Saturday, July 21, 2018

Free Speech-our DUTY to offend

Lucas Valley Office Building Sold to Multifamily Housing Developer?

The massive Wincup project in Corte Madera took everyone by surprise.  Is mixed use development at Big Rock Deli next?

The Marin IJ is reporting the sale of an office complex on Mt. Lassen Drive.  It has never been a prosperous office complex.  Since it is adjacent to the Big Rock Deli affordable housing parcel, I expect that the new owner plans to demolish the office and develop high density mixed use housing at this prime site.  See the Marin IJ story HERE.

Elvis is bad

Friday, July 20, 2018

Garage doors don't have to be boring. Try these vinyl stickers.

The Localist Revolution

The Localist Revolution

Sometimes, it pays off to sweat the small stuff.

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
We’ve tried liberalism and conservatism and now we’re trying populism. Maybe the next era of public life will be defined by a resurgence of localism.
Localism is the belief that power should be wielded as much as possible at the neighborhood, city and state levels. Localism is thriving — as a philosophy and a way of doing things — because the national government is dysfunctional while many towns are reviving. Politicians in Washington are miserable, hurling ideological abstractions at one another, but mayors and governors are fulfilled, producing tangible results.
Localism is also thriving these days because many cities have more coherent identities than the nation as a whole. It is thriving because while national politics takes place through the filter of the media circus, local politics by and large does not. It is thriving because we’re in an era of low social trust. People really have faith only in the relationships right around them, the change agents who are right on the ground.
Since it will probably be the coming wave, I thought it might be useful to make a few notes on localism:
Localism is truly a revolution. It literally means flipping the power structure. For the past several decades, money, talent and power have flowed to the centers of national power. Politicians tried to ascend to national office as they advanced their careers. Smart young people flocked to national universities, and then to New York and D.C. The federal government assumed greater and greater control of American life.
But under localism, the crucial power center is at the tip of the shovel, where the actual work is being done. Expertise is not in the think tanks but among those who have local knowledge, those with a feel for how things work in a specific place and an awareness of who gets stuff done. Success is not measured by how big you can scale, but by how deeply you can connect.
Under localism, national politicians are regarded like generals in Tolstoy novels. They move pieces around the board, but the actual battle is nothing like what they imagine. Wise young people leave the centers for towns where they can make a visible difference.
Localism is not federal power wielded on a smaller scale. It’s a different kind of power. The first difference is epistemological. The federal policymaker asks, “What can we do about homelessness?” The local person asks Fred or Mary what they need in order to have a home. These different questions yield different results.
The federal person sees things that can be reduced to data. The local person sees things that can be reduced to data but also things that cannot.
The second difference is relational. Federal power is impersonal, uniform, abstract and rule-oriented. Local power is personalistic, relational, affectionate, irregular and based on a shared history of reciprocity and trust. A national system rewards rational intelligence. A local system requires emotional intelligence, too.
Change happens differently. Federal change often means big shifts quickly, such as when a big law is passed after a long debate, like Obamacare or tax reform. Local change happens more gradually, more iteratively. There’s a legacy system, like a public school, a grocery story or an investment fund. Somebody breaks free from the system and creates an innovative alternative, like a charter school, an organic farm market or a crowdsource campaign. As Leo Linbeck of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism describes, the new innovators “announce the availability of the upgrade and then allow users to choose when to make the switch.” There’s a conversation between the legacy system and the innovator, as the former learns from and adapts to the alternative. Change happens through the conversation between old and new.
There is a different division of labor for making change. As impact investor Deborah Frieze put it in a 2015 TEDx talk, change is led by Walk Outs. These are people who leave the legacy system and pioneer new alternatives. Then there are Illuminators. These are people who analyze and bring attention to the change that is now available.
I’d highlight two other social roles. Elders are the city mothers and fathers who hold sway in the town because of their established positions. The Elders support the Walk Outs, make room for them and reform old systems. Then there are Network Entrepreneurs. They link the Walk Outs, who tend to be lonely, overworked and short-staffed. They help the Walk Outs build a support system and a way to exchange knowledge and care.
Change in a localist world often looks like a renewal of old forms, which were often more intimate and personalistic than the technocratic structures of the past 50 years. Localism stands for the idea that there is no one set of solutions to diverse national problems. Instead, it brings conservatives and liberals together around the thought that people are happiest when their lives are enmeshed in caring face-to-face relationships, building their communities together.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
David Brooks became an Op-Ed columnist in 2003. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday. He is currently a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and is also a best-selling author.

Editor's Note:  This is why the spirit to save Marin County is so important. National politics really doesn't matter as much as what goes on locally.

