Friday, April 28, 2017

Gov. Brown signs gas tax increases

Gov. Brown signs gas tax increases


Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed the controversial $52 billion tax and fee increase to pay for the largest road funding plan in California in more than a quarter century.

Senate Bill 1 raises the funds through a 12-cent gas tax increase that begins in November, a new fee based on vehicle value and other means over a decade to pay for road maintenance and repairs, public transit and other projects.

“Safe and smooth roads make California a better place to live and strengthen our economy,” Brown said in a statement. “This legislation will put thousands of people to work.”

The bill reached the governor’s desk after he and fellow Democrats negotiated side deals with lawmakers to hammer the bill through the Legislature with a two-thirds majority vote during a floor session that stretched late into the night on April 6. The sweeteners included nearly $1 billion in funding for special projects for districts in the Modesto and Riverside areas to convince wavering Democrats and one Republican to sign onto the plan.

A Republican radio host quickly pounced on the vote as a launching point to launch a recall of Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton. Carl DeMaio, who is leading the recall effort against Newman, said he’s targeting the lawmaker over the gas tax and to eliminate Democrats’ powerful majority in the Senate.

With 27 Democrats in the Senate and 55 in the Assembly, the party can at least in theory pass major tax bills without a single Republican vote. That’s not how it worked with the transportation bill. Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, refused to support the deal, prompting leaders to strike a deal with Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, to cross party lines to vote for the tax increase.

The governor said the negotiations were an example of democracy and called suggestions that the side deals may be illegal “preposterous.”

Editor's Note:  State Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblyman Marc Levine voted Yes on this Tax Bill.  Virtually every local politician supported it. Damon Connolly wrote a Voice piece in the Marin IJ.  Why do they always "NEED" to raise our taxes for essentials like road but find plenty of money to hire consultants, fund their favorite causes and expand social services?   This bill will hurt low income people and businesses that rely on transportation the most.

Plan Bay Area 2040 ( aka. Snake Oil 2.0)

MTC presented a special workshop "for elected officials" prior to the TAM meeting. The public could attend but their was NO PUBLICITY about it except an item on the TAM agenda.  I am always curious when our public servants have meetings that EXCLUDE the public.  Only about 15 elected officials showed up and a handful of the public.  The scenario laid out would mean substantial growth in Marin AND the acknowledgement that THE MIDDLE CLASS will be decimated.

The MTC believes that many more low income (taxpayer subsidized) housing must be built.  If low income (tax free ) housing is built then taxes must rise for everyone else to pay for essential government services, schools and public safety.  The MTC acknowledges the plan will need massive new taxes such as increased sales taxes, bridge tolls, highway tolls,  abolish prop 13 and lower the threshold to 55% for new taxes approvals.  A regional housing fund will be created where we subsidize affordable housing for other counties.  It is a massive social engineering project.

The politicians have lost their minds. They think the taxpayers are an endless source of revenue even while the mass exodus of millennials and families from California has begun.   We must submit comments on Plan Bay Area 2040 by June 1, 2017 or lose the county will hold so dear.

We must SAVE MARIN, AGAIN!  (and your hometown, too!)

A more thorough discussion of the "Preferred Scenario" was discussed in October 2016 at MTC.s new headquarters in downtown San Francisco.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Marinwood Park Shed Public Workshop 4/25/2017

Marinwood CSD board and Parks and Recreation commission hold public workshop to discuss the removal and replacement of the Park Maintenance Shed.  The current shed resides on the bank of Miller Creek where it is subject to flooding and collapse when the stream bank erodes. It is well within the 100 foot setback required by the Marin County 2014 Steam Conservation Ordinance.  This covers "ephemeral streams" such as the drainage canal that runs parallel to the entrance road behind the tennis courts.  There is literally NO room to build a new shed in this area.  Fortunately, we have space next to the firehouse behind the 10 foot high berm to hide the new structure. Residents are encouraged to contact the Marinwood CSD manager, Eric Dreikosen and with your concerns.

