Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Fascism Is Efficient" says Andres Duany, father of the New Urbanist movement

Andres Duany

Andres Duany is considered the father of New Urbanism that inspires Plan Bay Area.  He seeks to "repair Sprawl" by redeveloping places like Marin into Urban Centers along transportation Corridors.  All land within 1/2 mile of 101 is targeted.

Here is the full 2 hour video of the Seven50 conference which is even more chilling than the clips above. Seven50 is a regional economic/transportation and housing plan in Florida that is similar too Plan Bay Area on a smaller scale. Andres Duany reveals his plans, contempt for local democracy and unabased admiration for fascist government controls to achieve New Urbanist objectives of walkable, bikeable communities.

Mussolini called fascism "Corporatism"

Article from Independent Institute

Fascism Is Efficient, Says Andres Duany, Leading Proponent of “Sustainable Development”

Andres Duany (photo by Michigan Municipal League)
Andres Duany (photo by Michigan Municipal League, 2013)
It goes by many names: “sustainable development,” “smart growth,” “transit-oriented development,” to name a few. But development projects built under the banner of “sustainability” share the same elements: high-density residential housing and high-intensity commercial space (so-called mixed use) clustered near capital-intensive mass transit lines surrounded by government-owned “open space” and, increasingly, government-imposed “urban growth boundaries.” Regardless of where a sustainable-development project is located in the world, each tends to apply these elements.
There is nothing wrong with high-density housing or non-automobile mobility per se. The problem is that sustainability advocates use government to force their vision of tomorrow on others and, equally important, use government to restrict or eliminate alternative visions from being adopted. Individual private-property rights and local decision making give way to the priorities of international, national, state, and regional governmental bodies influenced by urban planners who believe their vision of the next 50 to 100 years is the correct vision and the only vision worth pursuing. Anyone who thinks differently, according to the planners, is wrong, selfish, wasteful, or all three, and must be silenced.
If you think this description is exaggerated, watch this chilling video of Andres Duany speaking to the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council on why it should support his Seven50 plan. Mr. Duany is the chief architect of Seven50, the proposed 50-year regional development plan for seven counties in Southeast Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Mr. Duany is a leading urban planner, author of The Smart Growth Manual, and a founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, which seeks to end suburban sprawl. After watching this video ask yourself: Do I want to support the so-called “smart-growth” approach and empower Andres Duany and people like him to rule over me and my community using government force? Or do I want to strengthen my private property rights and ensure local control over housing, land use, and transportation issues?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Soviet-Style Governance In San Francisco Bay Area

See the article in Forbes: Soviet-Style Governance In San Francisco Bay Area

French battlefield, 1914. The guns of the Great War reverberate to this day.

One of the all too many examples of illegal government overreach is currently playing out in the San Francisco Bay area. Unaccountable bureaucrats are imposing a sweeping new regional plan there that reflects the antiprogress, antipeople predilections of today’s leftist regulatory elites. Under the plan most future business and residential developments will be packed, sardine-like, into approximately 5% of the land area of the 9-county, 101-city region. Residents of all political stripes are outraged. Landowners feel they are suffering a government “takings” without compensation. Some environmentalists object that the impact on some of the chosen areas will be detrimental.

The mandate is being imposed ostensibly to reduce greenhouse gases. But that rationale is preposterous. U.S. emissions have already dropped to levels not seen since 1994, thanks, in no small part, to a surge in the production of natural gas, a truly clean source of energy. The other major reduction in omissions comes from better made trucks and cars, not from ant-hill-like residential/business clusters.

Citizen groups are protesting, and the Pacific Legal Foundation has now joined the fight, labeling this scheme illegal because bureaucrats have turned a blind eye to inconvenient data: “They studiously ignored facts showing that high-density development restrictions aren’t needed in order to meet the region’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction.” The foundation notes that this Big Brother-like plan “treats the law like a nuisance.”

The whole exercise displays a Soviet-style planning mentality. We should have learned the folly of treat ing people as if they were movable pawns, as happened in so many of post-WWII’s disastrous urban renewal projects, which did immense harm.

Nationally, be prepared to see a firestorm of opposition develop over the next few years against the plague of government lawlessness, at all levels.

Jacobean Tragedy

Jacobean Tragedy

The gross misinterpretation of an intellectual icon

Chattanooga is to urban planners what Cuba was to the '60s left: a junket, a model, and something likely to embarrass them 20 years later. The Tennessee town has become the Shangri-La of the sustainable development movement, that fractious coalition of policy makers, activists, and executives who hope to cure a host of ecological crises, real and imaginary, with more planning, more management, and more buzzwords. Foreign officials come calling, from Shanghai, Stockholm, Prague. Praise descends from the United Nations, federal agencies, and the Utne Reader(which recently named Chattanooga "one of the ten most enlightened towns in America"). With the possible exception of Portland, Oregon, Chattanooga is the Sustainables' favorite American city.

