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The problems with the gig economy and a housing ‘crisis’ bill

June 24, 2019

Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

The problems with the gig economy…

Supes hold a hearing on Uber, Lyft, and their ilk — and planners look at a state measure [SB 330] that does nothing for affordable housing. That’s The Agenda for June 23-30…

The gig economy and its problems are big news all over the country. California is moving to crack down on some huge, profitable companies that use (for example) drivers as “independent contractors” and pay no social security, disability, or health benefits for their workers.

Tech companies love this model – they get all the benefits and none of the responsibility. Uber can randomly change the amount it pays its drivers, randomly fire anyone who it doesn’t like, and randomly change all the rules. You don’t like it? Don’t drive any more (and never mind that you may have bought a car and taken on a loan based on Uber’s false promises)…

The Board of Supes Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee will hold a hearing on all of this Friday/28. It’s not clear what San Francisco can do locally – the Big Tech companies love to go to Sacramento and get local rules overturned, which is why Uber and Lyft exist – but there’s one clear question the committee members can ask:

Why is the city spending money supporting companies that screw their workers?Why is it okay for city workers, using city money, to take Uber and Lyft to events?

The meeting’s at 10:30am, in City Hall Room 263…(more)

Friday June 28, 10:30 AM – agenda

Room 263 City Hall Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee Special Meeting
2. 190722 Hearing – Status of Worker Rights in California’s Gig Economy – Hearing on the current state of worker rights in California’s gig economy, and to analyze the potential impacts of the 2018 California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision and California State Assembly Bill 5 on worker rights; and requesting the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement to report.

Housing ‘crisis’ bill

The Planning Commission will hear a report Thursday/27 on a housing measure making its way through the state Legislature that would have significant impacts on the city.

SB 330, by Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley (who once upon a time, when we were both a whole lot younger, was a stalwart progressive who seemed to understand economic inequality, the failures of markets, and the need for regulating development) would make it easier for private market-rate builders to construct housing in cities like San Francisco.…(more)

Crisis means immediate action, not long term changes to our system of government that will take years to have any effect over than to remove the public from the decision-making process, essentially handing more power to the upper elite. No matter how to present the bills that are stripping away our citizen rights, what is at stake is loss of liberty. That is why many organizations around the state have joined a non-partisan effort to stop these draconian bills.

A real crisis solution would be to do something now.

Thursday, June 27, 1 PM – agenda
Room 400 City Hall Planning Commission
The SF Planning Department will present an analysis of SB 330.
E. Public Comment
11. SB 330 Housing Crisis Act of 2019 – Informational Presentation –Bill establishing a statewide housing emergency until 2025, during which time certain localities would be prohibited from reducing zoned capacity for housing, reducing housing density below what is permitted under existing zoning and the General Plan for proposed projects, or imposing certain new parking and design standards. In these jurisdictions, the demolition of existing affordable housing would be prohibited unless certain conditions are met. In all localities, the bill would generally limit the number of public hearings for code-complying housing projects, expedite some review timeframes, guarantee the zoning regulations in place at the time of a first application for up to three years, and allow for localities to delay enforcement of certain building code violations for “occupied substandard buildings” at the request of the property owner.Preliminary Recommendation: None – Informational.


Sunday night owls open thread: Poll shows Green New Deal more popular than carbon tax

June 23, 2019

By Meteor Blades : dailykos – excerpt

Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic writes—It’s Younger and Cooler Than a Carbon Tax. The Green New Deal is surprisingly popular:

A new poll, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, suggests that Americans may prefer a Green New Deal–style policy of climate-targeted investment and regulation to a revenue-neutral carbon tax. It’s one of several shifts, underscored by the events of the past month, that suggest a grim future for the once-optimistic plan. […]

Meanwhile, Democratic interest in a carbon-tax scheme has also faded. The party’s young progressive leaders have become more interested in an investment-involved Green New Deal package. Only one Democratic presidential candidate, John Delany, has included a carbon tax in his climate proposal, while others—including Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden—have endorsed investment plans…(more)

Investing in shifting the economy away from the current focus on fossil fuels and non-renewable energy appears to be a more direct method and solve more problems than the carbon tax program. After a number of years of using the carbon tax program, what are the results? How much carbon have we cut? In spite of the high employment numbers we keep hearing about, many large corporations are preparing to cut their workforce and replace people with machines. See the related article blow.


Automation and robotics are bigger threats to American jobs than outsourcing

Boston Dynamics is a company that develops robotics for commercial and military applications. The company is probably best known by the general public for the videos it produces to show off its products.

