Saturday, May 12, 2018

Do you want your child to attend an Outdoor Preschool in Marinwood Park?

If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email to and

How Learning to Put on Rain Boots Leads to Academic Success

How Learning to Put on Rain Boots Leads to Academic Success

Catherine Koons Hubbard
It is easy to accept that a one-year-old baby is not yet able to dress herself unassisted, or to put on socks and shoes without help. Even people who do not spend their days working and playing with very young children understand that babies and toddlers follow a gradual progression in terms of motor development.
When discussing academics in early childhood, however, some policymakers and administrators often make the mistake of believing that earlier is better. They insist that early reading leads to greater success in the classroom, and they are eager to push so-called benchmark skills while ignoring the skills that ought to come first. 
As nature preschool teachers, we often find ourselves in the middle of this conversation. Parents who enroll their children in our programs are, for the most part, in favor of outdoor exploration and play. At the same time, they want their children to enter kindergarten with all the necessary tools to succeed. For many parents, this means a focus on math and literacy.  
Our own approach to school readiness, therefore, is not what they expect. We start by having children learn to put on their own rain boots.
We do not mean this in the metaphorical sense. We mean it quite literally. Managing rain boots – or socks, or even warm-weather sandals with straps - are an important part of the kindergarten readiness process.
Learning how to dress one’s self falls into what occupational therapists call “Activities of Daily Living”. ADL skills include self-feeding, toileting, and personal hygiene, such as blowing one’s own nose. Those of us who teach in nature-based classrooms appreciate that learning to care for one’s personal needs while also playing outdoors is not easy. In our program, which takes place in Wisconsin, there are coats, hats, and scarves to manage; there can be emergency bathroom needs; and then there’s the challenge of blowing one’s nose on a chilly day while wearing waterlogged mittens.  
We understand that mastering ADL skills takes time and will vary based on individual needs. Nevertheless, we have seen that, as children gain confidence in caring for themselves, they also develop an increasing level of comfort and confidence in being in nature.
We place a great deal of value on self-efficacy at our nature preschool, that is, on children knowing that they have the skills they need to navigate new situations. Unlike self-esteem, which often depends on praise from others, self-efficacy develops when children have opportunities to discover their personal strengths. These will range from child to child. Some children discover an aptitude for balancing on logs and ice. Others develop empathy for animals. Still others are good at making friends, at playing cooperatively, or at solving problems. It is our hope that by the end of the year, they all feel confident in their ability to put on their own rain pants and boots.
Many children, especially those who have just turned three, are new to helping themselves. We do not advocate simply leaving them to figure it out unassisted. However, when parents ask, “But will they be prepared for school?” while simultaneously pulling socks onto feet and lifting feet into boots, we realize that we need to be better at sharing the importance of foundational skills.   
Foundational skills in the preschool years include developing large and fine motor skills, developing self-regulation, learning to follow directions, and learning how to think through problems. Teaching a child to put on his own gear encompasses all of these. 
As children learn to dress themselves, they are strengthening physical development, improving coordination and memory, and learning spatial and body awareness. Learning to manipulate one’s own gear also serves the very practical purpose of freeing up parents’ and teachers’ time, while enabling children to fix any problems that may occur when playing outdoors, such as dislodging pebbles and sand from their boots or taking off mittens.
We do understand that this process takes time, time that often feels unavailable. A parent frequently has to make a choice between letting a child struggle with boots and being twenty minutes late for school. That is one the reasons we have made teaching children how to put on, and take off, their outdoor gear an active part of our preschool curriculum. Rather than feel that the time we spend on our boots is keeping us from other activities, we try to view the process as an important activity unto itself. 
It is worth noting that because our program begins outdoors, children at our nature preschool start by learning to take their outer gear off. This works well, as taking gear off tends to be easier, and because it fits in nicely with our daily routine. We will proceed, however, to putting outer gear on when we feel the children are developmentally ready.
In October of 2015, journalist Kimberly Marselas wrote an article called “Losing Our Grip: More Students Entering Schools without Fine Motor Skills”. It quickly made the rounds on social media, highlighting an alarming trend in which kindergarten teachers reported that a growing number of children lacked the basic motor skills of previous generations. They did not have the hand strength to manipulate glue bottles or manage paper and pencils. They were unsure how to cut with scissors. Several children lacked the adequate trunk strength to sit still for extended periods. One of the reasons given, beyond the increase in screen time, was a decrease in unstructured outdoor free play. Unstructured is the key word here: outside time is not enough. The freedom to play in a nebulous way is something all children need. 
If children lack the hand strength and coordination needed to manage paper and scissors, and if, at age five, they are still clutching their pencils in their fists, we are not setting them up for academic success; we are setting them up for occupational therapy. 
This is why we have a made a point of communicating to our families the multiple ways in which nature-based play supports large and fine motor development. We explain that by pulling caps off acorns, shucking corn, and building fairy houses in the woods, the children are strengthening their fine motor skills. When they use sweep nets, pond nets, and rake up leaves, their core strength improves, along with their muscles and stamina. And when we encourage children to manage, with as little help as possible, their own outdoor gear and rain boots, they are developing not only motor dexterity and strengthening body awareness, but are also growing in confidence and self-sufficiency. They are learning not to give up when faced with new challenges. They are learning that even things that are difficult at first get easier with repetition. This is what leads to academic success. Just imagine how well your children will do, we tell parents, knowing that on the first day of kindergarten they have the necessary skills to put on their very own rain boots.
About the Author
Catherine Koons Hubbard is Preschool Director at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, in Milwaukee, WI.

