Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bill Hansell presents the Marinwood Maintenance Shed project 8/12/2018

Architect and former CSD Board member Bill Hansell presents his concept for a 6000 sf Maintenance Shed Compound to house a truck, and a several vehicles.  Its unusual long and narrow design is for drive through access.  Despite the massive size, the  access lane and internal columns will make it very difficult to move our 22' long Ford F250 truck and other vehicles.  It is twice the size of neighboring homes and spans two  property lots.  The budget is not being discussed publicly.  Presentation excerpt from the Marinwood CSD meeting of August 14,  2018.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Marinwood CSD votes to approve flawed Negative Declaration on Project

Marinwood CSD votes to approve its flawed CEQA negative declaration for a massive building along Miller Creek.  The setback is 120' yet Marinwood wants to place it well within the Stream Conservation Area despite an alternative site 50'  away. Excerpt from the August 14, 2018 meeting

Marinwood CSD meeting for August 14, 2018- Maintenance Shed proposal

The CSD board glares contemptuously at the public for daring to speak against their plans.

0:11:32 Discussion of Negative Declaration begins 0:33:00 Marinwood CSD approves its own Negative Declaration despite violation of the Stream Conservation regulations on Miller Creek, inaccurate and misleading data, a history of building code violations, the deliberate attempt to coverup the important Miwok Indian historical village and the massive footprint required of their 6000 sf Maintenance Shed Compound, aka. the "White Elephant" which will at least double the impact of the current facility. Despite strong community objections, the Marinwood CSD ignored legitimate criticism and voted unanimously to approve. The new facility has been designed by a former CSD director for an undisclosed amount. The projected budget has not been announced. This is a financial disaster in the making. 0:39:00 Bill Hansell, Architect unveils his plans for his Maintenance Shed Compound followed by questions and answers. (appx 1:40:00)

2:20:00 Other CSD business

Friday, August 17, 2018

Suburb Video Photography

Split Rail Fence will stop pedestrians from walking behind the Maintenance garage doors

Side access garages like this are used in every government agency in Marin County
This is the type of maintenance garage that we advocate for Marinwood park. It is smaller and more efficient for parking, tools and a workshop. A side access garage is attractive and fits in the park setting.  A split rail fence will keep pedestrians from wandering into the front courtyard while maintaining a rustic look .  You'll find these in Yosemite and State Parks .   We can build this for far less than the Maintenance Shed Compound, keep our rustic setting. We can  use $100k+ the savings to build a new classroom/meeting room with the Hansell design and earn rental revenue.

Yes, the proposed Marinwood Park Maintenance Compound is huge.

Photo from the 3D presentation of the 40 x 150' Maintenance Shed Compound presented by Bill Hansell, Architect and former CSD director.  Seen from a height of 138'

Here is a photo from Bill Hansells 8/14/2018 3D presentation of the Marinwood Park Maintenance Shed Compound.

Notice how it stretches behind the full length of two houses on Quietwood Drive.  Wow! It is viewed from a height of approximately 138'.  The angle compresses the apparent height but it will be approximately as high as a roof peak on the ranch houses on Quietwood Dr.(15')   Also,  I do not think the land mass is drawn accurately.  There is too much space between the Maintenance Compound and the creek. 

Only story poles and lot markers will give a more accurate vision of the mass. The Marinwood CSD should place them as soon as possible to gather input from the public

We have learned that support columns will be needed for the interior of the garage area.  This will make parking of our 22' Ford F250 extremely difficult.
Imagine entering a parking garage and having to park seven vehicles inside a 36' x 39' room with two support columns in the middle.  I am sorry, Marinwood CSD, this is a fatal error in the design. If you can't park vehicles inside, we need another design that will accommodate them.
The dump truck and future trailer will need to remain outside as before.  Landscaping material will also need to be outside because the bucket loader will need room for maneuvering.    This project increases the interior/exterior footprint of the current maintenance compound by 200 percent.  

Do not be dissuaded by people who claim we are spreading fear.  We are performing a public service by rigorously examining the plan and sharing it with the general public.  The Marinwood CSD has restricted information.  The more people who know the truth of the project, the more common wisdom will prevail.

Also, look at the Western corner of the entrance courtyard a see a big pine tree. The road reaches about 15' on the other side which is exactly the edge of the horseshoe pit.  I predict that the horseshoe pit will need to be moved if the white elephant is built.