Recently, a parody of Boston Dynamics’ videos was released and, as of this writing, has over 6.4 million views on YouTube. It shows a robot being subjected to abuse by humans; the robot becomes aware; the robot gets sick of humanity’s shit; and the robot strikes back. Just like a thousand sci-fi stories published over the years…(more)

California’s Senate Banking Committee passes the Public Banking Act, AB 857

June 23, 2019

sent via email from Public Banking Institute:

The California Public Banking Act, AB 857, cleared another committee yesterday as it passed the Senate Banking & Finance Committee 4 Aye’s to 2 No’s. This legislation would empower municipalities to create public banks and give communities greater control over the uses to which their money and credit are put. The bill goes next to the Governance & Finance Committee with a hearing to be scheduled the second or third week in July.

The California Public Banking Alliance, co-sponsor of the bill, posted a statement on social media:

“Thanks to the leadership of grassroots organizers, labor unions, elected officials, and cities across the State of California, the California State Senate’s Banking & Finance Committee just voted in favor of AB 857, legislation which would empower municipalities across California to establish public banks as a safe alternative to Wall Street megabanks, localize the Green New Deal, and allow communities to have direct input on local development for projects including renewable energy, affordable housing, small business, infrastructure, and others to put the needs of people over profits and craft innovative solutions to the crises facing Californians.”

Here is one area that the SF state representatives may be supported. Assemblyman Chiu is the author of this bill. Both Ting and Wiener are listed as co-sponsors. If you support this bill you may want to thank them for their work to put the issue on the ballot.

Sorry Google—Funding More Homes Won’t Solve the Bay Area Housing Crunch

June 23, 2019

By Stephane Kasriel : fortune – excerpt

I respect Google for trying.

The technology giant announced earlier this week a $1 billion commitment to help offset the San Francisco Bay Area housing shortage. It’s a noble overture. But even that sizable amount is a very small drop in a very large ocean. And it doesn’t recognize the reality that building more houses won’t fundamentally solve the Bay Area housing crisis.

In fact, this approach perpetuates the antiquated notion that when your company expands, you build additional offices, add nearby housing to support all the new workers you bring to town, and fund more mass transit. And while alleviating burdens on existing infrastructure is wise, this approach ignores the fact that most work can be done remotely in the digital age, and we can spread opportunity more broadly as a result. (My company, Upwork, runs a digital platform that helps remote workers connect with clients.)…

Strong incentives to encourage remote work already exist in some places. Vermont, for instance, has a Remote Worker Grant Program that pays workers up to $10,000 over two years to move, live, and work there, while Utah’s Rural Employment Expansion Program offers grants of $4,000 to $6,000 for new full-time employees.

California can look at similar moves to distribute the opportunities fueled by the Bay Area and Silicon Valley’s explosive growth more broadly throughout the state. Remote work provides an important first step toward that growth, and the state should do what it can to incentivize and promote remote options. This could have the dual impact of alleviating short-term burdens and creating long-term gains for more people in more places—all while increasing the revenue base for the state across the board…

There are many possible solutions to the lack of affordability in our communities. But no matter what, we must evaluate approaches other than building more housing.

A firm and strategic commitment to flexible work can jumpstart that search for solutions. By starting there, and quickly adding incentives driven through public-private sector collaboration, we can begin slowing and even reversing the ill effects of decades of urban expansion that have exacerbated inequality—and begin building a brighter future for the Bay Area…

Stephane Kasriel is the CEO of Upwork (more)

Wasn’t that the point of having private networking systems? This is the most reasonable and the cheapest way to operate. No commute and not need to rent vast amounts to office space. The major result we get from the current crowding into dense cities model is the one thing that is killing our society. High land values and a ridiculous race to the top of the inflation curve. If management is an issue, it makes more sense for the managers to visit the workers than for everyone too commute to an office to be watched.

How can we incentivize our government officials to work on solving the work housing balance problem by stopping the office building craze? Please share this article and let’s see who we can influence to try a new tactic sense the old ones have failed us.

City Council Condemns Sen. Wiener’s ‘Gut and Amend’ of SB592

June 21, 2019

beverlyhills – excerpt

Beverly Hills, CA (June 19, 2019) – The Beverly Hills City Council on Tuesday expressed outrage at the recent actions of State Senator Scott Wiener as he deleted all prior contents of a bill (SB592) relating to cosmetology and inserted new provisions on housing.

“In Sacramento, it’s called ‘gut and amend’ but in reality it is just another term for a bait- and-switch,” said Mayor John Mirisch. “We oppose this in the strongest of possible terms and call on neighboring cities to condemn this deplorable behavior.”

Senator Wiener’s updated version of SB592 would distinguish that a housing development doesn’t have to be a multi-unit project to be covered by the Housing Accountability Act of 1982. The Act is meant to make it more difficult for local governments to restrict housing projects.

“Senator Wiener recently criticized President Trump for degrading our democratic institutions,” said Councilmember Robert Wunderlich. “By adopting these distasteful tactics, Senator Wiener is himself guilty of the same.”

“Scott Wiener once famously remarked that ‘local control isn’t biblical.’ Yet this type of sneaky, duplicitous behavior could never happen in most local governments,” added Mayor Mirisch. “Here we have yet another textbook example of why more decisions should be made closer to home rather than by Washington and Sacramento politicians.”

