Saturday, July 22, 2017

Inside the Yimby conference

Inside the Yimby conference

Nice civil discussion on the surface -- and some nastiness behind the scenes
Last weekend about 120 attendees from 17 cities gathered in downtown Oakland for the Yimbytown 2017 conference. Organized by East Bay Forward, the event was bankrolled by a $40,000 grant from Open Philanthropy, a project of Cari Tuna and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz that also funded the initial Yimbytown conference in Boulder. Chicago Cityscape also funded scholarships for a quarter of the conferees. Admission was $75.
The event featured 20 sessions and three keynote speakers, including State Senator Scott Wiener. For this reporter, the most memorable aspect of the proceedings was the contrast between the participants’ civility and collegiality at the event proper and the organizers’ incivility and paranoia behind the scenes. A close second was Wiener’s disingenuous put-down of his and other Yimbys’ San Francisco opponents.
In an unusual gesture, Open Philanthropy posts the applications of its would-be grantees online. The Yimbytown application describes the conference as the “annual…catalyst for unifying housing organizers, funders, builders, and thought leaders on a national scale.” This year’s grant went to CaRLA (California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund), the legal affiliate of SFBARF (Bay Area Renters Foundation) that sues suburban cities for purported violations of the state’s Housing Accountability Act.
Housing for all — or just market-rate housing for the rich?
The application lists four goals for Yimby 2017:
  • Unite the North American Yimby Movement
  • Facilitate Peer to Peer Learning
  • Construct a National Yimby Framework to “further create a national visual brand, platform and chapter structure”
  • Amplify Yimby Research, Opportunities, Concerns and Solutions

A Yimbyism Primer
Missing from the application’s anodyne language is the actual content of Yimby ideology. Its basic assumptions: growth is good; limiting growth is bad. But sprawl is also bad. Hence, Yimbys push for the “densification” of existing, urbanized areas (upzoning)—the denser, the better—and fight those who seek to limit the construction of compact new housing. In the Yimby playbook, that means fighting current residents, especially owners of single-family homes, and the elected local officials who respond to such constituencies by passing or maintaining low-density zoning.
Yimbys also hold that growth constraints, particularly “exclusionary zoning,” harm disadvantaged populations by limiting supply and thereby driving up the price of housing.
I find this curious: To begin, all zoning is in some way exclusionary; that’s the point of zoning. Moreover, what’s primarily boosting the price of housing in the Bay Area is a factor that went unmentioned at Yimbytown 2017, tech-industry-driven demand. I also find curious the Yimby conviction that building market-rate housing will generate ample housing for people who can’t get into the market.
To my pleasant surprise, at the conference a few speakers voiced support for rent control and inclusionary housing, requirements that market-rate development include a certain percentage of officially affordable housing. However, I did not hear any references to the fierce battles being waged in San Francisco and Berkeley over the percentages, with Yimbys at times arguing for lower numbers and their adversaries arguing for higher ones.

Four Sessions at the Conference
The Yimby precepts were variously elaborated by the presenters at the four sessions I attended on Friday. Alan Durning, founder and executive director of the Sightline Institute in Seattle, spoke about that city’s Housing Affordability and Living Agenda, the ambitious program initiated by Mayor Ed Murray—a program that, in Durning’s words, came “straight out of the Yimby imagination.” He identified four HALA principles: upzoning combined with developer incentives for affordable housing; loosensed single-family zoning (in HALA-speak, Mandatory Housing Affordability or MHA) —“by far the most controversial”—55% of Seattle’s buildable land is zoned for single-family homes; reduced parking quotas; and re-legalized micro-apartments.
Yimby messaging: Downzoning hurts affordable housing
According to the city’s website, the mayor has set a goal of 50,000 new homes, including the preservation and production of 30,000 new homes in ten years. One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Seattle has a population of around 700,000.
Durning didn’t simply cheerlead for HALA; rather, he offered a nuanced evaluation of its progress so far: “too early to judge.” In downtown and the South Lake Union districts, he said, they city “got upzoning right.” In the University district, the “math is bad:” The upzoning is not high enough to motivate developers to build. The result will be “higher prices” and “fewer affordable homes.” He commended the idea of a “parking benefit district,” whereby revenues from parking meters funds local improvements, a concept that Seattle is testing via a pilot project. See full article HERE

Crystal Ball Communism: "Toward Soviet America"

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Written by: Diana West 
Monday, November 30, 2015 5:23 AM  

Toward Soviet America by William Z. Foster, CPUSA chairman, was first published in 1932. Later, copies of the book would be purged and almost eliminated entirely from American bookstores and libraries in what was presumably the CP response to the latest Moscow line; but surely it was also to try to put this spitting Soviet-American cat back in the bag. Interestingly, the book would be reprinted in 1961 with a foreword and commentary by the chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Rep. Francis E. Walter, who recommended that every American read it as a blueprint of Soviet intentions much like Mein Kampf was a blueprint of Hitler's. The 1932 version (sans HCUA commentary) is now available online.

