Saturday, September 29, 2018


Love Gov 2 Episode 4: Spyin' and Lyin'

Rebekah discovers that something else about Gov isn’t quite right: In fact, she finds that he has a driving passion for spying on them and messing up their lives. She teams up with Sam and Katie to figure out a way to rid themselves of Gov’s meddling and build new lives for the future. But what can they do when Gov seems to have stacked the deck in his favor? #LoveGov #LoveGov2 If you enjoy this, watch Episode 4: You can also watch Love Gov Season 1: From First Date to Mandate INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE LINKS APP: FACEBOOK! TWITTER! WEBSITE:

Love Gov 2 Episode 3: A License to Kill ... Jobs

Sam and Katie take on side-hustles to pay bills. Feeling threatened, Gov seeks to intervene and block them to protect unions and established businesses, thus jeopardizing Sam’s and Katie’s only sources of income. But who will prevail? #LoveGov #LoveGov2 If you enjoy this, watch Episode 4: You can also watch Love Gov Season 1: From First Date to Mandate INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE LINKS APP: FACEBOOK! TWITTER! WEBSITE:

Friday, September 28, 2018

Love Gov 2 Episode 2: Young, Sick, and Broke

Three desperate young adults, Rebekah, Katie, and Sam, agree to Gov’s lease conditions, move into his house, and try to make it home. Gov decides to lower their rent by taking in a new tenant, Douglas, a retired businessman whose new living quarters takes space away from the others. One thing’s for certain: When Gov gets involved, “The more the merrier” just doesn’t ring true. #LoveGov #LoveGov2 If you enjoy this, watch Episode 3: You can also watch Love Gov Season 1: From First Date to Mandate

Why are people Censoring speech on NextDoor

Ever since I was banned from NextDoor in Marinwood for sharing my views on local issues,  the censors of NextDoor have become empowered and forced others off NextDoor for similar "thought crimes".   Recently, people have been expelled from NextDoor for their opinions on the Dixie School District, Housing, Marinwood CSD policies, the Maintenance Compound, Employee pension debacle,  The Marinwood Fire house kitchen and more.  

It is time we listen to each other and accept our differences.  This is after all what it means to live in a community that values Democracy and Civility.

California an economic model? Not quite

California an economic model? Not quite

By Dan Walters | Sept. 23, 2018 | COMMENTARY, DAN WALTERS

A significant sub-theme of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change conference in San Francisco this month was that California is a living model of how a nation-state can go green while experiencing economic prosperity.

Some Californians take it a step further, contending that going green is itself an economic spur.

Certainly California’s current economy is, at least superficially, booming.

The state’s official unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, a record-low level, reflecting tens of thousands of new jobs being added each month – nearly 50,000 in July alone, according to the most recent employment report.

California’s total economic output is more than $2.5 trillion a year, which would place it fifth in the world were it a nation.

However, the claims that California is a model of green prosperity are somewhat overblown.

California is prospering these days mostly because the nation as a whole is experiencing a record-long economic expansion. The steps it has taken so far to reduce its carbon footprint have been relatively mild, so their economic impact, positive or negative, has been relatively scant.

The contentions that going green has been an economic positive are unproven. The cheerleaders for that claim notoriously overcount “green jobs,” including many that would exist regardless and discounting the jobs that might be lost in the conversion.

The biggest negative about the state’s economic standing, however, came in a new report issued by the Census Bureau as Brown’s conference was underway.

It was the bureau’s updated report on poverty and once again, California found itself in the unenviable position of being No. 1 in that category when all economic factors are included in the calculation.

While the state’s poverty rate by the Census Bureau’s “supplemental” method declined slightly since the previous report, it still is the nation’s highest at 19 percent and that’s because of California’s very high cost of living, particularly for housing.

That means 7.5 million Californians, more than the population of most states, are counted as poor. And the situation is even darker when other data are put into the mix.

The Public Policy Institute of California, using a methodology similar to that of the Census Bureau, came up with very similar results, but also calculated that another 20 percent or so of Californians are living in “near-poverty.”

Adding the near-poor to the total brings us to about 16 million Californians struggling to survive. That number is bolstered by the fact that 14 million Californians are being covered by the state’s Medi-Cal program of medical care for the poor and the number would probably climb to 16 million if undocumented immigrants were eligible for its benefits.

Finally, the state’s record-low unemployment rate is also somewhat misleading. The jobless rate most often cited – 4.2 percent currently – is the percentage of those considered to be in the workforce who lack jobs. But that doesn’t account for adults who, for one reason or another, don’t work or seek work, nor those who are working only part-time and/or below their skill levels.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually calculates unemployment and underemployment six different ways and the most revealing, called “U-6,” includes not only the officially unemployed but “marginally attached” workers and those involuntarily working part-time. California’s U-6 rate is 9.2 percent, more than a full percentage point higher than the national rate and tied with Louisiana for the sixth highest.

Until its real poverty rate and its real unemployment rate drop at least to the national average no one, especially no politician, should be boasting of California’s prosperity.

Lov Gov2 : A Room without a View

Bound by a restraining order, Scott “Gov” Govinski has an epiphany: Why focus on just one person if you can “help” far more? He buys a house after imposing sweeping city housing controls, puts up a “For Lease” sign, and declares: “It’s time to help people!” But what exactly is his definition of “help”? #LoveGov #LoveGov2 If you enjoy this, watch Episode 2: You can also watch Love Gov Season 1: From First Date to Mandate

Chronological History of Marin County

Notes from Clifford Flack,

Chronological History of Marin County

, Vol. 1, 1542-1899, (unpublished), pp. 5-11.

