Saturday, May 7, 2016

Your Dog Won’t Be the Only One Drinking From the Toilet in the Future

Your Dog Won’t Be the Only One Drinking From the Toilet in the Future

The drought is forcing Californians to look at recycled water in a whole new way.
(Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
JUN 11, 2015
Rachel Cernansky is a freelance journalist based in Denver, Colorado.
The next big source of drinking water may be your toilet.
As a record-breaking drought drags on in California and elsewhere, regulators and residents are overcoming squeamishness about recycling wastewater—yes, sewage—to boost scarce water supplies. These so-called toilet-to-tap projects have been taking hold in the American West, Australia, and Europe, and the state of California is now considering vastly expanding such efforts.
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When wastewater is recycled, it first goes to a sewage treatment plant—just like all wastewater. Then it gets sent to another facility connected to the treatment plant that’s been equipped with technologies to purify the water to a much higher quality. Water has been recycled for agricultural and industrial purposes for decades, and in those cases it isn’t treated to drinking water standards—it’s just treated to eliminate pathogens and other public health concerns.
But the newer facilities are aiming higher: They are looking to more thorough and more advanced treatment processes, such as reverse osmosis and potentially zero-liquid discharge, to get the water to near-distilled quality. These projects are costly. The most advanced technologies are very expensive, and there are a lot of materials involved—miles and miles of pipes, for example—and especially in urban settings, there’s also the cost and disruption of tearing up roads to lay down those pipes. But, said Randy Barnard, chief of the recycled water unit for California’s State Water Resources Control Board, as the costs of new sources of water continue to climb, the costs of laying the infrastructure for water recycling look more affordable.
California has about eight recycled water projects—in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Orange counties—that use what’s called groundwater replenishment: Treated wastewater is added to reserves of groundwater, which is pumped to a treatment plant that supplies a city with its water. In Orange County, which is thought to operate the largest potable water reuse system in the world, water is sent from the wastewater treatment plant to a facility that uses three treatment steps: microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and then ultraviolet light mixed with hydrogen peroxide, which destroys any trace compounds that survived the first two steps. The water is then sent out to basins in Anaheim, where it filters through sand and gravel and into the underground aquifers. The facility has been up and running since January 2008 and can produce 70 million gallons of water a day—enough for about 600,000 residents.
The state has set a target to recycle 815 billion gallons of water a year by 2030. (The current rate is about 408 billion gallons annually, up from 163 billion gallons in 2002.) Barnard said that although the target represents a fraction of the state’s water consumption, it diverts a huge amount of wastewater from being dumped in the ocean.
California is now exploring regulations that would allow cities to eliminate the middle step of groundwater filtration. Under “direct potable reuse,” wastewater is treated more to meet drinking quality standards and then piped directly into the city’s water supply.
It’s not just California: Cities around the world and across the country, mainly in Southwestern states, have water reuse projects in place, and others, including Brownwood, Texas, and Cloudcroft, New Mexico, may get under way soon. The state of Texas has approved a direct potable reuse project for Brownwood. If built, it could supply 30 percent of the city’s water.
Public relations, not technology, has been one of the biggest challenges.
When San Diego proposed a recycled water project a decade ago, media coverage scared people off. “Then San Diego did all kinds of outreach, workshops,” said Barnard. “That turned the public perception around. Now, 10 years later, it’s been a total 180. If the local population doesn’t want recycled water, they’re not going to vote for it, and it won’t move forward.”
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San Diego, which relies on the Colorado River and Northern California for 85 percent of its water, hopes recycled water will supply a third of its needs by 2035.
In the meantime, the city continues to explore the potential for both indirect and direct potable reuse projects. Sarah Mojarro, a spokesperson for San Diego’s Public Utilities Department, said the city is partnering with the WateReuse Research Foundation to investigate two other treatment processes—ozonation and biological activated carbon filters—as additional safeguards to protect and ensure water quality.
In Orange County, officials say residents were surprisingly receptive to the idea of the groundwater replenishment project from the start. In an opinion poll released earlier in the year, the San Diego County Water Authority found that 73 percent of people favored the idea of supplementing the drinking water supply with recycled water.
The state has long had to be mindful of how it sources its water, but as supplies grow increasingly scarce, more people are realizing it makes more sense to capture and recycle their wastewater than send millions of gallons of it to the ocean every day.
“It’s much easier to move to potable reuse in places like California and New Mexico than it is to start piping water from the Great Lakes,” said Adam Krantz, chief executive of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. “Think about how many miles of pipe, how much energy, that would take. The argument for potable, industrial, and agricultural reuse is only more obvious given the ongoing drought.”