Now it plans to build an "eco-industrial park," an initiative it promises "will connect both industrial and non-industrial companies in a series of waste-becomes-raw-material feedback loops that will save money by keeping the material flows and energy flows within an industrial metabolism, rather than releasing waste into the environment." The President's Council on Sustainable Development has issued a grant to help build the park, and the city fathers rarely miss an opportunity to plug the project. It's a more moderate, mainstream version of environmental guru Herman Daly's "steady-state economy," defined as a "constant level of stocks maintained by minimal throughput of flows." That means you reuse almost all your waste and strictly limit growth.
Flash back three decades. In 1969, urbanologist Jane Jacobs suggested that recycling might become a solution to pollution. Cities, she wrote, are potential junk mines, waiting for entrepreneurs to extract useful material from household trash, industrial waste, even smokestacks. She devoted several pages of her classic The Economy of Cities to this idea, describing several ways one might transform waste into wealth. The cities of the future, she wrote, may "become huge, rich and diverse mines of raw materials. These mines will differ from any now to be found because they will become richer the more and the longer they are exploited."

On a superficial level, it sounds like the Chattanooga project. But it's very different. And the distinctions between the two show a lot of what's wrong with the sustainable development movement. They also show how seriously some Sustainables have misappropriated Jacobs's work.
Jacobs is probably our greatest student of how cities work, how they grow, and how they die. Her The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) is one of the great books of the century--a book that undermined the idea that cities should be works of art, designed by enlightened planner-architects, insisting instead that they were living systems best understood from the ground, not the air. The book's success launched her first into activism, fighting to save her Greenwich Village home from the urban planners, and then into Toronto, a city whose leaders proved more sympathetic to her ideas. She also continued to write, deepening her study of city life and society.
One of her most important insights, enunciated in The Economy of Cities, is the way new work grows out of old: not by plan, as too many social engineers have assumed, and not by ever-finer division of labor, as Adam Smith asserted, but by serendipity. First, work is divided into smaller tasks, à la Smith, and then someone discovers that one of those smaller processes has other uses. The old enterprise then reinvents itself, or else someone breaks away from it to start a new operation. In this way, a sand mining company (3M) began to develop new forms of adhesive tape; a dress maker (Ida Rosenthal) invented, and turned to manufacturing, the brassiere; and--not an example of innovation, but an illustration of the same principle--many Japanese bicycle repair shops gradually moved into bicycle manufacturing.
Jacobs expected recycling to develop this way. To the extent that it's a viable concern, it has. (Think of the scrap industry, or of the savings glass manufacturers have realized from using recycled content.) Contrast that process with these words from business writer Paul Hawken's 1993 book The Ecology of Commerce--a passage the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce saw fit to quote in a portfolio sent to journalists interested in its eco-industrial park: "A prototype of industrial ecology and cooperation is in place right now in Kalundborg, Denmark. In Kalundborg, a coal-fired plant, an oil refinery, a pharmaceutical company specializing in biotechnology, a sheetrock plant, concrete producers, a producer of sulfuric acid, the municipal heating authority, a fish farm, some greenhouses, local farms and other enterprises work cooperatively together....This synergy is remarkable because it happened `spontaneously,' without governmental regulation or law as the prime motivating factor, and because some of the relationships between outputs and inputs were serendipitous or unplanned at the outset."
Here's the kicker: "Imagine what a team of designers could come up with if they were to start from scratch, locating and specifying industries and factories that had potentially synergistic and symbiotic relationships."
Jacobs expects chance and entrepreneurship to produce progress. Hawken seems surprised when they do. Jacobs distrusts planners. Hawken, in this passage, does not. Of course, it makes sense to expect industries to imitate success, the serendipity of the past giving way to the deliberate design of the present. And it makes sense for companies that might want to use one another's waste to plan their proximity to one another in advance. But that sort of decentralized, contractual imitation of what works elsewhere differs considerably from the plan the Chattanoogans are proposing. The latter is a demonstration project, not a living economy; government planners dreamed it up, and it will be financed, in large part, by federal dollars.
Companies still will make money off it, of course. How could they not? The risk will be socialized and the profits privatized; the industries will be serving not customers but an ideological agenda. (And a civic agenda. Chattanooga has been trying to reposition itself as an "environmental city" for years, hoping to draw in tourists and fat federal grants.) Small wonder sustainability is becoming a corporate buzzword: You don't have to buy Daly's crank economics to make some easy dough off his rhetoric.
Thankfully, most of us have little direct contact with raw industrial waste. When we think of recycling, we think of our domestic trash--and, perhaps, of a local compulsory recycling law. Such laws are just as misguided as Chattanooga's eco-industrial park, and for much the same reason. The value of the activity takes a back seat to its symbolism; planners forget that the recycling process also uses energy and sometimes is more wasteful than simply throwing things away. So separating trash becomes a sort of religious ritual, a tiresome procedure that citizens are put through (or environmental aesthetes put themselves through) to prove their fealty to Mother Earth, whether or not they're doing her any favors.
Contrast that with another passage from The Economy of Cities, describing a hapless household trying to recycle its junk: "Imagine that one serviceman calls who is interested only in old metal, another who is interested in waste paper, another in garbage, another in discarded wool furniture, another in used-up plastics, another who wants old books (but only if their bindings have gilt letters; another serviceman is interested in the others), and so on. A family would be driven crazy by this traffic, let alone by the necessity of separating and storing for various intervals the various wastes."
Jacobs did not then propose that the family be forced to separate its trash. Indeed, she implied that this would defeat the purpose of the enterprise. "The aim must be to get all the wastes possible into the system--not only those that are already valuable at a given stage of development, but also those that are only beginning to become useful and those that are not yet useful but may become so," she writes. "A type of work that does not now exist is thus necessary: services that collect all wastes, not for shunting into incinerators or gulches, but for distributing to various primary specialists from whom the materials will go to converters or reusers."
An interesting idea. But trying it means allowing the new work to grow from the old work. That cannot happen if garbage collection is socialized, or if the government contracts with a single private company to do the job. It canhappen if households hire people to haul away their refuse. At first, the private haulers might give the garbage to landfills; as opportunities to sell different sorts of trash develop, they'd diversify, much as homeless people collect cans for profit in places with deposit law. Except, of course, that the trash collectors would be responding to an actual market incentive, not one jerry-rigged by the state.
If recycling technology advances far enough, the haulers may find themselves paying for the garbage they collect, rather than getting paid to collect it. But even when opportunities to sell trash don't arise, there can still be a solid incentive to recycle: As landfill space grows scarce, limited by geography or by popular opposition, it will grow more expensive to dispose of trash. In some communities, this has already happened. In others, it hasn't, and that's fine; it just means recycling isn't necessary. There's nothing wrong with that. We're talking about a means of waste disposal, not a moral imperative.
So Jacobs's vision is open-ended and dynamic. The Sustainables, meanwhile, dream of closed systems. Jacobs thinks progress comes from small enterprises making incremental changes, with a healthy dose of trial and error. The Sustainables think it derives from design. In a Jacobean world, businesses make money by meeting consumers' needs. Under sustainable development, they follow government incentives, jump for federal subsidies, and participate in "public-private partnerships." Writes Jacobs, "Cities that take the lead in reclaiming their own wastes will have high rates of related development work; that is, many local firms will manufacture the necessary gathering and processing equipment and will export it to other cities and to towns." The sustainable agenda has no room for that kind of fluid, messy, uncontrolled, spontaneous growth.
The funny thing is, a lot of Sustainables think they're following in Jacobs's footsteps. Many of them read her damning indictment of city planners in The Death and Life of Great American Cities; many embraced its powerful assault on the freeway projects and urban renewal schemes that were wiping out living neighborhoods and replacing them with concrete.
Agreeing that those projects were awful, they added Jacobs to their pantheon--and proceeded to dream up a more "sustainable" set of transit projects and redevelopment plans. If it was wrong to wipe out high-density districts, they figured, they should go out to the suburbs and try to force high densities on a population that doesn't want them, in an economic landscape where they're inappropriate. If it was wrong to push freeways into pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, they should try to herd people into expensive, unpopular mass-transit systems. (They certainly wouldn't follow Jacobs's recent advice and allow jitneys to proliferate.)
You think I'm exaggerating? I've just described the official urban growth policies of Portland, Oregon, where more than a few municipal officials claim Jacobs as a forebear. Last year in Toronto, at a gathering held in Jacobs's honor, Brian Scott of the environmental group Livable Oregon repeated something a city hall worker once told him: "A lot of us got tired of protesting the Vietnam War, read Jane Jacobs, and decided to take over Portland." Evidently, they didn't read very carefully.