Marin County Open Space Maintenance Shed is a good example to follow. Its HUGE and it costs LESS than proposed shed for Marinwood Park

The Marinwood Park Open Space District Maintenance Facility at the open space between Idylberry and Lucas Valley Homeowners Association is a model of utility and function that Marinwood CSD should follow when building their new facility in Marinwood Park.  The sheds are simple metal prefabricated units with large roll up doors for easy access.  Such units are very inexpensive to construct and serve a vital function.  The metal is a dark brown and it is behind trees and and a wooden fence.  Most maintenance facilities in Marin County use this style building.   A similar
50 x 100 metal building can be had for $30k from numerous manufactured building suppliers.

The facility grounds are neat and orderly

There are many bays which allow easy access to tools and equipment.

The building is roughly 40' x 80' with tall sides. 
Shipping containers provide accessory storage 

Raw materials are neatly stacked on pallets, underneath green tarps and behind a fence.

A temporary office trailer has been added for inexpensive administrative space.

The tall building sides allow the construction of a mezzanine for extra storage.  Skylights provide natural light.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Marinwood CSD Meeting July 17, 2018

Appointing an auditor, discussion of Park Shed by residents, consideration of two encroachments on Marinwood CSD property and the usual rudeness and bullying.

Excuse me!

Stop the White Elephant in Marinwood Park

Marinwood Plaza Planning Information

Click on image for full size page

Jerry Brown to Supreme Court: Hurry up and hear my pension law case

From: Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown to Supreme Court: Hurry up and hear my pension law case

July 17, 2018 11:52 AM
Updated July 17, 2018 01:21 PM\

Before he leaves office, Gov. Jerry Brown wants the state Supreme Court to resolve a lawsuit that could empower his successor to reduce or alter pension benefits for California public employees.

Brown’s office this month asked California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to accelerate the state Supreme Court’s consideration of a lawsuit that challenges a marquee law he signed six years ago restricting pension benefits for public employees hired after 2013.
Technically, the lawsuit seeks to undo only a small part of Brown’s Public Employee Pension Reform Act. It aims to restore a benefit the law canceled that had allowed public employees to buy “air time” — extra years of service that were credited to their pensions.
But both sides acknowledge the stakes are much higher. A win for Brown would put a dent in the so-called California Rule, the precedent that forbids public agencies from reducing pension benefits for current employees and retirees unless they provide additional compensation to offset the loss of income.
Brown is eager to break that precedent, which generally prevents cities and other public agencies from making even minor adjustments to pension plans even as their spending on retirement plans climbs.
Vital city services are at risk, including the ability to fund police and fire protection,” the League of California Cities wrote in a brief supporting Brown. “Some cities have become insolvent and other cities are on the brink.”
In October, Brown’s office took the unusual step of replacing Attorney General Xavier Becerra in defending the law against the challenge from the union that represents Cal Fire firefighters, Cal Fire Local 2881.

“This move was animated in large part by Gov. Brown’s deep concern for the fiscal integrity and solvency of public pension systems throughout the state,” Rei Onishi, an attorney in Brown’s legal affairs office, wrote to the chief justice on July 6.
“As the end of Gov. Brown’s term draws closer, we respectfully urge the court to calendar this matter for argument as soon as practicable,” the letter continues.
Cantil-Sakauye’s office has not responded to a request for comment, and Brown’s office declined to elaborate on the letter.
It’s unclear how Brown’s successor will handle the lawsuit if it carries over to next year. California’s two largest systems, CalPERS and CalSTRS, each have about 70 percent of the assets they’d need to pay all of the benefits they owe, and leaders of both organizations worry that a recession could set them back further.
Democratic front-runner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom assured public employee unions in endorsement meetings earlier this year that he would honor the California Rule even if it courts overturn it, according to a summary released by California Professional Firefighters.
Newsom “strongly believes changes in pension systems should be done with input and buy-in from workers and those who represent them — not something that is done unilaterally,” his spokesman Nathan Click told Bloomberg in February.
Republican John Cox has called the state’s public pension debt “critical.”
“Mr. Cox is closely watching the California Supreme Court’s future action on the Cal Fire Local 2881 vs. CalPERS, therefore it’s premature to speculate on any clarifications the court may make. That said, John Cox’s starting point is that California must keep the existing promises we have made, and set our public employee retirement programs on a course for future safety and soundness,” his campaign manager, Tim Rosales, said in a written statement.
The lawsuit, Cal Fire Local 2881 v. CalPERS, is one of two significant cases challenging Brown’s pension law that the State Supreme Court is expected to hear. The court is also receiving briefs for a case filed by the Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Association that argues Brown’s law illegally rescinded benefits to current employees.
Appeals courts sided with Brown in the Cal Fire union lawsuit but favored union arguments in the Alameda County case.
Brown at a news conferences this year said he anticipates that courts will uphold his law, void the California Rule and enable future leaders to adjust pension benefits.
“When the next recession comes around, the governor will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time in a long time,” he said at a January news conference.
Gary Messing, an attorney representing the Cal Fire union, said Brown’s spending plan this year will help labor organizations prevail at the Supreme Court. Brown put the state on course to accumulate $16 billion in reserves by next July but did not commit additional money to paying down pension debts.
CalPERS is doing better. The governor has $16 billion in reserve but hasn’t spent a nickel of that shoring up the retirement system. There has to be a necessity to change a vested benefit. I don’t see a necessity argument going well for the governor.”
The League of California Cities in February released a report that argued pension costs were becoming “unsustainable” for some local governments. About 10 percent of city leaders who responded to a league survey reported that they expect pension costs will consume about 20 percent of their budgets by 2024.
Unions counter that each city should work to solve its budget challenges on its own without upending the California Rule.
Under an umbrella group called Californians for Retirement Security, unions filed a brief in the Cal Fire lawsuit that said 42 public agencies last year reached agreements with labor organizations that required employees to kick in more money for their pensions. The brief also noted that state government’s spending on pensions has held steady between 1.6 percent and 2.2 percent of the state general fund since 2008.
“We also want the issue resolved,” said Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security. “The courts have consistently ruled that an employer cannot impair the vested benefits of employees, unless an equal, offsetting benefit is provided. We strongly believe the Supreme Court will abide by the law and their own precedent, and not be unduly influenced by the governor.”