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Marinwood CSD breaks the Brown Act Law and Votes to Censor Public Comment.




IF anyone wants to know what the fuss was at the April 12, 2016 Marinwood CSD meeting, it was about this item.  The 2016 Marinwood CSD board may go down in history as the biggest violator of the Brown Act in it's 50 year+ history .  Shortly after this section of the meeting, the police were called to quiet the "disruptive behavior" from the audience.  

The Marinwood CSD has an opportunity to follow the law but it seems they prefer taking extreme measures and when dissent is lodged, take extreme action against their dissidents.

Is this the way you want your local government to be run?

Izabela Perry, Jeffery Naylor, Justin Kai and Bill Shea voted unanimously on the new censorship speech code:  

The following is the Brown Act LAW that is being ignored by the 2016 MCSD Board: 
54954.3. (a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an 
opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before (BEFORE) or (OR) during (DURING) the legislative body's consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, 
provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on 
the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2. 






Marin Candidates Forum 2016 - Judicial Candidates

Toilet to Tap Water is coming to Marin Soon.



The latest issue of the Las Gallinas Sanitary District Newsletter extols the virtues of Toilet to Tap drinking water.  Check it out HERE

Marin Voice: Bay tax is taxation without representation for Marin

The San Francisco Bay is a precious resource and the entire area is enhanced by it. Of course, we must work to preserve it. That said, I hate the idea of a regional government agency claiming our tax dollars without local representation. I would like to see restoration done another way.
In June, the Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure will be on the ballot. Measure AA is brought forward by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. It puts a special parcel tax of $12 per year for 20 years up for a nine-county vote.
The authority is a regional government agency created by the state Legislature in 2008. The mission is to raise money and allocate resources “for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline.”
For example, funds could be used to reduce trash and toxins, improve water quality or protect communities from floods.
The authority proposes to raise money by charging a $12 tax on every parcel in the Bay Area.
This tax applies equally to a single, one-story home in Marin, a 10-story building of luxury condos in San Francisco, and the corporate campuses of Facebook or Google in Silicon Valley.
At the modest rate of $12, you wouldn’t pay much, but you’d pay the same as Apple and Chevron. This is unfair.
Like any other tax, Measure AA needs 67 percent voter approval to pass. What’s different — indeed historic — about Measure AA is that it would be the first regionwide tax in the Bay Area. Regardless of voters’ wishes in any one county, the regional vote will prevail. Local input and control is diminished. That’s a problem.
Another problem is the way the tax would be collected and distributed.
The tax is estimated to generate $25 million per year, eventually totaling $500 million over 20 years. County tax collectors would collect the funds and send them to the authority to dole out.
The authority is governed by a seven-member board appointed by the executive board of the Association of Bay Area Governments, an agency in danger of being swallowed up by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
This board doesn’t have representation from each county, and Marin is one county without a representative. Like MTC, none of these board members, who will pick the projects, are elected by a direct vote of the people.
Over Measure AA’s 20-year duration, half the funds ($250 million) would be allocated geographically based on population data from the 2010 census. The North Bay, which includes Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano, would get the smallest piece of the pie at 9 percent or roughly $22.5 million. That boils down to a paltry $1.1 million per year.
In effect, we become the cash cow for the East Bay, which gets 18 percent. The South Bay gets 12 percent and the West Bay gets 11 percent. The other $250 million would fund projects prioritized for “their positive impact on the Bay.”
This sounds like a slush fund catering to special interests, with decisions made behind closed doors.

See the full story HERE       Support Susan Kirsch for supervisor HERE


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Love will win

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Futurama 1939 New York World's Fair "To New Horizons" 1940 General Motors (23min)



more at http://travel.quickfound.net/

'Definitive document of pre-World War II futuristic utopian thinking, as envisioned by General Motors. Documents the "Futurama" exhibit in GM's "Highways and Horizons" pavilion at the World's Fair, which looks ahead to the "wonder world of 1960."'

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurama...)