If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email and

At 'Nature Preschools,' Classes Are Outdoors

At 'Nature Preschools,' Classes Are Outdoors

At Audubon Nature Preschool, a "classroom" can be a pond, a bamboo forest, a meadow, or a garden. That's because Audubon is a "nature preschool"—one of a growing number of preprimary schools where children spend all or part of their days outdoors.
Five years ago, only a couple dozen such schools operated in the United States. Today, there are close to 250, according to the Natural Start Alliance, a coalition supporting early-childhood and environmental education.
The surge in nature preschools can be partially attributed to Richard Louv's decade-old best-seller, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Louv, a journalist and author, theorizes that the shift toward nature-based education is happening quickly at the pre-K level because preschools can be less structured than K-12 schools.
"Many preschools are private or independent, so there's more flexibility there," he said in an interview.
Louv coined the term "nature-deficit disorder" to describe the price of humans' isolation from nature, including "diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses."
Louv's ideas come at a time when the prevailing trend in schools is toward more academic instruction. And many believe the level of academic rigor has ratcheted up because of the Common Core State Standards.
"Teachers are so tired of the direction that much of education has been going toward," Louv said, "toward more and more testing, toward canceling recess, toward longer school hours, toward anything but real experience in the real world."

A Different Pedagogy

In San Diego, Susan Seiguer, the founder and lead teacher at All Friends Nature School, has used the early-childhood-education program "Growing Up Wild" as her curricular guidepost.
She also borrows the pedagogy of a Waldkindergarten, or forest school. At these schools, children between the ages of 3 and 6 spend their days outdoors, either in a forest or some other natural environment.
Students and teachers gather at the Audubon Nature Preschool in Chevy Chase, Md. Pupils begin their days outside, come together for a morning circle, and then head to learning centers. The day ends with a story and a hike.
Students and teachers gather at the Audubon Nature Preschool in Chevy Chase, Md. Pupils begin their days outside, come together for a morning circle, and then head to learning centers. The day ends with a story and a hike.
—Julie Depenbrock/Education Week
All Friends enrolls 11 children, with one teacher for every four to six students.
"All of our days are spent outside, rain or shine," Seiguer said. "There is no facility."
"Some days we spend our afternoons building a shelter so we have a shady spot to eat our lunch or just to play in," she said. "Other days we may go on a bug hunt and see how many different types of insects are living around us, counting the different types and learning their names."
While San Diego's temperate climate may provide an ideal location for outdoor education, nature preschools have also cropped up in places with more extreme weather.
"One of the big things we say in the nature-based-education world is there's no such thing as bad weather, only poor choices in clothing," said Madison Powell, the director of the Chippewa Nature Preschool in Midland, Mich.
Every Chippewa student has a pair of waterproof, head-to-toe coveralls, as well as boots, gloves, hats, scarves, balaclavas, and changes of clothes and shoes for "indoor" school. Children spend about half the day outside, barring hazardous weather.
"If it's dangerous to be outside—if it's dangerous to be in the elements—then we are inside," Powell said. "We're not throwing them outside just because we're a nature preschool and we say we have to."
At Chippewa, four-day preschool costs around $355 per month. Eligible parents in Michigan can apply for tuition-free preschool through the state-funded Great Start Readiness Program. The Chippewa Nature Center also provides scholarship funding, so no family pays more than 5 percent of its household income.
Powell said about half of the 140 students enrolled receive some form of financial aid.

