Saturday, November 11, 2017

Without Government Unions, there Would be No Gas Tax Increase

Without Government Unions, there Would be No Gas Tax Increase

November 1, 2017/by Ed Ring

Nobody argues that California’s roads need huge upgrades. But the solution didn’t require the $0.12 per gallon tax hike that goes into effect today. The root cause of these neglected roads – and the reason even more taxes will never be enough to fix them – is the power of public sector unions, whose agenda is consistently at odds with the public interest. Let us count the ways.

1 – CalTrans mismanagement:

CalTrans could have done a much better job of maintaining California’s roads. One of the most diligent critics (and auditors) of CalTrans is state Senator John Moorlach (R, Costa Mesa), the only CPA in California’s state legislature. Last year, Moorlach released a report on CalTrans which he summarized in “7-Step Fix for ‘Mismanaged’ Caltrans,” an article on his official website. Just a few highlights include the following:
In May 2014 the Legislative Analyst Office determined that CalTrans was overstaffed by 3,500 architects and engineers, costing over $500 million per year.
While to an average state transportation agency outsources over 50% of its work, CalTrans outsources only 10% of its work. Arizona and Florida outsource more than 80%.
54% of CalTrans staff is at or near retirement age, so a hiring freeze would reduce staff merely through attrition, without requiring layoffs.

But Moorlach didn’t make explicit the reason CalTrans is mismanaged. It’s because the unions that run Sacramento don’t want to outsource CalTrans work. The unions don’t want to reduce CalTrans headcount, or hold CalTrans management accountable. Those actions might help Californians, but they would undermine union power.

2 – Bullet train boondoggle:

Money that could have been allocated to maintain and improve California’s roads is being squandered on a train that will do nothing to ameliorate California’s transportation challenges. A LOT of money. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, California’s freeways can be resurfaced and have a lane added in each direction at a cost of roughly $5.0 million per mile in rural areas, about twice that in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the latest estimate for California’s “bullet train,” is $98 billion (that’s $245 million per mile), thanks to construction delays, and design challenges including nearly 50 miles of tunnels through seismically active mountains to the north and south. And hardly anyone is going to ride it. Ridership won’t even pay operating costs. But Sacramento pushes ahead with this monstrous waste when that same money could (at the urban price of $10 million per mile) resurface and add a lane in each direction to 10,000 miles of California’s freeways. Imagine smooth, unclogged roads. It’s not impossible. It’s just policy priorities.

But while bad roads destroy the chassis of millions of cars and trucks, and commuters endure stop-and-go traffic year after year, the California High Speed Rail Authority dutifully pushes on. Why?

Because that’s what the government employee unions want. They don’t want roads, with all the flexibility and autonomy that roads offer. They want to create a gigantic high-speed rail empire, with tens of thousands of new public employees to drive the trains, maintain the trains, maintain the tracks, and provide security, running up staggering annual deficits. But all of them will be members of public sector unions.

3 – All rapid transit boondoggles:

In a handful of very dense urban areas around the U.S., fast intercity trains make economic sense. But most light rail schemes, along with laughably absurd “streetcar” schemes that actually block urban lanes sorely needed by vehicles, do not achieve levels of ridership that even begin to justify their construction when the alternative is using that money for better, wider connector roads and freeways. The impact of ride sharing apps, the advent of non-polluting cars, and the option of using buses to accomplish mass transit goals all speak to the superior versatility of roads over rail for urban transportation.

So why do California’s cities continue to poor billions into light rail and streetcars, when that money could be used to unclog the roads?

To reiterate: The public sector unions that run California want tens of thousands of new public employees to operate the trains and streetcars, maintain them, maintain the tracks, and provide security, running up staggering annual deficits. But doing this means that public sector union membership – hence public sector union power – will increase.