Futurama was an exhibit/ride at the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Norman Bel Geddes that tried to show the world 20 years into the future (1959--1960). Sponsored by the General Motors Corporation, the installation was characterized by its automated highways and vast suburbs. Compared to other "visions of the future," Bel Geddes' was rather achievable—the most advanced technology posited was the automated highway system, of which General Motors built a working prototype by 1960.

Futurama is widely held to have first introduced the general American public to the concept of a network of expressways connecting the nation. It provided a direct connection between the streamlined style which was popular in America between 1928 and 1938, and the concept of steady-flow which appeared in street and highway design in the same period. Bel Geddes expounds upon his design in his book Magic Motorways, stating, "Futurama is a large-scale model representing almost every type of terrain in America and illustrating how a motorway system may be laid down over the entire country -- across mountains, over rivers and lakes, through cities and past towns -- never deviating from a direct course and always adhering to the four basic principles of highway design: safety, comfort, speed and economy." He had acknowledged this in the belief that "A free-flowing movement of people and goods across our nation is a requirement of modern living and prosperity."

The modeled highway construction emphasized hope for the future as it served as a proposed solution to traffic congestion of the day, and demonstrated the probable development of traffic in proportion to the automotive growth of the next twenty years. Bel Geddes assumed that the automobile would be the same type of carrier and still the most common means of transportation in 1960, albeit with increased vehicle use and traffic lanes also capable of much htigher speeds.

To meet these assumptions, four general ideas for improvement were incorporated into the exhibition showcase. First, that each section of road be designed to receive greater capacity of traffic. Second, that traffic moving in one direction could be in complete isolation to traffic moving in any other. Third, segregating traffic by subdividing towns and cities into certain units that restrict traffic and allow pedestrians to predominate. And fourth, consequent traffic control for predetermined maximum and minimum speeds. Through this, the exhibition was designed to inspire greater public enthusiasm and support for the constructive work and planning by engineers and public officials who had contributed so much toward improvement of streets and highways.

The popularity of the Futurama exhibit fit closely with the fair's overall theme "The World Of Tomorrow" not just in its emphasis on the future, but also in its redesign of the American landscape. The highway system was supported within a one-acre animated model of a projected America containing more than five hundred thousand individually designed buildings, a million trees of thirteen different species, and approximately fifty thousand motorcars, ten thousand of which traveled along a fourteen-lane multi speed interstate highway...

Bel Gedde's 'future' was synonymous with technological process, no less in its simulated low-flying airplane journey through the exhibit. The aerial journey was simulated by an eighteen-minute ride on a conveyor system, carrying 552 seated spectators at a time, covering a winding path a third of a mile long through the model. Along with light, sound and colour effects the ride moved at a rate of approximately 120 feet per minute, allowing spectators to look down through a continuous curved pane of glass towards the model. The virtue of this elevated position allowed spectators to see multiple scales simultaneously, viewing city blocks in proportion to a highway system as well as artificially controlled trees in glass domes. This scale was modelled off 408 topographical sections based on aerial photographs of different regions of the US provided by the pioneering company Fairchild Aerial Surveys...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Congress is Literally a Bunch of Telemarketers

Trump Is So a Republican, Hillary Is Such a Disaster & Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

Trump Is So a Republican, Hillary Is Such a Disaster & Libertarians Matter More Than Ever

