Saturday, March 30, 2019

John Mirisch, Beverly Hills Mayor on SB50

Editorial: The perils of state action

Editorial: The perils of state action

For Dems, state pre-emption of local zoning carries growing political risk

State legislators who are pushing for new laws forcing cities to allow dense, multi-family housing developments in single-family neighborhoods threaten to divide the state's Democratic voters and may open the door to political challenges of incumbents even in Democratic strongholds like the Bay Area and Peninsula.
The growing split and increasing animosity between local leaders and state legislators over how far the state should go to pre-empt local zoning are pitting traditional allies against each other and threatening to move us further from viable solutions to the housing crisis.
As the Weekly's reporting by Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner shows, housing advocates are responding to a long history of cities failing to take needed action to develop new housing while approving vast amounts of new commercial development. The result, almost all agree, has been to create a deepening shortage of housing units, fuel unsustainable increases in housing costs and accelerate the loss of affordable housing for low- and medium-income workers. But the solutions are far from clear.
The most visible and controversial of the legislative proposals, SB 50 by San Francisco Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, seeks to undo the historic local autonomy that cities enjoy over land-use decisions. As only one of more than 200 bills pertaining to housing introduced in the state legislature this session, SB 50 would force cities to allow multi-story, high-density apartment buildings in R-1 zoned residential areas near public transit with no limits on the number of units and no parking requirements. Up and down the Peninsula, the proposed half-mile radius around train stations would open up large areas currently occupied by single-family homes to conversion to higher-density housing.
Defenders of local control, while agreeing that cities are responsible for creating the problem, are organizing against the proposed state mandates, and the rhetoric on both sides threatens to polarize rather than shape practical solutions. There is little question that passage of measures like SB 50 would trigger legal challenges and a voter initiative to overturn them and re-establish local zoning powers.
To avoid that outcome, legislators must work with local government leaders to craft incentives, not pre-emptive one-size-fits-all mandates, for the construction of needed housing and, most of all, funding for affordable-housing development.
The current effort to impose a solution on California cities ignores the complicated factors that have created the problem and attempts to solve it without addressing the underlying economic realities.
First, focusing only on increasing housing production of market-rate units without parallel regulation or incentives to reduce new commercial development addresses only one side of the equation. As long as communities are allowed to approve new commercial development and export the problem of housing workers to other cities, we are destined to never stabilize housing prices. State action must impose limits on non-residential development and tie it to housing production, and housing impact fees should be raised to create funds for affordable housing.
Second, new high-density market-rate housing development, such as what has been built in Mountain View on San Antonio Road and El Camino Real, results in rents only affordable to high-income earners. So while Mountain View is far ahead of cities like Palo Alto and Menlo Park in zoning for more housing, it's not addressing the highest priority need for housing affordable to lower-income workers.
Instead of trying to micromanage zoning in cities around the state, legislators should be focusing on funding strategies that would create incentives for cities to attract and approve below-market rate housing for service workers, seniors and other lower-income residents.
Wiener and those who support his legislation are correct that the housing shortage is driving working families out of the Bay Area, gentrifying communities like East Palo Alto and pushing many to homelessness or to exorbitantly long commutes. But what cities with high land values need are financing solutions to enable significant public funding of higher density affordable-housing development by nonprofit housing entities and incentives to utilize existing publicly owned land such as municipal parking lots.
SB 50's zoning pre-emption strategy is a divisive distraction. Wiener and his colleagues would be wise to refocus their attention on the financing strategies and incentives to achieve the housing we need most, and on enacting laws that restrict commercial development in cities that are not meeting the housing needs of their communities. Otherwise their well-intended efforts are destined to come back to bite them in the next election.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Drug Dealer arrested at Marinwood Village with cash, drugs and guns.