The Sustainables' grossest misuse of Jacobs may be their approach to metropolitan government. They read Jacobs's principle, enunciated in 1984's Cities and the Wealth of Nations, that the most important economic unit is the city-anchored region, not the nation-state. Somehow, they interpreted this as an endorsement of regional governance--of creating governing superstructures able to override, and ideally eliminate, the competing jurisdictions that make up most metropolitan regions. Portland gave more and more planning power to a shadowy tri-county authority called Metro. Chattanooga merged its school system with that of the surrounding county, and has made noises about further consolidating the city and county governments. Whether or not those governments pointed to Jacobs as their inspiration, their boosters--such as columnist Neal Peirce, co-author of Citistates--somehow did.
But Jacobs has long believed government should be as local and as limited as possible, and has denounced regionalism as unworkable and undemocratic. "The voters sensibly decline to federate into a system where bigness means local helplessness, ruthless, oversimplified planning, and administrative chaos--for that is just what municipal bigness means today," she wrote in Death and Life. "How is helplessness against `conquering' planners an improvement over no planning? How is bigger administration, with labyrinths nobody can comprehend or navigate, an improvement over crazy-quilt township and suburban governments?" Last year, when Ontario wanted Toronto to merge with its environs into a giant, New York-style megalopolis, she was one of the plan's angriest opponents, at one point suggesting the city consider seceding from the province. "Separating power and responsibility doesn't make sense," she explained to a TV interviewer. The Sustainables would do well to listen.

But they won't. To the extent that they have digested Jacobs, they have romanticized her vision, bastardizing her empirical observations of how cities work into a formula they want to impose not just on cities but on suburbs and small towns as well. More often, however, they simply have not digested her at all. And it shows. Their vision is static, stagnant, and statist, everything that Jacobs's is not. The result will soon be on display in Chattanooga.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Power of Punk Art and Music / Soviet Punk

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry OFFICIAL TRAILER from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on Vimeo.

Tiny houses helping with homeless problem in U.S.