4 – CEQA reform so people can live closer to the jobs:

The median home value in the United States today is $202,700. The median home value in California today is $509,600, 2.5 times as much! There is no shortage of land in California, and the alleged shortages of energy and water are self-inflicted as the result of policies enacted by California’s state legislature. But instead of reforming California’s Environmental Quality Act, SB 375, AB 32, and countless other laws that have made building homes in California nearly impossible, California’s legislature is doubling down on more government solutions – primarily to subsidize either extremely high density housing, or subsidized housing for the economically disadvantaged, or both.

None of this is necessary. Outside of California’s major urban centers, there is no reason homes cannot be profitably built and sold at a median price of $202,700, and there is no reason the people living in those homes cannot drive or ride share to work on fast, unclogged freeways.

But California’s public sector unions want more regulations on home building, and they want more subsidized public housing. Because those solutions, even though inadequate and coercive, enable them to hire vast new bureaucracies to enforce the many regulations and administer the public assets. Unleashing the private sector to build affordable homes in a competitive market would rob these unions of their opportunity to acquire more power. It’s that simple.

5 – Insatiable appetite for pension fund contributions:

According to a California Policy Center study, taking barely adequate annual employer pension contributions into account, the average unionized state/local government worker in California makes over $120,000 per year in pay and benefits. But to adequately fund their promised pension benefits, employers will need to pay at least another $20,000 per employee to the pension funds. This funding gap, which equates to over $20 billion per year, is the additional amount that is required to cover the difference between how much California’s public employee pension funds currently collect from taxpayers, and how much they need to collect to keep the promises that union controlled politicians have made to the government unions they “negotiate” with. That is a best-case scenario.

It could be much worse. A 2016 California Policy Center analysis (ref. table 2-C) estimated that under a worst-case scenario, the annual costs to fund California’s public employee pension funds could cost taxpayers nearly $70 billion more per year than they are currently paying.

And by the way, California’s pension funds are themselves almost entirely under the control of public sector unions – research the background of CalPERS and CalSTRS board directors to verify the degree of influence they have. Absent significant reform, funding California’s public employee pensions is going to continue to consume every dollar in new taxes for the next several decades. The cumulative financial impact of funding these pensions is easily triple that of the bullet train’s $100 billion fiasco, probably much more.

Let’s not mince words. Government unions control California. They collect and spend over $1.0 billion every year, and spend most of that money on either explicit political campaigning and lobbying, or soft advocacy via expensive public relations campaigns and sponsored academic studies. Their presence is felt everywhere, from local transit districts to the governor’s office. They make or break politicians at will, by outspending or outlasting their opponents. At best, California’s most powerful corporate players do not cross these unions, often they collude with them.

California’s public sector unions operate as senior partners in a coalition that includes left-wing oligarchs especially in the Silicon Valley, extreme environmentalists and their powerful trial lawyer cohorts, and the Latino Legislative Caucus – usurped by leftist radicals – and their many allies in the social justice/identity politics industry. The power of this government union led coalition is nearly absolute, and the consequences to California’s private sector working class have been nothing short of devastating.

Government unions force California’s agencies to over-hire, overpay, and mismanage, because that benefits their members even as it harms the public. These unions enforce absurd policy priorities that further harm the public in order to increase their power. They are the reason California has increased its gas tax.


Pump bump: California drivers to pay 12 cents more per gallon starting Wednesday – San Jose Mercury, Oct. 31, 2017

California’s gas tax increases Wednesday – Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2017

How much you’ll REALLY pay in gasoline tax in California – San Diego Union Tribune, Apr. 23, 2017

What Californians Could Build Using the $64 Billion Bullet Train Budget – California Policy Center, Mar. 21, 2017

American Road and Transportation Builders Association – FAQs, ref. “How much does it cost to build a mile of road?

High-Speed Rail Delay More than Triples Planned Cost to San Jose – San Jose Inside, Oct. 2, 2017

A 13.5-mile tunnel will make or break California’s bullet train – Los Angeles Times, Oct. 21, 2017

California Environmental Quality Act – Wikipedia

State Senate bills aim to make homes more affordable, but they won’t spur nearly enough construction – Los Angeles Times, Aug. 11, 2017

California’s Public Sector Compensation Trends – California Policy Center, Jan. 2017

What is the Average Pension for a Retired Government Worker in California? – California Policy Center, Mar. 2017

The Coming Public Pension Apocalypse, and What to Do About It – California Policy Center, May 2016

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cooped up People and Free Range Chicken?-High Density Zoning in Marinwood Priority Development Area

Feel that your freedom to live peacefully among nature in Marinwood-Lucas Valley is being threatened?