SAN RAFAEL — Marin County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested a 25-year-old man suspected of using social media for drug dealing. The suspect was nabbed outside a grocery store during an undercover sting operation.
The suspect was the subject of months of investigation conducted by the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force. In fact, undercover agents purchased drugs from the suspect several times during the last few months. Authorities also monitored his social media activity.
Besides purchasing illicit drugs directly from the suspect, agents observed the suspect making other drug deals. Many of these drug deals took place in the Canal district of San Rafael.
On March 25, detectives traveled to a prearranged meeting with the suspect to the unincorporated community of Marinwood. Subsequently, authorities arrested the suspect identified as Jorge M. Martinez, 25 of Richmond, at Marinwood Shopping Center.
Investigators searched the suspect’s car and his residence in Richmond. Inside, they recovered a large quantity of drugs, handguns and nearly $40,000 in cash as evidence.
Martinez was booked on open charges and he remains in custody at Marin County Jail. Incidentally, Martinez was already on probation from a previous conviction at the time of his arrest.
His latest charges include possession of a controlled substance for sale and conspiracy to commit a crime. He is also accused of possession of stolen property.
At the time of his arrest, Martinez was accompanied by a woman and an infant. Consequently, his actions also led him to being charged with willful cruelty to a child. His woman companion was released after being briefly detained.
Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest Suspected Social Media Drug Dealer was last modified: March 28th, 2019 by admin

see article HERE

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Architect Bill Hansell attacks the Public at the Marinwood CSD 11/13/2018

Marinwood CSD architect Bill Hansell, a former board member, implores the Marinwood CSD to ignore public commentary criticizing the Maintenance Shed project. He misquotes the Brown Act and public meeting laws and goes so far as to imply that no one can voice an opinion of CSD business except the elected officials. A large group of residents object to the massive Marinwood Maintenance Shed project and have gathered 200 signatures. Hansell claims this is illegitimate public speech even while at the very same meeting, a large group of mountain bicyclists gather to provide support for the conversion of the Ponti Fire road to a mountain bike/hiking trail. Apparently, some groups merit more attention than others.

Not a single Marinwood CSD board member spoke in defense of the Public's Right to Speak.

Is there a right to participate in public meetings? Marinwood may be violating the law.

Open letter to Marinwood CSD board members 11/14/2018:

Last night, Bill Hansell,former CSD board member and current architectural consultant addressed the Marinwood CSD Board claiming the public can only speak at open time and action items.  This is clearly not the California law.  The public can comment on each specific agenda item as it is taken up by the body.

Please be advised that restricting the public's right to participate in our government is a civil rights violation.  We urge the Marinwood CSD reconsider any policy that is in violation of the law. Mr. Hansell is not an attorney and the CSD would be wise to consult the law before taking his advice.

A. Is there a right to participate in public meetings?

Yes, during a regular or special meeting, but not during a closed meeting. Under both Acts, a body must provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address each agenda item under consideration by the body either before or during the body’s discussion. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11125.7(a) (Bagley-Keene Act); 54954.3(a) (Brown Act). Additionally, under the Brown Act, during a regular session but not during a special session, the public has a right to comment “on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body ….”  Cal. Gov’t Code § 54954.3(a). This right has been construed to mean that there must be a period of time provided for general public comment on any matter within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, as well as an opportunity for public comment on each specific agenda item as it is taken up by the body.  Galbiso v. Orosi Public Utility Dist., 167 Cal. App. 4th 1063, 1080, 84 Cal. Rptr. 3d 788 (2008); see also Chaffee v. San Francisco Library Commission, 115 Cal. App. 4th 461, 468-69, 9 Cal. Rptr. 3d 336 (2004).  Under the Brown Act, the right to comment includes the right to comment on matters to be considered by the body in closed session.  Galbiso, 167 Cal. App. 4th at 1080; see alsoLeventhal v. Vista Unified School Dist., 149 Cal. App. 4th 11424, 1437-39, 57 Cal. Rptr. 3d 885 (2007).
Under both Acts, the right to comment on agenda items does not apply if the agenda item has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of members of the body at a public meeting where the public had the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee's consideration of the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, as determined by the body. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11125.7(a) (Bagley-Keene Act); 54954.3(a) (Brown Act).
The Bagley-Keene Act further provides that public testimony may be taken at a regular or special meeting if the state body takes no action at the same meeting on matters not on the notice and agenda that are brought before the body by the public. Cal. Gov't Code § 11125.7(a).
Under both Acts, the state body or the legislative body of a local agency may not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs or services of the body, or the acts or omissions of the body. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11125.7(c) (Bagley-Keene Act); 54954.3(c) (Brown Act).

Shut up Marinwood!

