Friday, June 14, 2019

New Suburbanism – A Smart Alternative to ‘Smart Growth’

Smart growth

New Suburbanism – A Smart Alternative to ‘Smart Growth’

Furthering property rights, innovation, initiative, and economic pluralism with respect to land development

By Edward Ring, June 5, 2019 2:15 am

Solutions to California’s housing shortage invariably focus on increasing the density of preexisting cities and suburbs. Legislative solutions include SB 375, passed in 2008, which “incentivizes” cities and counties to approve high density land developments, and the failed (this time) SB 50, which would have forced cities and counties to approve high density development proposals.

How high density land development benefits special interests cannot be ignored. Politically connected developers enjoy windfall profits by selling overpriced homes crowded onto smaller parcels of land. Existing cities collect higher taxes from property owners and shoppers who would otherwise have moved into new cities. Government at all levels can spend more money on pay and benefits, and less on infrastructure. Investors harvest higher returns thanks to the real estate bubble.

In front of the hidden agenda of special interests, however, are moral arguments for so-called “smart growth.” The crux of these moral arguments for high density “smart growth” are that regional ecosystems bordering urban areas should not be sullied by new growth, and that high density development reduces emissions of greenhouse gasses, which furthers global ecosystem health.

Both of these moral arguments are flawed. As documented in an earlier analysis “Grand Bargains to Make California Affordable,” if 10 million new residents moved into homes on half-acre lots, three persons per home (with an equal amount of space allocated for new roads, retail, commercial, and industrial development), it would only use up 3.2 percent of California’s land. If all this growth were concentrated onto grazing land, much which is being taken out of production anyway, it would only consume 21 percent of it. If all this growth were to fall onto non-irrigated cropland, which is not prime agricultural land, it would only use up 19 percent of that. Much growth, of course, could be in the 58 percent of California not used either for farming or ranching.

California’s ecosystems can easily withstand significant urban expansion. Even this extreme low density growth scenario – as if there wouldn’t still be parallel development within existing urban areas – only consumes 3.2 percent of the land in this vast state. Similar concerns about greenhouse gasses are unfounded, because they rest on the assumption that higher greenhouse gas emissions are correlated with low density development. They are not, or they don’t have to be. Telecommuting, dispersion of jobs into new suburban nodes, clean energy, and clean vehicles, are all examples of future trends that belie the falsehood that all growth must be confined to existing cities.

Moreover, it is unlikely, if not impossible, for high-density development alone to ever deliver a supply of homes that meets demand, lowering prices to affordable levels. Part of the reason for this is the understandable resistance high-density proposals arouse from existing residents who don’t want to see the ambiance of their neighborhoods destroyed. Equally significant is the extraordinary cost of construction in California. But evidence from around the nation is unambiguous – in areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area where urban containment is practiced, home prices are unaffordable, and in areas such as Houston where urban growth is permitted, home prices are affordable.

If you accept these premises – that urban expansion will not cause unacceptable harm to the environment, and that urban expansion is the only way to deliver enough new homes to lower prices, “smart growth” starts to take on a different meaning. “Special interest growth” might be more descriptive.

New Suburbanism Offers An Alternative to Smart Growth

The concept of New Suburbanism is not original, but it also isn’t well established. This makes it malleable, or, at least, this leaves room for a fresh interpretation of its meaning. First expressed in 2005 by urban geographer Joel Kotkin, New Suburbanism is a complement to New Urbanism, a movement initially devoted to the twin principles of architectural and landscape design that celebrates local history and traditions, along with promoting accessible, pedestrian friendly, aesthetically engaging public spaces. Over time, New Urbanism and New Suburbanism have been taken over by the smart growth crowd, with high-density neighborhood design now the overwhelming priority of these movements. But consider these quotes from Kotkin, written in 2006:

“One critical aspect of New Suburbanism lies in its pragmatism. One cannot always assume, for example, that building a new town center, constructing denser housing, or introducing mixed-use development would automatically improve quality of life.”