3 takeaways from the the Indiana presidential primaries

Here are three big takeaways from the Indiana presidential primaries, in which Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.
There is bad news for diehard Republicans and Democrats, but there's absolutely phenomenal news for libertarians and independents who have been looking for an exit from the political status quo for decades now.
1. Donald Trump has always been very popular with Republicans and will only get more so. However divisive a character he is nationally (and he is, with two-thirds of Americans holding an unfavorable opinion of him), Trump has always been extremely popular among regular Republicans and voters who lean Republican. In fact, his favorability rating with them has never dipped below 50 percent. From Gallup:
GallupGallup
Hardcore ideological conservatives dislike and distrust Trump despite his general adherence to the litany of programs, policies, and postures that define them. Sure, he's appallingly anti-immigrant, he's anti-abortion, he's in favor of having a gigantic military. His campaign slogan—"Make America Great Again"—and his contempt for political correctness also square perfectly with conservative mind-sets. Yet it's clear that Trump isn't a philosophical or "principled" conservative sprung fully formed from the pages of National Review or The Weekly Standard. His crudeness and lack of basic knowledge of government functions (at one point, he said that judges sign laws) is an issue, too.
Similarly, party elders (folks at the Republican National Committee and the upper reaches of Congress) hate the fact they effectively had no say or influence in or on Trump's candidacy. FFS, we're the national-security party and this guy walked right through out front door! No billionaire anywhere has ever really been an outsider, but the Donald actually comes kind of close in this context, especially since he flouted all sorts of etiquette and protocols.
Some #NeverTrumpers will stay that way—Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted his continuing boycott of Trump last night despite sharing the candidate's awful anti-immigration and pro-military views—but many more will ultimately come around to #BetterTrump for the same reasons Trump has always been popular with Republican voters. Despite the lack of ritual incantations of William F. Buckley or the Founding Fathers, Trump is in fact an excellent (and, from a libertarian perspective, appalling) representative of what the GOP has long said it was all about. Or are the 59 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who view him favorably (a figure that will only climb) just that dumb?
2. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are in deep disarray.Hillary Clinton is starting to resemble the Chicago Cubs, one of the baseball teams she once unconvincingly lied about liking. She couldn't close out against Barack Obama in 2008 and now she's stretching things out uncomfortably against a wheezing-and-huffing old man who is actually preaching Democratic Party redistributionism circa 1969.
Sanders' appeal has two basic thrusts. First, he's not Hillary Clinton, who wore out her welcome first as a faux-feminist, long-suffering first lady; then as a senator from New York who was reliably pro-Wall Street, pro-war, anti-civil liberties, and tough on crime; and then as an ineffective secretary of state who was a towel girl for a suprisingly interventionist president (who, let us never forget, has generally been worse for civil liberties than George W. Bush). Second, though an independent, Sanders unapologetically pushes what most liberals and certainly all progressives take as gospel truth: The government owes you free health care, free college, free everything. All we need to do is expropriate the banksters' money before putting them in jail and giving everyone good manufacturing jobs right here at home and then taxing the hell out of them. In the early debates, Clinton would literally roll her eyes when Sanders laid out his basic platform, assuming the crowd was with her. It wasn't.
Despite decades of being misidentified by the right as a "leftist" or "socialist," Clinton (like her husband) was generally a centrist Democrat (hence, the hawkish foreign policy and her willingness to pass AMT patches every year to help out relatively wealthy constituents in the New York metro area). In order to fend off Sanders, she's been tacking left all primary season, dissing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that she pushed hard as Secretary of State, calling for a higher minimum wage, coming out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and what have you. The fact that she, the presumptive Democratic nominee since Obama won re-election, has had to run to her own left and is still breaking a sweat to put Sanders down for good is a sign that the Democratic Party leadership is every bit as out of touch with their constituents as are the Republicans.
GallupGallup
This is (hopefully) the last election of the "long" 20th century. Political parties are not generally philosophically consistent organizations that build outward from a common core of beliefs. Rather, they are collections of special-interest groups who then create an ideology that makes it all seem logical and coherent. What exactly is the philosophical continuity between, say, being against abortion and higher marginal tax rates while favoring interventionism and amendments against flag burning? Or being pro-union and pro-choice?
The groups comprising the current versions of the Democratic and Republican Parties are changing, dying, morphing, or simply recognizing that there's little or nothing left to bind them to one another (Was that Bill Clinton, the first black president, telling Black Lives Matter protesters to screw off?). The result are fractious intra-party fights and less and less appeal to large groups of people. This is the main reason why party identification is at or near historic lows for both Democrats and Republicans: These worn-out old coalitions are less relevant and representative than they were 40 or 50 years ago.
ReasonReason3. This is an incredible time to be a libertarian and an independent. A few weeks ago, a Monmouth University poll found that 11 percent of respondents would pick the 2012 Libertarian Party (LP) candidate, Gary Johnson, in a three-way race with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The former two-term (Republican) governor of New Mexico, Johnson is a socially liberal and fiscally conservative character who supports more-open borders, free-er trade, pot legalization, a non-interventionist foreign policy, balanced budgets, abortion rights, and marriage equality. Which is to say, more than either Clinton or Trump (not to mention Sanders or Cruz), Johnson represents where most Americans are on most issues.
The LP picks its nominee at the end of the month. If it's Johnson, who has more executive experience than Hillary Clinton and who built several successful private-sector businesses (though not at the scale of Trump), expect all sorts of weird things to start happening. First will come panic from the solons in both parties, who will castigate Johnson as an admitted pot smoker (he is!) and claim that winning election twice as a Republican in a Democratic-majority state doesn't mean anything (it does!). Naysayers will also yammer that New Mexico is a place of no significance, so who cares that he ran the joint successfully!
Then will come the attacks on Johnson's policies and positions themselves: How dare a presidential candidate suggest allowing people to just come to America and, assuming they don't have a criminal record or a communicable disease, work legally! What is this, America in the 19th century? How will we ever bring peace to the Middle East if we're not constantly sending troops there? If we don't bail out student loan debtors how will we be able to bail out Wall Street with a straight face? And on and on.
Johnson isn't perfect by any stretch (I've detailed some of my issues with him here). But he is different from either Clinton or Trump, just as the basic LP platform presents a different ideological matrix than the ones presented by the foundering Republican and Democratic Parties. The LP is small enough that, unlike the major parties, it has no special-interest groups that it's trying to lasso into a single, large voting bloc. At this stage, all it's got are some basic principles by which it might attract more and more people sick and tired of the same-old same-old in every election. IMO, there's no plausible way that Johnson or the LP pulls more than the low double digits at best in this election, but there's every reason to believe that a strong articulation of a socially liberal and fiscally conservative political philosophy will allow the most motivated independents somewhere to go and start a long-delayed reboot of major-party politics. Again and again, polls show that we want a government that does less and cost less, at least in the abstract. This could well be the moment when those ideas start to get fleshed out in a national election and jump-start a shift away from a 20th-century model of a massive and unsustainable welfare and warfare state to something more suited to 21st-century realities.
If longstanding political affiliations are fraying—and they are, as evidenced by declines in voter identification, "enthusiasm gaps" up the yin-yang for major party candidates, and more—that's because Americans are tired of picking between choices that were created in the mid to late-20th century. Nobody's first pick for a car is a 1974 Plymouth Duster or even an early '90s Oldsmobile, right? Why shouldn't our politics actually upgrade to something at least made in this century?