Tiny houses helping with homeless problem in U.S.

MADISON, Wis. - While tiny houses have been attractive for those wanting to downsize or simplify their lives for financial or environmental reasons, there's another population benefiting from the small-dwelling movement: the homeless.
There's a growing effort across the nation from advocates and religious groups to build these compact buildings because they are cheaper than a traditional large-scale shelter, help the recipients socially because they are built in communal settings and are environmentally friendly due to their size.
"You're out of the elements, you've got your own bed, you've got your own place to call your own," said Harold "Hap" Morgan, who is without a permanent home in Madison. "It gives you a little bit of self-pride: This is my own house."
He's in line for a 99-square-foot house built through the nonprofit Occupy Madison Build, or OM Build, run by former organizers with the Occupy movement. The group hopes to create a cluster of tiny houses like those in Olympia, Wash., and Eugene and Portland, Ore.
Many have been built with donated materials and volunteer labor, sometimes from the people who will live in them. Most require residents to behave appropriately, avoid drugs and alcohol and help maintain the properties.
Still, sometimes neighbors have not been receptive. Linda Brown, who can see the proposed site for Madison's tiny houses from her living room window, said she worries about noise and what her neighbors would be like.
"There have been people who have always been associated with people who are homeless that are unsavory types of people," she said.
Organizer Brenda Konkel hopes to allay neighbors' concerns by the time the City Council votes in May on the group's application to rezone the site of a former auto body shop to place the houses there. Plans include gardens, a chicken coop and possibly bee hives and showers and bathrooms in the main building.
"I think a lot of them we can work through. I think there is some ways we can be a real asset to the neighborhood," she said.
The group has already built one house that's occupied by a couple and parked on the street. A volunteer moves it every 24 or 48 hours as required by city ordinances.
The house, which cost about $5,000, fits a double bed with overhead storage, a small table and a small room with a compostable toilet. There's no plumbing or electricity, but the home is insulated and has a propane heater to get the residents through the harsh Wisconsin winters.
Organizers want to eventually add solar panels.
Morgan, who has struggled with a spinal cord surgery, alcohol addiction and unemployment, lives in a trailer provided by OM Build. He hopes to work as a cook again.
"My goal is to go back to that and get my own place, but it's really nice to have this to fall back on," he said.
The tiny house effort in Eugene, Ore., sprung up after the city shut down an Occupy encampment that turned into a tent city for the homeless. Andrew Heben and others worked with the city, which provided them with land for the project.
Opportunity Village Eugene opened in September with little resistance, said Heben, 26, who is on the board of directors. Most of the nine huts, which are 60 square feet, and 21 bungalows, which are 64 square feet and 80 square feet, are already built.
Thirty people are living in them now, and he expects 40 to 45 residents ultimately. The houses don't have electricity, water, bathrooms, showers or kitchens, but separate shared buildings do.
They've done it all for less than $100,000, which is about half the median home price in Eugene, all from private donors with no taxpayer money. He said the story has changed from how tent cities were a problem in America to how the community is banding together.
"It's an American success story. ... Now we see in different cities people coming up with citizen driven solutions," Heben said.
Ministries in Texas and New York also are developing communities with clusters of small houses.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes plans 135 small homes and 100 recreational vehicles on 27 acres near Austin, Texas.
The Christian ministry that started 15 years ago bringing food and clothing to the homeless hopes to raise $7 million to build the homes, streets, utilities, sewers, a farming operation, medical facility and sanctuary, President and CEO Alan Graham said.
Residents would pay rent that ranges from $90 a month for a 150-square-foot home to $375 for 400 square feet.
"The goal is to reach everybody where they are economically," Graham said.
He expects a staff of 15 will run the village, with residents having the option to get paid to help with upkeep.
Community Faith Partnership near Ithaca, N.Y., has built six of up to 18 planned 320-square-foot houses as transitional living for homeless men, said Jim Crawford, the group's executive director.
The men will pay rent on a sliding scale that looks at their situation and whether they receive government aid.
The heart of the operation will be a community center where people who aren't social can learn to relate to others in a safe environment, Crawford said.
"We are bringing people into tangible housing but we are bringing them also into much less tangible human framework of social relations and that is the more difficult work," he said. "That is the more sophisticated work."

Editor's note: The average price of subsidized housing is $400,000-$800,000 in the Bay Area and the community receives almost no taxes.  While we are not advocating the tiny house solution, it is a creative approach to the problem of the homeless. Tens of thousands of these could be built for the cost of a single "affordable" housing complex like the proposed Marinwood Village. The ridiculously high cost of so called "affordable complexes" built with generous taxpayer subsidies makes you wonder what they mean by "non profit".
Bridge Housing Celebrates Affordable Housing at the America's Cup with Movie Star Edward Norton, Mayor Ed Lee, Cabinet Officials from the Obama Administration and the Who's Who in International Finance.
So much earnest celebration while earning Tax Free Subsidies!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SF Chronicle: San Rafael's allure for homeless creates some tension

San Rafael's allure for homeless creates some tension see article in SF Chronicle.

For two years, Eric Lloyd was a denizen of People's Park in Berkeley, a regular fixture in that city's homeless panoply.