Wait until our new low income neighbors get here.  Our population will increase by 25%.

Housing density will increase dramatically,  yet we will not have any more the essential services, water and land to support this growth...  It's all about "Big Box" apartments. More people per square acre makes more money for developers.  Some environmentalists think it is greener but the opposite is true.  More people in smaller places concentrates pollution and increases social problems.
Children need a place to play. People need clean air to breath. 

Just ask any Free Range Chicken.

The Principles of Responsible Chicken Raising

Chickens must be given ample room.

Plenty of sunlight. 

Clean living area.

No debeaking or other unnecessary trauma.

Must have the ability to scratch around in the dirt, spread their wings, and otherwise express their chickenness.

Should the Children in affordable housing receive less consideration than free range chicken?

The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards

The European Commission Wants You To Log Into Social Media Accounts With Govt-Issued ID Cards

by RAHEEM KASSAM 2 Jun 2016 

The European Commission plans to attack citizens’ right to online privacy, insisting that state-issued ID cards should be used to log into platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and even Uber.

The Vice President for the Digital Single Market on the European Commission, former Communist Andrus Ansip, is behind the next European Union (EU) raid on personal freedoms, promoting the idea of using national ID cards to log in to online services.

Leaked documents from within the European Commission revealed a call for the roll out of a more extensive use of national ID cards across the EU. The documents have since been uploaded to the Commission’s own website.

Mr. Ansip is from Estonia, a small Baltic country and former Communist state which has the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world.  The Estonian state website boasts: “Much more than simply a legal picture ID, the mandatory national card serves as the digital access card for all of Estonia’s secure e-services.”

The paper outlines that: “In particular, online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as electronic ID cards, citizens cards, bank cards or mobile IDs… for every consumer to have a multitude of username and password combinations is not only inconvenient but becomes a security risk.”

This draft document entitled ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market’ is dated 25 May this year, and urges the log in policy on the basis that fake user reviews are misleading European consumers. The document states: “Online ratings and reviews of goods and services are helpful and empowering to consumers, but they need to be trustworthy and free from any bias or manipulation. A prominent example is fake reviews, where loss of trust can undermine the business model of the platform itself, but also lead to a wider loss of trust, as expressed in many responses to the public consultation

Breitbart London has previously reported on how the European Union plans to roll out a continent-wide ID card, with a view to using the data to impose Europe-wide taxes, and an EU-wide minimum wage, further bypassing elected national parliaments and handing more power to the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

The European Commission website further reveals that “on 1 July 2016, the new rules on trust services under the eIDAS Regulation will come into effect in the 28 EU Member States repealing the 15-year-old eSignature Directive and modernising the legal framework for trust services. This will be a turning point in the eIDAS journey and another big milestone towards a Digital Single Market.”

It does not appear to be mandatory, but uptake of national E-ID cards is encouraged by the Commission as the direction of travel for access to e-services. It does, however, define and regulate the legal basis for digital IDs for Europeans.

“This intrusive and seemingly authoritarian EU interference in social media and the internet is not new,” said Diane James, a Member of the European Parliament and the UK Independence Party’s spokesman for Home Affairs.

“In 2013, the European Parliament spent almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” during euro-elections amid fears that hostility to the EU was growing.”

They claim that “institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.” 

“Calling on us to log onto YouTube with national IDs etc shows a direction of travel which should worry anybody who believes in personal liberty,” said Ms. James, adding: “Voting Leave in this Brexit Referendum is our way to shout “Stop” and put an end to this madness.”