School Without Walls

At Fiddleheads Forest School in Seattle, co-director Kit Harrington said she keeps enrollment low to strengthen relationships with families. This year, 42 students are enrolled and 180 are in a "waitpool." (Tuition at Fiddleheads ranges from $330 to $780 a month.)
Like All Friends Nature School, Fiddleheads has no building affiliated with its program. Students retreat to a heated greenhouse—which has electricity and running water—when high winds make it impossible to be outside.
Otherwise, students' "classrooms" are two forest groves in the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.
"We sort of are a bridge in between what may be considered a more typical forest school approach and a more structured approach," said Harrington, a former Montessori teacher. She co-directs the preschool with Sarah Heller, whose background is in environmental education.
In winter, Fiddleheads students hike and explore the arboretum, learning about natural science.
"We follow an arc of the year," Harrington said.
"At the start of the school year, we really emphasize grounding the children in the environment, helping them connect with the space, developing a foundational awareness of themselves in relation to the environment," she said, "giving them language to describe their emotional and physical states, as well as giving them an awareness of the expectations of the setting so they are empowered to have ownership over caring for the space and caring for each other."
In the decade since Last Child in the Woods was published, the volume of studies on nature-deficit disorder and the effects of green spaces on school-age children has grown, Louv said.
A 2009 study from England's University of Essex, for example, concludes that "participating in physical activity and experiencing nature play an important role in positively influencing our health and well-being."
"Yet," the authors go on to say, "physical activity levels have dropped dramatically, and inactivity results in 1.9 million deaths worldwide annually, roughly 1 in 25 of all deaths."

'Containerized' Children

Likewise, Jane Clark, the dean of public health at the University of Maryland College Park, argues that the current generation of children has been made sedentary—"containerized" in strollers, car seats, high-chairs, and all manner of accident-preventive secure seating, which allows them little free movement.
"When they get to day care—I used to say—if a parent could just pass their child through the window, they would," Clark said.
Clark drew a diagram from a study in which three generations were asked where they played as children. The grandparent drew a radius around the house, extending several miles in each direction. The parent's circle was smaller, but still included much of the neighborhood and the surrounding woods. Finally, the child drew a circle with just the house and the backyard.
There are a lot of reasons for the shrinking play space, Louv said: the advent of "stranger danger"—parents' perceptions of threats to their children from strangers, increasing urbanization, and the strong pull of technology-based and indoor entertainment.
The schools are not without some criticism, though. "Certainly there are many potential benefits to outdoor education, and they provide an important alternative to the increasing and troubling amount of 'seatwork' and teacher-directed learning that young children are faced with in preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten settings," said Fikile Nxumalo, an assistant professor of early-childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin.
But she is "also concerned about prevailing romanticized engagements with nature in many of these schools—where there is this assumed 'natural' connection between children and nature, and where nature is seen as primarily a site for child development."
Nxumalo favors nature preschools that take a more complex view of the environment and define nature education "within current ecological challenges"—for example, discussing what it means to live ethically with animals deemed "pests" and dealing with litter in the natural environment.