“Stop the White Elephant
In Marinwood Park”

Sign the petition at

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Feel Attacked? The Most Powerful Defense You'll Ever Have

Feel Attacked? The Most Powerful Defense You'll Ever Have

In situations of conflict, what's the best question to ask yourself?

Posted Sep 12, 2012

Source:Whenever someone turns on you, there’s one thing you can do that, almost immediately, will emotionally protect you. If, that is, you can do it immediately. And this little recognized mode of self-defense should work whether your hair-trigger reaction is feeling hurt, guilty, devalued, distrusted, disrespected, rejected, offended, insulted—or whatever. But this remarkable defense—which, finally, isn’t really a “defense” at all—is extremely elusive. For when you get your buttons pushed, it’s doubtful that responding in the way I’ll be describing would ever occur to you. If you’re like most people, in the moment of psychological upset you’re far more likely to succumb to the urge either to directly defend yourself or to counterattack your “assailant.”

This post is about training yourself—in the very second you realize you’re beginning to lose your cool—to ask yourself a question: A question that almost no one even considers posing to themselves. And it’s not about yourself at all, but about the one who provoked you. Here it is:

“Before this person pushed my button, which one of their buttons might I have pushed?”

What makes this self-query so stunningly powerful is that it instantaneously enables you to detach from your internal distress and refocus your attention on what’s going on outside yourself. If you view, say, the criticism or cuttingremark as primarily reflecting something about the other person, you don’t have to remain nervous, angry, or feel bad about yourself—in short, “take on” the negativity apparently aimed at you.

Shifting from the role of reactive “emotionalist” to that of scientist, you’re actually training your brain to stay with the more adult, rational, part of your self in order not to let the present situation get the better of you. By depersonalizing the “drama” of the moment, you maintain the authority to be the sole judge of your actions—rather than allowing the other person’s comments to add to any doubts you may still harbor about yourself. Obviously, if these doubts were non-existent, you’d be pretty much immune to their criticism’s sting, and so not experience their unfavorable evaluation as threatening.

As regards the other person, odds are that they turned on you in the first place because—however indirectly (and it might be far more circuitous than you could ever imagine!)—what you said or did felt threatening to them. So endeavoring to grasp where they might be coming from can help you begin to formulate new insights into the psychological dynamic that motivated their “retaliatory” behavior. And there are questions you can ask them that, if asked in the right way, might reveal why they were provoked—before, in turn, they provoked you.

I realize that so far this exposition may well seem overly abstract. So let me provide a concrete example to illustrate what such averting or rechanneling of someone’s verbal attack might look like. Still, I can hardly overemphasize that mastering the art and logic of this method is likely to take considerable practice. But if you’re sufficiently patient to develop this advanced communication skill, the end result will probably astound you.

The sample case below deals specifically with a couple. But the approach depicted could readily be adapted for use with one’s children, parents, employees, co-workers, etc.:

Frank glances at the latest credit card statement, which is much higher than usual, and blows up—angrily accusing his wife, Sue, of being a selfish spendthrift and squandering the family’s resources. Ordinarily, Sue would get angry herself (her “not-being-trusted” button having been pushed) and protest that none of her purchases were unnecessary or exorbitant. And that if Frank would take the time to carefully review the charges, he’d see that every single expenditure was justified—given that their three children have desperately needed new clothes, as well as supplies, for the upcoming school year.
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Instead, however, Sue turns to Frank and says: “If you look at the charges on the bill, I think you’ll see they reflect expenses we’d already discussed. . . . But, frankly, I wonder if whether what’s really bothering you is that you can’t stop thinking about the fact that your company has been laying off people because of the terrible economy we’re in. Just the other day you told me you were beginning to feel insecure about your position and worrying whether you could be the next to go. Is this what’s coming up for you now? Do we maybe need to talk some more about this? . . ."

The next part of this retort is optional—but in certain instances it could further modify Frank's blaming perspective: “. . . and I’m also thinking about what you told me in the past about your parents’ being so critical of you whenever you bought anything they thought you didn’t really have to have. Did you maybe feel that I was being indulgent in a way that—had it been you—would definitely have made your parents come down on you like a ton of bricks? Could that be coming up for you, too?—almost needing to get mad at me to separate yourself from me, ‘cause what you thought I did running up the bill might somehow have reminded you of how your parents always got on your case for spending too much money?"