But about a month ago, he got tired of getting robbed - and arrested for public drunkenness - so on the advice of a friend he moved to San Rafael.

"It's great here," he said Wednesday while basking in the sun on Fourth Street, the city's main commercial strip. "It's safe. No one hassles me. Will I stay here? Yeah, I think so. I like it here."

Lloyd is one of 900 or so homeless people in Marin County, most of whom are concentrated around a soup kitchen, park and free clinic in downtown San Rafael, drawing the ire of residents and merchants who say the middle-class city of 58,000 is bearing the brunt of Marin County's homeless issues.

"We have a small downtown - we can't absorb it," said Carol Thompson, director of the downtown business association. "People say they don't want to come to downtown San Rafael because they're afraid of the homeless. It's very frustrating because there's very little we can do about it."

San Rafael, the county seat and one of the oldest North Bay cities, has had homeless people for decades, as least since St. Vincent de Paul opened its doors in the 1940s. St. Vincent - or Vinnie's, as it's known - provides the county's only free dining room and a large array of services for low-income Marin residents. The city is also home to shelters, a free clinic, domestic violence and substance abuse centers, and several other nonprofits that serve Marin's low-income residents.

A huge increase

With the economic downturn, the number of people seeking help from St. Vincent has more than doubled, from about 6,000 a year to 15,000 annually, said Christine Paquette, the agency's development director.
Some of them suffer from chronic drug abuse or mental illness, and many are longtime Marin residents who lost their jobs in the recession and fell behind on their rents, which at an average of $1,900 for a two-bedroom apartment are among the highest in the nation.
The homeless population further swelled in the past year or two with the steady flow of transient young people making their way up and down the West Coast. With its mild weather, low crime rate and generous homeless services, San Rafael is a popular stop for those migrating up the coast.

Support services

Typically, San Rafael's homeless sleep in Boyd Memorial Park, then head to St. Vincent and the nearby Ritter Center for food, health care, showers, clothing, substance abuse counseling or other services.

The result is a triangular path bisected by Fourth Street, the city's historic shopping district, which San Rafael has spent at least a decade sprucing up and which now hosts myriad festivals, parades, farmers' markets and other attractions.

"Some of the homeless certainly cross the line. The pit bulls, the tossing of the f-word when you're walking down the street with your 6-year-old and Grandma - people aren't used to that, and they don't expect it. Especially in Marin," Paquette said. "For some people, an experience like that can ruin their afternoon."

More than 70 percent of downtown merchants say their business has been affected by the homeless, costing thousands of dollars in lost sales and tax revenue, Thompson and city staff members said.

Annie Bowman, who opened the furniture store Sunrise Home downtown 37 years ago, said she feels compassion for those who have no place to go but worries about the safety and comfort of her employees and customers.

"When I came to San Rafael, it was the epitome of a charming, vibrant downtown," she said. "It does break my heart to see it like this. It's a complex issue that's happening in other cities, too, but it seems the pendulum here has swung too far."

Librarians help

At the public library, staff members have "absolutely seen an increase" in the homeless population, said library director Sarah Houghton. Librarians have become de facto social workers, handling everything from fistfights to untreated mental illness to screaming and drug abuse, she said.

"More than anything, it means the staff has less time to help regular library patrons," she said. "It's no different than what's happening in San Francisco, just on a smaller scale."
San Rafael has taken many steps to address the issue: hiring the homeless to clean the streets, deploying more police downtown, clearing out encampments in the parks and adding more beds to a downtown detox center.

Merchants and homeless advocates both agree that those steps appear to be working. And, although the homeless sometimes defecate and urinate on the sidewalks, they don't often aggressively panhandle or commit crimes, Thompson said.

"Pops," 64, lived on San Rafael streets for nine years before recently moving in with a friend in Novato. He still dines at St. Vincent and said he sympathizes with both sides.
"No one wants to walk down the street and feel harassed or threatened. I'm not happy about it, either," he said last week while eating lunch. "But what can we do? We can't just put people on a bus to Richmond or Vallejo - that's where a lot of them came from to begin with. It's not an easy problem."

Praise for San Rafael

Lloyd, meanwhile, is enjoying his stay in Marin. The 49-year-old Missouri native has been homeless most of his life, he said, and he appreciates the quiet of San Rafael and generosity of its residents.
"Nice people. And St. Vincent is great," he said as he relaxed next to the Rafael Film Center. "I'm not out to get on people's nerves. ... I don't want people bothering me, either. Just like anyone, I want peace and quiet."

Editor's Note:  Homeless Shelters have been zoned somewhere in the unincorporated areas of the county near or in Marinwood.  I never was able to determine the location.  Someone needs to research this.  Thee winters ago, the sitting Marinwood CSD Board consisting of Bruce Anderson, Cyane Dandridge, Leah Green, Tarey Reed and Bill Hansel, voted to make the Marinwood Community Center an emergency homeless shelter.  It was never used.

High Affordable Housing Development Costs under Scrutiny

Bridge Housing's latest "affordable housing"development in Emeryville costs $500,000 per unit. The above photo is  another "affordable" development by another LIHTC developer that also costs $500k per unit.
Editor's note: It is entirely likely that a Marinwood Plaza Housing Project will be built for far in excess of the typical square footage cost for a Marinwood/Lucas Valley custom home.  The Marinwood Village project may be worth $40,000,000 financed largely through a Low Income Housing Tax Credit and local residents that will support the development and its residents for up to 55 years. 