This is such an important article.

It’s great that Gov. Brown is anxious for the State Supreme Court to hear the CalFire v CalPERS case as soon as possible. The comment by the front-runner for governor, Gavin Newsom, however, declaring in advance that - no matter what the decision is - he would continue to “honor” the California Rule, is nothing short of alarming.

Newsom offers no explanation of how this would be done, but – if the State Supreme Court finds for CalPERS – his efforts to thwart that decision would cause years of litigation and could ultimately set us on a course of total insolvency.

The current inability to reduce pension benefits for current employees and retirees - unless additional compensation is provided to offset those reductions - is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Most politicians recognize this fact, but some are so beholden to public unions for campaign financing that they refuse to acknowledge the fiscal threat caused by the so-called California Rule.

It is blatantly a choice between personal ambition and concern for the taxpayers of California.

So, as we wait for the State Supreme Court’s decision in this critical case, we are also left wondering if a positive decision will provide a solution for the future or be challenged by a new governor. 

College and Housing Bubbles

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply

In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply

In partnership with:

MAY 9, 2017
by PATRICE TADDONIO Assistant Director of Audience Development

More and more Americans are struggling to make rent. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted.

Today, in a joint investigation called Poverty, Politics and Profit, FRONTLINE and NPR join forces to examine the crisis in affordable housing, exploring why so few people are getting the help they need, and whether government programs designed to aid low-income Americans with rent are working as they should.

One of those programs, called the low-income housing tax credit, relies on partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states, who then award the credits to developers. The developers sell them for cash to investors, mostly banks, and then use that money to help build apartment buildings. And because taxpayer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents required.

The program, which has cost about $8 billion annually in recent years, is often described by supporters as a win-win: Low-income people get quality affordable housing and the private sector makes money. But in Poverty, Politics, and Profit, NPR and FRONTLINE crunch the numbers — and find that the program is costing taxpayers more in tax credits, but producing fewer units.

In the above excerpt from tonight’s documentary, produced by FRONTLINE’s Rick Young and his team, follow Laura Sullivan of NPR as she tries to find out why.

Then for more on the story, listen to All Things Considered today and watch FRONTLINE tonight. From exploring why those who receive Section 8 vouchers often struggle to find housing, to examining charges that developers have stolen money meant to house low-income people, to delving into the legacy of segregation in government housing programs, Poverty, Politics and Profit is a probing exploration of a system in crisis.

New Hunters Point Shipyard Testing Scam Cover-up Protested "Prosecute The Crooks!

7 Places to buy Cheap Land

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Practical Garage saves time, space and money

This 30' x 70' x 12' prefab shed costs around $32,157. INSTALLED and is far more work friendly than the Marinwood CSD shed at ten times the price. Vehicle access is easy. It is more than adequate to house Marinwood CSD's Ford F250, 2 golf cart utility vehicles, a lawnmower and a tractor.  There is plenty of space for tools and a work area. Toxic emissions from vehicle traffic won't infiltrate the office as in the Marinwood CSD design.  There is no wasted space and it take up less room than the massive compound that Marinwood CSD proposes.  In fact, virtually EVERY MARIN COUNTY government agency uses this type of facility for its parks department.