Note that in this example, the wife simply doesn’t permit her husband’s anger to center on her. On the contrary, she offers only a brief explanation of her credit card expenditure and then redirects the interaction to focus on him and which of his buttons might have gotten pushed when he eyed the statement’s bottom line (i.e., pressing his “I'm out-of-control-of-our-finances” button). As a result, the husband, feeling understood and sympathized with, would be unlikely to continue in the same accusatory vein. In fact, he’s even being invited to ventilate more about his work-related anxieties—probably at the very core of his present upset and what he needs most to be talking about.
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Remember, just because your partner is being emotionally reactive doesn't mean you have to be, too. (As in, "It takes two to tango.")

Space limitations prevent me from offering additional examples here. But hopefully, this single representation will suggest the manifold benefits of responding to another’s provocation by immediately asking yourself which of their buttons, however unintentionally, may have just gotten pushed. Might it be an “I-have-to-be-perfect” button (for they can’t allow themselvesto make a mistake, so you can’t either); an “everything-must-be-in-its-place” button (for in growing up, parental approval pivoted on being neat and orderly); an “I-can’t-take-risks” button (for being daring and adventurous got associated with putting oneself in serious jeopardy); and so on.


To conclude, if you can get yourself to quickly change course in confrontational situations—and play detective rather than defendant—I think you’ll find that conflicts which previously were extremely discomfiting are much easier to deal with. They’ll also offer you a truly intriguing challenge: one that can be as creative as it is constructive. Not that this method will work with everyone, for those with really serious anger problems—or with a Ph.D. in Denial and Stonewalling!—may simply be unreachable. And that’s why, in certain cases, calling a “Time Out” may be your only recourse. But in more “normal” instances, the approach I’ve delineated should work just fine.

Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer

Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer




May 9, 201712:31 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered



The $25 million Labre Place in Miami was built using the low-income housing tax credit program. It's named for the patron saint for the homeless and is now home to 90 low-income residents, about half of whom were once homeless.Screenshot courtesy of Frontline (PBS)

On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city.

After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water.

About This Story

This story was produced in partnership with the PBS series Frontline.

WATCH 'Poverty, Politics and Profit'

The episode investigates the billions spent on housing low-income people, and why so few get the help they need.

From Frontline: How We Did The Math

From Frontline: A Housing Affordability Crisis That's Worse for the Lowest Income Americans

From NPR: Section 8 Vouchers Help The Poor — But Only If Housing Is Available

Watch a teaser here:

PBS Frontline YouTube

Every day, she fills bottles with water from a neighbor's house and takes them home. She washes her hands with water heated in an electric slow cooker. She uses a bucket to flush the toilet.

"I'm tired, but I don't have nowhere to go and I don't have enough money to do it," she says, fighting back tears. But she adds, "I'm not living on the streets. I'm not homeless."

Eldridge is among the 11 million people nationwide making these kinds of choices every day. The government calls them "severely rent burdened" — people paying more than half their income in rent.

Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government's primary program to build housing for the poor.

But the tax-credit building that's only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge's house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don't have any vacancies.

In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it's costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits.

In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Industry representatives don't dispute the numbers; they say these trends are the result of rising construction costs, decreasing federal dollars that funded other housing subsidy programs, and stricter state requirements to build homes for the lowest-income households. They also say the business is less profitable than it used to be.

But NPR and Frontline also found that little public accounting of the costs exists, even among government officials and regulators charged with monitoring the program. Some key lawmakers say that needs to change.

"My suspicion is, there's a lot of things wrong with the program," says Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "If you aren't following the money, how do you know if the low-income housing tax credit is working?"

How the low-income tax credit housing program works

The federal government used to build its own public housing, which still houses more than 2 million people today. The model was simple: The government built the apartment and became the landlord.

Some of the big, concrete high-rises became infamous for high rates of crime and their concentration of poverty. The government banned public housing construction in 1968 and began demolishing many of the buildings in the 1990s. But while direct federal construction went away, the need for new buildings did not.

From NPR's Archive

Demolished: The End Of Chicago Public Housing

So, in 1986, Congress developed a strategy to entice private businesses to build better affordable housing. That incentive came in the form of a tax credit. Since then, an $8 billion industry has evolved to help the government house the poor.

