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California saw dense housing near transit as its future. What now?

March 30, 2020

By : politico – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — As Californians grow accustomed to 6-foot social distancing, the coronavirus could have a chilling effect on the state’s efforts to build more apartments near public transportation to solve its housing crisis…

But the coronavirus will likely stand in the way of that momentum. Opponents of infill and transit-oriented development are blaming population density as a primary factor behind the pandemic’s spread in urban areas, largely based on New York City’s exponential increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conceded as much this week when explaining why the virus has been found in 15 times as many New Yorkers as Californians so far.

“We have one of the most dense, close environments in the country,” he said Wednesday. “And that’s why the virus communicated the way it did. Our closeness makes us vulnerable.”…

For two years, battle lines have been drawn over bills by Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat. His proposals would have forced local governments to allow more housing near transit stations and office buildings, but they died under intense opposition.

California still has 30-odd bills attempting to boost housing production, including a new one by Wiener that would allow more duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes based on the size of a city. Newsom declared in his State of the State address last month he wants more housing construction “especially near transit and downtowns.”

The landscape changed overnight, however. Wiener said he fully expects opponents to invoke the coronavirus…(more)

It is time to rethink density and stop the bills in Sacramento designed to force it on communities that don’t want it. We invoke the virus and social distancing as proof that dense living is not healthy for humans.

COVID-19: A sneak peek at the horrifying economic projections for San Francisco

March 30, 2020

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

he people at City Hall whose job it is to add up numbers are at a loss these days. Because there aren’t so many numbers to add up.

Only to subtract…

The next few weeks and months are going to be very ugly. In many ways. And when, God willing, it all subsides, then the bills come due.

So it’s nice to see this city in essence saying: Damn the torpedoes — spend at full speed ahead… (more)

Too bad the city bank is still years away from tuition, but, even that may not help at a time like this. Hope we all have friendly bankers.

How Does Soap Inactivate Coronaviruses?

March 29, 2020

By Julie from the Exploratorium

Click the Link to view the video if it doesn’t come up on your screen:

Coronaviruses are surrounded by the same type of membrane that surrounds human cells. Learn how disrupting this membrane with soap or alcohol inactivates the virus. Find out more about the science of COVID-19 with the Exploratorium Learning Toolbox.

Related Science Snack: Cellular Soap Opera

COVID-19 killed Urban Density in 2020

March 28, 2020


People pushing dense urban developments are losing this year.

Who is going to support building more tight close quarters after being stuck in a micro unit for weeks? So many problems have been brought on by a government that ignores the present and operates in the future. When a disaster rains down on them they have no plan to handle it. Density proponents survive on the future promises they can pry out of the legislature. There is not much you can do to mitigate a crisis when you live in the future. I think the saying that is relevant is, “it is hard to drain the swamp when you are knew deep in alligators.” People who lived through hurricanes and floods in New Orleans mention the problem of the snakes moving in as well.

Many of us have taken a more cautious pragmatic approach all along. Many of our comments have pointed out the cracks in the foundation that the futurists are building their hopes and dreams on. Now is the time to be gracious and take quiet advantage of the slowdown many of us predicted. We anticipated the bubble would burst, just not this way.

The service industry is going to be in trouble for some time. Much of the gig economy is based on immediate gratification and some of that will disappear fro awhile at least. Many will want to change how they live and work after being cooped up for weeks. Employees have gained new skills working off-site and they may prefer to continue working at home, cutting out long commutes.

There is one thing we can count on for sure. The public that distrusted the government before will trust it less now. There are so many glaring mistakes, redundancies and inconsistencies in the system that there will be little respect left for any claims made by the leadership after this fiasco. How could the government’s PR professionals have gotten the messaging so wrong and confused so many people into not taking the threat seriously?

Density is out in 2020. There will be little support for greed and dense living will be up for review. We should be gracious and pragmatic. Seek support from the public to put a cap on dense developments with limited open space and parks. You never know when those shared spaces may become off-limits again. The only way you may have access to a yard is to rent or own one or live in a small suburban or rural community that has more trees than people. That option is starting to look good now.

Governor Newsom Takes Executive Action to Establish a Statewide Moratorium on Evictions

March 27, 2020

Press Release:

Governor Newsom Takes Executive Action to Establish a Statewide Moratorium on Evictions

The order is effective immediately and will apply through May 31, 2020

Builds on the Governor’s previous executive action authorizing local governments to halt evictions

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today issued an executive order banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.

The tenant would be required to retain documentation but not required to submit it to the landlord in advance. And the tenant would remain obligated to repay full rent in “a timely manner” and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted. The order takes effect immediately, and provides immediate relief to tenants for whom rent is due on April 1st.

Today’s action builds on Governor Newsom’s previous executive order authorizing local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the pandemic.

A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and the text of the order can also be found here.

