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.

Advertisements

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

 

FEMA Rejects Applications for Aid by Wine Country Wildfire Victims

By Emily Turner : cbslocal – excerpt

SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — Many of the Wine Country wildfire survivors made it through that tragedy to now find themselves as victims for a second time. They say now their problem is the government agency meant to help them.

In Sonoma County alone, thousands of houses were destroyed and even more lives turned upside-down in the disaster.Legal Aid of Sonoma County accuses FEMA of rejection for aid without a clear reason, repeatedly losing client’s documents, and a lack of clarity when it comes to their policy.

Legal Aid of Sonoma County accuses FEMA of rejection for aid without a clear reason, repeatedly losing client’s documents, and a lack of clarity when it comes to their policy…(more)

Santa Rosa fire survivors are denied insurance and FEMA aide.

When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism

 

By Franklin Foer : theatlantic –  excerpt

The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic—and an entire industry.

Chris Hughes was a mythical savior—boyishly innocent, fantastically rich, intellectually curious, unexpectedly humble, and proudly idealistic.

My entire career at the New Republic had been spent dreaming of such a benefactor. For years, my colleagues and I had sputtered our way through the internet era, drifting from one ownership group to the next, each eager to save the magazine and its historic mission as the intellectual organ for hard-nosed liberalism. But these investors either lacked the resources to invest in our future or didn’t have quite enough faith to fully commit. The unending search for patronage exhausted me, and in 2010, I resigned as editor…

Over the past generation, journalism has been slowly swallowed. The ascendant media companies of our era don’t think of themselves as heirs to a great ink-stained tradition. Some like to compare themselves to technology firms. This redefinition isn’t just a bit of fashionable branding. As Silicon Valley has infiltrated the profession, journalism has come to unhealthily depend on the big tech companies, which now supply journalism with an enormous percentage of its audience—and, therefore, a big chunk of its revenue… (more)

A completely different view of the world, based on future expectations of where technology will take us, is unveiled as a major funding partner of Facebook pours his wealth into The New Republic. Having been interviewed by The Atlantic, I can speak from experience on how that movement feels. Both extremes, living in the past and living in the future are not getting most of us anywhere other than longing for a clear presence in the presence that is lacking in both.