There are two types of tax credits, the smaller of which is financed by tax-exempt state and local bonds. NPR and Frontline focused our investigation on the largest part of the LIHTC program.

Here's how that tax credit works: Every year, the IRS distributes a pool of tax credits to state and local housing agencies. Those agencies pass them on to developers. The developers then sell the credits to banks and investors for cash. Often, to find investors, developers will use middlemen called syndicators.

The banks and investors get to take tax deductions, while the developers now have cash to build the apartments.

Because taxpayers essentially paid for the construction, the buildings can have much lower rent than market-rate developments.

"A very enduring public-private partnership"

The program is often described as a win-win. Low-income people receive well-built, affordable places to live, and private industry players — developers, syndicators and investors — make a profit for their involvement. Years later, the private industry continues to profit, but it's no longer clear whether the poor benefit as much as they could.

Betsy Julian and Mike Daniel, civil rights lawyers who have been investigating the program for years, say the thriving private industry is a sign that the scales may have tilted away from the tenants.

"It's a frightfully expensive way to provide low-income housing and it's got layers of profit built into it that we think we have to provide in order to get people to do something for poor people," Daniel says.

Julian says 30 years ago, attending affordable housing conferences was different than it is today.

"I have the feeling that I'm in the room with nothing but a bunch of rich guys and gals," she says. "That's an impression that has to do with the ambience and the sense that there's a lot of money to be made around affordable housing."

Betsy Julian, a civil rights lawyer who has been investigating the LIHTC program for years, says she has noticed a significant shift in the industry.Screenshot courtesy of Frontline (PBS)

Some attendees at a conference for the LIHTC industry last fall told NPR and Frontline that business is booming.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wrestling with Pigs

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Costly, Complex, and Corruption-Prone

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Costly, Complex, and Corruption-Prone

The federal government subsidizes housing through numerous tax and spending programs. One of the more inefficient programs is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). The program provides $9 billion a year in tax credits to support housing construction. The federal government distributes the credits to the states, which in turn award them to developers to cover part of the costs of constructing apartment buildings and other projects. In return, developers must cap rents for the units they set aside for low-income tenants.
The benefits of the LIHTC are supposed to flow through to tenants in the form of lower rents, but studies suggest that investors, developers, and financial companies gain most of the benefits. The program has complex administration, is prone to abuse, and produces costly low-income housing.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are considering major tax reforms aimed at reducing tax rates and ending unjustified tax breaks. They should consider repealing the LIHTC. It complicates the tax code and is a poorly targeted solution to housing affordability problems.
Instead of federal subsidies, a better way to reduce housing costs would be through state and local policy reforms. The states should reduce the burden of building and zoning regulations to increase the supply of housing, including multifamily housing for low-income tenants.

How the LIHTC Works

Congress enacted the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. That law aimed at simplifying the tax code and eliminating special breaks, but creating the LIHTC did the opposite.1
Under the program, the federal government allots $9 billion a year in tax credits to state housing agencies based on state populations.2 Then the agencies distribute credits to selected housing developers based on a complex and bureaucratic process. Developers who

Anal Probes Run Amok

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rebuttal to the Marinwood CSD response to public comment

It’s easy for officials to succumb to ‘group think’