Problem of Access

Though she believes nature schools are a step in the right direction, Nxumalo also sees room for improvement, especially in ease of access to these schools for many urban and economically disadvantaged children.
"I think part of the risk of 'nature preschool as passing trend' is that nature preschool remains something that is not widely accessible to children and families from economically marginalized communities," Nxumalo said. "I think this needs to change."
Louv is hopeful that the more principals, administrators, and school boards get involved, the better chance nature-based education has of reaching the masses.
As for environmental barriers, he contends that even in the densest of cities, nature can be found. It may be less sprawling than it is in the countryside, but it's there—and it's vital.
"Much of our pathology, I think, as a species is we think we can go it alone. The immersion in species not our own is extraordinarily important. This is who we are—it's part of our biology, part of our humanity," Louv said.
At Maryland's Audubon Nature Preschool, located on 40 acres of nature sanctuary, students spend as much time as possible outdoors,said Director Stephanie Bozzo.
"The curriculum emerges from what the children are interested in, but we have a broad idea of which spots on our sanctuary are most appealing during the different seasons," Bozzo said.
Days at Audubon, which costs an average of nearly $800 per month, follow a familiar rhythm. Each morning, children begin outside, come together for a morning circle, and go to learning centers where they move through preplanned activities. Then, they read a story and end the day with a hike.
If the weather is nice and no one complains, Bozzo said, they might spend the entire day outdoors.
Airen Hall has had two sons attend Audubon. Before moving to the area, she said, her oldest had gone to a traditional nursery school in Syracuse, N.Y.
"In our experience, the difference goes far beyond just the kids spending a lot of time outside," Hall said. "The most important differences are in the whole philosophy of the program. [Audubon] is just such a learning-rich environment. They encourage the kids to ask a lot of questions and explore and be curious."
Audubon parents choose from five different classes: Acorns, Sprouts, Saplings, and Oaks. Acorns have class once a week for 90 minutes on the sanctuary grounds. Sprouts and Saplings divide their three hours between indoor and outdoor activities. Oaks, dubbed forest "kindergartners," meet four days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and spend half the day outside.
Bozzo tries to keep the children's boundaries wide—"wider than typical teachers are comfortable letting children explore," she said.
"Children don't necessarily feel like they're being watched at all times, which we think is very central to our mission—that children are exploring on their own and what they gravitate towards is whatever they're intrinsically interested in," Bozzo said.
And each day is different.
"That's the beauty of nature—that it's surprising and it's dynamic," Bozzo said

If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email to and

An Amazing Natural Playground next to Miller Creek can be built for our Children

Instead of old equipment, piles of debris and a rusty truck in Marinwood Park maintenance area here our children can have an amazing natural playground next to Miller Creek

A natural playground with a "Miwok Village" theme can be built on the same site as the original 5000 year old Miwok Village at the current maintenance area in Marinwood Park.  All it takes is a little imagination and will power.  It will cost tens of thousands of dollars less than a conventional playground and can even be built with volunteer labor.   

Why should Marinwood settle for less?  

We live in the most beautiful family environment in the North Bay. 
Our children deserve better.

The playground may have a Miwok Indian theme on the very site of a 5000 year old Miwok village next to Miller Creek. More ideas for natural huts HERE

Children love to explore water, creating dams, racing boats and more. A water feature can be easily built.
A simple structure like this provides hours of imaginative play. 

This slide with thoughtful landscaping is safe for all ages.

A cluster of tepees invites the imagination and fanciful stories.  It is also a climbing structure.

Just a cluster of logs invite physical challenge while minimizing risk. Artfully arranged, it can serve as a sculpture for everyone to enjoy.

Organic building materials can be found in the adjoining woods at no cost. 

This preschool playground is fun for young and imaginative.

Even a fallen log can provide fun.

Kids love to climb and explore. The first step is getting our children outdoors.
More Natural Playground Ideas on Pinterest  HERE

If you want a nature playground in Marinwood Park send an email to: and

The Maintenance Shed trash dump, parking lot and materials pile up.

Why are we allowing this in our precious park?
 A rusty dump truck is parked just yards from Miller Creek
 Landscaping waste is allowed to sit for weeks.
 Wood chip piles from our operations and OUTSIDE landscapers waste is often dumped here.