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Different Vision for Marinwood Plaza- A Vibrant Retail Location

Marinwood Village is an excellent location for an Artisan Market like the Barlow or the Oxbow Market in Napa.  Located just off the 101 highway, it is perfectly situated for both local business and tourism.  The Barlow and the Oxbow Market are just two examples of the concept

Affordable housing can be located in a more family friendly, environmentally safe location at a density that makes sense for Marin.

Slideshow of the Oxbow Public Market. A model for Marinwood Plaza?

Marinwood Plaza is the perfect place for an Artisan Market.

View Larger Map

Stossel: Let California Leave!

In 2018, California may vote on leaving the US. Regions around the world want independence from countries that control them. Stossel says if people want to secede—let them!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Where to Start: How to Stop a Big Box

Where to Start: How to Stop a Big Box

| Written byStacy Mitchell |0 Comments | Updated onMar 282007The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at
There are many reasons why communities seek to stop a big-box proposal — the effect on local economic development and small businesses, traffic congestion, environmental issues, community impacts, low-paying jobs. Whatever your concerns, however, the main way most communities succeed in preventing the development of a big-box store is through the local land use system.
Don’t worry if you know nothing about land use policy. Most citizens who succeed in stopping a big-box development started out with very little knowledge of or experience with planning and zoning. This guide and the other resources in the Big-Box Tool Kit will explain not only how to navigate your local land use policies, but also how to organize a citizen-based campaign to stop a big-box proposal and to make permanent changes to your local policies to put citizens in control of how the community grows and develops.
Citizens groups often succeed in blocking big-box proposals. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Sociology, between 1998 and 2005, citizens organized to block Walmart proposals in 563 locations. In 366 of those sites, Walmart was either defeated or withdrew its proposal.

STEP ONE: Identify Opportunities to Say No

Your first task is to determine the status of the big-box proposal and what is required under your city’s comprehensive plan and zoning code for the development to proceed. You should determine what steps the developer will have to go through, what permits and reviews will be necessary, which government bodies will be making the decisions (e.g., planning board, board of zoning appeals, city council), and what the timeline is for those decisions.

Basics of Land Use Policy

In most communities, development is governed by two interrelated polices: the comprehensive plan and the zoning code.
The comprehensive plan outlines the community’s goals and policies with regard to land use and development. It provides city officials with guidance for making decisions about development projects and serves as the basis for the city’s zoning code.
The zoning code implements the comprehensive plan through specific regulations. It stipulates what types of uses (residential, office, industrial, etc.) are allowed in each area of town. It also regulates the scale and character of development through rules governing the height and size of buildings, densities (e.g., number of dwellings per acre), lot sizes, parking requirements, the ratio of landscaping to pavement, and so forth.
The two primary purposes of zoning are to prevent landowners from using their properties in ways that harm the community and to ensure a balanced and efficient pattern of land use that avoids the many public costs and harms of haphazard development.
Cities (and, in some cases, counties and regions) derive their planning and zoning authority from state law. Some states require cities to have comprehensive plans and zoning codes; some do not. States may also impose certain rules on how cities implement and exercise their zoning authority.

The Development Approval Process

Depending on the rules set forth in the zoning code, a developer may need any number of approvals and permits from the city in order to build. In some cases, a big-box project may also require permits from one or more state or federal agencies (if, for example, it adds traffic to a state road or involves wetlands or impaired waterways).
Each of these points in the process – each review, each permit – offers an opportunity for decision-makers to reject the development. Your task is to identify each of these opportunities (see “Questions to Ask” below) and then to persuade officials to say no.
Your city planner or other local official should be able to meet with you to explain what will be required under your zoning code. However, we encourage you not to rely solely on information provided by a local official, who may have unintentional biases or flawed interpretations of land use law. We strongly advise that you read and study the relevant sections of your comprehensive plan and zoning code yourself, that you consult with experts, and that you hire a land use attorney.
Having an attorney on your side will not only help you use your city’s land use policies to stop the project, but it sends a signal to city officials that you are serious and that they may face a lawsuit should they approve a big-box store that harms public welfare or violates the comprehensive plan. Although raising money to hire an attorney may seem daunting at first, keep in mind that asking for donations is part of building a grassroots coalition (more on this below). Many people and local businesses will want to donate and an attorney is one of the best uses of these funds. Not just any attorney will do. You’ll need to find one who specializes in land use and who ideally has experience with controversial retail projects.