Elected officials appointed to joint powers authorities and regional bodies can and often do find themselves being swept along with the momentum of “group think.” In the process, critical thinking and sound decision-making that reflects the needs and values of the constituency that elected them gives way to a “go-along-to-get-along” culture among elected peers.
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit chugs forward, despite evidence of inadequate planning and inefficient board oversight. In San Rafael, it is estimated that SMART will transport fewer than 200 passengers per day. Moving the transit center will disrupt bus service for 9,000 riders. When the trains cross Second and Third streets, tens of thousands of vehicles per day will be affected.
Yet San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips wasn’t able to get this item on the SMART agenda. SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian claims allowing time to address the problem will jeopardize $48 million in funding, so full-speed ahead.
Recently the Transportation Authority of Marin tried to build support to lift the sales tax cap that protects the public from excessive taxation and fiscal irresponsibility. They met a wall of resistance, but that hasn’t stopped them. Now TAM’s board has authorized $45,000 for a poll to “assess transportation needs,” which is like asking the public what transportation presents they’d like from Santa.
Not only is TAM eyeing our wallets, so are the authors of Senate Bill 1. This bill would increase taxes and fees, estimated to generate $6 billion more for transportation. To qualify for funds, local projects would be required to include “complete streets,” with walking and bike lanes, which often reduce motor vehicle lanes. This regressive tax would hit hardest the people least able to pay — small businesses with landscape or cleaning services that depend on a vehicle.
How have public agencies gotten out of synch with the people they are supposed to represent?
Elizabeth Kolbert, writer for the New Yorker, might have an answer. In her article titled “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds,” she describes “myside bias.” Myside bias is the tendency to stick with the beliefs of one’s primary group or closest affiliates. The desire to collaborate with peers takes precedence over facts and critical thinking.
Kolbert’s research traces the history of myside bias. “Our ancestors were primarily concerned with their social standing and with making sure they weren’t the ones risking their lives on the hunt while others loafed around in the cave. There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.”
The ill effects of myside bias in agencies like TAM and SMART is predictable. Individuals, well qualified to serve on the Board of Supervisors or as a city council member, get appointed to a joint powers authority. The complexities make it unrealistic to claim expertise, so the board relies on the executive director, who relies on consultants.
The “myside” relationships are deepened as elected officials spend time with each other at monthly mayors and council members’ dinners and at the SMART, TAM, MCE or other board meetings.
As their allegiance to their peer group of elected colleagues increases, their capacity to represent the point of view of their constituency diminishes.
What can we do to transform “myside bias”?
The nonprofit sector presents one model where the board is elected and comprised of subject matter, legal and financial experts, along with representatives from user and community groups. The civil grand jury provides another model for using well-researched findings to expose and challenge myside thinking. Still another model would be a role for community groups which organize geographically, like Sustainable TamAlmonte, or around issues, like Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans or the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers.
Thomas Watson Jr., former president of IBM, sums it up when he writes, “Thinking things through is hard work and it sometimes seems safer to follow the crowd. That blind adherence to such group thinking is, in the long run, far more dangerous than independently thinking things through.”
Our healthy democracy depends on balancing “myside” bias with an “our side” perspective.
Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley is a nonprofit consultant and core group member of the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers, or CO$T.

See Marin IJ article HERE

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Once there lived an ant and a grasshopper in a grassy meadow. All day long the ant would work hard, collecting grains of wheat from the farmer's field far away. She would hurry to the field every morning, as soon as it was light enough to see by, and toil back with a heavygrain of wheat balanced on her head. She would put the grain of wheat carefully away in her larder, and then hurry back to the field for another one. All day long she would work, without stop or rest, scurrying back and forth from the field, collecting the grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her larder.

The grasshopper would look at her and laugh. 'Why do you work so hard, dear ant?' he would say. 'Come, rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here, the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?' The ant would ignore him, and head bent, would just hurry to the field a little faster. This would make the grasshopper laugh even louder. 'What a silly little ant you are!' he would call after her. 'Come, come and dance with me! Forget about work! Enjoy the summer! Live a little!' And the grasshopper would hop away across the meadow, singing and dancing merrily.

Summer faded into autumn, and autumn turned into winter. The sun was hardly seen, and the days were short and grey, the nights long and dark.

It became freezing cold, and snow began to fall. The grasshopper didn't feel like singing any more. He was cold and hungry. He had nowhere to shelter from the snow, and nothing to eat. The meadow and the farmer's field were covered in snow, and there was no food to be had. 'Oh what shall I do? Where shall I go?' wailed the grasshopper.

Suddenly he remembered the ant. 'Ah - I shall go to the ant and ask her for food and shelter!' declared the grasshopper, perking up. So off he went to the ant's house and knocked at her door. 'Hello ant!' he cried cheerfully. 'Here I am, to sing for you, as I warm myself by your fire, while you get me some food from that larder of yours!' The ant looked at the grasshopper and said, 'All summer long I worked hard while you made fun of me, and sang and danced. You should have thought of winter then!

Find somewhere else to sing, grasshopper! There is no warmth or food for you here!' And the ant shut the door in the grasshopper's face.

It is wise to worry about tomorrow today.
Editor's perspective: The politicians will be wise to consider the jobs, water and schools people will before building thousands units of high density housing in Marin.


PLAYGROUND:あきちあそび from Ryosuke Oshiro on Vimeo.