For the first time, I just picked up my new 1961 copy, formerly from the library of the late, great Stanton Evans, opened it at random, and found myself reading about what the Soviet-American world of tomorrow looked like back in 1932 to a Communist Party official under Stalin's tight control. Eight decades later, it is shocking how many of Foster's Kremlin-approved prophesies have come true -- more counter-conventional evidence of the extent to which our "victory" in the so-called Cold War was in fact an ideological rout, particularly at home. This is a main theme of exploration in American Betrayal. 

What continues to be clear is that none of this is "history." Just from today's headlines, for example, it is reported that the IMF is likely to promote China's yuan into the "basket of currencies" on a par with the dollar. This isn't a brand new, discrete development so much as it is the latest installment of a continuing Communist saga. That would be Communist China, of course, and that would be the same IMF whose first US director was Harry Dexter White, a Communist agent-extraordinaire inside the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, whose personal machinations on Stalin's behalf greatly assisted, among other world-changing events, the cataclysmic Communist takeover of China in 1949.

It turns out that the "history" of Communism, from the IMF abroad to the "cultural revolution" on the college campus at home, is continually breaking news; or, worse, the status quo. And note: Foster is using the phrase "cultural revolution" (below) several decades before Mao.

Beginning on p. 316, here are some of Foster's prophesies, a mix of recognizable present-day conditions and ...?  

On education:
Among the elementary measures the American Soviet government will adopt to further the cutlural revolution are the following:  the schools, colleges and universities will be coordinated and grouped under the National Department of Education and its state and local branches. The studies will be revolutionaized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialsm, internationalism and the general ethics of the new Socialist society. Present obsolete methods of teaching will be superceded by a scientific pedagogy. 

On religion:
The churches will remain free to continue their services, but their special tax and other privileges will be liquidated. Their buildings will revert to the State. Religious schools will be abolished and organized religious training for minors prohibited. Freedom will be established for anti-religious propaganda.

On science:
The whole basis and organization of capitalist science will be revolutionized. Science will become materialistic, hence truly scientific; God will be banished from the laboratories as well as from the schools. Science will be thoroughly organized and will work according to plan; instead of present-day individualistic hit-or-miss scientific dabbling, there will be a great organization of science, backed by the full power of the government. This organization will make concerted attacks upon the central problems, concrete and abstract, that confront science.

On Obamacare:
One of the basic concerns of the workers' government will be, naturally, the conservation of the health of the masses. To this end, a national department of Health will be set up, with the necessary local and State sub-divisions. A free medical service, based upon the most scientific principles, will be established. The people will be taught how to live correctly. They will be given mass instruction in diet, physical culture, etc. A last end will be put to capitalist medical quakery and the adulteration of food.

The war on the suburbs:
A main task of the American Soviet government will be to make the cities liveable. This will involve not only the wholesale destruction of the shacks that millions of workers now call homes, but the building over of the congested capital cities into roomy Socialist towns. These will develop toward the decentralization of industry and population, the breaking down of the differences between the city and country. ...

A few more snippets from the world according to Communist cant are eye-catching for their familiarity from deep within America's present-day tissues:

On crime (p. 321):
Capitalism blames crimes upon the individual, instead of upon the bad social conditions which produce it. ...

On trade (p. 326). In some ways, this is the most shocking find, given the honest-to-goodness Communist stamp of approval for "free trade":

A Communist world will be a unified, organized world. [NB: Remember, Communist agent and Roosevelt era State Department official Alger Hiss would foster the United Nations into existence.] The economic system will be one great organization, based upon the principle of planning now dawning in the U.S.S.R. The American Soviet government will be an important section in this world organization. In such a society there will be no tariffs or the many other barriers  erected by capitalism against a free world interchange of goods. The raw material supplies of the world will be at the disposition of the peoples of the world. 

And about those "peoples: (p. 327):
There will be no place for the present narrow patriotism, the bigoted nationalist chauvinism that serves so well the capitalist warmakers. ...

At this point, Foster cranks up the hosannas for the U.S.S.R.'s "peace policy," "plan for doing away with war," etc. (similar, in reality, to Islam's "submission" doctrine).

A few pages later (p. 333):
"Deadly individualism is doomed," he writes. "The collectivist society of Socialism, by freeing the masses from economic and political slavery will, for the first time in history, give the masses an opportunity to fully develop and express their personalities."

Don't look now but this last prediction is something Nancy Pelosi explicitly champions as a benefit of Obamacare.
Foster: "Theirs will be an individuality growing out and harmonizing with interests of all."

The scariest "prediction" of all.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fallen of World War 11

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

This is an amazing presentation.