Kotkin goes on to explain how “sprawling, multipolar” cities that permit suburban growth are creating more jobs and have more affordable homes, how most people starting families prefer single family detached homes, and average commutes in these cities are actually less because “jobs move to the suburban periphery.” He writes:

“We instead should follow a pragmatic, market-oriented approach to improving the areas in which people increasingly choose to live. For example, in a low-density suburban community that seeks to retain its single-family character, it may be more appropriate to introduce single-family detached housing, rather than assume multi-family apartments and lofts must be part of the solution.”

New Suburbanism is a necessary alternative to Smart Growth because Smart Growth is failing. It not only delivers an inadequate supply of homes, it delivers the wrong mixture of homes, because it delivers apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and “detached” homes with yards barely big enough for an outdoor grill, but it does not deliver what people want, which is a home with a yard.

New Urbanism has become an intellectual movement indistinguishable from the Smart Growth policies that mandate high-density development. Here, from the website “New Urbanism” is an accurate representation of the principles of New Urbanism:

1 – Walkability,
2 – Connectivity,
3 – Mixed-Use & Diversity,
4 – Mixed Housing,
5 – Quality Architecture & Urban Design,
6 – Traditional Neighborhood Structure,
7 – Increased Density,
8 – Smart Transportation,
9 – Sustainability, and,
10 – Quality of Life.

And here is a summary of why New Urbanism, or “Smart Growth,” is not so smart:

1 – Artificially and selectively inflates land values, making housing less affordable,
2 – Emphasizes public space over private space,
3 – Makes war on the car,
4 – Promotes high-density infill in low density neighborhoods,
5 – Prefers open space to homes, but not to biofuel crops, solar fields, or wind farms,
6 – Presumes that social problems will be alleviated through forcing everyone to live in ultra high density, mixed neighborhoods,
7 – Incorrectly claims there is a shortage of open space and farmland, and,
8 – Presumes to have the final answer; that its precepts are beyond debate.

New Suburbanism offers an alternative ideology – one that embraces much of New Urbanist concepts, but from an entirely different perspective. These “Principles of New Suburbanism,” are not intended to refute the virtues of high density, but to extol the virtues of low density. Embodied in these principles is the idea that human stewardship and private land ownership, combined with 21st century clean technologies, can enable a suburban and exurban landscape to host bucolic and utterly clean low density communities across thousands of square miles.


(1) Embraces Aesthetic Values: Suburbs can be beautiful. Spacious, forested, with architectural character. New suburban communities can be built with an emphasis on aesthetics, as well as towards creating a sense of place, especially when high density isn’t the prevailing mandate.

(2) Low and High Density Are Not Mutually Exclusive: New Suburbanists support high density zoning in the urban core of large cities. New Suburbanists enthusiastically support building 21st century cities, with high-rises and plentiful car-independent transit options and everything else inimical to the central cores of megacities.

(3) Land is Abundant: There is abundant available land for low density suburban and exurban development. New Suburbanists encourage zoning that recognizes the importance of progressively lower density zoning from urban cores, instead of draconian “urban service boundaries” that arbitrarily restrict development, especially low density development.

(4) Car Friendly: Cars are the future, not the past. Personal transportation devices are tantalizingly close to becoming ultra safe conveyances that can drive on full autopilot and have zero environmental footprint, and we are within a few decades at most of having abundant clean energy. The age of the personal driving machine has just begun.

(4) Road Friendly: Roads are the most versatile of all mass transit corridors since people, bicycles, cars, busses, and trucks can all travel on or alongside roads. Commercial areas should be car-friendly as well as bike and pedestrian friendly. Since land is abundant, this is not all that difficult.

(5) Decentralized & Off-Grid Friendly: New communities can have neighborhood-scale groundwater extraction, distribution and recharge systems. Using new off-grid technologies, sustainable and cost-effective energy and even water independence can be achieved at a household or neighborhood basis, often enabling lower taxes through avoiding more expensive larger public infrastructure.

