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January 4, 2019

By Richard Colman : California Political News and Views


The famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said, “America was tilted, and everything loose was sliding into Southern California.”  If Mr. Wright were alive today, he presumably would be taking about all of California.  What Mr. Wright might also be saying is that California is on the verge of becoming — or has become — a failed state. 

To stop the rot in California, groups like Livable California have come into existence. 

Livable California (, which began operations in early 2018, has grown in stature and membership.  This group wants local control over land use, not authoritarian control by the State of California.  

According to Livable California’s website, “We support local strategies for communities to meet all housing needs.  We oppose State overreach and big money influence.” …

Read more…


Regional planners mount a quiet coup to promote developers and attack vulnerable communities

January 4, 2019

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt (includes video)

Public money finances secret meetings of powerful group—to encourage the Growth Machine with no protections for tenants and no barriers against displacement, all in the name of solving the housing crisis.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has been planning a coup.

Not the putsch kind of coup, where armed insurgents overthrow a duly constituted government, but an insidious takeover led by an ad hoc public-private coalition, authorized by new laws, and justified by artful rhetoric—above all, a reiterated declaration of emergency. The goal is not to overthrow the ruling order, i.e., the Capitalist Growth Machine, but to secure and aggrandize it at the expense of the most vulnerable…

The MTC cabal, otherwise known as The Committee to House the Bay Area or CASA, would have us believe that the region’s housing crisis necessitates:

  • creating a public-private agency that would standardize zoning across the region
  • imposing as much as a billion dollars of new taxes on the Bay Area
  • rolling back environmental review
  • lowering housing affordability standards
  • re-zoning “high opportunity” single-family neighborhoods for higher-density market-rate housing development, regardless of transit accessibility
  • accepting the assumption that building market-rate housing lowers the price of all housing
  • enhancing private developers’ profit margins
  • ensuring continuous, explosive job growth while ignoring services and infrastructure to support that growth

These fatuous propositions inform the “CASA Compact: A 15-Year Emergency Policy Package to Confront the Housing Crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area,” a 31-page manifesto and plan of action finalized on December 12. Now MTC/CASA is lobbying the state Legislature to pass laws, including SB 50, State Senator Scott Wiener’s do-over of his failed SB 827, that implement the Compact’s recommendations.

For the sake of democratic governance, fiscal sanity, environmental protection, and housing justice, MTC/CASA needs to be stopped.

Laying the groundwork: MTC’s hostile takeover of ABAG(more)


Comments/Amendments to CASA Compact

December 28, 2018

By Jesse Arreguin [Mayor of Berkeley] :berkeleydailyplanet – excerpt

To: Carol Dutra-Vernaci, MTC Commissioner

Thank you very much for requesting my thoughts on the proposed CASA Compact, as approved by the CASA Steering Committee. As an alternate to the ABAG Executive Board, I have studied the various proposals and have been actively engaged in discussions at ABAG and with key stakeholders. Overall, I agree with the goals of the CASA Compact. We are facing a housing affordability crisis that requires bold action. The proposals are ambitious, and we must focus on the three components: production, preservation and protection if we are to prevent displacement and begin to reverse the troubling trend of rising housing costs.

We were first presented with these concepts at the November ABAG meeting. I acknowledge that this proposal has improved since it was initially presented, and MTC staff have made refinements based on input from the ABAG Board and stakeholders. My general concerns with some of the Compact Elements remain, it employs a “one-size fits all” approach to addressing the lack of housing production in job rich areas. Rather than rewarding those cities and counties that have produced new housing, Compact Element # 5 proposes minimum heights near transit stations and bus lines, overriding local regulations.

The proposed financing mechanisms are varied and could conflict with the ability for local jurisdictions to place bonds, parcel taxes or sales tax measures on local ballots to fund other services. In addition, do we need to create a new regional entity to propose and administer these funds? MTC or a new merged governing body can administer these new housing funds.

According to MTC figures, Alameda County has the best rate of jobs for new housing units produced: 4 jobs to every unit. Yet some of the Compact Elements will take away the right of cities to plan for new housing, and the regional funding sources including new employee head taxes, linkage fees and revenue sharing mechanisms as proposed will largely stay in the county of origin (75% will stay in the county of origin). Job rich cities in Santa Clara County that have driven the regional housing crisis, these funds which may be significant will not go to a regional pool and help San Francisco, Oakland or other cities help produce new affordable units. Therefore the impacts of the regional crisis are not being equitably distributed.

I believe fundamentally that we need a regional housing policy that focuses taxes and regulations on those communities that have experienced significant job growth but have resisted new housing production. Additionally, those companies responsible for enormous job growth must pay their fair share.

