Saturday, July 15, 2017

The problem with “smart growth”

The problem with “smart growth”

In San Francisco today, It amounts to ethnic and class cleansing, whatever the rationalization
JULY 12, 2017

I think we can all stipulate that in general “Smart Growth” — environmentally-responsible urban development — is good. And in general more housing to meet population growth is needed.

But cities and communities don’t evolve, exist, and develop “in general.”

This comes to mind reading today’s commentary by a prolific local blogger complimenting the current national “Yimby” organizing as fundamentally well-intentioned in urging both.

Perhaps. but the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s new draft “Plan Bay Area 2040,” for example, which proposes providing that new housing by transforming inner city neighborhoods into such high-density Smart Growth districts, comes with a horrendous human cost: the near-complete displacement of those existing communities’ current black and brown lower-income residents and the destruction of their precious accumulated “social capital.”

Let me be blunt: the MTC proposes the conquest and destruction of long-time Central City Latino and African-American neighborhoods, to be transformed into new bourgeois neighborhoods for a mostly professional White and Asian gentry. and the displaced are literally offered NOWHERE else to go.

This IS Ethnic/Class Cleansing, whatever the rationalization.

The San Francisco exemplar is of course the fierce battle over the future of the Mission District today. The social capital of its vibrant Latino Community, built-up by four generations in the decades since WWII, is unquestionably irreplaceable and without any conceivable alternative new location in the Bay Area — even assuming its Latino residents had affordable housing options not far away, which they actually don’t.

it doesn’t matter this will be accomplished by 21st Century “market forces” facilitated by housing-development-friendly zoning regulations, instead of the redevelopment bulldozers of the 20th Century. The result IS the same. and actually, by its end redevelopment law included strong legal requirements to provide new replacement affordable housing for such displaced communities (maybe THAT is really why Gov. Brown killed redevelopment outright in 2011). Today’s zoning rules do not. The MTC Plan does not.

And the Yimbys actually oppose any such protections for the existing communities. They oppose increasing the requirements for affordable housing in private development too. They claim because any such rules might result in less new (market rate) housing being built overall they must be opposed. For example, the Yimbys oppose the pending AB915 State legislation that would ensure any project getting up to 35% more “bonus” market rate units thanks to State law has to fully comply with local Inclusionary Affordable Housing regulations.

The Smart Growth that DOES achieve the goal of providing more housing WITHOUT the conquest, destruction, and Ethnic/Class Cleansing of lower-income communities is the transformation of former military bases/industrial districts into all-new neighborhoods. In San Francisco, the Shipyard/Candlestick and Treasure Island projects alone will add 20,000 new housing units, 30% of which will be affordable. and Mission Bay, the first such project with 8,000 new units, is now nearing completion.

The problem is, due to their enormous up-front infrastructure and clean-up costs, and pay-as-you-go financing plans, it takes 30 years to complete these mega projects. Why don’t we solve that problem and build them in 15 years instead?

And also instead, rigorously protect our precious vulnerable communities and their residents, starting with the Mission District (and next, the Tenderloin), rather than allow them to be destroyed by “market forces?” Read MORE

Friday, July 14, 2017

"The Future" of the Past

In 1967 the Philco-Ford Corporation released a short film titled 1999 A.D. In it the inevitable advances of the future are demonstrated. Some of the predictions seem to be right on while others appear to have been pulled straight from Star Trek.  

Marinwood CSD meeting of July 11, 2017

Grand Jury Pension response,  Cash Reporting,  FEMA damage report, Maintenance Shed update, Firehouse kitchen remodel,  and the usually put downs,  interruptions, insults and other rude behavior.

