Some musings on the New Urbanist environment that is slurping up our Lifestyles

Excerpts from a Harper’s article:

” San Francisco is overrun by tech conjurers who are rapidly annihilating its remarkable diversity; they swarm in and out of the metropolis in specially chartered buses to work in Silicon Valley, using the city itself as a gigantic bed-and-breakfast.”

” By trying to improve our cities, we have only succeeded in making them empty simulacra of what was. To bring this about we have signed on to political scams and mindless development schemes that are so exclusive they are more destructive than all they were supposed to improve. The urban crisis of affluence exemplifies our wider crisis: we now live in an America where we believe that we no longer have any ability to control the systems we live under.”

“Wouldn’t we all love to put the urban improvement genie back in the bottle with a very tight cork!”, comment by Danessa Techmanski.

 

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Protesters in San Francisco dumped a huge pile of scooters in the street and blocked 11 tech buses — and then things got tense

By Rachel Sandler and Katie Canales : businessinsider – excerpt

 

Activists piled scooters in front of buses and unfurled signs that said “Techsploitation is toxic.”

  • Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco blocked tech buses with piles of electric scooters.
  • They told Business Insider they were protesting tech companies’ using city streets to experiment and city officials’ increasing use of sweeps to force homeless people off the streets.
  • In total, a full intersection, 11 buses, and several cars were blocked for about two hours.

Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco on Thursday used piles of electric scooters to block shuttles ferrying Google and other tech company employees to work. The blockade was to protest what they see as the failure of the tech industry and lawmakers to address the city’s income inequality and sizable homeless population.

“What you’re seeing here is that scooters have more rights than people,” Chirag Bhakta told Business Insider. “Our priorities shouldn’t be people first, scooters second. We’re tired of being seen as an experimental playground for the tech industry.”…(more)

Gentrification and the corporate takeover of our cities by disruptive products and services is now complete. There is no product or service too dangerous or disruptive. Wait until Tesla’s flamethrowers get into the wrong hands. This seem like a bad idea at the start of fire season, but, the gun lobby likes them. A bill to restrict them was buried in committee.

Pick your conspiracy theory, but, you can’t ignore the takeover of our streets by Uber and Lyft. The day of the Tech v Tech bus protest, that received international coverage, we got news that Lyft is buying GoBikes. They are going head to head with Uber who just bought out another bikeshare Jump.

Tossing the tech scooters under tech buses was a brilliant statement about tech vs. tech. If you haven’t see this video yet you might want to watch this anti-gentrification direct action film, that covers SF and Oakland, among other cities around the globe, and share it with your friends and associates. https://sub.media/video/trouble-13-defend-the-block

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Protesters toss scooters into street to block tech buses in SF

 

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.

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.

Landless Americans Are the New Serf Class

By Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox : thedailybeast – excerpt

IMG_2268

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.

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

 

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

IMG_3093

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

 

Rick Scott Scrambles To Save Senate Bid: Drops Headlining 2018 NRA Leadership Forum

By SemDem : dailykos – excerpt

Rick Scott was to be a headline speaker at this year’s NRA’s 2018 Leadership Forum in Dallas. As of 2/19, days after the deadly Parkland shooting, Rick’s ugly mug was still featured on the site as a speaker. I suppose he had a sudden realization that being pro-school-shooter/terrorist isn’t exactly a winning electoral strategy in today’s climate, because his mug is no longer there.  (The forum is now so toxic that even the Dallas mayor doesn’t want it.)  It might have had something to do with this viral tweet from Wesley Jordan:…

My pure speculation: the NRA KNOWS they are toxic, and gave him permission to drop out to help his chances in November. They know he will do their bidding as always… (more)