Marinwood CSD president, Justin Kai,  frustrated by public criticism of the CSD, seeks to have an official response to critics. All of the other board members point out the problem with impairing legal rights of citizens to voice dissent. An early edition of the speech policy (not made public as required by the Brown Act) sought to suspend the right of citizens to appeal to the District Attorney if they feel the CSD broke the law. Not surprisingly, Kai disallowed public comment on the policy.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Dick Spotswood: Memo to Dixie school board — It’s time to move on

Dick Spotswood: Memo to Dixie school board — It’s time to move on

March 23, 2019 at 10:00 am

Just get on with it. The Dixie School District board appears to have a majority that agrees with changing the district’s name. The board is befuddled about determining a new name to replace the 155-year-old Dixie label. The competency of all factions of the divided board to resolve this festering process is now the issue.

The board rejected two names proposed by name-change opponents including the insipid LOVE district (Live Oak Valley Elementary School District). Now the debate is over creating a lengthy process to determine the new name. Forget it. Just do it. Pick a local geographic feature such as Big Rock, Redwood, Terra Linda or simply North San Rafael. I’d suggest Las Gallinas — “the hen” in Spanish, as a tip to Marin’s history — but undoubtedly someone will claim that “Las” and the final “as” in “Gallinas” are sexist, so that’s out.

Whatever is chosen, don’t name the district after a person, because their history will inevitably include all sorts of unanticipated baggage. Who knows what Manuel T. Freitas might have written, said or voted when he was one of Marin County’s pioneers? Don’t select any name advanced by either name-change proponents or the We Are Dixie faction. That’ll just inflame the rhetoric.

Some board members appear to believe that an “inclusive’ new name selection process will somehow reassemble the divided North San Rafael community. It won’t. The wounds are deep and the memories bitter. This breach will be healed only by time and future school board elections. No one really cares what the new name is. Either folks want to keep “Dixie” or don’t. That’s it.

But for a lack of leadership this issue would have been resolved up-or-down months ago. Trustee Marnie Glickman, the pied piper of the “anything but Dixie” movement, doesn’t seem able to agree with her colleagues on anything other than the name change. The four other trustees don’t seem to understand that the sooner this ruinous fight is over, the better.

All delay does is energize the activists on both sides who live for these ideological fights. Continued jousting provides meaning to their lives despite the destructive result for everyone else.

Here’s the road map to promptly end the dispute: At the next scheduled school board meeting, vote to change the name and accept the Marin Community’s Foundation’s generous offer to pick up the tab for change-related costs. At the same meeting, trustees should vote for any non-controversial geographically-based new name.

Then it’s over. Students, parents and teachers can get back to real-world school concerns, the ruined reputation of the district can be rebuilt and activists can move on to their inevitable next cause. see full article HERE

EDITOR'S NOTE:Telling the Dixie School board to "get on with it" and change the name without the consent of the local voters may quiet the prayer row in Marin politics but it does not fundamentally address the injustice of smearing of the Dixie School community. This was their point wasn't it? To trash us in the national news media, to hold up signs against the "racism" of a 150 year old name? It gave Noah Griffin, a chance to don a white turtleneck (a photo op that made him look like a cleric) and lead a crowd to sing "We Sshall Overcome" . And if that wasn't enough the resident of wealthy Tiburon, held up a Confederate Flag in front of OUR historic schoolhouse, implying that the community is a "Confederacy Outpost". This is the ONLY time the Confederate flag has been held up in our community by all accounts. We ALL are against racism.
There has been a huge injustice done to my community in the name of "fighting racism". The Change the Name folks have created exactly the hostile racist politics we all abhor. In our case, the entire community has been "presumed racist" because they don't agree to the name change. To move ahead in this matter will require the leaders of the "Change the Name" movement to apologize to our community and engage in a community dialog.
I favor a name change but I cannot accept this smear of racism by the Change the Name people.

Yimby+Envy Making sense of the YIMBY politics.

Here is a brief twitter exchange between me and Sonja Trauss, a YIMBY leader.  I have been fascinated by this group because they are not fundamentally ideological in my opinion. They are driven by economic insecurity and generational politics.  They have much in common with the other groups like Occupy Wallstreet and Antifa.  They are essentially nihilists who want to destroy what they believe they cannot attain.  Baby boomers are their number one target since they hold the most wealth in society.   Despite their irrational arguments, they are an educated group who feel that radical action is the only way to achieve their objectives.  Thus, SB50 that will radically upzone every neighborhood in California and take away local authority is perfectly "reasonable"

As Sonja Trauss puts it "Envy is social justice"

I guess she never read about the French Revolution.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Do You Ever Get the Feeling They Want Us Gone!?