Marin County Planning Commission receives staff report about he Stream Conservation Ordinance on May 13, 2013.  It was adopted shortly thereafter by the Board of Supervisors

The Difficulty of Mapping Streams and Creek Setbacks

Smears and Yellow Journalism at the Marin IJ

An Open Letter to the Marin IJ:

Wow, Richard Halstead did not waste any time trying to smear me. He was standing behind me in the registrars office yesterday and could have interviewed me why I would want to run-especially if his 2016 story was true. It was b.s. in 2016 and fully vetted by videotape proof. He didn't interview me then either. It is a sad day for the Marin IJ and journalism. 


"Another local race worth watching is the contest for two openings on the Marinwood Community Services District. So far, incumbent Bill Shea, Sivan Oyserman and Stephen Nestel, a passionate opponent of Plan Bay Area and increased housing densities, have declared their candidacies and filing for the district seats will remain open until Wednesday.
In 2016, Nestel, a vocal critic of the district who often videotapes meetings, got into a physical altercation with Justin Kai, a Marinwood CSD board member at the time, that resulted in Kai seeking a restraining order to keep Nestel away from him. The request for the restraining order was denied."

So based on nothing more than a one sided account by the "victim" and the judge throwing the matter out of court,  a front page, above the fold article runs in 2016 while burying a rape story on page 6.   
Have you no decency and respect for the profession of journalism?

I chose to ignore the matter in 2016.  In this internet age, the lie has reverberated with "gotcha" claims of wrongdoing.   The facts have not changed.  I was the victim of Justin Kai's aggression while walking my dogs in front of my house. He videotaped the encounter and based on the evidence, the judge threw it out of court.  Essentially, it is a non story of two people getting angry and walking away.
Why does the Marin IJ want to take sides in this matter?   Clearly, Mr. Halstead thinks smears can stop me from participating in local democracy.  
I am happy to speak with any fair minded reporter about my candidacy in Marinwood CSD.
My chief concern in Marinwood is a  maintenance shed compound that is being pushed without public oversight.  It violates the Stream Conservation Ordinance established in 2007 and is preposterously out of scale.  If built, it will be the most expensive maintenance shed for a three man crew in Marin County's history.

The Marinwood CSD shed "White Elephant" is a story of corruption, failed environmental policy and secret local government.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Trailer park millionaires: how to get rich on housing for the poor

Trailer park millionaires: how to get rich on housing for the poor

Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks at the expense of the country's poorest people. Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park for sex offenders.

Kansas offers incentives to lure people back to the plains

The Great Plains have been losing population since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. NewsHour travels to Kansas to find out about a state plan that offers incentives to attract new residents to Rural Opportunity Zones. Will deals on student loan reimbursement and state income taxes bring people to rural Kansas counties?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New regional taxes for Affordable Housing. MTC is after your wallet.

1. Lower voter threshold to 55% from 66% for infrastructure and affordable housing tax measures
2.Redevelopment agencies that use Tax increment financing. In other words, they redevelop the area and then tax everyone for the privilege of having their neighborhood destroyed.
3.New "Affordable Housing Authorities" that issue 45 year bonds without voter approval. "Capture" equity increase from real estate.
Nice little package of benefits for the affordable housing industry.
July 18, 2018 Outrageous request for more taxation to building so called affordable housing for people making up to $120,000 where the average household income is $89k. Middle class retirees and moderate income families will be force to subsidize WEALTHIER families that earn more than them. The "affordable housing" development industry is pushing hard to socialize housing costs to provide them funds to build. Does anyone stop and consider how dumb it is to do this? Tax the poor so the middle class can have more?

Why Fake News shouldnt be regulated

"Smart Growth Policies of High Density housing is failing in Minneapolis.