High Development Costs Under Scrutiny

How much is too much to spend on building affordable housing?

$100,000 per unit? $200,000? $300,000? $400,000?

The cost of sheltering a community’s neediest residents has been rising and so has the heat surrounding the hefty price tags.

From California to Maine, the amount being spent on low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and other affordable housing properties is under growing political and public scrutiny.

“Certainly affordable housing costs are perceivedto be out of hand by people who are not in the industry,” said David Smith, chairman of Recap Real Estate Advisors, a Boston-based firm that works with multifamily property developers. “They see foreclosed homes in the Central Valley of California selling for $175,000 or less, and there are thousands of them, when new affordable housing in San Diego can cost $450,000 per unit. To them, that doesn’t add up.”

‘Instead of building new properties, why not just buy vacant homes and rent them to poor people?’

It’s a major political problem, and Smith is surprised more people don’t see it.
“With state and federal budgets under pressure, anything can be cut or zeroed out, it’s very difficult to explain crisply the reasons for LIHTC’s high costs,” he said.“Normal people say, ‘Instead of building new properties, why not just buy vacant homes and rent them to poor people?’ That the existing stock may not be where the jobs are located, or is in some other way unsuitable, is a potential answer, but not a snappy comeback.”
“There’s no question in my mind that cost containment or the perceived above-market costs for LIHTC projects represents a significant political issue and political risk for the program,” Smith says.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Irish Patriot at the ABAG Executive Board challenging the Constitutionality of Regional Government

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan's remarks on HUD fair housing goals

Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan Before the NAACP’s 104th Annual Convention
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Orlando, Florida

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Hilary (Shelton), for that kind introduction, and for your great work as Director of the Washington Bureau.

Please allow me to also thank your President and CEO, Ben Jealous; your Chairwoman, Roslyn Brock; your Vice Chairman, Leon Russell; and all of the NAACP leadership for their distinguished service.

I also want to thank the organizers who decided to have me speak before Secretary Sebelius and Attorney General Holder.  Both of them are dynamic and tough acts to follow.  It is a pleasure to work with them to advance President Obama’s agenda.  And I am proud to call them both friends and colleagues.

Finally, I want to thank all of you here at the NAACP’s 104th Annual Convention for all your work to shape a fairer and stronger America.  For more than a century, this organization has been a champion of change, fighting to bring our nation closer to the ideals that it preached.

All of us at HUD have been proud to work with you during President Obama’s first term.  And I appreciate this chance to talk about what we can do in this second term to build on this progress.

Building Ladders of Opportunity

We come together today at an important moment in our nation’s history.  Under the President’s leadership, our economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

We have had 40 consecutive months of private sector growth, resulting in 7.2 million new jobs. And families across the country are turning the page on this incredibly painful chapter in their lives.
But let me be clear – all of us in the Administration are not content.  We don’t just want to recover and go back to the way things were in 2005 and 2006.

That’s because, even in those so-called good times, the American Dream wasn’t within equal reach of all communities.  Those occupying the executive suites and boardrooms didn’t reflect the diversity of America.

Neither did the entrepreneurs able to access capital for their businesses.  Neither did the young people who were able to study in the best schools.  Neither did the families who had access to healthcare.  And neither did those living in the strongest neighborhoods.

In other words, rebuilding America back to the way things were simply isn’t good enough.
Instead, we have got to shape a future where ladders of opportunity are available for all Americans.

As you know better than anyone, for African Americans, this is critically important.  Historically, for this community, the rungs on these ladders have been too far apart – making it harder to reach the middle class.

And all of us are here today to say no more.  As part of this effort, HUD has put forth an ambitious agenda to put an end to these disparities.

Specifically, we are adding rungs on the ladder of opportunity by:
• stepping up fair housing enforcement;
• ensuring that all Americans have access to homeownership and can keep it; and
• helping the hardest hit communities rebuild stronger than ever before. 

The First Rung: Fair Housing Enforcement

All of this work has long been a part of HUD’s mission.  In the area of enforcement – we administer the Fair Housing Act.  Passed in 1968—shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King—the bill was an important milestone in our nation’s history.

It boldly declared that every person has the right to live wherever he or she chooses.  And all of us at HUD work tirelessly to ensure that this law in our books is a reality in our communities by fighting housing discrimination – whenever and wherever it exists.

During my tenure, I’ve pushed HUD to be more engaged and proactive.  For example, in 2011 alone, HUD charged more cases than it had in the previous decade – and with 25% fewer fair housing staff.

And in total, over the past three years, HUD’s investigative efforts have resulted in more than $65 million in compensation for more than 25,000 individuals that were allegedly subjected to housing discrimination.

And let me be clear: we are not satisfied.  That’s why I want to send a message to all those outside these doors. There are no stones we won’t turn.  There are no places we won’t go. And there are no complaints we won’t explore in order to eliminate housing discrimination. 