Do You Ever Get the Feeling They Want Us Gone!?


ALPERN AT LARGE--Looking at the outgoing flight of Californians to other states (particularly the middle class, and of all political and racial and socioeconomic backgrounds), and how both Sacramento, Downtown Los Angeles (and other major city counterparts in San Francisco, San Diego and elsewhere) are doubling down on stupid, silly, untenable ideas that make no environmental sense ...
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... do you get the idea that they want us gone? Not necessarily dead, because they reeeeeeally want our tax dollars, but gone. Just gone. Replaced. Sayonara. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

And I don't just mean Republicans and Independents, but any Democrat who values hard work, critical thinking, and allowing a person to make his/her own fortune and profit by their lifetimes of exhausting, never ending work.

1) SB 50, created by the same Wiener that pushed SB 827 last year (and was killed in committee when a horrified state learned about it), pretty much rejects and ends all city/local control, to say nothing of the laws of physics and biology. So why is it being pushed?

Because they want us gone. You. Me. That neighbor who worked hard their whole life, and was hoping to keep some of their hard-earned money but want something of the neighborhood preserved.

2) Homeless proliferation is out of control, and despite lots of local city/county money to help the homeless, we keep having policies that reward HAVING the problem and not FIXING the problem. And we're lumping in people who DO want help and those who DON'T want help.

And we're also lumping in people who are just "fine" with urinating, defecating, and leaving their drug paraphernalia on the sidewalk, your backyard, etc. Geez, Ken, you might be thinking, that makes it sound so bad...but it IS bad. So why are the ridiculous policies and inaction being pushed, with the police told to "stand down" on the homeless?

Because they want us gone. You. Me. That neighbor who just wants access to his/her sidewalks accessible, hates urban blight, and contributes mightily to help the homeless through both taxes and via private charities.

3) Affordable housing is worse than ever, and virtually ALL of the new housing is going to rich, Silicon Beach/Valley and Chinese/other foreign investors, with FEWER housing opportunities for the middle class being built. Why don't the powers that be outlaw foreign nationals from buying homes (ditto for condos and apartments) like they did in Mexico, Canada, New Zealand and other nations?

Because they want us gone. You. Me. That neighbor who bought his/her home after Proposition 13, is struggling to pay his/her taxes and working more jobs to make ends meet, has no clue as to how his/her children will afford a house here, or even a condo or apartment, and is wondering if retirement can ever be affordable.

They want us GONE. Not DEAD (well, maybe dead, after we've given up our lifetime of earned taxes), but GONE.

And THAT is how we are supposed to be rewarded by our own and our parents' lifetimes of stress, charity, and generosity after we built and still strive to build the Golden State.

They want us GONE.

(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)


The Three Fishes

Once, three fishes lived in a pond. One evening, some fishermen passed by the pond and saw the fishes. 'This pond is full of fish', they told each other excitedly. 'We have never fished here before. We must come back tomorrow morning with our nets and catch these fish!' So saying, the fishermen left.

When the eldest of the three fishes heard this, he was troubled. He called the other fishes together and said, 'Did you hear what the fishermen said? We must leave this pond at once. The fishermen will return tomorrow and kill us all!'First fish
Second fishThe second of the three fishes agreed. 'You are right', he said. 'We must leave the pond.'

Third fish
But the youngest fish laughed. 'You are worrying without reason', he said. 'We have lived in this pond all our lives, and no fisherman has ever come here. Why should these men return? I am not going anywhere - my luck will keep me safe.'

The eldest of the fishes left the pond that very evening with his entire family. The second fish saw the fishermen coming in the distance early next morning and left the pond at once with all his family. The third fish refused to leave even then.

The fishermen arrived and caught all the fish left in the pond. The third fish's luck did not help him - he too was caught and killed.

The fish who saw trouble ahead and acted before it arrived as well as the fish who acted as soon as it came both survived. But the fish who relied only on luck and did nothing at all died. So also in life.

The Surfrajettes-Britney Spears Toxic Cover

A Balada do Pistoleiro