 Endless piles of debris have been allowed to accumulate.  Just a few short years ago this was a nice grassy area where people could gather.
 It is claimed that we "save money" by buying in bulk but the visual cost to the community is never accounted for. We need to return to the practice of only ordering materials as needed. Would you allow a contractor to store materials on your lawn?
Trash begets trash. Spare parts and implements are left in the open to rust.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Marinwood Park AFTER Mowing on the Nature Trail

Is this landscaping care or assault?

In the name of "safety" all natural beauty is destroyed.

Is this a park or a construction site?

No flower, grass or living thing was spared.

All living things mowed down in 50 foot path

Dump truck left parked over the weekend in the picnic area.
Why not park it at the maintenance shed?

Marinwood Park nature trail BEFORE and AFTER it was mowed down

The Marinwood CSD mower slashed away the flowers, plants, grasses and wildlife along the nature trail leaving a moonscape behind.  Some residents think this is necessary to control fires, ticks, poison oak and foxtails.   It will provide only temporary relief but it actually encourages stronger regrowth and spreads the seeds.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to control nature without stripping away all that is beautiful.  For residents wishing to minimize dangers of nature, we suggest walking on a city sidewalk.  But of course, you will need to watch for broken glass and speeding cars.

I believe that Marinwood Park and Open Space is special BECAUSE of the natural areas. They should be managed in a sensitive manner to preserve the ecology of the park.  Sadly, another brutish attack on the nature trail has spoiled it for now.

White Men tell us how "Redevelopment on Steriods" aka SB827 will be good for communities of color.

In California’s gentrification debates, white men from liberal media silence people of color

NOTE: I’m white. That doesn’t mean I can’t call these writers and media corporations on their structurally racist bullsh*t.

Through April 20, there were 29 articles in total published about California’s proposed YIMBY upzoning bill, SB 827, across Vox, the LA Times, the NY Times, NY Magazine, CityLab (run by The Atlantic), and Slate. Every single one was written by a white person, or multiple white people. Excluding the two pieces written by the LA

All the people who wrote articles on SB 827 for Vox, the LA Times, NY Times, NY Magazine, CityLab, and Slate. (The two women are from the LA Times’ Editorial Board)

Times’ Editorial Board — 7 out of 9 members are white — these articles were exclusively written by white men.

Such overwhelming whiteness in these big media corporations is of course a huge problem in itself. But at the very least, these authors could’ve looked to the knowledge and experiences of organizations rooted in communities of color that have been fighting gentrification and a permanent housing crisis for decades.

Yet, in a shameful collective display of white arrogance, worries about gentrification and displacement were minimized or disregarded entirely as the writers nearly unanimously put forth supply-side analyses of the housing crisis.

My (extremely charitable) interpretation of why this happened: these white authors are blinded by their race and class.

SB 827 was dubbed “Urban Renewal 2.0” by the Black Community, Clergy, and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), and was vehemently opposed by nearly everysingle tenants’, anti-gentrification, and low-income advocacy organizationacross the state that took a stance on the proposed legislation. A coalition of 37 progressive grassroots organizations from LA, for example, argued that the bill would “exacerbate the very issue it seeks to remedy, especially in low-income communities and communities of color.” Meanwhile, it was supported by reactionaries like the California Apartment Association, the California and LA Chambers of Commerce, and tech CEOs.

But this was not the picture presented to the millions of readers of these mainstream liberal publications. The authors of these articles consistently framed SB 827 as a courageous and progressive approach, if perhaps slightly flawed, that would make huge advances towards ending California’s housing crisis — if only those cranky NIMBY (“Not In My BackYard”) homeowners would get out of the way.

These authors think of themselves as objective arbiters of truth, but their worlds — the newsfeeds they scroll through each day — are filled with other upper-class white people and their perspectives. Matt Yglesias is more likely to engage with worthless pundits like Josh Barro and this economist from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center than he is to read material published by Causa Justa, Right to the City Alliance, or Defend Boyle Heights (check out this article).

They live in a lily-white bubble, and this shapes how they learn about issues and whose knowledge they consider legitimate, resulting in the shallow, white-centric understandings of gentrification and the housing crisis that we get from these pieces.
A “housing bill” or a “displacement bill”?

Right off the bat, the framing of SB 827 as a sweeping solution to the housing crisis, and the near-universal presumption that this bill would actually make things better, shows what perspective these journalists are writing from.