And part of the reason we’ve been active like never before is because the nature of discrimination has changed over the years.  While blatant, “in your face”, discrimination is still very real today – a quieter form of discrimination has emerged that is just as harmful to our country.

This was a key finding of a HUD report released on June 11th on Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities.  It found that after an initial showing – real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes to minority families than equally qualified whites.

In the rental market, for example, African Americans learned about 11% fewer available units.
And when it came to purchases, Black homebuyers learned about 17% fewer homes.
Bottom line: people are being denied their freedom of choice and the benefits of full citizenship.  
Yet because of the subtle nature of this discrimination, often times, they don’t even know they have been subjected to this abuse.

That’s why HUD is enhancing its enforcement techniques by initiating investigations on our own without waiting for individuals to file complaints.  We have more than tripled the number of Secretary-initiated complaints that we have filed since 2008.  And in the larger picture—recognizing that discrimination is changing—we are changing our approach to Fair Housing by bringing it into the 21st century. 

Today, it’s about more than just addressing outright discrimination and access to the housing itself.  It’s also about giving every community access to important neighborhood amenities that can make a tremendous difference in a person’s life outcome.

I’m talking about good schools, safe streets, jobs, grocery stores, healthcare and a host of other important factors.  To help families gain this access – HUD is working to strengthen our stewardship of federal dollars to maximize the impact they have on communities in advancing fair housing goals. 

As all of you know, HUD’s programs provide funding to partners at the state and local level.  As part of the Fair Housing Act—for members of the protected classes—these partners have an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing opportunities – otherwise known as AFFH.
But as you and many others, including the Government Accountability Office, have noted, this has proven largely to be a meaningless paper exercise without any teeth.  The process has long been broken and we’re determined to fix it and help it reach its full promise.

That’s why I am proud to announce that this week we will publish a new rule to bring affirmatively further fair housing into the 21st century.  This rule focuses on the traditional tenets of discrimination – and also gets at the essential issues of access to opportunity so imperative to 21st century equity.

Specifically, this new rule will:
• provide a clear definition of what it means to affirmatively further fair housing;
• outline a standard framework with well-defined parameters; and
• offer targeted guidance and assistance to help grantees complete this assessment.

Perhaps most important—for the first time ever—HUD is providing data for every neighborhood in the nation, detailing what access African American families, and other members of protected classes, have to the community assets I talked about earlier –  including jobs, schools and transit.

With this data and the improved AFFH process, we can expand access to high opportunity neighborhoods and draw attention to investment possibilities in underserved communities. 

Make no mistake: this is a big deal.  With the HUD budget alone, we are talking about billions of dollars.  And as you know, decades ago, these funds were used to support discrimination. Now, they will be used to expand opportunity and bring communities closer to the American Dream.

This rule change is something the NAACP has long called for.  And when you’ve spoken, we’ve listened.  We have been proud to work with stakeholders like you every step of the way.  And we will continue to in order to strengthen this work in the months and years ahead to bring Fair Housing into the 21st century.

The Second Rung: Access and Protection of Homeownership.

And to complement this work, we are also working to ensure that families have access to homeownership – and can keep it.  This is a key rung in the ladder to opportunity.  After all, a home purchase often represents a family’s biggest economic investment, serving as a foundation for wealth-building.

It can help a child go to college, a family to start a business or an elderly person to retire in comfort and with dignity.  So homeownership has long been part of the American Dream. Unfortunately, for many families during the crisis – that Dream turned into a nightmare.

A study from Pew found that from 2005-2009, the median household wealth of African Americans fell 53%.  Think about that: more than half of African American wealth wiped out in just the four years before President Obama took office.

We cannot have a healthy America if communities of color are hurting.  That’s why HUD has been working to repair the damage to protect homeownership and help families rebuild their wealth.
In 2009, we launched the Making Home Affordable Program to provide relief to those at risk of foreclosure – helping nearly 1.1 million homeowners receive a permanent modification to their mortgages.

In addition, over the last four years, HUD-approved housing counselors have helped more than nine-million families deal with the financial crisis.

And as part of the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement the Obama administration negotiated with a bi-partisan group of 49 State Attorneys General –more than $50 billion in direct relief has been sent to over 620,000 homeowners as of the end of March.

This relief includes more than 310,000 trial or completed principal reductions – meaning that families have seen their outstanding loan balance permanently reduced to make monthly payments affordable, helping struggling homeowners get back above water.
This work has helped so many turn the page on this painful period in their lives.  And it is making a difference.  Since the beginning of 2012, almost two and a half trillion dollars in home equity has been restored.

But repairing the damage isn’t enough.  We are also working to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again by holding the banks accountable for what they did.  We all know that a lot of lenders acted recklessly when issuing loans before the housing collapse. And even after the loans were issued, many continued to turn their backs on responsible families.

That’s why as part of the Mortgage Settlement, we set out a series of reforms to ensure that our nation’s five largest banks don’t continue to wreak havoc in our neighborhoods.  Recently, the Settlement’s Independent Monitor, Joe Smith, released a compliance report showing that they have made some progress – including the end of robo-signing – a practice where banks sign off on foreclosures with little or no review.

Unfortunately, other abuses shamefully endure.  Most notably, these financial institutions consistently fail to send notices and communicate decisions to stakeholders in a timely manner. And any delay in providing help can not only cost a family their home – but also their hopes and dreams for the future.

