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SF scores victory over telecom firms as Brown vetoes antenna-placement bill

October 19, 2017

By Dominic Fracassa : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco and dozens of other California cities won a victory when Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have shifted the power to regulate placement of wireless communications equipment from municipalities to the state.

The cities were strongly opposed to the legislation, saying they needed to keep control over their own rights of way and infrastructure. But experts who had been tracking the bill since its inception in February said they expect state lawmakers to resurrect it, perhaps as soon as next year, and pointed to a similar measure that’s gaining traction at the Federal Communications Commission…

In a veto statement, Brown said, “There is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently. Nevertheless, I believe that the interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.”

In addition to worries about losing control over where small-cell antennas can be placed, San Francisco and other cities feared the bill would cost them millions in lost revenue. The measure would have capped the annual amount that cities could charge telecommunications companies at $250 per antenna. San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission said the city would lose out on $33 million over 10 years if the bill was signed into law.

“I’m thankful that Gov. Brown vetoed this legislation,” said San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, who sponsored a board-passed resolution opposing the bill. “This was a power play by lobbyists up in Sacramento to take away local control.”… (more)

One good thing that Brown did!


Amazon’s Second Headquarters May Create Jobs. But It Will Also Drive Inequality and Housing Crises.

October 19, 2017

by Paris Marx : thebolditalic – excerpt

Major cities the world over are in a tough position. A trend of increased income inequality has created bifurcated cities characterized by intractable housing crises and gentrification. The matching political trend has been for local politicians to try to attract new industries with the goal of using that prosperity to bridge the growing divide — or so they say.

Amazon’s recent announcement that it’s looking to build a second headquarters (which it calls HQ2) to rival its sprawling footprint in Seattle plays right into the hands of these mayors who are hoping to boost their cities’ economic growth. Yet by trying to attract a company like Amazon, they’re not taking in account the good chance that the problems faced by their cities will only multiply.

Pitting Cities against Each Other…for Profit… (more)


Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

October 18, 2017

By David Dayen : thenation – excerpt

Alleged fraud put JPMorgan Chase hundreds of millions of dollars ahead; ordinary homeowners, not so much.

David Dayen posts a powerful cover-story investigation in The Nation detailing a blistering NY lawsuit that presents evidence Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon knowingly implemented a grand scam on the US Government to pay off the government-mandated settlement for JPMorgan’s fraud that helped trigger the 2008 financial crash. As part of the National Mortgage Settlement, JPMorgan Chase claimed credit for forgiving the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners. The scam? Years earlier JP Morgan had sold many of those toxic mortgage properties — often for pennies on the dollar — to third party investors. [read more]…

You know the old joke: How do you make a killing on Wall Street and never risk a loss? Easy—use other people’s money. Jamie Dimon and his underlings at JPMorgan Chase have perfected this dark art at America’s largest bank, which boasts a balance sheet one-eighth the size of the entire US economy.

JPMorgan’s share of the settlement was $5.3 billion, but only $1.1 billion had to be paid in cash; the other $4.2 billion was to come in the form of financial relief for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. The settlement called for JPMorgan to reduce the amounts owed, modify the loan terms, and take other steps to help distressed Americans keep their homes. A separate 2013 settlement against the bank for deceiving mortgage investors included another $4 billion in consumer relief...(more)

Should San Jose Limit Rent Hikes for Struggling Small Businesses?

October 18, 2017

by Jennifer Wadsworth : sanjoseinside – excerpt

A local community leader wants San Jose to explore ways to sustain small businesses, which, like the people who staff them, face soaring rents in Silicon Valley.

In a letter to city officials, Julie Borinas Driscoll said that in addition to seeking federal aid through the Small Business Administration, San Jose should figure out other ways to limit rent increases for mom-and-pop shops.

“Otherwise,” she wrote, “there will be no small businesses, backbone to our nation’s economy around. Small business is important in America.”

While some municipalities—most recently New York City—have flirted with the idea of commercial rent control to stave off gentrification, it has no known precedent in the U.S. In California, the proposal would require a change in state law… (more)


Must Read! How Nextdoor Found 10 Million People While LA City Planning Found 100

October 18, 2017

By Jorge Castañeda : citywatchla – excerpt

SPECIAL REPORT–In 2013, I was organizing for the startup Nextdoor, the social networking app for neighborhoods whose logo is a cute ’n chunky house. Nobody had heard of Nextdoor, and Los Angeles had only a handful of users. Four years later, Nextdoor has 10 million registered users in 160,000 neighborhoods in the U.S., Netherlands, U.K., and Germany.