The "public" Marinwood CSD budget meeting but you could not attend 4/25/2017

Published on Apr 27, 2017

The Marinwood CSD discusses the 2017-2018 Budget that includes Staff raises, increased funding across the board yet downplays the amount of expected revenue. I had to repeatedly ask the Marinwood CSD for the total estimated revenue and he dodged the question repeatedly. Finally, Bill Shea provided the $5.7 million number which was no where to be found on the budget projections. Also, additional revenues generated by extra events are not openly discussed. Once again the Marinwood CSD is continuing the practice of deceiving the public on its financial condition. There was no open time given to the public and Eric Dreikosen said that it was due to the "special meeting" status. We believe the Marinwood CSD is again in violation of the Brown Act.

The Letter that you never saw about the Marinwood CSD maintenance shed and Creekside ordinance

Editor's Note: This is the letter sent to the Marinwood CSD on 4/21/2017 concerning the Maintanence Shed that was NOT DISTRIBUTED prior to the Special Meeting on 4/25/2017.  The Marinwood CSD must respect the Stream Ordinance.  We are the largest landowner of Miller Creek stream property in Lucas Valley. 

Dear Mr. Dreikosen/Shane Demarta/Board Members/Public:

Please be advised that the Maintenance Shed is within the 100 foot set back and building improvements are prohibited.  This includes Miller Creek and the drainage canal next to the horseshoe pit (an ephemeral stream)

The only place in Marinwood Park a new shed could be built is along side the fire house on Lucas Valley Road.  Such a shed could be simpler in design as it would not need an office or bathroom.  A separate office shed could be added if needed with minimal cost.
As you know the Miller Creek stream bank has had serious erosion issues and is unstable during wet years.  In addition, it is sound ecological practice to avoid buildings and storing chemicals where they could harm the environment.  It is time the district take this responsibility seriously.

At next weeks meeting to discuss the new shed, I hope you will provide a feasible alternative for a shed located next to the fire house.  The two designs offered thus far are not in compliance within the current Stream Ordinance.

Parcel Number164-260-35
Stream Conservation Area Setback100 feet (Additional setback may be required)
See MapClick Here 164-260-35

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Out Migration increases in major metropolitan areas. San Francisco leads the country.

Hunting for a house that’s affordable, nearly one in five home seekers living in the Bay Area is looking outside the region, according to a new analysis by Redfin.
The brokerage’s inaugural “migration report” places the San Francisco metropolitan area — including San Jose and Oakland — in the No. 1 position among markets where house hunters are most likely to leave.
The brokerage sampled nearly 1 million users who looked for homes in 75 U.S. metro areas during the first three months of 2017.
Those 1 million users included about 110,000 in the San Francisco metro area, out of whom 21,300 — 19.4 percent — looked outside the region, where the cost of homes isn’t so prohibitive. The most common in-state destination for those heading toward the exits was Sacramento, while the most common out-of-state destination was Seattle.
“Fast-growing coastal cities may be generating the high-paying jobs, but they haven’t created enough budget-friendly housing to keep pace. The price of real estate and desire for homeownership is compelling many to uproot and seek housing in more affordable communities,” said Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “Even a Bay Area family with two solid incomes can struggle to afford a modest home. For many, the only path to homeownership is to pack up and move out.”   
See Full Article in the Marin IJ HERE

"This water is getting quite warm" said the frog in the frypan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Portland Anarchists Patching Up Potholes

Portland Anarchists Patching Up Potholes

A government official warns them they might be breaking the law.