Is Limiting Public Engagement and Local Land Use Discretion the Solution to Expedite Housing Development?


Is Limiting Public Engagement and Local Land Use Discretion the Solution to Expedite Housing Development?


With the first round of legislative policy hearings nearing completion, one area of legislative focus is readily apparent: reducing public engagement and local land use discretion to expedite the construction of new housing.

The question we need to ask is whether reducing or even removing public input and local discretion over land use matters is the right medicine for the housing shortage.

Alternatively, are there better ways to increase housing supplies without removing the public from these important land use decisions that permanently define a community's character?

In past periods of economic boom, California produced around 200,000 housing units per year, with about 70 percent of those units single-family. Given some of the market limitations affecting single-family housing, this year’s production is expected to be around 100,000 units with about one-half higher density-multifamily.

Policy makers in Sacramento, facing concerns about escalating housing costs and viewing reports stating that the State needs up to 1.5 million more units to satisfy demand, are proposing to limit community discretion and input to expedite delivery of more units.

While housing production should be expedited where possible, legislators should also pause to consider the value and role played by public input in shaping the quality of life and unique aspects of a neighborhood or location that new residents and developers find attractive.

The residents who participate in land use hearings do so because they care about their communities and have a longer-term commitment to a place than a developer that builds and moves on.

While “public engagement” is often described as a desired policy goal, how does it work when public participation on a developer’s proposal is dismissed as a mere hindrance?

Cutting off public input may have other policy consequences as well, including expanding pressure for more local voter growth control measures.

How to Get More Housing, Especially Higher-Density Housing in Job-Rich Coastal Areas?

This is the policy question of the hour. In addition, there are many bills that try to be helpful by providing funding for affordable housing, help first time home buyers save for housing and ensure limited funds go further. Some of the bills supported by the League include the following:



Ø AB 2734 (Atkins) Dedicates portion of state savings from RDA elimination for affordable housing;

Ø AB 2817 (Chiu) Increases Low Income Housing Tax Credits from $70 to $300 million per year;

Ø AB 1736 (Steinorth) Allows future homebuyers to save for down payment tax free; and

Ø SB 873 (Beall) Allows low income tax credits to be sold more efficiently, yielding greater value.