Questions to Ask

Here are some key questions to ask as you assess the status of the proposal and your community’s requirements:
Has the developer formally approached the city?
In most cases, once a developer has submitted an application or other formal proposal to the city, then the project is subject only to the rules already contained in the zoning code. If the developer has not yet submitted an application, then you still have time to revise and strengthen your land use policies. It’s always best to get out in front of these proposals. One course of action would be to push the city to enact a development moratorium. This would suspend retail development for several months, giving the city time to study the potential impact of additional big-box stores and to adopt a store size capeconomic impact review requirement, or other measures to protect the community. Alternately, you might skip the moratorium and move quickly to enact a size cap or other ordinance to prevent or control big-box development. When citizens in Damariscotta, Maine, heard a rumor that Wal-Mart was eying a piece of property on the outskirts of town, they immediately gathered signatures for a voter referendum to ban large superstores, which ultimately passed. Had they not done this, the proposal would have been subject only to the town’s weak site plan review process.
Does the project conform to your city’s comprehensive plan?
You should carefully review your city’s comprehensive plan and highlight any aspects of the plan the proposed big-box store would violate or conflict with. The plan may state, for example, that it is the city’s intention to maintain the downtown as the center of commercial activity, ensure new development is compatible with its surroundings, or minimize automobile use. In the past, comprehensive plans were treated merely as advisory documents. But many states have passed laws that give these plans greater legal weight and require that local officials use them as a basis for deciding whether to approve development. In most states, the failure of a development proposal to fit the comprehensive plan obligates, or at least provides a legal basis, for the city to reject the project. In some states, comprehensive plans have now attained a status akin to a local constitution: decisions that do not conform to the goals contained in the plan can be overturned by the courts. Your land use attorney can tell you how seriously your state treats comprehensive plans (or, depending on the state, we may be able to provide basic advice).
Will the developer need the city to rezone the land?
If the land is zoned for something other than retail (e.g., residential or office), then the developer must petition the city to rezone the parcel, a process that usually involves a public hearing and a vote by the planning board and/or city council. Your task will be to build a case that rezoning the site to allow the development would negatively affect the community and/or be at odds with the city’s comprehensive plan. Remember that city officials are under no obligation to change established zoning policies to accommodate a developer. Indeed, doing so may be considered arbitrary “spot zoning” – the rezoning of a single parcel to benefit a property owner rather than carry out an objective of the comprehensive plan – which courts have deemed illegal.
Will the developer need a special use (or conditional use) permit?
Zoning rules for the site may define retail as a “special use,” meaning that it is not normally allowed but can be under special circumstances. To proceed with a big-box project, the developer must apply for a special use permit, which usually involves a public hearing and a vote by the planning board, city council, or other government body. Officials may grant the permit only after concluding that the development will not harm the community, is consistent with the city’s general land use policies for that area, and meets specific conditions described in the zoning code. Your task will be to assemble evidence that the proposal does not meet these criteria and that the special use permit should therefore not be granted.
Will the developer need a variance?
A variance is an exception to a zoning rule that may be granted by city officials. Due to the constraints of a particular property, a developer may request a variance from having to, for example, create a certain number of parking spaces or set the building back so many feet from the road. Variances may be granted only if the city determines that conditions particular to that parcel (topography, soil problems, etc.) make it impossible to comply with the rule, that allowing the exception will not harm the community, and that it will not result in the grant of a special privilege to a particular property owner. The zoning code may contain additional criteria for granting variances.