Daniel Lobo / FlickrDaniel Lobo / FlickrA group of masked anarchists have taken to the streets of Portland, Oregon. But they're not out breaking windows or burning cars—instead, they're patching up potholes. The Portland Anarchist Road Care (PARC) group has tasked itself with addressing problems with the city streets that have plagued the community since winter, KGW reported.
"The city of Portland has shown gross negligence in its inadequate preventative care through this winter's storms, and through its slow repair of potholes as weather has improved," claims the group's Facebook page. "Daily, this negligence is an active danger to cyclists and causes damage to people's automobiles, and an increased risk of collision and bodily injury."
"Portland Anarchist Road Care aims to mobilize crews throughout our city, in our neighborhoods, to patch our streets, build community, and continue to find solutions to community problems outside of the state," the page also says.
In a recent outing, PARC repaired five potholes. Members assured the community that they will continue filling holes as long as they are able, according to the KGW report. But not everyone is thrilled with the group's service.
Especially peeved is the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). "If it's a city-maintained street, then folks should call us and have the professionals do it," bureau spokesman Dylan Rivera told OregonLive. "It's generally not safe for folks to be out in the street doing an unauthorized repair like this." The PBOT claims the city repaired 900 potholes during a recent patch-a-thon event, KGW reported; the city claims it fills up to 8,000 potholes every year.
OregonLive notes that Rivera couldn't say whether there's an ordinance against residents patching up potholes themselves, but he believed the action "might be illegal."
Portland isn't the only place where people taken it upon themselves to repair potholes in their neighborhoods. In Hamtramck, Michigan, a group that dubbed itself the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Crew has been operating since 2015, reports USAToday. "Everyone who lives in or has been through Hamtramck recently knows how much help our roads need," the group's Facebook page reads. "The city is doing what they can with the major roads but unfortunately does not have funding to fix a lot of the pot holes in the residential streets."
A 2016 report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, found that 20 percent of major roads in the United States are in poor condition, costing around $523 per motorist (or around $112 billion total) per year in vehicle wear and tear. The report also claims that investment in roads and bridges nationwide would need to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion a year to adequately cover operation and maintenance costs

Adopt a Pothole , an Idea for Marin?

Hamtramck guerrilla pothole crew patches up civic pride

Hamtramck guerrilla pothole crew patches up civic pride

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. -- In late July, a group of friends filled a few of Hamtramck’s notorious potholes themselves.
A storm of media attention followed. So did thousands of dollars in donations.
Suddenly it was on them to see how far they could go.
“I think we sort of pledged ourselves to that initial vision of covering all the pivotal streets,” said Jonathan Weier, one of the six friends who helped fill potholes on that first weekend. “It’s not something you can really back out of.”
Their efforts struck a chord in a state with some of the bumpiest roads in the country. Though 38% of the state’s roads were thought to be in poor shape, and steadily getting worse, Michigan’s lawmakers have tried and so far failed to find the money for a long-term fix.
But the group – whose members dubbed themselves the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Crew – showed that some residents will go to shocking lengths to fix what their city hasn’t.
“The biggest thing we’ve learned from this is don’t be a one-hit wonder,” said Jeff Salazar,  one of the original friends who started the effort. “Do something for the benefit of all, instead of just getting your 15 minutes of fame.”
After five weekends, when all was said and done, the crew covered 41 residential blocks – which is roughly one third of all the blocks in the city’s 2 square miles. They and dozens of volunteers laid down 36 tons of cold patch, thanks to $4,410  donated through a GoFundMe account.
Maritza Garibay, 25, explains how she and neighbors are solving the pothole problem in their streets.
“We didn't think we were going to get any press,” Maritza Garibay said. “And then it blew up into this thing we couldn’t control.”
The plan began as half-serious. A few of the friends merely floated the idea over drinks at one of the city’s dive bars.
But a couple days later, on a Saturday, they bought bags of cold patch and spent a few hours putting the material into the ground on Lumpkin between Caniff and Casmere.
Then one media report followed another. Weier said he got a call from someone with NPR’s All Things Considered. The effort briefly became a meme, and earlier this month, the story even appeared on Glenn Beck’s official Facebook page.
State Sen. Bert Johnson even congratulated the crew when he visited Hamtramck as part of a regular visit.
As the idea snowballed, the friends were concerned they might get reprimanded. They were, after all, circumventing the work normally done by the city.
But they were relieved when Hamtramck’s mayor, Karen Majewski, effectively gave the group the go-ahead when interviewed by media.
Garibay said that Hamtramck’s City Manager, Katrina Powell, sent the group a list with a few major roads that they needed to avoid because the city is working to repair them soon.
The rest of the roads were fair game.
For the next few Saturdays, after the media storm died down, 15 or more volunteers consistently kept showing up. They rode across the tiny city with bags of cold patch and tampers, and tracked their progress with an updating tool through Google Maps.
The road-repair sessions would usually end with a barbecue party — and the food was free.
So many volunteers kept showing up that the work would be finished within an hour or two. Salazar noted that jobs went so fast, “Every week people were surprised. Like, ‘That’s it?’”
Hamtramck’s roads have been notorious for potholes, and the cash-strapped city has struggled to repair them. But this is also not the first attempt to fix the situation, or at least comment on it. A few months prior, resident Paige Breithart and her friend Josh Gaudette planted 50 flowers in potholes around the city.
And Majewski, the city’s mayor, says that about 10 years ago, a neighbor began filling the potholes on her own street as well.
It’s not clear how long these newest resident-led repairs will last. The cold patch they used has a range between one and three years. Garibay hopes that figure ends up being closer to three, but it’s hard to know for sure. She added, “Winters are so brutal.”
But the effort has certainly brought them local recognition. Garibay said that strangers still sometimes exclaim, “You’re the pothole girl!”
And Salazar said the experience made him want to run for Hamtramck city council in the hopes of producing more positive change.
“We do what we gotta do in Hamtramck, and I think people are proud of that,” Majewski said.

Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies

Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies

AP Photo/Paul SakumaA moving truck is shown at a house that was sold in Palo Alto, Calif.
By JOEL KOTKIN and WENDELL COX | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: April 23, 2017 at 12:08 am | UPDATED: April 23, 2017 at 12:10 am

Given its iconic hold on the American imagination, the idea that more Americans are leaving California than coming breaches our own sense of uniqueness and promise. Yet, even as the economy has recovered, notably in the Bay Area and in pockets along the coast, the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that domestic migrants continue to leave the state more rapidly than they enter it.

First, the good news. People may be leaving California, but, overall, the rate of leaving is about three-quarters less than that experienced in the first decade of the millennium. In the core, booming San Francisco metropolitan area, there was even a shift toward net domestic migration after 2010, something rarely seen since the 1980s.

Outmigration dropped with the initial economic slowdown of the last recession, particularly as housing prices in some areas, notably the Inland Empire and the Sacramento area, drifted toward the national norm of three times incomes by 2010, having been twice that high or more in the boom times. The initial recovery after 2010 may also have encouraged people to stay as well.
Back to mounting outmigration

The San Francisco Bay Area lost more than 600,000 net domestic migrants between 2000 and 2009 before experiencing a five-year respite. Now, sadly, the story seems to be changing again. Housing prices, first in the Bay Area and later in other metropolitan areas, have surged mightily, and are now as high as over nine times household incomes. In 2016, some 26,000 more people left the Bay Area than arrived. San Francisco net migration went from a high of 16,000 positive in 2013 to 12,000 negative three years later.

Similar patterns have occurred across the state. Between 2010 and 2015, California had cut its average annual migration losses annually from 160,000 to 50,000, but that number surged last year to nearly 110,000. Losses in the Los Angeles-Orange County area have gone from 42,000 in 2011 to 88,000 this year. San Diego, where domestic migration turned positive in 2011 and 2012, is now losing around 8,000 net migrants annually.

The major exceptions to this trend can be found in the somewhat more affordable interior regions. Sacramento has gained net migration from barely 1,800 in 2011 to 12,000 last year. Even some still-struggling areas, like Modesto and Stockton, have seen some demographic resurgence as people move farther from the high-priced Bay Area.
California and the new demographic reality

The movement away from expensive core regions reflects the basic preference among people for affordable, less dense housing. The new Census estimates have confirmed this national trend. Migration to both suburbs and smaller cities — and away from dense core counties — is now at the highest rate in a decade.

Population growth in big urban core cities, including New York, is now about half of what it was back in 2010. Last year, all 10 of the top gainers in domestic migration were sprawling, more affordable Sun Belt metropolitan areas in states like Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.