UN’s Agenda 2030 is Every Totalitarian’s Dream

The United Nations is pushing sustainable development goals, also known as “Agenda 2030”, which is contrived of 17 goals which the United Nations aims to achieve globally by the year 2030. Foreign Correspondent Alex Newman breaks down a few of these goals and shows that the real agenda is global tyranny. Alex’s findings should be beyond alarming for Americans and humanity as a whole.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Astorino: 'Vindication' for Westchester in affordable housing deal

Declaring victory in housing settlement, Astorino says court-appointed monitor should be removed.

Westchester County has finally met one of the most contentious requirements in its ongoing affordable housing agreement with the federal government.
After 10 previous submissions were rejected, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has accepted a county analysis of how local zoning codes can create barriers to fair-housing choices.
The analysis didn’t find any exclusionary zoning in the county.
“This is vindication for Westchester and our local municipalities that it is a victory won on facts, on principle and on persistence,” County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, told reporters at a news conference in his officer on Tuesday.
In a July 14 letter to Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, HUD Regional Director Jay Golden said the department “appreciates the County’s commitment to reaching an amicable resolution in this matter.”

Same analysis, different outcome

The decision comes weeks after a new administrator for HUD’s New York and New Jersey office was named. Westchester resident Lynne Patton, a former event planner and vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation, was named administrator in late June — just two months after HUD’s last rejection of the county’s analysis of impediments, or AI.
The latest AI was "essentially the same" as the previous version, both put together by the firm VHB Engineering, according to Astorino's staff. Catherine Borgia, the county legislature's Democratic majority leader, said what had changed this time was Patton's appointment.
"After years of wasting Westchester taxpayer money, and 10 attempts at submitting an acceptable analysis of impediments, it seems the 11th time is the charm for the County Executive," Borgia said in a statement.
In a letter defending the previous analysis, VHB acknowledged there were "concentrations" of white, black and Hispanic populations in the county but concluded that zoning was not the cause. Astorino said he didn't know what role, if any, the new leadership had in the decision but said the facts were on the county's side "no matter who was the president, no matter who was in the staff at HUD."
The county was sued by a housing group called the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York after Westchester had accepted $52 million in federal development grants on behalf of most of its communities by falsely certifying in the grant paperwork that it had analyzed impediments to fair housing.
Westchester settled that suit in 2009, agreeing to build 750 units of affordable housing in 31 eligible communities where blacks and Hispanics made up less than three percent and seven percent of the overall population, respectively. It also had to take other steps to promote fair housing in the region.
Astorino, who came into office in 2010 after the settlement was signed, has clashed with the federal government and a court-appointed monitor over implementation of the agreement since. The agreement was supposed to be completed at the end of 2016, but some lingering requirements have extended the county's obligations.
Former federal judge Stephen C. Robinson, the second monitor in the agreement, was appointed this year to oversee the conclusion of the settlement. Astorino said Robinson, whose costs are $675 and hour, was no longer needed.
"The idea behind the settlement was to build affordable homes, not pay lawyers," he said.
County says it met requirements
Westchester says it has exceeded its unit requirement with 790 units greenlighted and another 100 in the pipeline, but the AI has been one of the unresolved issues. The settlement requires the AI must be deemed acceptable to HUD, but the county’s analyses have continually found no systematic barriers to fair housing.
The county says it has spent $30 million more than the $51.6 million it was required to under the settlement. It says the average subsidy was $290,000 per unit.
Of the 425 units of housing that are already occupied, roughly one third are homeownership, according to Astorino's staff. Data from the county show 35 percent of those applying for the county's units identified as white, 35 as African-American and 29 percent as Hispanic and 8 percent as multi-racial. 
To complete its obligations under the settlement, the county is running an education campaign to promote fair housing in the region called "One Community." The county has spent $1 million so far in marketing and outreach, an Astorino spokesman said, and will continue running ads through the end of the year.
Mike Kaplowitz, a Democrat and chairman of the county Board of Legislators, said the the settlement winding down didn't mean there still wasn't a need for affordable housing in the region. He said he expected the 2018 county budget to include incentives to build affordable units.
"I look forward to Westchester County government getting back into the business of building common sense affordable housing that is economically viable," he said at the news conference.
Twitter: @marklungariello