Headlines abound with language like: “SB 827, a sweeping new bill that addresses California’s housing crisis” (Vox); “Sacramento’s sweeping housing bill” (LA Times); and “momentum builds for radical action on housing”(CityLab). Even otherwise nuanced takes on the damaging impacts of SB 827, like this one from Liam Dillon at the LA Times, is misleadingly and patronizingly titled “A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong.” You have to read past “major” housing bill that “aimed to help” these ungrateful residents opposing SB 827, before getting to a hint of the bill’s failure.

The presumption that SB 827 would actually improve the housing situation seems to underlie most of the reporting beyond the headlines. For typical examples of this, look at the first few sentences from these two articles by the LA Times and NY Times — though the winner in this category is surely this article by Henry Grabar of Slate, which says explicitly in the headline that SB 827 would “solve state housing crisis.”

It’s not that these characterizations are plainly wrong. They could be true, but only from the vantage point of those that can afford to live in the new units that would result from SB 827.

For others, this bill spells intensified displacement and the loss of their communities, as argued by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Housing California, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation: “SB 827 will fuel the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color by investors and speculators who seek to build higher-income developments. Even with the March 1st amendments, nothing in the bill prevents or mitigates both the direct and indirect displacement that will occur as a result of the proposal.”

But not once do we see SB 827 referred to as a “gentrification bill” or a “displacement bill.” It’s clear whose opinions are really being reflected in this coverage.

Even when concerns about gentrification and displacement are mentioned, they tend to be mid-way down the article, and they certainly don’t capture the stakes involved in what is fundamentally a life-or-death struggle for entire communities. The journalists act as if mentioning opposition from poor people and people of color is a box they have to check before moving on.

(Finally, some articles act as if there is no opposition at all from low-income communities, completely ignoring their existence. See these two from Matt Yglesias, and pieces by Thomas Edsall and these three YIMBYs that were given platforms by the LA Times and CityLab.)
“Capitalism works for me, so it will work for you, too”

Another troubling pattern involves the supply-side understandings of gentrification and the housing crisis that we get from nearly every single author. Look at how the default framing in all these articles is that the current crisis is caused fundamentally by a lack of supply. “Almost everyone agrees”that California has an “acute” or “longstanding” or “severe housing shortage” due to the “basic problem [that] it is difficult to build housing in California.

Meanwhile, they ignore inconvenient facts that seriously complicate this interpretation, like Oakland, New York City, and San Diego County all possessing more vacant homes than homeless people, and the state of California sitting on a surplus of 300,000 units for renters with above-moderate incomes. They don’t ever mention the role of AirBnB in taking units off the market and driving up rents, nor the foreign investors and Wall St. firms (like the private equity giant, Blackstone) pouring billions of dollars into urban housing markets. (Here’s a notable exception from Benjamin Schneider.)

Ultimately, they completely discount alternative analyses that argue forcefully that capitalist institutions — and the system of capitalism itself — built on a political economy embedded in white supremacy, lie at the root of the crisis. For example, this 80-page report from Right to the City Alliance states plainly that “corporate and individual control of property to maximize private gain is the fundamental problem with the current housing model.”

BCCLA’s statement also directly refutes these supply-side theories: “It is an insult to your own intelligence and to our history of struggle to suggest that the powerful financial interests that every day evict us, engage in predatory lending, and rob us of our limited wealth are suddenly in favor of policies to break up their lucrative system that profits from our continued oppression and exploitation.”

But capitalism has been good to these white guys. They worked their way up our so-called meritocracy and now have jobs writing for big media companies. Again we can see how their race and class shape how they see the world, and lead to their analyses that tell us the way to solve the housing crisis is to expand the reach of the market, that we shouldn’t focus on the people and corporate institutions making a killing off of squeezing and displacing poor people, and that strategies like rent control actually do more harm than good. Meanwhile the profit (and eviction, and displacement, and resegregation) machine keeps on spinning.
Who wins?