Below are my specific comments on the various Compact Elements for your consideration. Thank you for representing the interests of Alameda County cities in this process… (more)

Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

December 27, 2018

via Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

Three major banks suspend lending for shipyard home purchases

December 24, 2018

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Three major banks have stopped offering mortgages for homes at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, an extraordinary move likely to complicate the already troubled effort by the city and developers to transform 500 acres of waterfront in San Francisco.

The banks, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citi, all confirmed to The Chronicle that they are not providing loans to any buyers at the San Francisco Shipyard development at the moment. They cited reasons related to unresolved questions about the safety of the land where mega-developer Lennar Corp. has built about 450 homes and is planning thousands more…

“If the banks aren’t lending to people to buy these homes, then everything else falls apart,” Thornberg said. “Basically all hell breaks loose.”… (more)

They are going to be shut down for a while if the banks are not lending. Too risky for insurance companies too.


School officials, incoming supes want SF to spend windfall on teacher raises

December 22, 2018

All of a sudden, San Francisco has an extra $181 million to spend. It comes from excess education funds, and some officials hope that’s exactly how it will be spent: on education. Specifically, teacher pay raises.

So far, proposals at City Hall exclude using the money for schools, with Mayor London Breed pushing to fund homelessness initiatives. The Board of Supervisors’ three new, incoming members, however, say extra funding for schools will be a priority for them.

The windfall comes as the school district is facing a legal challenge to a new parcel tax that would raise $50 million annually, most of it for a teacher pay raise. School officials say that means they don’t have the expected funding to cover the 7 percent teacher pay hike. So, the windfall suddenly becomes a potential solution… (more)

School money for housing. That may not go over well for some of the new supervisors who are on the school board. This follows the trend to push for more development by removing obstacles including fees for schools and other infrastructure. Just how much more support are taxpayers expected to give the pro-development politicians who are now raiding the school fund they are insisting they can’t afford to pay? When do we start to fund the expansion of infrastructure needed by the hoards of new citizens we are inviting to more here?

People need more than just housing and jobs. This build, build, build mantra is sounding like the drill, drill, drill mantra opposed by Democrats not so long ago. Get ready for a lot of opposition to the continued money drain into the corporate coffers. Get ready for teachers and educators to push back.

Tiny homes travel from SF to Chico for Paradise fire evacuees

December 20, 2018

By Amy Farah Weiss – linkedin

One of the 5x8x8 tiny homes headed to Chico provided transitional shelter for 6 months to a Mission Bay encampment resident.
One of the 5x8x8 tiny homes headed to Chico provided transitional shelter for 6 months to a Mission Bay encampment resident.

Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge (SFHC) is partnering with Chico Housing Action Team (CHAT) and SF’s Dykes with Drills  to bring two of our “Mobile SRO” tiny home shelters to Chico this Saturday (12/22). The tiny homes will provide transitional shelter for two people displaced by the recent fires in Paradise.

#SOS Chico. CHAT began their efforts to provide safe organized spaces for Chico’s unsheltered residents over five years ago and have proudly provided over 20 tiny homes and transition support to those in need. Bob and Leslie, two of CHAT’s lead organizers, estimated that prior to the Paradise fires there were over 1,000 people in need of shelter in Chico, and that since the fire the number of unsheltered residents has increased by thousands more.

From Mission Bay encampment to Chico. One of SFHC’s 5x8x8 mobile tiny homes was designed and constructed by SFHC partner Moksha Osgood, and was used as transitional shelter for 6 months by “DL” at a Mission Bay encampment in San Francisco in 2017. DL had been living in a tent in San Francisco for over a decade when he was given the key for the locking mobile shelter (built to meet NFPA standards for small RVs). In the photo above, you can see DL pushing his mobile tiny home on King Street in Mission Bay for a scheduled DPW cleaning.

DL said “Staying in the shelter, knowing there was a lock, made me feel safe while I slept for the first time in years. I could actually have a safe space to think instead of having to be alert in case someone tried to break into my tent while I slept.” When DL was able to get into a Navigation Center in 2017, SFHC picked up the shelter from the encampment and put it in storage; now it will be getting a second life to provide safe, locking transitional shelter to someone displaced from the fires in Paradise.

The second 5x8x8 tiny home we are bringing to Chico on Saturday was designed and constructed by SFHC volunteer Marcus Rosenthal and built at Asian Neighborhood Design in San Francisco. Marcus designed his model based on a version of Moksha’s design that would be easy to mass produce. It is already constructed in 6 pieces and will take approximately 1-2 hours to assemble by the Dykes with Drills team once we arrive to Chico on Saturday morning. The cost of materials for both of the tiny home shelters are approximately $1,000 each.



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