1813-     “Mortality among the Indians at the San Francisco Mission continued.  Father Ramon Abello suggested to Governor Sola that the Mission be transferred north of the Bay, as children, old people, and the ailing could not survive the inclemency of the climate…”
1816-    Russians reported hunting sea otter in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.
1817-    Establishment of Mission San Rafael Archangel in Marin, Dec. 14, by Father Gil y Toboada, Ramon Abella, Narcisco Duren, and Vicente Francisco Serria… Some 250 neophytes and a few soldiers under Rafael Garcia were transferred to the new Mission.
1818-    Padres planted orchards on both sides of the Mission.  One pear tree survives at this date (1937.)  The gardens extended to the San Rafael slough, which extended at the time to the present C Street.
1818-    Cattle industry began in Marin
DSC 94831819-    Presidente Father Payeras and Commandante Arguello again visited Mission San Rafael.  They reported that the Mission was built in the shape of an L, the long side being 100 feet, the short arm eighty feet.  The chapel occupied the corner; adjoining it were the Justice Chamber and the living quarters of the padres.  The Mission buildings spread over considerable territory.  These buildings housed the Indians and the workshops.
1820-    Population of the Mission was recorded as five hundred and ninety.
    Troops were quartered at the Mission upon orders of the Governor.
1820-    Pompino, a renegade neophyte Indian of the San Rafael area, started a reign of terror.  He terrorized the country from Sonoma to Santa Cruz.  His crimes were all against Indians, and he was accused of “murder, outrage, and robbery.”
1821-    The Arguello Expedition passed through Marin, and spent some time at the San Rafael Mission… [It included] fifty soldiers.  They went as far north as Columbia River
1822-     Independence of Mexico from Spain was proclaimed on December 8th; the oath of allegiance to the Mexican Government was administered in San Rafael.
1822-    A movement was started to close the San Francisco Missions and open a Mission farther north.  The reasons given were the inclement weather and non-productive soil; instigation actually was from those who desired the rich mission ranches south of San Francisco.  Foremost among those urging the removal were Governor Arguello and Padre Jose Altamira, who later founded the Mission at Sonoma.  When Padre Amorosa of San Rafael head rumors of the suppression he wrote to Governor Arguello protesting, saying he was “feeding, clothing, and instruction eight hundred Indians.’
1823-    The Missions were not suppressed, but Padre Altamira founded the Sonoma Mission on July 4, 1823.  On August 4th, Governor Arguello wrote Padre Amorosa, notifying him that the San Rafael Mission was to be moved.  On August 12th, Lt. Ignacio Martinez and Padre Altamira took possession of the Mission property “by inventory”, which they carried to San Francisco.
1824-    The most widespread Indian revolt in Mission history took place.  The northern Indians were fiercer and more numerous than the southern tribes and therefore more difficult to subdue.  Two important skirmishes took place during the uprising.  Lt. Ignacio Maritine and Ensign Jose Sanchez, in command of a small party of soldiers, were in hot pursuit of a band of Indians near San Rafael,.  These Indians were led by Marin, a Lacituit Chief.  Hard pressed by the Spaniards, Marin took refuge on his home island near the entrance of the tidal creek, Estero de San Rafael Aguanni.  The island immediately was the rallying place for crowds of Indians in their tule bolsas.  Fearing retreat would be cut off, Martinez retired by the way of a point of land on San Pablo Bay.  Here they were attacked by Quintin, a sub-chief of Marin.  After a stiff skirmish Quintin was captured and taken to San Francisco, where he was imprisoned for two years.  He was then released and became boatman for General Vallejo.  Chief Marin was captured the next year, and after being kept prisoner for twelve months, he became boatman for the padres at San Rafael.  He was baptized and lived at the Mission until his death.
    Marin County was named for Chief Marin, while the point where the fight occurred between Martinez and Quintin was named after the latter.  This later became Point Quentin.
1824-    Roving bands of Indians harassed the Mission Indians, travelers, and settlers alike.  The worst offender was the Indian bandit, Pompino, who had been committing depredations for several years.  He finally murdered a Mexican soldier, Manuel Varella.  Lt. Martinez and two soldiers were sent to capture him, and after searching the whole San Rafael region, captured him near Novato Valley.  He was taken to Monterey, tried, and hanged.
1824-    …Corporal Rafael Garcia, in charge of four soldiers, was stationed as a guard for the San Rafael Mission.  Having been warned of a contemplated surprise attack, he placed his wife and two children on an Indian bolsa, which he cast adrift in the Bay.  The bolsa landed safely at the Presidio… Garcia repulsed the Indian attack and received commendation from the Governor.
1824-    Otto von Kotzebue, in command of a Russian frigate, anchored in San Francisco Bay and made a visit to San Rafael.
1824-    Governor Jose Echeandia reported to Mexico that the Russians were enticing neophytes from the San Rafael Mission.  He urged the erection of a fort somewhere in the vicinity.  Nothing was done.
1825-    Thousands of Indians died during an epidemic of measles.
1827-    Governor Jose Echeandia received orders from Mexico to establish a fort at San Rafael… on account of political changes, nothing was done.
1828-    Population of Mission San Rafael estimated at 1140.
1828-    The first move toward secularizing the Mission was published on December 11th by Governor Echeandia.
1828-    Don Timoteo Murphy, an Irishman from Dublin, came to California as agent for Hartwell and Co., and English firm, having been their agent in Lima, Peru.  He came to Marin in 1828.
1831-    Otter hunting was a profitable business.  Don Timoteo Murphy was a famous hunter in those days.  He sold his otter pelts for $40 each.  A few years later James Black became one of the group of otter hunters.
1832-    Mission San Rafael statistics between 1818 and 1832:
    1,873 Baptisms      --    1,028 Adult Indians
                    768 Indian Children
                    7 White (gente de razon)
    543  Marriages    --    Of these, 8 were White.
    725 Deaths        --    485 Adult Indians
                    239 Indian Children
                    1 White
1834-    Secularization of the Missions.
1834-    Marin, Chief of the Lacituit Indians, died at San Rafael Mission.  He was supposed to have been buried in the Mission Church.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Riding in a Boat With Plan Bay Area & Regional Government at the MTC