Ultimately, the narratives coming out of these large media corporations benefit the powerful white people and white-dominated institutions that make enormous sums of money actively investing in real estate. They also serve to comfort a large portion of their readership, white yuppie city-dwellers who, instead of being made to feel like they’re partaking in a destructive system rooted in “capitalism, white supremacy, and colonialism,”can simply think of themselves as rational consumers in a housing market with artificially constrained supply.

I’m not saying this is conspiratorial. Matt Yglesias doesn’t ignore the existence of people of color that disagree with him and write trash takes on gentrification because he’s in cahoots with real estate interests and gentrifiers. And the larger problem of the whiteness of corporate media is in large part structural, a product of these media companies existing as capitalist institutions and being accountable only to their shareholders.

But we should be aware of who profits when all these white writers refuse to even consider arguments that label racial capitalism as a fundamental part of the problem, and downplay concerns over displacement. There are material consequences when these are the narratives seen by influential people that read these liberal publications. In this case, real estate investors win, and poor people and people of color lose.

Update 2:23pm 5/10/2018: This piece has been edited to include specific reference to “A major California housing bill failed after opposition from the low-income residents it aimed to help. Here’s how it went wrong” by Liam Dillon. -Knock Editors

Editor's Note: In general, I think there is far more ignorance of cultures than outright racism. The author does have valid points that much of the coverage is from elite, college educated urbanists who ASSUME their plans improve lives. They are not listening.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Is it Worth Saving Our Community from Urban Development?

Marinwood CSD May 2018 Meeting. More Mayhem from Marin's Most Entertaining politicians

Jeff Naylor prohibits public communication with CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen, Board issues threat to arrest public who offend them, Firehouse project still delayed. Largest Budget in history approved without much discussion, Custom Maintenance Shed proposal discussed IGNORING input from public  in April 2017. and more rollicking fun, from the  Marinwood CSD

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Scott Adams sees the future with Elon Musk’s help.

Elon Musk Outlines Plan to Get Into the Brick-Making Business

Elon Musk Outlines Plan to Get Into the 
Brick-Making Business

The billionaire promises materials for affordable housing, but it’s unclear how much supply they will create.By

Sarah McBride
May 7, 2018, 3:58 PM PDT Updated on May 7, 2018, 6:02 PM PDT

Elon Musks's Boring Company to Get Into the Brick-Making Business

Move over, candy and flamethrowers. Elon Musk tweeted out plans Monday for yet another side venture: alleviating the nation's housing crisis.

"The Boring Company will be using dirt from tunnel digging to create bricks for low-cost housing," he wrote in a tweet about his nascent tunneling enterprise.

A company spokesman confirmed the plans, saying the bricks will come from the "excavated muck," and that "there will be an insane amount of bricks.” Musk has also suggested he has plans to sell them, and the company said future Boring Co. offices will be constructed from the company’s own bricks.

How many affordable housing units those bricks will create, though, is a different matter, says Juan Matute, a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, and associate director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies.

Musk’s tweet "assumes that housing costs are driven by construction materials, and particularly, construction materials that can be replaced by bricks," Matutue said. "That's not the case." At least in California, the only state where Boring Co. has started digging a tunnel, land and labor drive prices more than anything else.

Going forward, a spokesman said, the company plans to make bricks out of excavated mud from all Boring Co. tunnels, not just the one currently under construction in Hawthorne, California, on land owned by Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

When it comes to actual housing construction, bricks tend to be expensive, in part because assembling brick walls takes more work than other options, such as putting up panels. And because bricks don’t stand up well to earthquakes, a major concern in fault-riddled California, building codes typically require buttresses such as reinforced steel and rebar when bricks are used.

On its website, Boring Co. says bricks could potentially also replace concrete in a portion of its tunnels' linings, which it says would help the environment as concrete production creates significant greenhouse gas emissions.

Musk seemed well aware of the possible risks in a separate plan for the tunneling byproduct that he tweeted out in March. Boring Co. could soon sell "life-size LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures and buildings," he wrote. "Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong."

Another potential hurdle: Chemicals have contaminated much of the land under Los Angeles. Any contaminants showing up in the excavated Boring Co. soil would complicate efforts to make that material into bricks used for housing.