Opinion: One-hundred medical experts advocate for more hotels for the unhoused, and quickly

March 27, 2020

By San Francisco United in Crisis : sfexaminer – excerpt

As San Francisco’s shelter in place order was being enacted, The City had about 30,000 vacant units and 42,000 empty hotel rooms, while at least 8,000 people remained unhoused, either in congregate shelters or on the street.

Currently, The City is moving into hotel rooms only those unhoused San Franciscans who test positive for coronavirus or those who show symptoms of COVID-19. This is a vital start. But it is not enough.

Individuals carrying the coronavirus may be contagious for several days before showing symptoms or show few to no symptoms at all. Moreover, the rate of spread for the virus, represented by COVID-19’s basic reproduction number (which ranges from two to five, depending on the study), suggests that if even a single person brings the disease into a shelter, an average of two to five people will be infected, each of whom would, in turn, infect two to five more.

If we only provide proper accommodation to people after they are noticeably ill, the spread could become exponential…

Right now, with tens of thousands of vacant rooms in the Bay Area, we have a chance and a duty to get it right, before it gets out of hand.

San Francisco United in Crisis is a coalition of community organizations and labor unions devoted to giving support to our most vulnerable neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis. To see the full list of medical experts who have signed this letter, please go to the coalition’s web site. (more)

Please please please listen to this request from the medical community and get those people in the vacant hotels and units. Just make a deal to pay the bills and let the hotels and managers sign in the people as they walk in the door. You can count and classify them later.

A rent and mortgage moratorium can stop the next Great Depression

March 26, 2020

By Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney : sfchronicle – excerpt

If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans who work in the service industry, right now you’re isolated in your apartment, running out of money for food and knowing that on April 1 that you won’t be able to pay rent.

You know the city has put a pause on evictions, but it hasn’t put a pause on debt. (see details)

If the pandemic continues for at least three more months — which most scientists say it will — on average, if you live alone, you will be $11,000 in debt to your landlord. If you’re one of the lucky workers who is eligible for unemployment, the baseline benefit is up to $450 a week (with another $600 in the federal stimulus deal), and if most of your income was in tips, then you’re getting nowhere close to that amount. Do you just stay in your apartment facing insurmountable debt, or do you break the shelter-in-place order to find work?

Meanwhile, the restaurants, salons, nightlife venues and clothing stores that used to employ you also have been closed down. And if that continues for even a few months, most of these small businesses, already under enormous financial stress from a decade of rent hikes, won’t reopen at all. There’s a strong likelihood that entire sectors of the service industry — one of the biggest economic drivers in San Francisco — will be decimated by the pandemic.

And what about the families who invested their savings in the property who are paying some of the highest mortgage rates of anywhere in the country? What will they do if they can’t go to work for months, or if their unemployment isn’t enough to pay the mortgage? What do small property owners do as their residents stop paying rent and their small businesses tenants permanently shut down? How long before mortgages are underwater, and these families are losing their life savings to the bank?

San Franciscans are facing down what can only be described as mass destitution. Representatives of the Federal Reserve are predicting that the unemployment rate could reach 30% because of the pandemic. The highest unemployment rate during the Great Depression was 25%.

In these unprecedented times, landlords, renters, tenants and homeowners are all on the same team. We need to collectively call for a simultaneous rent and mortgage moratorium. It’s common sense: The government was right to call for a shelter-in-place for communities being affected by coronavirus. But you can’t shut down the free market, close businesses and mandate that your citizens stay home without providing a remedy to the devastating harm those orders cause. A rent and mortgage moratorium would allow all workers and businesses to obey these life-saving orders without having to choose between financial ruin or the health of their community.

The Federal Reserve under President Trump has already given the banks $1.5 trillion in stabilization funds. Banks can simply pause the loan, eliminate interest and fees accrued during this period and extend the length of the loan if necessary. While the effect on the banks will be minimal, it could mean life and death to many San Franciscans. If property owners are safe, they can afford to forgo rent during the time period when shelter-in-place orders are in effect.

Earlier this week we put forward a resolution calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump to take immediate action to use their power to call for or legislate a rent and mortgage moratorium in counties that have been forced to shelter in place.

In normal times, the federal government has legislative authority over banking and the state has jurisdiction over landlord-tenant law. Right now, both the governor and president have emergency powers that can be exercised for the safety and protection of the people. In order to prevent mass eviction, poverty and prolonged unemployment when the shelter-in-place orders are lifted, both executives could eliminate the rent and mortgage debt burden during this period so when it is over, we can all return to normal as soon as possible.

As San Franciscans, we aren’t afraid to stand up and tell the truth. Despite naysayers and conservative media claiming the pandemic was mass hysteria, most San Franciscans called for immediate social distancing. We need that same courage now. If San Franciscans don’t start loudly calling for a rent and mortgage moratorium, then the effects of a second great depression could be more devastating than the pandemic itself.

Post about it, talk about it, call your elected officials and demand it. We need a rent and mortgage moratorium, and we need it starting now.

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