full (with as many standing as could fit)
- they were packed the length of the line
- all 22 trains per day were packed

Essentially the MTC is calling them liars because they use train capacity vs. realistic ridership projections.  The "train to nowhere" is along a sparsely populated corridor with few businesses to support large movements of people.  Commuter rail is only economically feasible in highly dense urban corridors like New York City.  

But they have a billion dollars of our Cap and Trade tax money to spend.....

Very informative clip on the real politics at the MTC and Plan Bay Area.  

We must Save Marin Again!

What It’s Like To Get Kicked Out Of Your Neighborhood

Smart Growth is the "Gentrification" (or "Hipster-fication" or "Tech Worker-i-fication") of San Francisco. The Mission District, China Town and Marin City in Marin County are on the "hit list" for becoming "mixed use, vibrant, transit friendly urban communities".   Don't believe it.

There are huge social costs to existing communities who are displaced first by government initiatives and secondly by economics.  

Marin City is a target for creation of a "economically diverse" community and likely will end up displacing the vibrant, existing community of largely African Americans from their homes.   While growth may be a good thing, the wholesale "improvement" may do little for existing residents while creating a pot of opportunity for a completely different segment of society and enrich developers.

Government Planning must be for EXISTING COMMUNITIES and not an excuse for removal of one group to benefit another.   

Plan Bay Area is the Sherman's March through the Bay Area for the benefit of "Smart Growth developers.  They have come to town and Steve Kinsey, Kate Sears,  Katie Rice and Judy Arnold are leading the charge to urbanize Marin.

We must Save Marin Again!
"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."
-General William Tecumsah Sherman, Union Army

History's First Smart Growth Planner. General Sherman destroyed the South so a new South could be built.

The Future of Our Free Society

Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's Confirmed. Steve Kinsey will not seek Re-election!

See the Story in the Marin IJ HERE

Enjoy Some Recent Highlights of his Career

Will Andrew Giocomini be appointed to Steve Kinsey's Supervisor Seat?

Rumors are flying with about who will run or be appointed to Steve Kinsey's seat.  Among the contenders is the son of Gary Giocomini, Andrew Giocomini.  Andrew serves as a managing partner for Hanson Brigett, LLC and on the Marin Community Foundation Board.  It makes sense that Giocomini wants his "heir apparent" to fill that role.

Time will tell.  No confirmation yet on Kinsey's resignation or wish to end his Supervisor career.