The California Housing Crisis: Beyond SB 827

By Daniel Shimmy Li : medium – excerpt

In January 2018, Senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill that stirred up controversy and discussion across California. Here’s a summary of the first draft of Senate Bill 827, also known as the Transit Zoning Bill:

Senate Bill 827 would usurp certain local building restrictions for new construction near transit hubs, setting looser state standards instead. It would allow residential developers to skirt local rules on height, density, and parking — if their buildings are within a half-mile of a train or subway station

Although SB 827 was rejected in its first committee hearing in April, it’s important to analyze the discourse surrounding the proposed solution and the encompassing issue — the housing crisis. For this article, I’d like to spotlight the discussion on the most controversial idea proposed in SB 827: increased market-rate housing…

SB 827’s push for more residential development on land that only allowed single family homes, also known as upzoning, made it the most aggressive bill recently pitched in California to address the housing crisis. The San Francisco Planning Commission said the bill would have effectively upzoned close to 96 percent of city parcels. With an interactive map, you can see that large portions of LA, San Diego, Berkeley, and several other cities would have been upzoned…

Shift the Discourse

SB 827 may be dead, but it sparked national discourse and drew mainstream attention to the crisis of housing and development. More thoughtful and committed citizens have joined the conversation and have begun thinking about new directions to establish the fundamentals of a new community….

Though not necessarily the case for new home owners, most NIMBY opposition to development is rooted in simply being a good capitalist and defending one’s major asset…

Decommodifying housing simply means preventing housing from being treated as a commodity. The goal is to prioritize housing that is a place to live, not an investment vehicle or an asset to accumulate wealth…

Other bills are at the forefront of the conversation with elections coming up. With strategic decisions and demands, it is possible to lay the groundwork for a community-sustaining and democratizing transformative change…(more)

Special thanks to Jimmy Wu, Shrinu Sivakumar, and Magdalene Lim.

Who determines the capacity of a community? Many communities that set limits have been overruled by the courts, now our state representatives are trying to force more housing growth on us.

How do we protect the existing affordable housing ? The answer seems to rest on a need for protections for renters and small landlords and homeowners, who are all threatened by the privatization and corporate takeover of land and property by wealthy developers and financial giants.

Attempts to pit the landlords against tenants is showing signs of failing.

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How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?

By Matt Stangel and Katie Shepherd : theguardian – excerpt

Reefer-Madness

We’ve come a long way baby. Reefer Madness poster photo by zrants.

Oregon farmers have grown three times what their customers can smoke in a year, causing bud prices to plummet and panic to set in

A recent Sunday afternoon at the Bridge City Collective cannabis shop in north Portland saw a steady flow of customers.

Little wonder: a gram of weed was selling for less than the price of a glass of wine.

The $4 and $5 grams enticed Scotty Saunders, a 24-year-old sporting a gray hoodie, to spend $88 picking out new products to try with a friend. “We’ve definitely seen a huge drop in prices,” he says… (more)

They need to get creative and turn it into paper or fabric or rope. There are many uses for fibers. There is also a growing medical industry that can use a lot of product.

New Analysis Suggests GOP Has Finally Realized How Unpopular It Is to Lavish Corporations and the Rich With Huge Tax Giveaways

By Jake Johnson : commondreams – excerpt

Some Republicans may finally be succumbing to the fact that “massive tax cuts to the wealthy, rich CEOs, and big corporations don’t resonate with voters.”

In what appears to be a tacit admission that “massive tax cuts to the wealthy, rich CEOs, and big corporations don’t resonate with voters,” vulnerable congressional Republicans up for reelection in 2018 have drastically curtailed promotions of their tax law in digital ad campaigns and on social media ahead of the November midterms, according to a Reuters analysis published on Monday.

The GOP’s growing reluctance to celebrate their signature legislative achievement of the Trump era may have something to do with Reuters survey data from March showing that a mere three percent of Americans say they have benefited from the tax law, while Wall Street banks and major corporations continue to tout record profits.

“All told, the number of tax messages has fallen by 44 percent since January,” Reuters reported on..

A familiar pattern: lie about the intent and consequences of a policy, pass it on behalf of the donor class, and then pivot to totally irrelevant culture war issues and hope the victims are too dumb to notice.” —Sean Illing, Vox… (more)

This pattern is not limited to Republicans. It is becoming normal operating procedure in far too many cities, counties, and states.