How the NRA’s allegiance to cops undermines its credibility on gun rights

How the NRA’s allegiance to cops undermines its credibility on gun rights

By Radley Balko July 11 at 2:10 PM

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

At long last, someone from the National Rifle Association has spoken up about Philando Castile. Sort of. During a CNN segment, NRA spokeswoman and pundit Dana Loesch said this:

I think it’s absolutely awful. It’s a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided. I don’t agree with every single decision that comes out from courtrooms of America. There are a lot of variables in this particular case, and there were a lot of things that I wish would have been done differently. Do I believe that Philando Castile deserved to lose his life over his [traffic] stop? I absolutely do not. I also think that this is why we have things like NRA Carry Guard, not only to reach out to the citizens to go over what to do during stops like this, but also to work with law enforcement so that they understand what citizens are experiencing when they go through stops like this.

As Jacob Sullum points out at Reason, this is pretty weak stuff. A law-abiding gun owner was shot and killed by a cop after doing everything he was supposed to do. It then took more than a year for anyone from the nation’s largest gun rights organization to comment, and when she did, she offered a vague, heavily qualified, quasi-criticism of the cop while implying not only that Castile contributed to his death but also that he might be alive if only he were carrying an NRA Carry Guard card.

This is about par for the course for the NRA. This is the group that claims to be the only thing preventing the government from obliterating the Second Amendment, yet they’re noticeably quiet about the people doing the most violence to the Second Amendment — the armed, badge-wearing government employees we call law enforcement officers. For all the NRA’s dire warnings about government gun confiscation, the real, tangible threat to gun-owning Americans today comes not from gun-grabbing bureaucrats but from door-bashing law enforcement officers who think they’re at war — who are too often trained to view the people they serve not as citizens with rights but as potential threats. Here, the NRA just doesn’t want to get involved.

Take the issue of police raids. When I started writing about the massive increase in the use of SWAT teams, no-knock warrants and “dynamic entry” police raids back in the early 2000s, I was at first surprised at how quiet the NRA was about the issue. When I wrote about the story of Cory Maye, a black Mississippi man on death row after shooting a white police officer during a botched, midnight raid on his home, a number of prominent gun rights advocates spoke up on Maye’s behalf — as many have with Castile. (Maye claimed that he thought his home was being invaded by criminals.) And yet as with Castile, the NRA was silent. It’s been that way ever since.

But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1990s, the NRA was sharply and very publicly critical of aggressive police tactics, at least at the federal level. Recall Wayne LaPierre’s (in)famous quote deriding ATF agents as “jack-booted thugs.” The NRA was widely ridiculed for that criticism — unfairly I think. Though the group’s rhetoric could be unhinged at times, so could ATF’s tactics. As scholars like Dave Kopel have documented, ATF of the 1990s was brutal, ruthless and dangerously unaccountable.

ATF quieted down when the Bush administration took over, and so did the NRA’s criticism. Today, the agency still uses aggressive, constitutionally dubious tactics, but its targets tend to be minorities, the poorand the mentally ill — people less likely to be card-carrying members of the NRA.

But while the NRA has occasionally spoken out over the years about federal abuses, the group has always been reluctant to criticize local police. As has now been well documented — first by the work of criminologist Peter Kraska, and later by surveys from groups like the ACLU — we’ve seen a massive rise in the use of “dynamic entry” tactics, in which cops break into houses, often at night, in an effort to take the occupants by surprise: whether by the ever-growing number of SWAT teams, or by narcotics units, gang units, drug task forces and other specialized units. Most of these raids are to serve drug warrants, although they’ve been justified for an ever-growing list of infractions, some incredibly petty. Drug warrants often rely on dirty information. Cops often face pressure to nab suspected drug dealers quickly or to seize a drug stash before it’s moved. That can make shortcuts tempting. This is where we get the wrong-house raids that are particularly dangerous for gun owners. These raids are designed to distract, confuse and disorient. So it’s of no surprise that when they go wrong, innocent people (or even people guilty of drug crimes, for that matter), might confuse the raiding cops for criminals.

To make matters worse, some police agencies consider legal gun ownership a reason to use these tactics. We covered one such incident here at The Watch. In 2014, police in Iowa conducted a violent dynamic-entry raid on a man suspected of credit card fraud. Their justification for the heavy-handed tactics? The suspect’s roommate had a legal gun permit. Imagine if the roommate — who had done nothing wrong — had been home. He likely would have reached for his gun. He might well be dead.

In fact, there’s a long list of legal gun owners who were shot dead under precisely those circumstances. One of the more infamous examples is Donald Scott, a gun-rights advocate shot down in his own home during a fruitless marijuana raid in 1992. Just a few of the other examples:

Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old woman killed in her home in 2006 when she pointed a rusty revolver at cops who had broken into her house after a bad tip from an informant.
Jason Wescott, killed by Florida police in 2014 after an informant told the cops he had bought some pot from Wescott. The informant later said he had lied. Wescott had earlier been the victim of some threats. When he reported the threats to the police, they advised him to arm himself. The same police agency then raided Wescott’s home over what was alleged to be a small amount of marijuana. When he displayed the gun, they killed him.
In 2007, some Florida cops posing undercover as drug dealers were conducting buys on the lawn of 80-year-old Isaac Singletary. Mistaking them for actual drug dealers, Singletary demanded they leave. When they didn’t, he came out of his house holding a handgun. The undercover cops shot him dead.

In 2014, Georgia police shot and killed David Hooks when he confronted them with a shotgun during a raid on his home. The police claimed an informant told them he saw meth in Hooks’s truck when he trespassed onto Hooks’s property to steal his other vehicle. They found no drugs. Hooks had both passed background checks and had a security clearance.

There are of course many others. There are lots of other examples in which police have injured or killed people during these raids after mistaking some other object in the victim’s hand for a gun. I suppose those aren’t specifically gun-rights cases, but they’re part of the same problem.

There are also the examples like Cory Maye, in which the victim of a botched or mistaken raid was prosecuted after understandably mistaking the cops for criminal intruders, and reaching for a gun to defend themselves or their families. (See also Ryan Frederick, Marvin Guy or Matthew David Stewart.) More recently, Henry Magee was no-billed by a grand jury in Texas after killing a cop during a pot raid on his home, and Ray Rosas was acquitted by a jury after wounding three officers during a raid in which police appear to have been looking for Rosas’s nephew, who didn’t live in Rosas’s home. Rosas in fact had previously been subjected to death threats after testifying against a gang member.

As far as I know, the NRA did not vocally support any of these legal gun owners. They didn’t criticize the police. They didn’t call for a change in police tactics.

As the Castile shooting demonstrates, it’s about more than just raids. It’s about police training and mindset, too. As we have also pointed out here at The Watch, the officer who shot Castile had recently attended a “Bulletproof Warrior” class, one of series of incredibly popular classes run by Dave Grossman and Jim Glennon. These classes teach cops to see see threats everywhere, and to adopt a starkly cynical, apocalyptic view of the world — similar to the view often provided by NRA head LaPierre, and that Loesch adopted in her recent, much-discussed NRA promotional video. The police officer who shot John Crawford — gunned down in an Ohio Walmart as he held a pellet gun he was considering buying — had recently attended a “pep talk” presentation that cited Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and other mass shootings to motivate officers to confront “active threats” with “speed, surprise and aggressiveness.”

While some police agencies are moving more toward de-escalation and conflict resolution, there’s a competing philosophy pushed by personalities like Grossman that cops aren’t killing enough people and need to act more instinctively — to move beyond fear or reservation when taking a human life. That latter philosophy is taking hold even in jurisdictions with a history of police violence.

To the extent that the NRA has addressed any of this, it has been to disparage critics. A 2014 article in the organization’s magazine, for example, mocked critics of police militarization, and cautioned against “a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to every use of force situation caught on camera.” And in this video, the NRA’s Dom Raso, a former Navy SEAL, discusses the benefits of police militarization with a New Jersey SWAT commander, before the two roundly dismiss concerns about what effects militarization might have on police tactics and mindset.

To their credit, there are gun-rights advocates who have worried about these issues for years. They just aren’t the NRA. (I should disclose here that generally speaking, I favor the right to own and carry a gun.) In one recent example, David French wrote about the police shooting of Andrew Scott at National Review:

Imagine you’re up late one night. It’s after midnight, and maybe you’re finishing a movie. Or perhaps you’re reading a book, and it’s too good to put down. Or maybe you’re like a young man named Andrew Scott: You’re playing video games with your girlfriend.

You hear a loud pounding on your front door. You’re not expecting anyone, and no one is shouting or yelling anything from the other side. Instead, the pounding continues, and the door rattles on its hinges. If this happened to me, living in a rural part of Tennessee, I’ll tell you exactly what I’d do — I’d answer the door warily, with a gun at my side.

After all, my home is my castle. It’s where my wife and kids are, and it’s hard to imagine a situation where there’s loud pounding, that late, that doesn’t involve a degree of urgency. I have a constitutional and a human right, guaranteed under the Second Amendment, to defend my family, my life, and my home.

Unless, of course, the people pounding on the door are cops who 1) had no search warrant, 2) didn’t turn on their emergency lights, 3) didn’t identify themselves as police, 4) misunderstood a neighbor’s directions, and 5) showed up at the wrong house, the house of a completely innocent man. Then, my right to defend myself turns into a right to die in two seconds flat, without firing a shot or even clambering a round.

That’s the effective holding of a panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a holding that the entire Circuit declined to review en banc just last week.

That ruling came just before the Supreme Court ruling in the Angel Mendez case. There, police officers illegally entered Mendez’s private residence without knocking or announcing. When Mendez reached for a BB gun, the police opened fire, severely injuring Mendez and his wife. The court ruled that qualified immunity for police officers prevents Mendez and his wife from suing the officers for their injuries. (That’s a rough summary of a complicated case — see the previous link for a more thorough discussion.) The ACLU, the NAACP and the conservative Rutherford Institute all submitted amicus briefs on behalf of Mendez. The NRA did not.

The only recent instance I can recall in which the NRA did oppose the wishes of law enforcement was when the group fought back against the Indiana legislature’s attempt to overturn a (widely mischaracterized) Indiana Supreme Court ruling about the Castle Doctrine and home defense. (To their credit, they were right about that one.)

Because the NRA was active in denouncing the aggressive police tactics ATF was using against (mostly white) gun owners, and because the group has been silent when those same sorts of tactics are used against black people to serve drug warrants, some critics have accused the group of only favoring gun rights for white people. I think it’s probably more complicated than that. The NRA, for example, was way out front in defending Shaneen Allen, a black woman facing some pretty serious prison time after an honest mistake put her in the grip of New Jersey’s asinine gun and sentencing laws. In fact, they were defending her long before a few liberal groups finally came around. And many of the cases already mentioned above — during which the NRA stayed silent — involved white people.

A more accurate criticism might be that the NRA’s allegiance to law enforcement has made the NRA indifferent to the ways that police tactics, use-of-force policy and police training violate the rights of gun owners (and those perceived to be carrying guns). And as with most bad criminal-justice policy, the laws, policies and training disproportionately violate the rights of blacks and Latinos — and the NRA is indifferent to that, too. The group does itself no favors when its figurehead spouts lazy, racist dog-whistles; when its aforementioned record of criticizing ATF goes silent when the agency’s aggressive tactics are aimed at minority neighborhoods.

Its history of putting unapologetic bigots in its leadership doesn’t help, either. Perhaps the best illustration of the problem is Ted Nugent, the NRA’s celebrity, unabashedly bigoted board member. The grizzled rocker is regularly warning us of impending government tyranny, but then defends, for example, the killing of Eric Garner, or the South Carolina police officer who body-slammed a high school girl (by describing the girl as an “animal,” no less).

I doubt you’d find many NRA members who would say the Second Amendment applies only to white people. But when you speak out only on gun issues that primarily affect white people, when you mostly stay silent when black gun owners are violated, when you provide a platform for a celebrity spokesman who openly spews racial slurs, and when you demagogue fear of crime by conjuring images of black people, you certainly can’t blame black and Latino people for asking the question.

In short, the NRA seems to think we’re at risk of creeping tyranny and abuse of power from all sectors of government except from the men and women armed, badged and entrusted with the power to kill. That’s a problem, because if armed agents who enforce the laws on the ground aren’t required to respect our rights, our rights don’t really exist.

The Supreme Court could rule the NRA’s way on the Castle Doctrine for the next 25 years, but if the police continue to kick down doors with impunity, law-abiding gun owners will be at risk, and the Second Amendment will be more of an empty gesture than a constitutional protection. The Supreme Court could rule the NRA’s way on conceal carry for the next 25 years, but if the organization keeps pushing the line that cops are at war, that the populace is dangerous, and that every citizen is a possible threat, the right to carry a gun in public will always be constrained by cops conditioned to see every weapon as a threat to their existence.

Finally, the Supreme Court could rule the NRA’s way and abolish all the state laws like those that ensnared Shaneen Allen, but as long as the NRA and its allies push rhetoric that makes white people (and white cops) see all crime with a black face, the right to bear arms for people who look like her — or who look like Philando Castile — exist only in theory.

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces." Follow @radleybalko

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Community Development Subsidies

Community Development Subsidies

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will spend $10 billion this year on “community development,” including Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs). The grants to state and local governments are for such things as repairing streets and subsidizing neighborhood businesses. There is no constitutional or practical reason why the federal government should be involved in such local activities.
Furthermore, a new city-by-city analysis by Politico shows that CDBG spending is disbursed with little regard to actual “need” or “fairness.” 
San Francisco will get $19-a-person in community development block grants this year, while Allentown, with twice the poverty and less than half of the median income, will draw a per-capita allotment of $17.53….Community development block grants rely on outdated, 1970s formulas that have increasingly shuttled dollars to wealthy places like Newton, Mass., while other locales in need, such as Compton, Calif., go wanting.
Tad DeHaven found similar problems with the program. He noted, “CDBG spending has gradually shifted from poorer to wealthier communities over time…It should not be the role of the federal government to redistribute income between regions, but even if it was, the CDBG program is not very good at it.”
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposes to eliminate the CDBG program, saying “the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.” Good for the president.
There is no sound reason for the federal government to fund the CDBG program or hundreds of other local subsidy programs. As I discuss here, these programs generate bureaucratic waste, undermine political accountability, and stifle policy innovation in the states. 
The federal aid system generates no net value—it is simply a roundabout way of funding local activities. Taxpayers in San Francisco mail checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Harrisburg and Allentown, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Allentown are also mailing checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Sacramento and San Francisco, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses.
What is the point of that?
There is none—other than to empower the well-paid political and bureaucratic elites in all three levels of government, and in the derivative lobby groups. The federal aid system thrives not because it benefits the American people, but because it benefits governments and lobbyists.

National parks lifetime passes for seniors jump by 700 percent

National parks lifetime passes for seniors jump by 700 percent

By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal


Seniors will face a 700 percent increase on lifetime passes next month as the National Park Service looks to add dollars to its coffers for new projects.

The passes can be used at places such as the Muir Woods National Monument and other parks where entrance fees are collected.

This week the park service announced the passes for those 62 and older will jump from $10 to $80 on Aug. 28. The move will generate an extra $37.6 million annually for the park service. Park service officials acknowledged the congressionally approved change made last December — and signed by former President Barack Obama — has had mixed reaction.

“There has been a lot of buzz on social media,” said Kathy Kupper, park service spokeswoman. “Some like it, others see it as a pretty steep increase.”

Marin has the oldest and fastest-aging population in the region. One in four Marin residents — 64,000 people — are 60 or older. Within 15 years an estimated one in three will be 60 or older, according to the County Area Plan for Aging for 2016-2020.

“The ability to access outdoor spaces is a basic part of having an age-friendly community where older adults can stay active and engaged,” said Lee Pullen, director of Marin County’s Aging and Adult Services division. “The fewer economic barriers to this, the better.”

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, saw both sides of the increase.

“The pass is still a great deal, but it does speak to a larger issue that there is a lack of support for our parks and public lands in the budget,” he said. “Congress needs to find ways to make parks more accessible and not nickel and dime people.”

Marin environmental activist Nona Dennis — a senior herself — said money is needed for parks, but added, “to go from $10 to 80 bucks will be discouraging for some seniors I know.”

The pass has cost $10 since 1994. Previously purchased lifetime Golden Age or senior passes will be honored for the lifetime of the pass holder.

The December legislation did introduce a new annual senior pass for $20. Seniors who purchase an annual passes for four years can trade them in for a lifetime pass at no additional charge.

The senior pass covers all entrance fees and day use fees and may provide senior discounts for things such as tours or campsites. The pass also waives the entrance fee for traveling companions. At per-vehicle fee sites, the pass admits the pass holder and all passengers in a noncommercial vehicle. At a per-person fee site, the pass admits the pass holder and three other adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.

There is still time to cash in on the $10 lifetime pass. It can be purchased at that price before Aug. 28 at a national park — like Muir Woods — or other federal recreation area that charges an entrance or day use fee. The pass can also be obtained by mail or online for $10 before Aug. 28 but there is an additional $10 charge for processing. Due to expected high order volume, there could be delays with online and mail order processing of up to several months, according to the park service.

“The money that is generated by the new fees will stay in the parks,” the park service’s Kupper said.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Left or Right? Thoreau Wouldn’t Have Understood the Question

Left or Right? Thoreau Wouldn’t Have Understood the Question

In some ways he looks like a progressive—but he was also an extreme individualist.

Crispin SartwellJuly 11, 2017 6:16 p.m. ET

Here’s something to ponder about Henry David Thoreau, whose bicentennial birthday is July 12: Was the writer on the political right or the political left?

Thoreau certainly has some progressive credentials. A principled and active abolitionist, he participated in the Underground Railroad and defended John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. He spent a night in jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the Mexican-American War, which he regarded as an imperialist adventure and an attempt to extend slavery. His work, in revival half a century ago, helped inspire the modern environmental movement. He criticized many of the signs of industrial capitalism as it emerged in the 19th century, and he reviled the sort of people who were making it happen.

Yet Thoreau was an extreme individualist. Had he lived to see the emergence of Marxist communism and other radical labor movements in the U.S., he would have skewered and dissected leftist collectivism of any and all varieties. He respected dissenters, even those he disagreed with. People in consensus—or, he might say, those incapable of producing independent thought—seemed to him slavish and not fully formed as persons. Above all, he was a consistent skeptic of and opponent of state power, the force which the left believes can cure the world.

“The merely political aspect of the land is never very cheering; men are degraded when considered as the members of a political organization,” Thoreau wrote in “Natural History of Massachusetts.” And in “Civil Disobedience,” his classic essay: “Government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.” He asserted that he would hate to think he was dependent on government and one of the goals of his experiment in domestic economy at Walden Pond was to prove he wasn’t. Someone who would “quietly declare war with the State” probably wouldn’t be in the streets defending ObamaCare.

Henry David Thoreau. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Thoreau argued in “Civil Disobedience” that a man must not “for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator.” In his “Plea for Captain John Brown,” he added: “It is of no consequence whether a man breaks the law or not.” These positions would be anathema to the state-worshipping left and the law-and-order right.

Thoreau can’t be explained by the modern understanding of left and right; annexing him to either side is the worst sort of anachronism. The influx of European immigrants and ideas to the U.S. in the late 19th century permanently changed politics by introducing the modern left-right spectrum, deriving in part from Karl Marx’s writings. So beware contemporary thinkers who try to claim Thoreau as their own.

Not that there is anything contradictory about the thinker’s views. It is precisely their consistency that puts them at odds with today’s political divisions. The modern political spectrum, embroiled in tension and contradiction, simply cannot account for many legitimate political philosophies like Thoreau’s.