The Cold Reality of Pension Debt and Taxes comes to Marin.

Unless Marin and California voters elect state lawmakers who are willing to cut benefits for teachers and other public employees, state coffers will be swamped by pension and health care obligations in the next downturn, a speaker said this week.
“You just have to win” state elections, David Crane, president of Govern for California, told about 110 people crowded into Piatti’s Restaurant in Mill Valley on Monday at an event sponsored by the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers Marin. “You have to wake up every morning and say, ‘What do I have to do to win?'”
Crane said state Assembly and Senate members must be elected who are “courageous” enough to make reductions in three areas: public pensions, retiree health care and Medicaid. Employee unions that don’t want the changes must be made to understand that the whole solvency of the state is at risk, he said.
“‘The big takeaway from David is that all the power resides in Sacramento, the Legislature — that’s the Assembly and Senate,” said Ken Broad, a financial analyst and community advocate. “Most people here are railing against Trump and are very focused on local grassroots issues — and yet, all the leverage is up in the Legislature.”
Broad is assisting Crane with Govern for California, a network of political philanthropists who say they give money to candidates who work for the benefit of citizens instead of special interests.
If lawmakers willing to make changes are not elected, “nothing will change, unfortunately.  And he (David Crane) presented a strong case that it’s a cost tsunami.
“In the next downturn, revenues are going to shrivel — I think he (said) $60 billion will swamp the (state) Rainy Day Fund,” Broad added. “So, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
David Crane (Govern for California photo)
Attendees, such as Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley and Michael Hartnett of Greenbrae asked Crane what residents can do locally. School board trustees do not have the power to negotiate a reduction in pension benefits, for example, Crane said, but they could reduce retiree health care benefits.
“Marin County has some of the highest parcel taxes in the state — I think a lot of it has to do with pensions,” Hartnett said. “How do you tell the school boards they can’t keep doing this?”
“You gotta win,” Crane responded, meaning that local residents should focus on getting their people elected to the school boards and making sure they do whatever they can to stabilize costs. Part of winning is knowing that it takes 41 Assembly votes and 21 state Senate votes to get a bill passed.
“There are three groups of people who understand this: health care companies and public employees; crony capitalists such as the state dental association; and regulated entities such as PG&E,” Crane said. “They know the names of every legislator — and you would too if your livelihood was at stake.”  Read the full story HERE

Editor's Note: The Marin IJ embarrasses itself with this horribly biased title.  The article itself is worth reading.  There are many in Marin who are genuinely interested in fixing the problem.

Lucas’ Imprint on Land of North Marin

Article from North Marin Advance, September 6, 1961, about the John Lucas Family, by Charlotte Larson.