 

 

How the Federal Government is Trying to Ruin the Internet and Take Away Your Right to Free Speech and Privacy

More Content : oranjproductions – excerpt

Journalists and Civil Liberties Groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been calling attention to several efforts by the Trump administration, Senate and Congress to interfere with our right to free expression and privacy on the internet. With the exception of the Net Neutrality issue, these efforts are not getting enough media attention, yet they are not at all trivial. For many of us, the internet is much more than a source of entertainment; it is also our primary source for news, information and analysis of political and social issues.

For this article we highlight four specific areas of concern, Net Neutrality, the Cloud Act, the end of legal protections for hosts of user-generated content and the growing practice of searching people’s computers and phones. There are also several other ways that our internet rights are being infringed. For time and space reasons, we are not addressing these other concerns, which include social media surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the failure of legislators to reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act, the prosecution of minors for sexting, and the use of illegitimate copyright claims to suppress free expression… (more)

A while ago 064 of Oranjproducitons turned me onto this great song…

Landless Americans Are the New Serf Class

By Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox : thedailybeast – excerpt

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These single-family homes in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood face possible demolition if YIMBY state-imposed density laws are passed in Sacramento. Opponents of SB 827 convinced San Francisco City Supervisors to oppose the law that would hand local development controls to the state. photo by zrants

While home ownership remains the dream of most Americans, fewer and fewer people here can afford to own one.

The suburban house is the idealization of the immigrant’s dream—the vassal’s dream of his own castle. Europeans who come here are delighted by our suburbs. Not to live in an apartment! It is a universal aspiration to own your own home. —Los Angeles urbanist Edgardo Contini

For the better part of the past century, the American dream was defined, in large part, by that “universal aspiration” to own a home. As housing prices continue to outstrip household income, that’s changing as more and more younger Americans are ending up landless, and not by choice…

Given the surging demand among millennials and immigrants, why are builders not meeting the demand? The reasons vary, but, according to the National Association of Homebuilders, they include higher material costs, long permitting waits, labor shortages, and too few inexpensive lots…

“An overwhelming majority of millennials, including renters, want a home of their own.”…“Adjusted for housing costs, California has the largest share of its citizens living in poverty.”…

Dense housing is about three to seven times more expensive to build

As to improving the environment, even the pro-density UC Berkeley Termer Center acknowledges that virtually banning urban fringe development would account for barely 1 percent of the state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases (PDF)—pittance for policies certain to drive house prices and rents even higher…

As MIT’s Alan Berger has noted, modern suburban development also creates environmental benefits, including water retention, species habitats, tree cover, and improved health outcomes. In addition, suggests Britain’s Hugh Byrd, low-density communities are ideally suited for an eventual transition to solar energy generation in ways that high-density ones can’t emulate

The shift to an ever more unequal, congested, and feudal society is not inevitable. We have the capacity to expand housing opportunities for future generations. There is no reason that we need to surrender the universal aspiration that for so long has defined our society… (more)

Who benefits from this rush to densify? That should be the question we ask, as we move away from the crowd into our own space and time to design our own future.

It’s Time To Get Real About Power in Silicon Valley

By Ryan Holiday : medium – excerpt

It could be said that the first few years of this current tech boom were fueled by mostly harmless, relatively easy products — websites for sharing your photos, for looking up stuff, for connecting with old friends. And the people who made them were seen as mostly good people.

Yet this feel-good perception has slowly and then suddenly disappeared. Users have begun to regard once trusted sites with suspicion over issues of privacy. The same reporters who previously lavished unthinking praise on every new startup now search with equal enthusiasm for scandals and mistakes. Those once harmless social networks, now at a scale unprecedented in human history, no longer look so innocent. The acronym we have for what were once upstarts or underdogs — Facebook to Amazon to Netflix to Google — hints at the now ominous nature of their place in the world, F.A.N.G.

What happened?…(more)

The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles

 

By Alan Taylor : theatlantic – excerpt (includes great photos)

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Oversupply: Ford Gobikes line the street next the Folsom and 17th Street park in San Francisco’s Mission district. They are already making their unwelcome mark on our streets. How long before they become a pile of trash like the Bikeshares in China? photo by rants.

Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots. Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts… (more)

seaofbikes

See the sea of bikes