Our Los Angeles team was one dozen organizers, and our assignment was to somehow connect tens of thousands of neighbors with each other. Our shoestring campaign was one of sustained outreach, integration of community input, and thoughtful collaboration with allies like LA’s all-volunteer Neighborhood Councils…

The Coalition, along with about 30 Neighborhood Councils, spent six months in 2017 pushing and urging City Hall to engage in fully open, bottom-up discussions around the first comprehensive update of the city’s General Plan since the Vietnam War…

Measured against our 12 organizers at Nextdoor, LA’s 350-strong Department of Planning is an unsettling master class on how to avoid public input. City Planners held non-transparent, private, invitation-only debates this year to s hape the Open Space Element. After intense public criticism about that, from LA Tenants Union, Hillside Federation and more than 30 Neighborhood Councils, City Planning opened a single Open Space debate to the public. A standing-room-only crowd showed up. The deep concerns expressed that day were jotted down as fragments, by a city employee, on a flip-chart — and never seen again…

This month, City Planning is unveiling its Open Space Element “outline” at four public hearings. The hearings are proving to bend the concept of “public.” The first two, in Westwood and the Valley, were not advertised. I counted 35 members of the public in Westwood, and maybe 60 at the Valley hearing — many of them alerted by Coalition to Preserve LA. The last two are set for Oct. 21 in South LA, and Oct. 25 in Hollywood. Almost nobody knows about them. (See schedule at end of article.)

Let’s compare those tiny gatherings to what City Hall is capable of. “Vision Zero” is a $32 million pet project of Mayor Garcetti’s transportation czar, who got a $700,000 budget for consultants to hold up wacky signs on street corners, pitch-makers to attend Neighborhood Councils promoting a Swedish street safety concept, and radio ads. It was all over town.

Vision Zero backfired because city officials downplayed their underlying goal — to close busy commuter lanes, known as a “road diet.” 

But is Vision Zero’s sneakiness a more acute failure than a General Plan nobody has heard of?…

The General Plan is LA’s shared vision for addressing climate change, livability, growth, open spaces, infrastructure and public safety. On Oct. 2, City Planner Ken Bernstein told the small Westside hearing, “we have no funding” to truly involve the public.

You should probably read that last paragraph again…

If 12 Nextdoor organizers like me can launch an unknown concept on a shoestring budget and craft a shared vision embraced by thousands of people, common sense suggests a city with 35,000-plus employees and a $9.2 billion budget has no excuse for failing to join the current Millennium.

(Jorge Castañeda holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, worked as an organizer for years and is producing a documentary film on homelessness in Los Angeles.)… (more)

Yee Pulls Delivery Robot Ban, Proposes Permit Process

October 18, 2017

by Teresa Hammerl : hoodline – excerpt

Photos of robots by zrants

District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee yesterday revised a proposal to ban autonomous delivery robots from San Francisco sidewalks. Yee’s new plan would require companies to obtain permits for using robots, limiting their use to light industrial areas.

As we reported in May, Yee introduced legislation to prohibit robots that  transport items for commercial purposes from using sidewalks. At the time, he said companies were testing delivery devices without any legal framework. Yesterday, he noted that the law sometimes lags behind emergent technologies.

“I’m introducing amendments that strike the balance to protect our public resource, local companies and supports innovation,” Yee said, adding that sidewalks should always be prioritized for human use.

If his legislation passes, companies could apply for permits that allow them to do robotics testing, research and development in areas zoned for production, design and repair—most of which are located in eastern neighborhoods…

Yee’s amendments have been sent back to a Board committee for further consideration…(more)

A San Francisco official wants robots to be taxed just like people

October 18, 2017

By : digitaltrends – excerpt

Robots are eating our jobs. This Californian grassroots initiative proposes one possible answer

Whether it’s immigration, health care, taxes or the environment, there are plenty of topics which drive voters. One that is not quite as much of a hot-button topic as it maybe should be? The impact of automation on employment. As we have covered here on multiple occasions, artificial intelligence and robotics is likely to have a massive impact on jobs, long before we need to start worrying about things like superintelligence and the technological singularity. With that in mind, a San Francisco official is actively pushing for a “robot tax,” and a more thorough examination of what the rise of the robots is likely to mean for us.

What San Francisco supervisor Jane Kim has created is a statewide grassroots coalition called the “Jobs of the Future Fund,” which sets out to create a communal fund that will help ease the transition as robots take on more and more of our jobs. To do this, it proposes that employers who replace humans with robots or algorithms should continue to pay payroll taxes to fund training, education and new opportunities for humans. In this way, workers can benefit from the automation revolution, rather than just those at the very top.

“Many experts predict that millions of American jobs are at high risk of being replaced through automation; some studies found as much as 47 percent,” Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for Kim, told Digital Trends. “We need to start thinking now about how we can smooth this transition to ensure these workers have the training and education they need to continue to access good-paying, middle-class jobs.”… (more)


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