This is unacceptable.  So last month, we put the five financial institutions officially on notice. They must correct these problems or the Obama administration, along with the bipartisan group of 49 state attorneys general, will fine them up to $5 million for each failure or haul them back into court.

As the NAACP knows better than anyone, progress requires activism from the courts to the streets to the boardrooms.  And I assure you that when it comes to pushing for progress in reforming banks – we will stay in the fight for as long as it takes to ensure that this crisis doesn’t happen again so families can stay in their homes.

Of course, keeping a family in their home is only meaningful if they can gain access to credit to buy it in the first place.  And that means strengthening our housing finance system and the Federal Housing Administration.

Over the next few months, Congress will decide if access to credit will be limited to the few … or be available to the many.  And as it considers the future of housing finance – we’ve got to make our voices heard about the need to keep FHA as a cornerstone of homeownership.
That’s because, as you all know, despite the FHA’s legacy of discrimination, in recent times, it has been critical to opening doors for low- and moderate income families.  And during the housing crisis, it helped keep the dream of homeownership alive for families by providing much needed liquidity to the nation’s mortgage finance markets.

In fact, economist Mark Zandi has said that if not for the FHA, “the housing market would have completely shut down.”  And, FHA mortgages have been essential to the African American community, accounting for 50 percent of home purchases in 2012.

Of course, like nearly all mortgage market institutions, FHA sustained significant losses due to the distress in the housing market.  But the Obama administration recognized this early on, and took swift and effective action to protect the FHA and the American taxpayer alike.
As a result, FHA is currently insuring the strongest loans in its history.  So again, I ask you to make your voices heard about the importance of this program, and the work we’ve done to secure its health far into the future so that it can continue to open the doors of homeownership to a wide-variety of qualified buyers.

Too many Americans had their dreams stolen by the housing crisis.  Don’t let Congress blame the victim and take away a rung on the ladder to opportunity.

The Third Rung: Building the Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods

Of course, as we look to the future, I know that housing is just one of the essential elements of a healthy community.  Indeed, as I said earlier, there are many factors that go into building stronger neighborhoods from the quality of their schools to the health of their local economies.

Unfortunately, in too many of our hardest hit communities—no matter how hard a child or her parents work—the life chances of that child, even her lifespan, is determined by the zip code she grows up in.

This is simply wrong.  That’s why President Obama has put forth his ladders of opportunity agenda so that every person, regardless of their zip code, can have a fair chance to succeed.

That means equipping a community with quality housing.  It also means implementing economic, educational and other important building blocks.

Recognizing this, President Obama has laid out an initiative called Promise Zones.  Under this effort, the Administration will partner with communities most impacted by the economic crisis.
Together, we will work with them to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities and reduce violent crime.  And to do this effectively and efficiently, this is going to be a coordinated effort across the Administration.

Obviously, HUD will play a significant role in the housing piece through our Choice Neighborhoods redevelopment program, which provides local leaders with tools to turn HUD-subsidized housing from one kind of “anchor”—the kind that drags down a community—into a another kind that serves as a centerpiece of a thriving, vibrant neighborhood.

Secretary Sebelius and The Department of Health and Human Services will be ensuring that every resident has the quality healthcare they need.  Attorney General Holder and The Department of Justice will work to keep communities safe, because nobody can parent, and no child can achieve, when they live in a combat zone.

The Department of Education will be making sure that local school districts are providing the elementary and secondary education public school students deserve.  Across the Administration, we are all pitching in to make this happen.

And we do so because we know that by strengthening these communities, we will strengthen cities.  By strengthening cities, we are strengthening states and entire regions.  And all of this leads to a stronger America.

That’s why President Obama has made Promise Zones a key part of his 2014 budget.   It’s why he has committed himself to providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.  And it’s why all of us at HUD are following his lead.  So I ask you to support the President’s and the Senate Appropriations Committee budget for HUD.

I also ask you to raise your voice and reject the House Republican Appropriations Bill that was recently unveiled which devastates HUD’s ability to serve the most vulnerable communities.
The bill would cut $3 billion from the President’s request from public housing and our other rental assistance programs – meaning 125,000 fewer housing vouchers would be available and 86,000 people who once faced homelessness could be back on the street – among other outcomes.
In short, it’s an attack on poor, working class and middle-class Americans.

So I ask all of you to say “no.”  No, we will not balance budgets on the backs of middle class and vulnerable Americans.  No, we will not withdraw our support of those who need it most.  And no we will not deny so many families their fair chance to get back on their feet and better their lives if they work hard.

NAACP – you know better than most how far we’ve come. You know we can’t turn back now.
Instead, we’ve got to look forward and move forward working together.

Know that HUD is with you every step of the way, working to build ladders of opportunity by:
• stepping up fair housing enforcement;
• ensuring all Americans have access to homeownership and can keep it; and
• helping the hardest hit communities rebuild stronger than ever before. 

And as long as I’m Secretary, know that you have a friend.  You have a champion for – and admirer of your efforts and advocacy.

And you have a partner in the work to build ladders of opportunity for all Americans to shape a stronger and fairer nation.

Thank you.