        Lucas’ Imprint on Land of North Marin

    Although very little can be gleaned from the annals of Marin County history regarding John Lucas, there live in San Rafael two charming ladies who recall happy days spent on the Lucas Ranch in Terra Linda (now referred to as the Freitas home ranch.)
    They are Mrs. Mary Langdale, 83 years young, and her sister, Mrs. Carmelita Graves, grandchildren of John Lucas.
  DSC 9912  Their mother, Alice Mary, was the first of nine children born to the John Lucas’s and the only one to marry.  In 1877, when she was 21, Alice married Patrick Cadogan, a native of Ireland.
    Besides Mrs. Langford and Mrs. Graves, their children included two sons, one of whom, Anthony Cadogan, died last November at the San Rafael home.  The other son, John Lucas Cadogan, died in 1941, just a few years after the death of his mother.
    The sisters have preserved some of the antique charm with old silver, cut glass, Dresdenware, and other heirloom pieces in their home.
    They still have a solid walnut buffet, carved with fruit and grapes, and matching oval dining table which furnished the early Lucas home.
    An Aunt, Maria L. Lucas, named for her mother, lived in the family home and was active in Marin County affairs until her death at the age of 97 last September.  She was preceded three years earlier by her brother, John Edmund Lucas.  Thus the Lucas name disappeared from history.
    To get to the beginning of our story, Don Timoteo Murphy, who migrated from Ireland to California (via Peru) in 1828, received the original three league land grant covering the Santa Margarita, Las Gallinas, and San Pedro Rancho, from Manuel Micheltorena, Mexican governor of California, in 1844.
    Not having married and lonely for a family of his own, the big hearted Don Timoteo sent to Ireland for his nephew, John Lucas, from his native county of Wexford.
Returns for Sweetheart
    Lucas first came to Marin County in 1852 as a bachelor, at the age of 26.  He liked Marin so much that he returned to Ireland for his childhood sweetheart, Maria Sweetman.
    During his absence, Don Timoteo became suddenly ill and, just before he died, willed one-half of his vast holdings of 22,000 acres to Lucas, who returned with his bride in 1855 and boarded for a time with Mrs. Clark on “G” and 4th Street.
    Mrs. Langford recalls her grandfather telling of the long journey by sailboat, through the Isthmus of Panama, and how each morning several missing from breakfast had died during the night from cholera and had been thrown overboard.
    After a few months in San Rafael Lucase moved to a ranch on the property adjoining St. Vincent’s, with the house located just a few yards north of the present Silveira home.
One day in 1863, upon returning from a trip to San Francisco, Mrs. Lucas found the house burned to the ground.
        Mansion Razed
    The Lucas’ then built a temporary home on the Santa Margarita Ranch in the center of Terra Linda.  Shortly thereafter the mansion, which was razed last Spring for the erection of St. Isabella’s church and school, was built.
    Mrs. Langford remembers the home as having “wide hallways, with two drawing rooms on the left, a large sitting room on the right, a large kitchen and servants’ dining room to the rear, six bedrooms on the second floor, and four bedrooms on the third floor.”
    She described her grandmother as “a dream of a woman, with beautiful hair—never a cross word.”
    Not only had John Lucas transferred the title to the property to Mrs. Lucas; he placed her in charge of the ranch as well.  Brought up to be a gentleman, he found it difficult to manage the business of the ranch.
    Maria Lucas bore her husband nine children, three of whom died in infancy.  The other six were Alice Mary, Catherine Frances, Henry, Mary Lucas, John Edmund, and Elizabeth.
        1400 Acres
    The home ranch, according to Mrs. Langdale, consisted of 1400 acres.  The entire Santa Margarita Ranch, she said, extended from Puerto Suello Hill, included Los Ranchitos, Terra Linda and Lucas Valley, and was bounded on the west by the rim of the hills, separating them from what is now Fairfax and Sleepy Hollow.  It was divided into several ranches, including Big Rock, Butcher, Bull Trail, Tallan Ranch, Harry Evens’ Ranch, Loma Alta, and the Cat Ranch.
    Rents were high, and taxes were low even in those days, she recalled.
    “The only thing Terra Linda was good for,” she said, “was calf pasture.”
    “Some of the happiest days of our lives were spent on the ranch,” said Mrs. Langford, whose time was divided between Santa Margarita Ranch and Oakland.
    She recalled that they had the privilege of stopping the train, which ran through their property, at a point where the Terra Linda interchange is located, then known as Lucas Crossing.  The train met the ferry at Tiburon, and later at Sausalito, for passengers going on to San Francisco.
        Summer Home
    Largely because of Mrs. Langford’s frail health as a child, the Lucas’ acquired a summer home at Bolinas.  They used to set out by buckboard and travel many hours over the winding dusty road that led to the old Pacific town.  To protect their clothing the women wore linen dusters and veils over their hats.
    “We used different types of horses depending on the mode of travel,” said Langford.  “When we rode the carriage, we used the ‘prancy’ horses.  Our coachman did other work besides taking care of the horses.”
    Lucas died on his birthday, March 7, 1897.  Many Marinites have joined John Lucas and members of his family in their final resting place at Mount Olivet Cemetary, which was given to St. Raphael’s by Lucas.
    We are now entering a new ear in the Santa Margarita- Las Gallinas Valley, where a new generation of pioneers are building what they feel is a better and more progressive way of life for their families. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

MTC CASA technical committee hopes to raise billions from Bay Area taxpayers

MTC CASA technical committee hopes to raise billions from Bay Area taxpayers full meeting  CASA Technical Committee ( 2hours 30 minutes)  MTC Director Steve Heminger's opening remarks (4 minutes)

MTC CASA New Tax Revenue Concepts for housing (30 minut

es)   Bay Area Housing trust fund (5 minutes)

Here is the full meeting and excerpts from the full meeting of the MTC Casa meeting of 9/19/18 for your reference 

This meeting should shock the average Bay Area resident .

It is a brazen attempt to bypass the normal democratic channels of government.  They even discuss ways to avoid a public vote on the taxes.  

I consider this very serious attack on the public's right to self governance by the very individuals who stand to collectively make billions of dollars in funding for real estate development.   

Did anyone ask you to vote on this?  This is the most ambitious cash and power grab I have seen in my lifetime. 

What is the point of democracy when this can happen?

Yes, it is time to wake up.

The Committee to House the Bay Area and the coming tax tsunami


The Committee to House the Bay Area and the coming tax tsunami

Posted by: Bob Silvestri - September 25, 2018 - 5:29pm

On Monday evening, I attended an event held by the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T) at Piatti Restaurant, entitled “What they don’t want you to know about taxes, pensions, public education and services.” David Crane, the guest speaker and founder of Govern for California, made a compelling presentation about the coming financial crisis in our state.

Some of the many causes of Crane’s well-reasoned predictions included the State’s bogus accounting tricks, its imaginary investment return projections, and its skyrocketing retiree benefits and healthcare obligations. He also noted how California’s tax revenues have become lopsided and increasingly dependent on fewer and fewer super-wealthy individuals, so that the next recession promises to be long and painful and expensive.

In his words, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

What me worry?

Tax revenues at the moment are riding high, so complacency and elaborate spending plans are also riding high in Sacramento. It appears that our State legislators have never seen a dollar they didn’t want to spend… immediately and for years in the future… and more than once.