Feeling the heat, Minneapolis council members say 2040 plan must change

Members say the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan needs to strike a better balance. 
After 100 days of spirited meetings, e-mails, phone calls and yard sign slogans, Minneapolis City Council members say the plan for the future growth of the city needs significant changes.
Council members say the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan must strike a better balance of encouraging more dense development while avoiding the skyrocketing housing prices and displacement epidemics of cities like Seattle and San Francisco.
Even some backers of denser development expressed discomfort with the plan’s rezoning to allow fourplexes citywide and taller buildings along transit corridors.
The public comment period of the comprehensive plan ends Sunday, and council members must now consider the thousands of comments as they move toward a revised draft. So far, the discourse has been dominated by criticism from residents in neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes.
“Things are terrible,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano, whose south Minneapolis ward is lined with hundreds of lawn signs demanding: “Don’t bulldoze my neighborhood.”
“I have never heard from so many of these people. They are angry and freaked out.”
The draft is far from a final product. But several on the council say it will require significant changes to bring it to a version they will support, including a better plan to ensure housing will remain affordable.
Council Member Lisa Goodman said she’s been inundated with concerns from constituents who don’t feel the current plan justifies how more new multiunit housing will make housing cheaper. She’s heard from many who say they’re unsatisfied with the city’s “doublespeak” in trying to explain this piece of the policy.
“I have never seen this number of people as engaged out of fear as they are,” Goodman said. “And a lot of it has to do with this assertion that dramatically increasing density will automatically bring affordability.”
At a public meeting at the Uptown VFW in mid-July, hosted by Council President Lisa Bender, one woman cried as she expressed her support for the plan as a pathway to allowing more diversity in Minnesota’s largest city. Others booed, spoke out of turn and hurled insults at Bender and city staff.
Heather Worthington, the city’s director of long-range planning, acknowledged she did not have all the answers — and the work is far from over if the city will find a path to growth without succumbing to the unaffordability of other American cities.
“This is the beginning, not the end,” Worthington told the crowd, emphasizing the role of public engagement as the process moves forward. “I know Seattle didn’t get it right. Portland didn’t get it right. San Francisco didn’t get it right. I can’t point to a city that’s gotten it right yet.”
The crowd broke out into shouting and boos.
At the Minneapolis North Workforce Center last week, Fifth Ward Council Member Jeremiah Ellison hosted about 70 people, many of whom lamented the lack of economic development and investment in north Minneapolis.
“We don’t see anything in this plan that is going to actually make our living, our day-to-day lives — the litter, the crime, the graffiti, the drugs, the people driving like insane — there’s nothing being done now,” one resident said. “Why shall we trust this?”
Another resident, Bruce Center, said the plan would allow developers to build homes that current North Side residents won’t be able to afford.
“Your plan is absolutely guaranteed to drive down homeownership, and when you do this, you are also going to decimate neighborhood stability and you are going to concentrate poverty even further,” Center said.
“Now, if this is what you are trying to do,” he added, looking at Worthington, “you are doing a really good job. Maybe we kind of need a different plan.”
His remark brought a burst of applause from the crowd.
Ellison, who stood nearby, interjected as Worthington struggled to respond.
“Your comments have certainly stuck with me,” Ellison told Center. “Tonight is about being able to hear you and your frustration about the draft and being able to consider that as we are figuring out how to write another draft.”
Growing organically
Over the next two months, Worthington and city staff will work to synthesize the public feedback and present it to council members. They will come out with a second draft of the comprehensive plan in late September. A month later, the Minneapolis Planning Commission will hold a public hearing. The City Council will vote on the final draft in December.
City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder, whose 11th Ward includes nine neighborhoods in south Minneapolis, is among those not supporting the first draft’s zoning proposals.
Schroeder, whose resume includes decades of work on affordable housing, said he believes in creating room for more density, but worries the current plan would allow for “inorganic growth.” He said he doesn’t want to see a six-story apartment building erected next to a single-family home.
Schroeder has also heard the concerns that the plan will attract private developers who will take advantage of the new zoning codes without deference to the character or wishes of the neighborhood.
“I think that is a real concern, to make sure we’re holding developers accountable to the city’s goals,” he said. “And frankly the plan doesn’t have that yet.”
Council Member Andrew Johnson, who also represents a large swath of south Minneapolis, including housing around the Blue Line light rail, said he also has concerns that the draft plan allows for large structures in the wrong places. He doesn’t think it goes far enough in making room for more commercial spaces in his ward. But Johnson said it’s too early to take a position on an unfinished product designed to generate feedback.
“My gut tells me there’s going to be something in between what’s allowed today and what’s allowed in this first draft, and that’s where we’ll land,” he said.
Making housing affordable
Much of the debate comes down to how — and whether — the plan will actually translate to more affordable housing, and not just give developers license to build expensive apartments.
Bender said she would only support the final plan if it’s accompanied by an inclusionary zoning ordinance — a rule that would require large-scale developers to include affordable units in otherwise market-rate projects. Schroeder also said he believes some type of mechanism to encourage below-market-rate housing will be a necessary companion for the plan to succeed.