Sen. Glazer Fights for Local Control in Debate Over Who Can Authorize Housing Projects

Senator Glazer – excerpt (includes video) August 24

Senator Glazer on AB 2923

On Aug. 23, I made remarks on the Senate floor opposing AB 2923, which would shift authority for the approval process of housing projects from local government to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

“We are so much better here in the Legislature, as a state, as a nation, when we find ways to build partnerships, provide compromise, accommodation, collaboration. That’s what brings out the best in our lawmaking. But the bill before us does none of these things… It’s a sledgehammer. It tramples the rights of towns and cities with no good reasons. It’s unprecedented in scope. It stifles community engagement, increases distrust and animosity… (more)


State Water Board plan would require water rationing in the Bay Area

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Apart from a famous Mark Twain quote involving whiskey and fighting, no cliché about California water is more abused than the phrase “water wars.” However, in the instance of the State Water Resources Control Board’s plan to restore the San Joaquin River, the label fits. War has been declared on the Bay Area’s largest source of freshwater, with grave implications for residents and businesses that go way beyond letting your lawn go brown.

At issue is a proposal to increase freshwater flows on the San Joaquin River. The plan targets the San Joaquin’s three major tributaries — the Stanislaus, Merced and Tuolumne rivers — and would require the farms and cities that divert water from those rivers to scale back their diversions to leave more water for the environment.

The Bay Area has a big dog in this fight. The Tuolumne River is the region’s single largest source of freshwater, used by 2.7 million people in 33 cities across Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties…

Without some sort of grand bargain that connects conservation and new environmental water with major new investments in storage, habitat, recycling and conveyance, piecemeal efforts like the state water board’s plan are likely doomed to wallow for decades in fruitless litigation. Bay Area residents and businesses should contact John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, and urge him to reject the current Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan…

Jim Wunderman is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council… (more)

Letter from Senator Glazer to David Chiu opposing AB 2923

If you don’t like the news you know what to do.

In some cases a lot of public opposition is voiced to stop a bill from going through. It is always good when some of our elected officials are on our side and not too shy to write strong opinions expressing their opposition. In the of AB 2923 we have a number of state representatives and civic leaders who strongly oppose this bill in support of their constituents who have joined to form a Tri Valley Coalition in opposition to this bill. Here is the a letter from Senator Glazer, who’s district and constituents are at odds with the bill that purports to remove local jurisdiction over development of local communities” … (more)

To endorse Prop. 10 or no? SF YIMBY faces soul-defining choice

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s YIMBY Action is facing a difficult choice, one that may define the group for years to come.

Will the champions of “build, build, build” endorse Proposition 10, the state ballot prop that would repeal rent control advocate’s most pernicious roadblock, Costa Hawkins?

The 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act is the white whale of California tenants organizations, and essentially prevents cities from establishing their own rent control policies, exempts single family homes from rent control and allows landlords to hike the rent once a tenant moves out. If successful this November, Prop. 10 could allow the expansion of rent control policies across the state.

“This would be huge, this would be a game changer,” Deepa Varma, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, told me.

Game changer it may be, but for the Yes In My Back Yard group, it’s also an existential decision that its nearly 2,000 members will begin voting on at the end of this week… (more)

My guess is there will be no endorsement, which is the same as voting NO.

Excelsior youth say mixed-use housing proposal would feed displacement

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

Youth from the Excelsior District and surrounding areas protested a controversial mixed-use housing proposal Saturday that they said would accelerate gentrification and fuel displacement in the largely working-class neighborhood.

Plans to construct 175 units of affordable housing at 4840 Mission St. — the current site of the shuttered Valente Mortuary — have been in the works since 2014. But earlier this year, the site’s nonprofit housing developer BRIDGE Housing Corporation, partnered with developer Emerald Fund to also transform an adjacent Safeway at 4850 Mission St. into 253 units of market-rate housing…

Former District 10 Supervisor John Avalos supported the protest — while in office, Avalos said he advocated for “a larger housing bond that was passed by voters” that helped fund the affordable project at 4840 Mission St.

The current version of the project “has broken an agreement that had been made when I was in office by a backroom deal with developers,” he said.

“People want the whole site to be affordable. Politically that is something to fight for,” Avalos said, adding that “100 percent affordability is not out of the question.”… (more)

Broken Agreement: The current Planning Department system for processing agreements does not have any legal teeth. This is a problem that many organizations has been raising as the state and city team up to force gentrifying dense development on neighborhoods that do not want it. This is why the residents are fighting back in city councils all over the state. They know they cannot trust the authorities to protect them, even when they negotiate in good faith. Once the developer has the entitlement, there is no incentive to build what was agreed to. Quite often the land with entitlement is sold to anther party, who disregards the agreement that got the entitlement for the previous owner.

Instead of working to make the entitlement process go faster and smoother, we need our city and state legislators to put some teeth in enforcement of the development agreements and we need some caps on the longevity of those agreements. This would be a positive route to producing affordable housing by assuring it gets built within a reasonable time frame. This would be a win for the renters and residents who need protection from greedy property owners and unscrupulous developers, who are generally owned by, or backed by, banks or large corporations. Small property owners cannot are kept out of this market.

Native Tribes Are Taking Fire Control Into Their Own Hands

by mejs hasan : wired – excerpt

Sometimes Vikki Preston is inching her way through the forest when she comes across a grove of tan oak trees that feels special. The plants are healthy, the trees are old, and their trunks are nicely spaced out on the forest floor. “You can feel that the grove has been taken care of,” she says. “There’s been a lot of love and thoughtfulness.”