It’s true that the state has recently created a “rainy day fund,” but as David Crane noted, it’s a pittance compared to what will be needed when the next recession arrives and tax revenues plunge dramatically.

Now, some will say, surely it can’t be all that bad. After all, the economy is booming and just look at housing prices and real estate tax revenues. They have both been skyrocketing for years. So, our state and even our county must be flush with excess cash, right?

Well, sort of, but as David Crane astutely pointed out, how is it then that during this revenue boom and during one of the longest bull markets in our history, unfunded government obligations have continued to rise even while taxes and fees have also continued to rise, but the actual dollars available to pay for education and services to the public (fixing roads, maintaining parks, social services, affordable housing, emergency healthcare, etc.) have continued to fall? It’s simply because even in these times, expenses and future obligations continue to outpace revenues.

Worst of all, even with all this considered, there is yet another overriding problem that has to be added to the mix. Even though tax and fee revenues have continued to expand, a growing list of state agencies and unelected, quasi-governmental organizations, which are largely unknown to the public, are planning to spend the same funds that the state is counting on to bail us out on that “rainy day.”

This brings us to the growth of “off ledger” spending or “shadow government” planning, and decision-making in the state. In the past, I’ve written about the “Enron-ization” of government: how unelected, quasi-governmental agencies and Joint Powers Authorities (JPAs) have added layers of opacity to our public decision-making process and spending of taxpayer funds. That trend has increased over the years and it now includes a host of groups and committees that are sharpening their knives to divide up your tax dollars and burden us with even more taxes and fees in the name of “regional planning.”

This is how the state intends to put off David Crane's inevitable endgame.

It's all about housing, or so they say

MTC is now unofficially the San Francisco Bay Area’s most powerful planning and housing agency. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the former nemesis of local control seems to exist only as a consulting firm to MTC or to justify its existence and huge budget by doing “studies” and managing projects set in motion before its planning functions were stripped away by MTC. Our elected representatives who continue to sit on its general assembly and committees, effectively have little say anymore on planning and housing issues.

How this “coup” of the planning and housing development funding powers of ABAG by an unelected state agency came about has been well documented in the Marin Post by Zelda Bronstein (ABAG leaders betray local cities and Regional government sells out Bay Area cities).

So, since the demise of ABAG, MTC is the most important housing agency in the SF Bay Area, even though MTC has questionable legislative authority or credentials to do so. But they have the state funding and everyone else has to beg them for it, so they just took the authority from ABAG and basically dared anyone to stop them.

To paraphrase the famous line the The Treasure of Sierra Madre, MTC’s approach seems to be, “Credentials? We don’t need no stinking credentials!”

A good question in all this is how well have our locally elected officials kept us abreast of these changes in planning decision making? But, that’s a whole other article.

A case in point of this power grab is a new sub-commission of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), our largest Bay Area, unelected, state-funded agency. It’s called CASA – The Committee to House the Bay Area.

Unbeknownst to just about everyone, CASA is now the most powerful committee for Bay Area affordable housing planning, even though most of us have never heard of it nor had any say in who was chosen to be on it.

Mi casa es su casa?

CASA’s mission statement reads as follows:

The Committee to House the Bay Area – convenes a diverse, multi-sector set of partners in the Bay Area to identify and act upon game-changing regional solutions to the Bay Area’s chronic housing affordability challenges.

Wow, it’s “diverse” and it’s “game changing.” What could go wrong?

The chairs and co-chairs of CASA and the conveners of their subcommittees are:

Fred Blackwell - Chief Executive Officer | The San Francisco Foundation (Bio), described on the web site as a visionary leader working to ensure shared prosperity, innovation, and equity in the Bay Area.

Leslye Corsiglia - Executive Director | Silicon Valley at Home (Bio), described as “the voice” for affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Based initially in the Housing Trust Silicon Valley, SV@Home is a membership organization that advocates for policies, programs, land use, and funding.

Michael Covarrubias - Chair and Chief Executive Officer | TMG Partners (Bio), a privately-held, full-service development company headquartered in San Francisco focusing on urban infill projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Steve Heminger - Executive Director | Metropolitan Transportation Commission (Bio)

I’m sure you remember voting for each of these individuals. Please don’t get me wrong, none of my sarcasm is intended to tarnish the reputations of any of these members or to even question their sincere commitment to good housing policy. But, where are the checks and balances? To whom are the majority of the members of CASA accountable? Where is representative government’s role in all this?

The CASA Steering Committee includes executives from Google and Facebook, heads of well-connected nonprofits and advocacy groups and, yes, some elected representatives. But, elected officials do not represent a democratically chosen demographic and they are outnumbered 10 to 7 by unelected and politically appointed members. Worse still, their Technical Committee of advisors has 32 members, none of which are elected representatives.

In their September 13, 2018 “compact” of purpose and actions, they state:

CASA is tasked with advancing bold solutions that match the scale of the housing crisis--solutions that protect, preserve and produce housing for hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents. The draft CASA compact proposes a suite of big ideas that could dramatically rewrite the future of housing availability and affordability in the Bay Area. If we do this right, the CASA proposals will improve housing conditions for all residents, while also ensuring that our future moves us towards increased racial equity and fair housing and does no harm to existing communities by spurring or exacerbating the destabilizing processes of gentrification and displacement.

But “right” by whose definition?

I’m sorry, but this is not okay.

But it gets worse.