Challenges around the idea may not prevent Musk—who has a track record of delivering on projects that others dismiss—from getting it done, Matute said.

"That doesn't mean the Boring Company can't buy some land and build a few low-cost houses, with a partner like Habitat for Humanity," Matute said. "And say, 'Look what we did.'"

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


CO$T’s Board Unanimously OPPOSES REGIONAL MEASURE 3 (on June 2018 Bay Area Ballots) 

COST (Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers,  5/7/18

The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers — a nonprofit non-partisan advocacy group protecting the rights and interests of Marin taxpayers – urges voting NO ON Regional Measure 3. 
RM-3, a huge money grab by an out-of-control, un-elected regional planning agency, proposes to increase tolls on most Bay Area Bridges by $3…. followed by additional unspecified “inflation” increases to tolls that go on forever.   Funds are supposed to go to a wide variety of road, ped/bike, and mass transit projects. 
RM-3 violates several CO$T criteria: Necessity; accountability; fiscal prudence; fairness; and sunset dates for all measures with built-in escalators.  RM-3  also seriously undermines Marin’s ability to plan for development that’s consistent with our local infrastructure capacity. 
Unnecessary and Redundant – How many times will we pay for the same thing?  $50 billion over 10 years will be raised from the just enacted big increases in California’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees.  These too claim to pay for transportation projects.  These too “inflate” forever.  Plus, here in Marin we already have a Transportation Authority of Marin ½ cent sales tax and a SMART train ¼ cent sales tax.  Each of these promises to reduce congestion and improve roads.   Have you seen any improvement?  Enough already!
Unfairly Regressive – RM-3 raises the annual cost of bridge crossing for the average worker $750, to about $2,000 per year.  That’s about $2700/year in pretax income just for bridge tolls to get to work.  Many workers don’t have a practical mass transit option.
Unequal Burden – Why should bridge commuters fund the entire burden of MTC’s increased local transportation funding scheme?  Those who don’t cross bridges, use transit, or bicycle get a free ride.
Unaccountable – RM-3 funds will be administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has consolidated power as a regional planning agency (controlling/mandating development as well as transportation funding).  It’s an un-elected agency that uses the power of its purse to force its preferred transportation “solution” and high density development mandates.
Uncoordinated – MTC markets RM-3 as the “Bay Area Traffic Relief Plan.”  There is no coordinated plan. And it won’t reduce congestion.  The project is a Christmas tree with each County given a few shiny ornaments – projects that poll well with local voters.
Promises, promises – There’s no guarantee that projects will be completed, particularly if the costs come in way above initial estimates (a hallmark of the most high profile MTC projects, like the 10-years-late, structurally flawed, $6.4 billion Bay Bridge initially promised at $1 billion).  Marin voters are dangled the prospect of $135 million for a direct 101/580 connector.  What happens when the bids/cost come in much higher?   More waiting.  More tax measures promising a fix.
Uncontrolled spending –   There are no binding limits on MTC’s spending, project priorities, or the time-frames for completion (if ever).  MTC spends lavishly on itself, most notably a recent $258 million move of its headquarters from affordable, racially diverse, Oakland to expensive new San Francisco digs.  MTC is the lead agency responsible for the Richmond San Rafael bridge fiasco: commuters demanding reopening of extra lanes were held hostage for years while MTC developed a $60 million plan to reconfigure the bridge to give half the unused capacity to cyclists.
No free lunch for Marin.  Golden Gate Bridge tolls aren’t subject to RM-3.  But if it passes, the financially stretched GGB Authority will almost certainly raise tolls $3 too.

Steamrolls Marin –  RM-3 is the latest, and most audaciously overreaching, in a series of regional ballot measures that seriously threaten Marin’s future.  Ballot counts are combined across the entire 9 County Bay Area.  Marin’s votes get lost in the rounding.  RM-3 is likely to pass because the South Bay and San Francisco have huge voter numbers, few bridge commuters, and attractive project promises from MTC.  RM-3’s passage  increases MTC’s clout to force transit-oriented development along Marin’s highways, trains, and bus routes – potentially overwhelming capacity of our local schools, streets, water, sewer, and public safety services.