(6) Farm & EcoSystem Friendly: Via the economic pluralism fostered by permitting flexible and low density residential zoning, i.e., small independently owned, often independently constructed homes on large lots of .5 to 20 acres, you create the potential for a vibrant market in small property leases for specialty farming. Through zoning (or protecting) vast tracts of outer suburb and exurban lands according to New Suburbanist precepts where low density home building and road building is encouraged instead of discouraged, you create a market for relatively cheap abundant land, making more affordable acquisition of land set-asides for agriculture or nature conservancies.

New Suburbanism embraces the inspiring original vision of New Urbanism, its call to create the 21st century’s version of cities and buildings that are welcoming spaces. But New Suburbanism rejects the ideological stridency, the coercion, and the porcine corruption of the powerful high density coalition.

At its heart, New Suburbanism is the necessary counterpart to New Urbanism and Smart Growth, because they are constrained by an imbalanced, unnecessary bias towards high density. New Suburbanism gives back to our cities and towns their freedom; gives us abundant land; gives us affordable homes; gives our cities turned suburbs turned exurbs the unforced, organic, natural and easy transition from dense to sparse. If New Urbanism defines the aesthetic of our new and renewed cities, than New Suburbanism helps define the aesthetic interface between city and country; it gives us back the smooth transition from urban chic to country soul.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Why Marinwood CSD does not respect your opinion

Marinwood CSD director, Izabela Perry explains why she will not listen to the public remarks on the Negative Declaration for the Marinwood Maintenance Compound.  She explains that "experts" obviously are more informed and better educated. She places little value to listening to the public.  The public comments pointed out factual errors such as the violations of environmental law, inaccurate, misleading data and the size of the massive compound which is inconsistent with use of the park. It is Ms. Perry that needs education. Clearly, she  thinks  "expert opinion" should be above reproach despite the obvious financial incentives for consultants to state opinion in support of the project.  The architect and the Marinwood CSD met quietly behind closed doors to create a project which doubles the size of previous proposals and will not divulge its expected cost.  Izabela Perry "respects" your opinion only if it agrees with "experts".  Izabela was borne and raised in a Communist country which may explain her obsequeous belief in political functionaries and experts and her contempt for democracy. 

Update: June 2019 = The Marinwood Maintenance Facility architects fees are over 300% of original estimate of $12,000.  Former Marinwood CSD politician, Bill Hansell is acting as the architect and has had his plans rejected due to its non compliance with county building guidelines.  Many of the "errors" such as massive size of the compound, the awkward drive through design and deceptive land site design were identified by the public that the Marinwood CSD refuse to acknowledge.  Such arrogance has cost the district thousands which would be better spent on facilities repair.

Had the district used a site plan offered by Irv Schwartz in 2017 and installed a pre fab unit,  it would be built by now and cost less than Bill Hansells unfinished drawing.

The Marinwood CSD is wasting your tax dollars.

What do YOU think should be done about this?

Types Of Local Corruption in Government

Types  Of Local Corruption

There are several types of political corruption that occur in local government. Some are more common than others, and some are more prevalent to local governments than to larger segments of government. Local governments may be more susceptible to corruption because interactions between private individuals and officials happen at greater levels of intimacy and with more frequency at more decentralized levels. Forms of corruption pertaining to money like briberyextortionembezzlement, and graft are found in local government systems. Other forms of political corruption are nepotism and patronage systems. One historical example was the Black Horse Cavalry a group of New York state legislators accused of blackmailing corporations.
  • Bribery is the offering of something which is most often money but can also be goods or services in order to gain an unfair advantage. Common advantages can be to sway a person’s opinion, action, or decision, reduce amounts fees collected, speed up a government grants, or change outcomes of legal processes.
  • Extortion is threatening or inflicting harm to a person, their reputation, or their property in order to unjustly obtain money, actions, services, or other goods from that person. Blackmail is a form of extortion.
  • Embezzlement is the illegal taking or appropriation of money or property that has been entrusted to a person but is actually owned by another. In political terms this is called graft which is when a political office holder unlawfully uses public funds for personal purposes.
  • Nepotism is the practice or inclination to favor a group or person who is a relative when giving promotions, jobs, raises, and other benefits to employees. This is often based on the concept of familism which is believing that a person must always respect and favor family in all situations including those pertaining to politics and business. This leads some political officials to give privileges and positions of authority to relatives based on relationships and regardless of their actual abilities.
  • Patronage systems consist of the granting favors, contracts, or appointments to positions by a local public office holder or candidate for a political office in return for political support. Many times patronage is used to gain support and votes in elections or in passing legislation. Patronage systems disregard the formal rules of a local government and use personal instead of formalized channels to gain an advantage.

Free Speech Online

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Dixie School District panels cull lists of potential names

The Miwok lived for 4500 years on the land which is now Miller Creek School.  Why not name the district for them?

Dixie School District panels cull lists of potential names

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: June 10, 2019 at 6:23 pm | UPDATED: June 10, 2019 at 8:27 pm

The Dixie School District in San Rafael has released a set of possible new names as a decision deadline draws near.

“Using criteria from the board, (the committee members) have reviewed over 100 name submissions and narrowed the list to seven names,” district Superintendent Jason Yamashiro said in an email to the district community Friday.

The seven names identified by the district’s naming advisory committee are: Acorn Valley, Josephine Leary, Joseph Eichler, Laurel Creek, Quail Song, Creekside and Kenne school districts. The public is invited to sign petitions for the names at an event from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Miller Creek Middle School at 2255 Las Gallinas Ave.

For the elementary school, a renaming committee has narrowed down the choices to three location-related potential names: Lucas Valley, Big Rock and Creekside. The school at 1175 Idylberry Road is within the Lucas Valley neighborhood, near the “Big Rock” landmark off of Lucas Valley Road and also boasts a creek that runs through its campus.

The district names come as two separate citizen advisory committees are gathering recommendations and signatures on petitions to give to the board of trustees by a June 25 deadline.

The board is expected.. see full article HERE

Marnie Glickmans Reasons for Dixie School District Change.

Marin Voice: Here’s why I voted for the Dixie School District name change

Dixie School Board member Marnie Glickman speaks during a board meeting in San Rafael on Jan. 15, 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

June 8, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Thousands of people supported the movement to change the name of Dixie School District and Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael. Over the past 22 years, we talked with neighbors, wrote letters, made phone calls, signed petitions and read history books at the Marin County Library.

I am grateful to every single one of our supporters, as well as trustees Brooks Nguyen and Megan Hutchinson who joined me in voting yes to change the names. Thank you to Marin Community Foundation for funding the name changes.

The students and alumni are inspirational leaders. They told us about the harmful impact of Dixie on their lives. They stayed up late to testify at board meetings. They joined us on silent marches from school to school across the district. They shared new name ideas and organized.

Together, we generated a historic transformation for our children. We can now teach the true history of Dixie. Dixie School District was created by the Marin County Board of Supervisors during the Civil War in 1863 when six million humans were enslaved in this country. Dixie is the national anthem of the Confederacy. The song, Dixie, was played at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as the president of the Confederacy. The Confederacy fought for white supremacy and lost. We changed the name of our school district and school because it was hurtful to many people.

We started public conversations about race, racism and privilege in an overwhelmingly white, affluent school district located in the heart of liberal Marin County. Only 3% of our students are African-American. We have no African-American teachers. We introduced new concepts to some of our neighbors like implicit bias, microaggressions and white fragility.

See article Here

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bruce Anderson says Marnie Glickman recall is "mean spirited".

Marin Voice: Recall attempt of Dixie board member is mean-spirited

Dixie School Board member Marnie Glickman speaks during a board meeting in San Rafael on Jan. 15, 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

PUBLISHED: June 6, 2019 at 10:20 am | UPDATED: June 6, 2019 at 10:34 am

Please stop the recall against Dixie School District board member Marnie Glickman.

The IJ has already declared that recalls should be for malfeasance. No one has accused Glickman of malfeasance. Instead those supporting the recall are operating a mean-spirited, vindictive, costly and totally unnecessary campaign because they didn’t want to change the racist Dixie name.

In forums and on their website, their mean-spiritedness comes out as they attack her family. Claiming not to know that Glickman’s middle child went to private schools when she was elected, they say it is now a reason to recall. They also claim that because her two other children weren’t from her body they don’t count as attending Dixie schools. They have claimed that another reason to recall is because Glickman wore nice clothes to an interview and brought notes.

While attempting to proclaim that the recall is not vindication for the successful name change, the supporters constantly reference the name change and their interpretation of how success was achieved. They imbue almost mystical abilities in Glickman to command the media, local politicians and fellow board members in finally achieving what, for me, was a 30-year goal of changing the district name. The recall is vindictiveness over the name change. The name is changing because it was racist and it is the right thing to do.

The recall has already cost our community. The supporters of the recall are dividing our community instead of healing. They make up claims about Glickman’s lack of fiduciary responsibility only to provide hollow facts in support.

One “fact” they provide is that Glickman was the only “no” vote on a board vote to extend their own terms a year. They are claiming that if Glickman had won, the district would have had to pay for a special election. True, but the board voted to extended terms and there was no costs to the district.

See the Article HERE

Tule Elk in Pt Reyes

Marin Voice: It’s time to recall Dixie board member Marnie Glickman

Marin Voice: It’s time to recall Dixie board member Marnie Glickman

A sign for the Dixie School District hangs on the wall of the school board chambers during their meeting in San Rafael, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

PUBLISHED: June 5, 2019 at 11:00 am | UPDATED: June 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm

Our Dixie School District community is hurting. Hurt by false accusations of intolerance. Hurt by the divisive tactics employed in the name of tolerance. Hurt by the loss of district funds that were wasted on the name change process. Hurt by the deception of Marnie Glickman.

Our Dixie School District community is tired. Tired of being ignored. Tired of being silenced. Tired of seeing district funds wasted on political agendas. Tired of the board not focusing on our children’s education.

This very paper said we should abandon our recall petition so our district could focus on the students. Unfortunately, our school board is saddled with Glickman, a political activist, who is primarily responsible for disrupting board meetings for the better part of a year. She put her own political campaign ahead of our kids. The role of a trustee is to be responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities to its community. She has clearly failed to uphold her duties as a trustee under the California School Boards Association guidelines.

After multiple previous failed attempts to be elected to public office, Glickman intentionally misled our community during her campaign.

She stated in emails on Sept. 30, 2015:

“I have never said I support a name change. I have always said the same thing and it is what I said to the IJ. The top priority of the school board is to meet the children’s need. This discussion detracts from our focus on the children and their educational needs. I also want to tell you that only one person at the door has told me that she supports a name change. I’ve knocked on more than 1,000 doors.”

Her deception regarding the name change has taken the board’s focus away from the children for the better part of a year and continues to do so.

Glickman has shown complete disregard for fiscal responsibility. The tactics she utilized by repeatedly disrupting board meetings have cost the district unnecessary legal fees. She was also willing to waste district money on an unnecessary election at a time when the reserves were at an all-time low and funding was being cut.

Glickman has repeatedly leaked confidential board emails to the press. She has shown she is incapable of working with her fellow board members unless the board accedes to her political priorities. When asked by a fellow board member why she didn’t discuss the name change with her fellow trustees instead of working with outside activists and the press, she said, it was “my First Amendment right.”

Thankfully it is our democratic right to remove Glickman from office. The people who support this recall are hard-working, politically diverse, multicultural, Dixie School District community members including parents, grandparents, alumni and neighbors.

See Article HERE