Tu dinero es mi dinero

CASA’s view of the world of finance is elegantly simple as shown in this chart from their publication on “Findings and Financing Ideas.”

As CASA sees it, they are facing a $1.68 billion funding gap from what is needed to spend on subsidizing more housing. This is after exhausting all existing Federal, state and local funding sources, including Section 8, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and everything else. So where does this “New Revenue” come from?

In response to this challenge, their entire focus of “creative” ideas for “Potential New Sources of Revenue” boils down to more and more taxes and fees. How’s that for out of the box thinking?

Click on image to enlarge

CASA’s vision leaves no public trough un-dipped and then some. Among the wish list included in their “Funding/Financing Compact” of new region-wide and state-wide funding sources are: (these are proposed new taxes and fees in addition to all existing taxes and fees)

Taxes and Fees on Property Owners: $500 million
A 3.35% inflation indexed windfall tax on home value appreciation;
A $48 per year parcel tax on real estate;
A 1.35% tax on real estate transfers;
A 1% tax on vacant homes;
A 25% short term rental tax on Airbnb, etc.

Taxes and Fees on Developers: $200 million
A $2 to $4 per square foot fee on development inside of “Transportation Priority Areas” (TPA’s);
A $4 to $8 per square foot fee on development outside of TPAs;
A Commercial Linkage Fee on new construction at an unspecified variable rate, based on the number of new workers at the location, and the jobs / housing ratio of the host jurisdiction;
A $5 per square foot “Fiat” commercial linkage fee on all new construction.

Taxes and Fees on Employers: $400 million
An $8 to $32 per employee tax for employers inside TPAs;
A $16 to $64 per employee tax for employers outside TPAs;
An annual Head Tax on jobs / employees, with variable rates based on the number of employees, and the jobs / housing ratio of the host jurisdiction (with no exemptions for middle-wage jobs);
A $30 per job / employee Flat Annual Head Tax on businesses; (note that this is "per job" so it cannot be avoided by hiring consultants or contract workers);
A 1/12 cent Gross Receipts Tax, variable rates based on sector and firm size;
A 1 cent per mile Commuter VMT Fee, paid by the employer for all employees.

Taxes and Fees on Local Governments: $300 million
A 17.5 % Revenue Sharing Contribution from future property tax growth, region-wide, starting in 2020;
A 27.5% Redevelopment Revenue Set-Aside Fee for affordable housing (for city / county portion of property tax revenue), statewide;
A 20 acres of Public Land Set-Aside requirement, annually for affordable housing.

Taxes and Fees on Taxpayers: $200 million (as if all of these taxes and fees don't ultimately fall on taxpayers)
A 1/16 % Sales Tax, region-wide;
Issuance of 5-Yr. Term General Obligation Bonds, issued by a regional housing entity created through state legislation, renewed every five years.

SPECIAL NOTE: According to MTC, only two of these taxes and fees -- the $5 per square foot Flat Commercial Linkage Fee and the $30 per job Flat Annual Head Tax -- will require a public vote. They contend that all the others can be passed by the legislature or directly assessed by MTC, itself.

So, where will all this money go? To local governments to spend on their highest priority housing affordability challenges, where it should go?

Not a chance.

According to CASA it needs to go to a new “Regional Housing Trust Fund!” – Yet another bloated bureaucratic agency run by unelected, political appointees and “stakeholder” groups that profit from its existence, who will dole out the money for their own self-interest: An agency which will inevitably be the scandal du jour ten years hence, when it’s investigated for rampant corruption and political favoritism.

The moral of the story:

This is what happens where there is no public accountability and there are no grownups in the room, who understand anything about basic economics, supply and demand, and how taxes and fees negatively impact overall state economic activity and revenues, new business formation, and so much more.

Time to sound the alarms! All hands on deck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Social History of the Dixie District