The Bills Seeking to Reduce Public Engagement and Local Discretion over Housing

Depending on a community, the level of concern over these measures will differ, but what they have in common are prescriptive one-size-fits all edicts and other provisions intended to limit local authority and public input. All the following bills are opposed by the League:


Ø AB 2522 (Bloom) Requires housing for households up to 150 percent of median income to be a permitted use by right (and thus not subject to CEQA) or discretionary review, other than design review;

Ø AB 2557 (Santiago) Declares the development of multifamily housing to not be a municipal affair, and prohibits a temporary planning moratorium from being enacted affecting a project of more than 30 percent multifamily units;

Ø AB 2501 (Bloom) Expands the law enabling developers to demand up to 35 percent greater densities and project concessions above existing zoning standards;

Ø AB 2299 (Bloom) and SB 1069 (Wieckowski) Reduce community control of parking and other issues affecting second units in single-family neighborhoods;

Ø AB 2584 (Daly) Empowers outside parties with no direct role or interest in a project to sue and collect attorney fees from local agencies over denials or conditions imposed on housing developments;

Ø AB 1934 (Santiago) Authorizes commercial developers to demand additional floor area and other concessions above existing zoning if residential units are built on same site; and

Ø SB 1318 (Wolk) Limits future annexations if services are not delivered to adjacent disadvantaged unincorporated communities.

Next Steps

Cities, counties, the residents they represent, and others that value public engagement and local discretion on land use matters need to focus and engage in the housing-related discussion pending in the Legislature.

While there are numerous measures aimed at enhancing affordable housing resources, others focus on removing local input and discretion. If your city would like to take a position on any of these bills, please visit the League’s Legislative Database for sample letters.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tony Cardenas
Public Affairs Regional Manager
Orange County Division
League of California Cities
(714) 766-9290
Tcardenas@cacities.org

Strengthening California cities through advocacy and education



Editor's Note: This is proof positive how completely nuts our local and state government has become.  They actually are plotting to eliminate citizen's input in the public process because we "get in the way" of their divine work.  Do they even understand the constitution?  It seems that the prevailing wisdom is that the people exist solely to provide tax revenues and to shut up.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

George Lucas’ plan: 57 overnight guest rooms at Big Rock Ranch under review


George Lucas’ plan: 57 overnight guest rooms at Big Rock Ranch under review


Filmmaker George Lucas proposes to create 57 guest rooms at his Big Rock Ranch complex, at upper left.
Filmmaker George Lucas proposes to create 57 guest rooms at his Big Rock Ranch complex, at upper left.IJ photo — Alan Dep

County officials are reviewing plans by filmmaker George Lucas to remodel his Big Rock Ranch office complex in Lucas Valley to provide 57 overnight lodging rooms for guests.
The project, which calls for an interior remodel of 76,556 square feet or less than half of the structure, requires a master plan amendment because it involves conversion of office space to living accommodations.
Improvements would be limited to the existing footprint of the building and would not change its appearance from the outside, according to county planner Jocelyn Drake.
A traffic analysis provided by Skywalker Properties indicates the plan would curb traffic envisioned by a 1996 master plan.
The county Planning Commission will review the project at 1:45 p.m. May 9. A staff report and recommendation about the proposal will be issued next week.
“As long as conversion does not change the footprint or building profiles, which fit well into the site, or require substantial new water and wastewater infrastructure, and as long as a covenant restricts lodgers to people working on projects on site... it could reduce some in and out day traffic on Lucas Valley Road,” environmentalist Nona Dennis said.
“I’ll be personally reviewing the application and key documents ... particularly the traffic study, and working with county staff to ensure a full vetting and complete understanding of the proposal,” Supervisor Damon Connolly said. “I look forward to hearing the perspective of the Planning Commission on May 9, and I’ll be keeping residents fully engaged throughout this process,” he added. “The Department of Public Works’ initial review of the traffic study agrees with the study’s conclusion that the proposed project would generate fewer car trips than are allowed under current permitted use.”
‘MINOR’ CHANGE
The Big Rock Ranch complex at 3838 Lucas Valley Road was approved for use as a multimedia center with a private theater, cafeteria with dining room, day care and fitness center, as well as archive storage. Construction of the $87 million special-effects and high-tech video complex began in 2000. It has served as office space for the nonprofit George Lucas Education Foundation and for Skywalker Properties administrative staff, and housed Lucasfilm Animation, which moved to the Presidio in 2006.