In general, the legal basis for allowing variances is to prevent a situation in which strictly applying a particular zoning rule would deny a property owner all reasonable use of the property. Big-box stores are never the only reasonable use of property in a commercial zone and therefore variances requested by big-box developers should be presumed to be unwarranted exceptions to rules that all other property owners must follow.
Will the developer need the city to annex the land?
If the proposed big-box store is situated just beyond a town’s borders, the developer may need the town to annex the land and run water and sewer lines out to the site. The conditions under which a town may annex land are stipulated by state law, but local elected officials often fail to heed these requirements. You should determine what state law mandates and insist that the city comply. Minnesota law, for example, allows cities to annex land only after conducting an “analysis of the fiscal impact on the annexing municipality, the subject area, and adjacent units of local government, including net tax capacity and the present bonded indebtedness. . .” Such an analysis may reveal, as some studies have, that the stores will cost the municipality more in infrastructure and services than they generate in tax revenue – a compelling reason for officials to deny the annexation and prevent the development.
Will the development be required to undergo a traffic impact study?
Many big-box projects have been rejected because of their impact on traffic. A single big-box store can generate more than 10,000 car trips a day (see our fact sheets), subjecting residents to traffic congestion, safety hazards, and high tax costs for road maintenance and police services. Many communities require developers to submit a professional traffic analysis of the impact their projects will have on road capacity and level-of-service. Ideally you should hire your own traffic engineer to review the developer’s traffic study.
Will the development be required to undergo an economic impact study?
Your city’s zoning code may mandate that a proposed big-box store undergo an economic or fiscal (i.e., tax) impact analysis – or your city council may be able to require one on a case-by-case basis. A thorough study should reveal many of the hidden costs of a proposed big-box store in terms of job losses, local business closures and vacancies, and the impact on public services – giving city officials cause to reject the development. You should insist that the study be conducted by a qualified independent consultant selected by the city, not the developer. (See our recommendations.) You should review the study to ensure that its data and methods are sound. Contact us for help.
Will the project be required to undergo an environmental impact review?
In some states, including California and New York, major development projects must submit to an environmental impact study. If the findings indicate that the development will have significant environmental impacts, officials may reject the project or demand substantial changes to it. The range of impacts evaluated varies, but are fairly broad in some states. California courts, for example, have ruled that urban blight is an environmental impact and therefore cities must evaluate the potential of a big-box store “to indirectly cause urban/suburban decay by precipitating a downward spiral of store closures and long-term vacancies in existing shopping centers.”
Will the development be required to undergo site plan review?
Even when the land is zoned for commercial retail and no special use permit is required, most big-box projects still need to undergo “site plan review” to ensure that the development meets land use, transportation, environmental, and public safety standards. Your city’s zoning code will indicate whether the review will be carried out by city staff or by the planning board or other body, and whether there will be a public hearing and opportunity for citizen input. Site plan review standards vary in their strength and scope, but they may provide the city with the power to demand substantial changes to the project or to reject it altogether.
Will the project need a permit from a state or federal agency?
In some cases, a big-box store must obtain a permit from one or more state or federal agencies. If it is situated on a state highway, for example, it will likely need approval from the state’s department of transportation. If it involves sensitive habitat or other important environmental assets, it may need to be reviewed by the state’s department of environmental protection. If the developer intends to fill wetlands, then he or she may need a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Often these agencies will do no more than require changes to the project to mitigate the worst effects on traffic or the environment, but in some cases they have concluded that the impacts are severe enough to reject the development.