During the Council discussion, Mayor Mirisch emphasized the importance of continuing to advocate for workable, community friendly solutions to housing affordability…(more)

In California, a blue wave and progressive governor: So why are so many leftist plans going under?

June 21, 2019

By Ben Christopher and Laurel Rosenhall : calmatters – excerpt

An unprecedented haul of tax dollars generated by a roaring economy. A governor who campaigned on a big-ticket policy agenda of long-time lefty favorites, including universal childcare and state-funded healthcare for all. A Legislature so thoroughly packed with Democrats it gives rise to a new term—”giga-majority.”

Californians could be forgiven for expecting it all to add up to a liberal bonanza, a gusher of policies that the Democratic Party’s base has been clamoring to enact for decades.

But as the new super-blue Legislature sends Gov. Gavin Newsom his first state budget and the Capitol passes the halfway point for making new laws this year, the progressive policies that are advancing amount to less of a torrent than a trickle…

“It’s also not as easy as everyone thinks to get a two-thirds vote, even when you have a supermajority.”…

Democratic leaders—spooked by last year’s successful recall of northern Orange County Democratic Sen. Josh Newman after he voted to increase the gas tax—have shelved almost all this year’s proposals to hike taxes. That nixed some progressive hopes to increase education funding by taxing oil, health programs by taxing soda, violence-prevention by taxing guns, and environmental clean-up by taxing water….

Senate leader Toni Atkins of San Diego said Democrats in her chamber support Newsom’s proposal. But looking more broadly at negotiations among the governor and both legislative leaders, Atkins observed what may become the motto of 2019: “All three of us are sort of moderating each other.”(more)

Quite a few of the developer dream bills are being touted by their authors are liberal and progressive. but the activists are not buying it, and they are spreading dissent among the voting public. Politicians are getting the message and backing down. Isn’t that how Democracy works?

Wiener quietly turns barber bill into major housing legislation

June 18, 2019

By Hydee Feldstein : 48hills – excerpt

Gut-and-amend strategy puts a version of SB 50 on the legislative fast track.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, as predicted here, has taken an uncontroversial bill about cosmetology licenses and turned it into a complex and detailed piece of housing legislation that would undermine a long list of local controls over residential development.

It’s happening in Sacramento at the same time that Mayor London Breed is trying to override neighborhood input into affordable housing projects – and getting little progressive support.

A “gut and amend” technically may be legal but it is not necessarily good governance.

SB 592 is such a bill. It was introduced by Senator Wiener on February 22, 2019 as a simple amendment to the Health & Safety Code to extend the due date by which the California Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) has to deliver its annual report from December 31 to June 30. Not a controversial bill or even one likely to awaken any public interest, but because the term “housing” appeared in the bill, SB 592 was still a bill that found its way onto at least a few radar screens for tracking…

The 2019 legislative package is an effort to roll back the requirements for inclusionary affordable housing (by way of retroactive application in SB 330 and other bills) and to trample all over the local controls, the safety, habitat, conservation, historic preservation, and other interests and elements of good planning that were taken into account though weakened in the 2017 compromise legislation.(more)

SB592 has been described as “gut and amend” and “gut and replace”. Thanks to the the author for explaining that process. We look forward to more opposition on this rather overbearing bill as it becomes better known.

According to Ruiz-Cornejo, “Wiener opted to float the clarifications [of he housing Accountability Act] by amending an existing proposal because the deadline to propose new legislation has already passed.”

All Wiener housing bills have one thing in common, they seek to remove local jurisdiction for zoning and planning decisions, by imposing state standards on them that inflate the value of real estate. Wiener is a one-man band for inflationary growth and prosperity for land owners, to the detriment of everyone else.


Sen. Scott Wiener seeks state housing law amendments

Lawmaker guts and amends proposal with housing changes; not a new SB 50 try

: sfdailyjournal – excerpt… (more)

More Comments by Hydee Feldstein SB592:

SB 592 does all the following:

Deletes the “neighborhood commercial” definition and allows all “residential and nonresidential” mixed use projects in all residential zones — THAT IS ZONING.

Allow shelters and transitional housing in all residential zones. THAT IS ZONING.

Adds single family houses AND prohibits regulation of the number of bedrooms to the “no limits on density” mantra. THAT IS ZONING

GETS RID OF ALL ZONING STATEWIDE BY MAKING ALL DISCRETIONARY ACTIONS “BY RIGHT”. “(B) For purposes of this section, a general plan, zoning, or subdivision standard or criterion is not “applicable” if its applicability to a housing development project is discretionary or if the project could be approved without the standard or criterion being met.” THAT IS ZONING

And so Scott Wiener joins Donald Trump in the mistaken belief that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it true. Let’s prove them both wrong. We are not the sheeple they take us for.

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