See the Full story in the Marin IJ  HERE

There is a Planning Commission meeting about this on Tuesday, May 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM.  The staff report is very concerning.  It appears that this is a Trojan Horse.  Lucas is asking for a maximum of 300 overnight guests.  That is 5 people per room!  They also want unlimited day visitors.  They also want the special use to extend to all future owners.  This lays open the opportunity for big rock ranch to become a casino or conference center.  

Otis Bruce for Judge



I am voting for Otis Bruce, candidate for Marin Superior Court Judge.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

FABLE: The Monkeys and the Bell



Once upon a time, there lived a robber in a village. One day, he stole a temple bell and ran towards the forest. A Tiger heard the jingle of the bell and became curious to locate the sound. As soon as, he saw the robber, he jumped upon him and killed him at once. The bell fell on the ground. After a few days, a group of monkeys passed through that way. They spotted the bell and carried it to their home.
They found the jingle of the bell very interesting. Subsequently every one of them became very fond of the bell and started playing with it. After every tiring day, in the night monkeys would sit on the top of the hill in the forest and enjoy the melodious sound of the bell. The people of the village were afraid of the noise. Soon afterwards, the people from the village found the body of the robber and proclaimed, “Certainly there is an evil spirit around here that kills human beings and then rings the bell to celebrate”.
When the people heard this, they thought that some demon was haunting their village. Without giving any second thought, People started leaving the city in terror. There was an intelligent and bold woman in that village. She thought to herself, “I don’t believe that some demon is haunting this village. I will find out that who is ringing the bell”. At late night, she went into the forest bravely and found that a group of monkeys were playing about and ringing the bell.
Now as the woman knew the secret about the bell, she went to the King and said, “Your Majesty! I'm sure this evil spirit can be conquered by worshipping the Gods. But this will cost money. If you can grant me some money, I will kill the demon and bring happiness to the village”. The King, who was too afraid to get rid of the demon, granted the request of the woman.
On receiving the money, the woman bought some peas, groundnuts and fruits. She arranged a worship of the Gods. She made a circle on the ground, placed all the eatables and started worshipping the Gods. After the ritual, she picked up all the eatables and went into the forest. She placed the fruits and other things under a tree near the hill. She kept a watch of the monkeys from a distance.
As and when the monkeys saw the eatables, they dropped the bell just as the old woman had expected out of them. They ran to pick the eatables. The woman picked up the bell quickly and rushed towards the village. She gave the bell in the court of the King. The King was happy with the brave woman and everyone in the village admired her bravery. The pleased King rewarded the woman for her bravery. Since that day, there was no noise and people lived happily ever after.
Moral: One must not be afraid of trifles. Intelligence and courage succeed against all odds.

Smart-Growth Plans Are a Failure in Portland

Smart-Growth Plans Are a Failure in Portland



Some people have suggested that Houston could have avoided the Ashby high-rise controversy if it had more planning and smart growth. In fact, the opposite is true: Smart-growth planning makes land-use debates even more contentious.

Smart-growth planners believe that Americans live the wrong way, and they use land-use regulation to impose on others what they believe is the right way to live. Surveys consistently show that all but 15 percent to 25 percent of Americans want to live in single-family homes with a yard, but planners think we would be better off if a much higher percentage lived in high-density apartments or condos.

Consider my former hometown of Portland, Ore., which many consider the nation’s leader in smart-growth planning. To increase urban densities, planners are turning dozens of neighborhoods of single-family homes into apartments and condos. While past land-use rules set maximum densities, Portland’s rules set minimum densities.

This means if your neighbors own a vacant lot, they cannot build a single-family house on it; they must build a rowhouse or apartment. In some cases, regulation is so strict that, if your house burns down, you cannot rebuild it; you must replace it with an apartment.
Portland planners soon decided that rowhouses and low-rise apartments were not dense enough, so they increased height limits to 50 feet or 60 feet to allow four- and five-story mid-rise apartments. Even that isn’t dense enough, so now they are beginning to encourage high-rises.

After the first high-density developments saturated the demand, planners supplemented land-use mandates with tax breaks, below-market land sales and other subsidies to developers who built high-density housing. This means Portland neighborhoods continue to be invaded by mid-rise and high-rise developments, even though there is no more demand for dense housing.

Many of these developments are in transit corridors. Yet independent studies reveal that the people living in them don’t ride transit significantly more than residents of single-family neighborhoods.

Portlanders did not welcome densification. Almost all of the targeted neighborhoods fought it; almost all of them lost. Planners followed a divide-and-conquer strategy, taking one neighborhood at a time so opponents could not build up enough momentum to stop the process.

Increased densities destroyed the small-town atmosphere that once made Portland attractive. Congestion is worse, housing and consumer costs are high, and urban services such as fire, police and schools have declined as the city took money from these programs to subsidize high-density developers.

Despite these problems, scores of cities from Missoula, Mont., to San Diego, Calif., have passed similar smart-growth regulations. Planners want to use smart growth everywhere they can, including Houston.

To get out of Portland, I moved to an exurban neighborhood 150 miles away. Like many Houston neighborhoods, we have a homeowners association and deed restrictions, so we will never have to worry about outside planners imposing some unwanted development on us.

Unlike most other cities, Houston makes it easy to create homeowners associations in neighborhoods that do not have them. Houston’s system of deed restrictions puts you and your neighbors in charge of your neighborhood’s future.

By contrast, smart-growth planning puts your neighborhood’s future in the hands of people who may know little about you or your neighbors and whose ideas about how you should live may be very different from yours. If you want to protect your neighborhood from high-rises and other unwanted developments, then smart-growth planning is the last thing you need.

The Great Debate, "Plan Bay Area, Is it good for Marin?"


 

In case you weren't there, or if you were there and are still talking about it and want to share the highlights here is an HD video of The Great Debate.




Timepoints for reference:


00:00 Host, Robert Eyler, CEO, Marin Economic Forum
03:17 Panel Introductions
05:46 Is PBA good for the region and Marin??
06:57 Pledge of Alegiance
07:29 Mark Luce, ABAG, supports PBA, 10 minute presentation
18:06 Thomas Rubin, opposes PBA, 10 minute presentation
28:25 Steve Kinsey, Marin County Supervisor, supports PBA, 10 minute presentation
38:10 Randal O'Toole, CATO Institute, opposes PBA, 10 minute presentation
47:04 PUBLIC QUESTIONS
47:25 Should PBA be put to a vote? Liz Manning
47:54 - Luce
49:16 - Rubin
50:52 What are the social implications for minoritys in High Density Housing? Chris Pareja
51:05 - Kinsey
51:58 - O'Toole
56:00 What are the mplications of agreement between Marin County and HUD? Basia Crane
56:23 - Kinsey
57:43 - O'Toole
59:00 Please explain the mistakes in the Rena calculations. Diane Furst, Mayor, Corte Madera
1:00:10 - Luce
1:01:54 - O'Toole
1:03:54 What does PBA do to help solve climate change? Bill Kearney
1:04:32 - O'Toole
1:05:42 - Kinsey
1:06:36 - Luce
1:07:24 - Rubin
1:08:22 Why is "no plan" option off of the table? Meilin Kurtzman
1:08:42 - Kinsey
1:09:41 - O'Toole
1:11:10 Are the financial projections in the plan realistic? Chris Engle
1:11:28 - Rubin
1:11:49 - Kinsey
1:12:51 - Luce
1:13:39 - O'Toole
1:14:42 Why is Marin being zoned urban; what is the rational behind 30 units per acre? Amie itzgeral
1:15:12 - Kinsey
1:15:46 - Luce
1:16:46 - O'Toole
1:18:23 This appears to be an attack on the middle class. Clayton Smith
1:19:36 - Kinsey
1:20:33 - Rubin
1:21:01 - Luce
1:22:14 Mark - what would it take for you to change your position? Herb Smith
1:22:50 - Luce
1:23:29 - Kinsey
1:24:19 Why do you think this plan is good for Marin? Blaine Morris
1:25:11 - Kinsey
1:26:00 - O'Toole
1:27:50 How will a deisel train compete with fuel efficient cars? Scott Erkhart
1:28:26 - Kinsey
1:29:08 - O'Toole
1:31:00 Why can't a city member of ABAG, simply opt out? Dan Ucher
1:31:59 - Luce
1:33:19 - Rubin
1:34:51 We are close to the AB32 standards - do you recognize this?? Stephen Nestel
1:36:13 - Luce
1:36:55 - Kinsey
1:37:35 - Rubin
1:40:10 Closing Statement - O'Toole
1:42:26 Closing Statement - Kinsey
1:44:48 Closing Statement - Rubin
1:47:15 Closing Statement - Luce

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