The Early Period- Before 1843
Indian Life

    historyThe Indians who lived in what is now the Dixie School District as early as 1,500 BC, and who may well have lived here for hundreds of years before that, were the Coast Miwok and their ancestors.  Culturally they were similar to the Pomo Indians, their neighbors to the north; however, they spoke a different language.
    Coast Miwok Indians lived in tribelets which consisted of a central village and several associated settlements, and might include 100 or more people.  Each tribelet had a headman (hoipu) or headwoman (maien), who was an adviser and settler of disputes.  This person also welcomed and entertained visitors and was responsible for making speeches on special occasions.
    The triblet which lived in the valleys which are now Terra Linda and Lucas Valley- Marinwood identified themselves with the central village site, Cotomko’tca (Grasshopper Houses), which is behind Miller Creek School.
    The Coast Miwok were hunters and gatherers.  Food in great variety and abundance could be found in the pleasant climate.  From the bay and marsh lands, which then extended to what is now Highway 101, they took shellfish, fish and water fowl.  Rabbits and quail were always available, and in the hills and valleys could be found deer, elk and antelope.  Wild berries, roots and bulbs provided fruit and vegetables.  A staple of their diet was the ample supply of acorns from the huge oaks found throughout this area.
Because of the mild climate, single family shelters made of reeds called tules were not expected to last more than a season or two.  Sweat houses, which were semi-subterranean, framed with wood and roofed with woven branches, tules and clay, were more permanent structures.  Like many other California Indians, the people of Marin used sweat houses for purification and cleansing before hunting, and as meeting and sleeping quarters for the men.
    Each central village community had a dance house, a circular, semi-subterranean building with the floor 30 to 50 feet in diameter.  Several of these floors, at different levels, the remnants of dance houses dating from different periods in time, have been found by archeologists at Cotomko’tca on Miller Creek.
    Ceremonies and dances played a large part in tribelet life.  Elaborate feather costumes and headdresses, decorated with bone hairpins, shell beads and abalone ornaments, as well as special body paint designs, were used for these dances.  Some dances were accompanied by cocoon or split-stick rattles, whistles, and foot drums, as well as by singers.  Bone and shell fragments, all that remain of the beautiful costumes, have been found at Miller Creek.
    Often found in Marin are stone mortars and pestles, used for grinding acorns, other seeds and body paints.  Less well known are the Coast Miwok Baskets.  The few specimens still remaining show fine workmanship.  Early descriptions and basketry impressions in clay from archeological sites confirm the basketry was a highly developed are.  Large conical baskets supported by tumplines around the forehead were used to carry bulky and heavy loads.  Watertight baskets were used for cooking; hot rocks dropped into the basket’s contents brought them quickly to a boil.  Finely wrought hairnets, as well as nets used for trapping small animals and birds, were further evidences of the weavers’ skill.
    Boats used by the Coast Miwok were made of tules bundled and tied in a canoe-like shape.  Indians with such a vessel in San Francisco Bay appear in an 1816 painting; Drake’s chronicler, Fletcher, described a similar craft.
    Clothing was needed only in inclement weather.  Men usually wore nothing; women wore skirts or aprons of shredded bark or tules, or fringed deerskin.  Woven fur blankets were also worn.  Hair was worn loose, confined in a net, or tied up in a knot or club.  Women’s chins were sometimes tattooed; both men and women wore ornaments in their pierced ears or noses.
    Chipped stone was used for many purposes.  Chert, which is native to Marin, is common in archeological sites in the form of cutting tools, scrapers and drills.  Obsidian, volcanic glass traded from northern California, was fashioned into projectile points for arrows and spears, as well as knives, and into large blades with no practical use but valued as items of wealth.
    Round white clam disk beads were made and traded widely as a form of money.  The small olive shell beads were decorative only.  From abalone shells were made pendants and ornaments for dance costumes.  All of these have been found at Miller Creek.
    Early explorers fond Bay Area Indians to be peaceful and friendly.  Accounts by Francis Fletcher who accompanied Francis Drake (1579), Cermenho (1595), whose ship was wrecked off Limantour Spit, and Father Vicente Santa Maria who accompanied Ayala (1775) on the San Carlos, the first ship to enter San Francisco Bay, all remark on the Indians’ friendliness and lack of antagonism toward the newcomers.  
Mission Period
    In 1776 the Mission Dolores in San Francisco was founded.  Coast Miwok Indians, tempted by offers of food and clothing and by religious ceremonies, music and processions were taken there early, as well as to the missions at Santa Clara and San Jose.  The people of Cotomko’tca were close to the main travel route along the bay shore and probably were among the first to go.
    The Indians were accustomed to the hard work of procuring and preparing food and shelter.  However, their work schedule was tied to need and to seasonal food supplies.  At the missions a set daily work routines was enforced.  Indians were also hired out to work for the military establishment at the Presidio.  Any payment for this work went to the missions, rather than to the Indians.  Those who attempted to leave and return to their homes and previous ways of life were brought back by soldiers and punished.
    Poor nutrition, even famine, contributed to the Indians’ dissatisfaction with mission life.  Tuberculosis infected many.  In 1816, a measles epidemic killed almost every child under 10 at the Mission Dolores.
    In 1817 the Mission San Rafael was founded as an asistencia, or hospital mission, to try to cope with the widespread illness among the mission inhabitants.  Upon its opening, the Marin Indians who were still free were brought into the mission system.
When the missions were secularized between 1834 and 1836, a large tract of land was set aside in the Nicasio area for the surviving Marin Indians.  This soon was taken over by ranchers, and the few remaining Coast Miwok were relegated to menial jobs if they were employed at all.  Although there were a few attempts at self defense and even rebellion, which were well publicized and used to justify strong suppressive measures, the history of these people was coming to an end.  None are left today.
Syliva B. Thalman
Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin

Utopianism: One of the Biggest Obstacles to Progress

What are the biggest obstacles to continued progress and to maintaining an open and free society?

One of the biggest obstacles is, broadly speaking, utopianism. Progress is neither guaranteed nor irreversible. The institutions and values that helped bring about the progress humanity has achieved are increasingly under attack by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. Many nationalist populists on the right and self-proclaimed socialists on the left reject the Enlightenment values of reason, science, and open discourse, as well as free enterprise.

A realistic picture of the human condition should compare the imperfect present with a much more imperfect past rather than with an imagined utopia in the future, as well as acknowledge the truly incredible progress that humanity has already made. Unfortunately, instead of viewing the present as a vast improvement on the past, many people see the present as failing to live up to some sort of ideal world and deny the progress that has been achieved.

It is important to remember that living conditions remained remarkably constant throughout 99.9 percent of homo sapiens’ existence: poverty was ubiquitous. Then economic growth started to accelerate in Great Britain and the Netherlands, the rest of Western Europe and North America, and then the rest of the world. Markets globalized and the Industrial Revolution took productivity to new heights, causing the acceleration in economic growth and ultimately leading to widespread prosperity.

Modern society based on the rule of law, global exchange, and social tolerance, is an extremely recent phenomenon. It may also be more fragile than it seems.