While the 19th-century feminist and peace movements, like radical abolitionism, were driven by individualism, today’s progressives appear more committed to collective identities than to any particular position. The movement is driven by an urge to merge, to become one consciousness with members of the same class, race or gender. Right-wing nationalism displays the same collective impulse.

Thoreau insisted that collective identities ignore the reality of individual difference and can be simulated only by massive coercion. And since Thoreau’s era, attempts to forge collective identities or combine many people into a single mind—think Mao’s Cultural Revolution—have killed millions of actual human individuals.

Ever since the polarization of left and right in the late 19th century, the world has suffered from a series of dangerous isms: murderous communism and bloody fascism, nationalism and internationalism, rapacious capitalism and compulsory collectivism. Turn on your television and you’ll see the world suffering from an extremely confused polarization. On Thoreau’s 200th birthday, maybe it’s time to think about political possibilities afresh.

Mr. Sartwell teaches at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. His most recent book is “Entanglements: A System of Philosophy” (SUNY Press, 2017).

Crony development attempts to take over San Francisco Real Estate deals worth Billions

Michael Covarrubias, CEO of TMG partners, a politically connected private developer attempts to control all 100 + cities development in partnership with MTC ,  a government planning and transportation agency.  He is asking politicians to IGNORE local citizens needs to serve the "greater good" (making his firm billions and building housing).  CASA aims to circumvent the local democratic process and CEQA environmental laws.   Surely this is a massive conflict of interest and a breach of trust with local voters.  They did not elect this body nor did they empower the local politicians to pledge allegiance to this directive.  This is the debasement of our constitution rights of representative government.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Meet the YIMBYs: Can tech bros change California’s housing policies?

Meet the YIMBYs: Can tech bros change California’s housing policies?

A group of tech execs are creating a lobbying group to promote development-oriented policies on the state level

Microsoft exec Nat Friedman and Pantheon CEO Zack Rosen
Watch out, NIMBYs: The YIMBYs are coming for you, and they know how to code.
A group of tech executives from the likes of Microsoft and Yelp are organizing a lobbying group to promote state policies that would increase development and housing growth.
Dubbed California YIMBY — for “yes in my backyard” — the organization and lobbying effort is headed by Microsoft executive Nat Friedman, Pantheon CEO Zack Rosen, and San Francisco housing activist Brian Hanlon, according to The Information.
“A combination of over-regulation by the state and the tech industry’s success has created the problem,” Rosen told the publication. “I feel there’s a real onus on us to lead.”
So far, they’ve raised $500,000. The goal is to convince state lawmakers to pen bills that would increase density, limit the power of CEQA, ease property tax restrictions, minimize linkage fees, and reduce zoning limitations near transit hubs.
The lobbying portion will be a 501(c)(4) that won’t have to disclose donors.
While an average of 200,000 new homes were built in California each year between 1955 and 1990, the past decade has seen a dramatic decline in new homes, with each year averaging 80,000, according to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
California YIMBY isn’t the first time tech moguls have taken on housing politics. Google and Salesforce donated $300 million to reduce family homelessness, and both Google and Facebook plan to build housing on their campuses for low-income residents in addition to their employees.
But California YIMBY, it seems, could be the first concerted effort for techies to influence state policy on a large scale.
Critics have already come out of the woodwork, however. They argue that the YIMBY’s proposed changes will only benefit developers and not the current tenants of affordable housing units.
“The losers in this deregulation agenda will be the working class and lower-income communities of color in these hot markets,” said Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. “The tech industry jumping into the housing situation is a self-interested political calculation.” [The Information] — Cathaleen Chen  See more HERE

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Corrupt "Public-Private" Partnership that wants to control BILLIONS in SF BAY Real Estate

MTC-ABAG- Committee for Housing the Bay Area (CASA)- Jun 28, 2017 - 375 Beale Street S.F.

AGENDA: Future Meeting Schedule & Biography of CASA Members

Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies

Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies

PUBLISHED: April 24, 2017 at 5:34 am | UPDATED: April 24, 2017 at 11:58 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.
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.


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.


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.

Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism ( Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, a St. Louis-based public policy firm, and was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission.

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