‘Cap and Tax’ Would Slam High-Tax, High-Poverty California

‘Cap and Tax’ Would Slam High-Tax, High-Poverty California

John Moorlach

State Senator representing the 37th Senate District

The craziest story of the moment is the Governor’s insistence on passing even more draconian legislation on the topic of climate change in the form of extending what is known as cap and trade (or, in this iteration, cap and tax) (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017).
Gov. Brown believes that “climate change is real” and that California has to be the guinea pig in the world stage on addressing it.  Therefore, Californians have to make certain financial sacrifices now to protect those who follow us 100 years from now.  And that is only if his postulation that “climate change is real.”
With “quiet dignity and grace” (a line from “Young Frankenstein”), the Governor claimed that on Monday the Legislature would be making “the most important vote of our lifetimes.”
Is the vote to disallow collective bargaining a la Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?
Is the vote to abolish the California Rule, and modify pension formulas going forward?
Is the vote for establishing a hybrid pension plan that includes a defined contribution component?
Is it a plan to make state government more efficient, since California has the highest tax rates and still can’t deliver decent services and roads to its residents?
Is the vote to address the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation?
It’s about one man’s personal crusade to supposedly “save the planet,” when the science may not support his claims.
His comments culminated with the hysterical claim no one else in the country seems to believe enough to enact mitigating policy: “Climate change is a threat to organized human existence.” Pop some corn and enjoy his harangue.
No doubt, everyone is concerned about our planet.  But, at a cost of some 90 cents per gallon of gas?  Most people don’t think so.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

‘The Ugly Environmentalist’

‘The Ugly Environmentalist’ 

 by JONAH GOLDBERG July 14, 2017 

The rhetoric of climate-change alarmists grows ever more hysterical. One of the hallmarks of the “Ugly American” is the habit of thinking foreigners will understand what you’re saying if just shout it louder and louder. The Ugly Environmentalist does something similar. He exaggerates the challenge of global warming by using ever more hysterical rhetoric, thinking that if the last doomsday prediction didn’t work, this one will. 

For instance, Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist, recently said that the consequences of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord were monumental: “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees (Celsius), and raining sulfuric acid.” 

As Nathan Cofnas notes in the Weekly Standard, this is nuts. The share of the atmosphere taken up by that vile gas carbon dioxide (which just happens to sustain all plant life) is 400 parts per million. It’s been much higher than that in the past without boiling the oceans or raining acid from the sky. Cofnas also mentions that Venus is nearly 26 million miles closer to the sun, and that the share of carbon dioxide in the Venusian atmosphere is 965,000 parts per million, or about 2,412 times greater than Earth’s. 

And that’s Hawking, a serious scientist (at least in his own field). Journalists, always looking for novelty and drama, can be worse. A recent New York magazine cover story on climate change assured readers that all of the previous climate-change alarmism was too tepid. Basically, by the end of the century, the living will envy the dead and much of the planet will be uninhabitable or a reenactment of a Mad Max movie.

 To the credit of some journalists and climate scientists, the New York magazine article got considerable pushback, even from normally alarmist Penn State professor Michael Mann. 

Rachel Becker, a science writer, had a good take as well. Research shows that “scare tactics can backfire when people put up their psychological defenses against the threatening information,” Becker wrote at The Verge, “rather than defending against the threat itself.” 

That’s true. The more you sound like some cowbell-wielding street preacher wearing a sandwich board that says “The End Is Nigh!” the more likely it is that people will ignore you. Particularly if your last few terrifying predictions didn’t pan out. 

But this focus on how using scare tactics doesn’t persuade skeptics overlooks another problem. What about the people it does persuade? If you honestly believe that climate change will end all life on earth (it won’t) or lead to some dystopian hell where we use the skulls of our former friends and neighbors to collect water droplets from cacti, what policies wouldn’t you endorse to stop it? 

There’s a rich school of journalistic and academic nonsense out there about how democracy may not be up to the job of fighting climate change, and why people who question climate change must be silenced by the state. It’s remarkable how many of the people who rightly recoil in horror at the idea of using, say, the war on terror to justify curtailing civil liberties have no such response when someone floats similar ideas for the war on climate change. 

I believe, along with the late economist Julian Simon, that humans are the ultimate resource. We solve problems, and I think we’ll solve climate change too. 

The environment editor for the left-wing British newspaper the Guardian, Damian Carrington, recently wrote a piece fretting about how having kids doesn’t help fight climate change. Jill Filipovic, a feminist writer, endorsed the article. “Having children is one of the worst things you can do for the planet,” she wrote on Twitter. “Have one less and conserve resources.”

 I found this interestingly dumb. Filipovic is precisely one of those writers you’d expect to go ballistic if some conservative Christian opined about the reproductive choices women should make. But if it’s in the name of the environment? Let’s wag those fingers, everybody! 

I believe, along with the late economist Julian Simon, that humans are the ultimate resource. We solve problems, and I think we’ll solve climate change too. 

But if you really want to yoke your reproductive choices to the issue of climate change (a bizarre desire if you ask me), maybe you should have as many kids as possible and educate them in science and engineering so they can come up with a solution. 

For instance, did you know America may end up complying with our Paris-accord obligations despite our withdrawal? It’s all thanks to breakthroughs in natural gas, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Thank goodness the people who came up with that stuff didn’t have parents who believed all the hype.

Read more at:

Game of Thrones: Libertarian Edition