STEP TWO: Persuade Decision-Makers to Say No

After you have mapped out the process that the proposal must go through – what approvals will be needed, who will make those decisions, and when they will be made – the next step is to persuade decision-makers to deny one or more of those necessary permits or approvals.
In order to vote against a big-box proposal, local officials need to know:
  • how the store would harm the community, economy, and/or environment (and thereby violate the goals and policies contained in your comprehensive plan and zoning code); and
  • that many people in the community support a “no” vote.
The best way to accomplish this is through a grassroots campaign that gets the message out about the hidden costs of big-box stores and makes citizen opposition to the store highly visible.
What follows is a brief guide for launching such a campaign. We recommend that you consult other resources as well, particularly Al Norman’s book, Slam-Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Hometown and Norman’s consulting services (contact him through his Sprawl-Busters web site).

Create a Citizens Coalition

You need a core group of people to lead the campaign and a larger group of volunteers to carry out discreet tasks, such as writing letters to the editor or distributing lawn signs. Ideally the group should include a broad cross-section of the community: business owners, labor union members, religious leaders, environmental activists, and lots of ordinary citizens.
Many people in the community undoubtedly share your concerns about the proposed store. Here are a few ideas for finding them and getting them involved:
  • Use the grapevine. Talk to people you know and ask them to spread the word.
  • Hold a community meeting. Post notices around town inviting anyone concerned about the proposed store to attend and ask local newspapers to list the meeting.
  • Reach out to local organizations, such as environmental or neighborhood groups, or churches. Ask if you could have a few minutes to talk about the big-box proposal at their next meeting.
  • Meet with business owners who are likely to be affected by the superstore. This is a broader list of businesses than you might think at first. Home Depot, for example, will impact not only hardware stores and lumber dealers, but also appliance stores, remodeling contractors (the chain has its own installers for windows, flooring, etc.), banks (the chain finances construction loans), and many others. Ask business owners to become involved in the campaign, talk to their employees about the proposed big-box, and contribute money.

Develop a Campaign Plan

  • Start by naming your group. A good name should be positive and evoke the community controlling its own future, such as “Our Town Damariscotta” or “Gresham First.”
  • Map out a plan and a basic campaign schedule.
  • Set up committees to carry out various tasks, such as letters to the editor, fundraising, developing campaign materials, research, press releases/media, and so on.
  • Find experts, such as a traffic engineer, and especially a land use attorney.

Make the Case

Develop a list of the negative effects the proposed project will have on your community and repeat these concerns at every opportunity: public hearings, in your campaign materials, letters to the editor, and so on.
You’ll want to emphasize those issues that are likely to have the most influence on decision-makers. For example, if your zoning code says that businesses in that part of town should serve the needs of the local neighborhood, then talk about how the proposed supercenter is designed to serve a much larger region, pulling traffic from a wide radius. If rising property tax bills are a big issue in your town, talk about the added cost of providing road maintenance and police services for the store.
This web site contains information and tools you will need to educate your neighbors and elected officials about the hidden costs of big-box development.  In particular, you’ll want to review Key Studies on Walmart and Big Box Retail and our Fact Sheets.

Be Visible

Take advantage of every opportunity to get your message out: lawn signs, posters in storefronts, tee-shirts/buttons/hats, letters to the editor (the most-read section of the newspaper), tabling at events, flyers, direct mail, radio advertisements, guest speakers, a web site, and so on. Get in the news often; get your group quoted in every article about the proposed development.
Make sure that decision-makers hear from lots of people. Set up one-on-one meetings with members of the planning board and/or city council, and ask people to call or write them. Turn out as many people as you can to public hearings on the project, preferably all wearing stickers or another item that identifies them as opponents of the project.
Your message will be especially powerful if decision-makers hear it from a broad range of people. Don’t let supporters of the big-box peg you as nothing more than a narrow special interest (e.g., just a bunch of small business owners out to protect their profits or labor unions angry with Wal-Mart). To avoid this, make sure a diversity of people representing different parts of the community are visible in the campaign.

Ease Concerns about a Lawsuit

Cities are understandably nervous about being sued by a big-box retailer or developer if they turn down a project. But, while developers may threaten legal action, they are less likely to take it because such lawsuits usually fail. On land use matters, the courts generally defer to city officials, presuming their decisions are legal if they followed reasonable logic and the process was fair. Decisions to reject big-box development should pass legal muster if local officials make findings stating how the store would harm the community and reference language from the comprehensive plan and/or zoning code.