These dispersive trends are clear in Southern California, where net migration out of Los Angeles County runs about four times the rate of neighboring, more suburban Orange County, as migration to places like Riverside County mounts. Despite all the national hype surrounding L.A.’s drive for densification, it’s not a model that most people, and particularly families, seem to be embracing.

California’s choice

The apparent growing appetite for suburban living presents a unique challenge to California. The state policy is aggressively anti-suburban, placing ever-higher hurdles on any development on the periphery. This, over time, is slowing construction in the interior and forcing housing prices unnaturally up, even in these areas.

Some so-called progressives hail these trends, as forcing what they seem to see as less desirable elements — that is, working- and middle-class people — out of the state. They allege that this is balanced out by a surge of highly educated workers coming to California. Essentially, the model is that of a gated community, with a convenient servant base nearby.

Yet, in reality, this may prove to be wishful thinking. A dive into Internal Revenue Service data shows distinctly that, while poor people are, indeed, leaving, the largest group of outmigrants tends to be middle-aged people making between $100,000 and $200,000 annually. They may not be ideal algorithm creators for Facebook, but they do constitute the solid middle ranks critical to any healthy economy.

Indeed, since 2010, the Golden State has seen an overall net outflow of $36 billion from these migrants (and that counts only the first year of income). The biggest gainers from this exchange are where Californians are moving, to such places as Texas, Arizona and Nevada. That some California employers are joining them in the same places should be something of a two-minute warning for state officials.

But California leaders have other things on their minds that do not include accommodating the aspirations of residents who refuse to abandon suburban homes, or who are unwilling to desert their cars for the pleasures of mass transit. Until Californians demand a government that reflects their aspirations, too many people will continue to have to seek their futures elsewhere, to the detriment to those who remain behind.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Under the Sun Trailer (recommended movie on NetFlix/Youtube )

Rethinking Poverty


Dick Spotswood Calls out Marinwood CSD and other agencies for Voting to Extend their Terms

From Dick Spotswood's  Column in  the Marin IJ  April 19, 2017

..Almost every elected public body in Marin has been grappling with ramifications of SB 415. That legislation moves election dates for almost every California municipality, school district and special-purpose agency to even-numbered years. This electoral shift must be accomplished by 2022.
The idea is that voter participation increases and costs decrease when local elections are combined with state and national balloting.
There are multiple ways of orchestrating the change. The least democratic method is extending current terms of elected officials an extra year.
That’s what most Marin school, water, fire protection, community service and sanitary districts have done. The most democratic and fair method toward approaching the switch is what should be called “the Novato plan.”
While he emphasizes the result was collaborative, the idea was first shared with me by Novato Councilman Eric Lucan shortly after SB 415 was signed into law.
In Novato, no current terms are extended due to the mandated change. Instead, the next two elections will be held on schedule this November and in 2019 when all council candidates will, one-time-only, run for five-year terms. Voters are fully involved and no incumbent is given an extra year due to a once-in-a-life time fluke.
The “Novato Plan” should be the statewide template for cities and agencies that haven’t yet made their decision on how to comply with the new even-year rule.

My comments following the article:

Jefferson said it best.

Dick Spotswood is absolutely correct in pointing out how SB415 gave the power of elected officials to STEAL THE VOTE from voters and give themselves another year in office WITHOUT VOTERS APPROVAL or prior notice. He points out that politicians had the option of fulfilling 4 year terms and holding a special 5 year election but virtually all public boards quietly extended their current terms. The Board of Supervisors buried their approval of these UNETHICAL BREACH OF VOTER TRUST in a consent agenda on March 21, 2017. In my community of Marinwood, the board held a special session at 6 pm on Tuesday to approve their term extension figuring no one would notice but I was there to video it. The corrupt board voted unanimously to EXTEND THEIR TERMS. This is totally UN DEMOCRATIC and should be challenged in court everywhere these shenanigans are tried. Incidentally, the next meeting, the Marinwood CSD board voted UNANIMOUSLY TO RAISE TAXES and PAY RAISES FOR THE STAFF. We get the government we deserve.