The greatest travesties of the 20th century were carried out in the name of the utopian ideologies of communism and fascism. There is always the danger that new utopian demagogues will emerge.

Utopia will always be out of reach and the world will never be a perfect place. But by building on and learning from past successes it is possible to strive to make each day better than the last. Mankind has proven again and again that it is capable of rising to great challenges and solving problems that once seemed insurmountable. As my colleague Marian Tupy once wrote, “The danger lies in turning our backs on the means by which problems can be solved – reason, science, open discourse, thirst for knowledge, etc. The values of the Enlightenment are under assault from the far Left and the far Right. Both extremes believe that our world has been corrupted beyond repair. They want to blow it up and start anew. ‘What,’ they ask us, ‘do you have to lose?’ A lot, actually, should be our response.”

This first appeared on Quora.

Chelsea Follett is managing editor of

Monday, September 24, 2018

On Government "Charity"

California must stop trying to stomp out suburbia

California must stop trying to stomp out suburbia

Photovoltaic panels like these would become standard on new California homes starting in 2020 under a proposed new energy code up for review in Sacramento on May 9. Currently about 15 percent to 20 percent of new houses in the state have solar power systems, a state building industry officials said. Here a SunPower Corp. employee finishes up installation of new solar panels at KB Home’s Terramor development in Riverside County. (Photo by Will Lester- The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

By JOEL KOTKIN | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: September 22, 2018 at 7:10 pm | UPDATED: September 22, 2018 at 7:10 pm

We may be celebrating — if that’s the right word — the tenth year since the onset of the financial crisis and collapse of the real estate market. Yet before breaking out the Champagne, we should recognize that the hangover is not yet over, and that a new housing crisis could be right around the corner.

This is particularly true in California, which took one of the biggest hits in 2008 as its sky-high prices collapsed, causing enormous problems in areas including the Inland Empire, where incomes are lower and the economy was largely built around new housing construction. The urbanist punditry helpfully came out in force to declare such areas as “the next slums”.

The unsurprising slowdown in housing after the Great Recession was further hampered, once the economy began to recover, in large part due to tough regulations. By 2017, California metros like Los Angeles-Orange and even the Bay Area were producing housing at half to one-third the rate, on a per capita basis, of places such as Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Orlando and even Indianapolis and Columbus. The shortfall in single-family home production, greatly discouraged by state policies, lagged even further. Stronger land-use regulations have been associated with higher land cost and regulatory delays driving house prices well beyond historic norms, as recent research indicates.

Toxic realities

Due to lack of affordable new product, prices have remained high, absurdly so in some areas. New state legislation, seeking to expand Jerry Brown’s climate jihad, including new mandates for solar roofs for new houses, promise to raise prices by at least $20,000 and without doing much for the environment, warns environmentalist Mike Shellenberger.

This is all part of a toxic regulatory overreach that led California housing prices, relative to incomes, to grow at three times the national rate since 2010. By one recent calculation by, California, with the exception of Hawaii, has by far the highest statewide gap — almost $50,000 — between the salary needed to buy a house and its price.

With more of the economy built around low paid “gig” and service workers, the pool of potential buyers is shrinking. California home sales overall are falling — down over 12 percent in the largest market, Los Angeles-Orange County. The biggest losers have been minorities and the young. Already barely 25 percent of people 25 to 34 in California own their own home compared to 37 percent nationally.

Ways toward a new bust?

We could be setting the stage for a new kind of housing debacle — and not only here. Higher interest rates tend to undermine the viability of high-priced markets in particular. There are other clear disturbing signs, such as the rising percentage of buyers paying 45 percent of their income on mortgages; the number is four times the percentage in 2010. Then there’s the return of the home equity loan market back to its pre-recession level.

The rising cost and declining sales also reflect to some extent the inability of governments and developers to catch new demographic trends. Instead of flocking permanently into dense cities, more millennials are following in the footsteps of previous generations by locating on the periphery of major metropolitan areas and sunbelt cities, most of which are simply agglomerations of suburbs. Over the last year, according to the Census, the ranks of renters decreased while homeownership increased 1.8 million. A recent National Homebuilders Association report shows more than two in three Millennials, including most of those living in cities, would prefer a house in the suburbs, findings confirmed as well by the Conference Board and Nielsen.

By trying to stamp out suburbia, California is playing fire with its own future. Already the price differences between our state and the rest of the country are greatest, notes demographer Wendell Cox, at the lower, “starter” end of the market. The state, sadly, seems to have little interest in meeting the demand of young families, posing a long-term demographic threat.

A different kind of debacle?

Instead, we may be overbuilding small expensive apartments. Already many analyses show that the apartment markets here, and elsewhere, including places like New York and Seattle, are doing worse than before, with rents stagnating or even declining.

Other factors such as the gradual withdrawal of Chinese buyers, in large part due to Beijing’s own financial problems, could play a role, particularly in places like California and New York. Now, for the first time in recent memory, there are more Chinese sellers than buyers as sales falter. Ironically new measures to address the housing shortfall, notably rent control and inclusionary zoning, may help some people, but will likely further slow new construction.

So what would a new bust look like? Some of the same people — middle- and working-class families as well as minorities — would be hurt. But the biggest pain may be felt more in expensive speculative markets like Manhattan, San Francisco, West Los Angeles or downtown rather than in the distant, and disdained, outer suburbs. To borrow from the late Yogi Berra, it could be “déjà vu all over again,” but with a somewhat different cast of victims.

Joel Kotkin is the R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism