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Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

It’s no Serial, but it’ll do

May 17, 2017

by Eve Batey : curbed – excerpt

The San Francisco Business Times is getting into the podcast game with Structures, a podcast on “the Bay Area’s sky-high housing costs, new skyscrapers, and development fights” starring the SFBT’s Blanca Torres and Roland Li.

The inaugural episode is 25 minutes of local wonkery (term used with affection), including their take on a CEQA suit on a Fremont development and the search for teacher housing in SF. They’ve put the episode up on Soundcloud here, but it just might be easier to click on this link here to subscribe through Apple’s podcast app(more)

Dissecting Aetna’s surprising single-payer health care stance

May 16, 2017

By Sarah Kliff : cnbc – excerpt

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini told employees in a private meeting Thursday that he thinks the United States “should have” a debate about single-payer. “Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation,” Bertolini said in a video tape of his remarks provided to Vox by an attendee at the meeting. You can read his whole answer in my story — but here in VoxCare, I want to catch you up on what has happened since the video leaked this morning…

I think instead of shouting back and forth across the stage, let’s discuss what single-payer means. Is it a single source of financing, which does not yet get at the cost structure? Is it a health care system where the government owns the doctors and hospitals and operates them as well, like the NHS in the UK? What is that? So that when we start yelling single-payer back and forth, let’s discuss that…

Right now, in this country, the government doesn’t run anything in health care other than the ACA, and they’re doing a poor job of that. Aetna was the first financial intermediary for Medicare. We have the first check somewhere in my office to Hartford Hospital. We ran Medicare. The government didn’t. So what is single-payer, what does that mean? Let’s be clear when we say that, so that as the American public hears this comment about single-payer, they know what we’re talking about…. (more)

Some surprises in this article. Read it and see what you think.

China Minsheng Buys 80% Stake in SF Bayside Project for Reported $100M

May 15, 2017

by Greg Isaacson : mingitandi – excerpt

One of China’s largest private investment groups has teamed up with partners in the US to invest in a waterfront development site in San Francisco, joining a growing number of mainland and Hong Kong investors that are betting on the booming Bay Area property market.

A real estate developer controlled by China’s Minsheng Investment Group acquired an 80 percent interest in the fully entitled luxury residential site located two blocks away from the Bay Bridge, for approximately $100 million, according to local media reports…

The only entitled development site on the waterfront, the project was narrowly approved by the city’s Board of Appeals amidst some controversy about its design and expected impact on the neighborhood. Global property consulting firm JLL concluded the transaction as the exclusive sales agent, while law firm Paul Hasting served as a legal advisor to SRE Group on the deal…

The proposed project is located at 75 Howard Street, next to the iconic Embarcadero boulevard along San Francisco Bay…(more)

Proposal seeks to shake up how SF’s affordable housing is priced

May 15, 2017

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

City Skyline from Bernal Heights, photo by Zrants

Two competing affordable housing philosophies go head-to-head this week in San Francisco City Hall. One intends to keep middle-class families in a city that’s become increasingly white collar. The other seeks to build more affordable housing for the poor.

Now an advocacy group called the Council of Community Housing Organizations is throwing in an idea that complicates both proposals and the negotiations to reach a consensus.

The group is pushing San Francisco supervisors to change the way that affordable housing is priced, basing it on the market rate for the surrounding neighborhood, rather than the citywide median income. Rents for affordable units would go down in places like Visitacion Valley and the Bayview, and stay about the same in upscale areas like Sea Cliff.

“Right now it’s just flat-priced,” said Peter Cohen, the council’s co-director. “So you have these ‘affordable’ units that are so far above what’s affordable for the neighborhood, they’re essentially being built for outsiders. That’s a recipe for gentrification.”… (more)

One of the biggist arguments that has remained unsettled, other than the inclusionary requirements, has been over the geographic considerations for AMI (area medium income). Which area are you using?


Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

May 13, 2017

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

Azure Farm, a Certified Organic farm in Central Oregon, is under threat from the local county government who wants to spray Azure’s Certified Organic farm with herbicides like Roundup (Glyphosate). Here’s what you can do to help. Contact Sherman County court via email at or call Lauren at 541-565-3416 and express your concern. See for more details.


By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor : jonathanturley – excerpt (includes video)

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.


View original post 31 more words

Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer

May 12, 2017

Laura Sullivan and Meg Anderson : npr – excerpt (includes audio and video clips)

Heard on All Things Considered(more)

This story was produced in partnership with the PBS series Frontline.

The episode investigates the billions spent on housing low-income people, and why so few get the help they need.

From Frontline: How We Did The Math

From Frontline: A Housing Affordability Crisis That’s Worse for the Lowest Income Americans

From NPR: Section 8 Vouchers Help The Poor — But Only If Housing Is Available

WATCH ‘Poverty, Politics and Profit’

In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it’s costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits.

In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Industry representatives don’t dispute the numbers; they say these trends are the result of rising construction costs, decreasing federal dollars that funded other housing subsidy programs, and stricter state requirements to build homes for the lowest-income households. They also say the business is less profitable than it used to be.

But NPR and Frontline also found that little public accounting of the costs exists, even among government officials and regulators charged with monitoring the program. Some key lawmakers say that needs to change… (more)

Rise in tax dollars is buying less housing but only around 40% of this is attributable to rising construction costs.

Furor over gas-tax hike shows no sign of easing

May 8, 2017

By Matier and Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

Critics of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $52 billion road repair program question whether money raised by higher gas taxes and vehicle fees could be siphoned off to fill gaps in the state’s general fund…

According to Palmer, the state Constitution bars tapping current gas taxes and vehicle registration fees for general-fund uses. The new fees in Brown’s program will be similarly restricted under a constitutional amendment headed for the June 2018 ballot, Palmer said.

So what’s to keep the state, which will start collecting the new fees in January, from diverting funds ahead of the June vote?

“The governor’s veto pen,” said Palmer…

Of course, all that could be moot if Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), has his way. He has just announced a petition drive for a November 2018 ballot initiative to repeal the governor’s transportation package.

Once he gets the green light on the language from the attorney general, Allen and his allies will have 215 days to collect 365,880 signatures of registered voters. He says he’s “absolutely” confident he’ll get there, given the response he’s gotten out the gate… (more)

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