What to do with a Bad Decision

If the project is approved, you still have options:
  • Appeal. Local zoning regulations may provide a mechanism for appealing a decision on a big-box project. A decision by the planning board, for example, might be appealed to the city council. You can also appeal the decision through the courts. In both cases, the key to winning is demonstrating that the decision-making body did not adhere to the policies set forth in your comprehensive plan and zoning code.
  • Initiate a referendum. In some places, you can gather signatures for a ballot referendum that would allow voters to overturn the decision.

STEP THREE: Don’t Stop!

Whether you win or lose, don’t disband your group and lose all of your momentum once the fight is over. Working to stop a bad development should be the first phase of a larger campaign to change your community’s approach to land use policy and economic development.
One thing is certain: win or lose, the big boxes will be back. More proposals are undoubtedly just around the corner. You can save yourself from having to take them on one at a time by changing your community’s land use and development policies. Please visit our Rules section to see model policies.
Keeping out what you don’t want is half the battle. Growing the kind of economy you do want is the other half. People are much more vulnerable to the lure of big-box retail if their local economies fail to provide sufficient shopping options and jobs. Communities need to develop a concrete plan for rebuilding their local economies.  ILSR has written about many innovative approaches, which you can find in our Independent Business initiative.

Tucker Carlson vs Mill Valley Mayor Jessica Sloan on Prison Reform

Monday, November 6, 2017

Morrison Trump Rant and Inexperience

Novato candidate for City Council, Kevin Morrison attempts to win votes by smearing opponents and lying about their records much like the recent presidential election. He offers NOTHING to Novato voters in new ideas, tax savings and completely lacks relevant professional experience.  He admits " I don't have an answer (to financial problems), That's tough"  Vote wisely November 7th

Sunday, November 5, 2017

When Planners and Developers get their Way, this is what happens.

A-Town development in Anaheim, CA 
When Planners and Developers get their way, this is what we'll get in Marin, endless high density. It is way more profitable to build blocks of apartments than single family development.

According to a OC Register article. this is a toned-down project compared to what what was originally planned which included a 35 story residential tower. Instead, the tallest buildings will stand six stories tall. However, the project is still noteworthy as, the project, if approved, will have a total of 1,400 to 1,742 dwelling units, up to 50,000 sq ft of combined retail and office. This will consist of eight neighborhoods on a site that has a total of 43.1 acres. The article also states the project, if approved, will be implemented in phases with construction starting in 2015, and be fully built out in ten years. An important change Lennar made, and for the better, entails focusing more on the upcoming community's needs such as a grocery store.
This news adds to the continuing growth of the Platinum Triangle district as there are several planned projects such as LTG Platinum Center (massive mixed use project that also proposes two high rise towers), recently announced Jefferson Stadium Park (large mixed use development proposing total of 826 units and 10,000 sq ft of retail; total of 6 to 7 buildings that are proposed to be up to 5 stories tall; Source: ocptguy), Proposed 15 story office tower at Stadium Towers Office Complex.
The original plan called for 2700 units and only 680 parking spaces.
Editors Note: Where do you put your surfboards, kayaks, kids and other California lifestyle stuff?   You might as well be living in Las Vegas in the middle of the desert.  Yuck!

Pat Eklund stands up for Novato and Small Towns in Marin County

Pat Eklund, Novato City Councilperson speaks out at the MTC  CASA technical committee on September 25, 2017 at MTC headquarters in San Francisco.  Bill Witte,of Related California, asks to force development in Marin County at a regional level, stripping local communities the ability to guide their own community development.  A newly passed California law, SB-35 gives developers unprecedented power to develop housing and ignore CEQA law.  Developers like Bill Witte  will be able to make billions of dollars by forcing development in high cost areas of the Bay Area.  Marin has few buildable lots available which would mean that single family neighborhoods would need to be demolished or greenfield development will need to happen.  This is an OUTRAGEOUS assault on our local cities and towns.  Everyone of the 101 cities and towns in the Bay Area are potential victims by the exploitation of developers and will have little recourse to stop them.

Desperate Mayors Compete for Amazon HQ2

Local politicians clash as they try to lure Amazon's new headquarters to their towns.