Tan oak groves have long been tended by indigenous people who still live along the banks of the forested Klamath and Salmon Rivers near the California-Oregon border. Preston, a cultural resource technician for the Karuk tribe, grew up watching her grandfather tend just such a grove—by burning it. Fire helped cleared away small pines, alders, and willows. It killed pests like weevils that ruin acorns, and allowed for new, straight shoots of hazel to grow that can be used for basket-weaving. It left a forest sentineled with sugar pine and oaks, scattered with meadows full of wildflowers and ferns…

A hundred years later, though, western science and policy-makers are rethinking the subject. Federal forests are now choked with dead leaves, brush, and dense fir trees, a tinderbox for wildfires whirling out of control. Between 1975 and 1985, wildfires burned just over 2,000 acres a year nationwide. In the decade from 2005 to 2015, that number averaged more than 350,000 acres a year. So in a new policy, the Forest Service on July 27 signed an implementation plan for managing public forest lands—an agreement in which both fire and the Karuk play a vital role

American Indians across the US are now contacting Tripp, Rubalcaba, and others in the Klamath River, wondering what chances they have for similar partnerships. …(more)

Ryan Zinke takes ax to climate change narrative in push to save forests from wildfires

: washingtontimes – excerpt

CLOVIS, Calif. — Here in the town dubbed the “gateway to the Sierras,” the haze from the Ferguson Fire is fading as Yosemite National Park prepares to reopen, but the debate over how to stop wildfires from razing the state again next year continues to smolder.

California’s catastrophic wildfire season has illuminated the yearslong stalemate between those who want to cut back the overgrown, beetle-infested national forests and environmentalists who have axed efforts to fell more trees, blaming the destructive fires on climate change… (more)

This article illustrates the urgency of preventing wildfires and illustrates the importance of moving past party politics to reach rational solutions by exposing the  irrational conversations that keep us from moving forward. When will Washington and Sacramento learn to drop the empty rhetoric and the blame game and fix the problems? Climate change and the lumber industry are not the problem. The problem is to protect the forest. What do firefighters do when the fires are raging? The cut the trees in their path. Why not “trim” the trees before the fires start?

Always looking to the future and emerging technologies may not be the best approach. Historical knowledge is sometimes the answer.


Can AB 2923 be knocked out?

By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views :  citizensjournal – excerpt

Next Monday in a obscure Sacramento meeting room, an important event is set to transpire that affects the course of California politics for years to come.  The Senate Appropriations Committee will determine if AB 2923, which has already been passed by the Assembly, is to be sent to the floor for a vote.

The  legislation co-sponsored by Assemblymen Tim Grayson (D) Concord  and David Chiu (D-San Francisco, is expected to be approved in the Senate  If the vote is affirmative and Governor Brown signs the bill,  local government’s authority to determine what is to be constructed within a half mile of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART ) stations will be obliterated.

Outside of property within station boundaries that the transit agency owns, they will be able to purchase land and use the power of eminent domain to procure building sites to construct what is expected to be stack and pack housing… (more)

In the suburbs where most of the construction is to take place, approximately 20,000 units are planned to be built. As might be expected, opposition is fierce.  Last week the Mayors of Contra Costa County unanimously passed a resolution opposing AB 2923. Such a negative reaction did not resonate with the proponents of the bill which is a loose coalition of developers, labor unions, and low income housing advocates.

In an article this group wrote on the editorial page of the East Bay Times last Sunday authored by Michael Lane of The Housing Association of California, he stated

“The bill would require the elected BART Board of Directors to establish guidelines for transit-oriented development for BART-owned land at or around a BART station. Cities would then update their local zoning to be consistent with these standards while retaining control over community design standards and final permitting authority.”


From reading this it does not appear that communities where BART wants to build would have much of a choice in determining zoning options near or around where the transit agency puts up their so called affordable housing.  How existing neighborhoods would be changed does not seem to be even a minor consideration of theirs.

Of course Lane did not take into account what would transpire if local communities did not want to go along with BART’s plans.  In his mind the need for affordable housing along with the interests of developers, and their crony capitalist pals in crafts unions, who would do all the work under Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), is all that matters…

It apparently matters not that BART has no experience as a developer.  In reality the transit agency is eager to receive revenue generated by leasing lands to large developers to offset deficits in their operating budgets and pension liabilities.  With such objectives, how could they possibly care about their negative impacts on life in suburbia?…

We can also talk about a myriad of other issues about BART’s history of never bringing construction of new track or train equipment to meet estimated budget allocations…

Is this the type of organization that should be increasing their responsibilities to overrule democratically elected local representatives where new construction of residential housing is planned?

If the answer is “no” then the Senate Appropriations Committee should do the right thing and kill AB 2923 before this political cancer spreads to Southern California.  Sources indicate that officials in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) are closely following the passage of the BART bill in Sacramento.

If it goes into law the MTA can be expected to introduce a bill tailored to its plans and find a way to overrule local decision making in passing their own version AB 2923.

This entire Draconian scenario goes on with no end in sight.  When can we expect the real will of the people to persist?

One such person is BART Director Debora Allen, who represents nearby residents of planned Stack and Pack projects in Concord.  She and a couple of her colleagues wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee which goes into more detail of why AB 2923 is such a horrible idea.

If after reading this brilliantly composed argument any sane person who would even contemplate passing this bill, should be ordered to receive psychological counseling and sent to a half way house for treatment. But then again as we all know being “progressive” is indeed a mental disorder.

Good luck next week in killing AB 2923. Below is the link to Debora Allen’s correspondence.

OpLetter2923 -Final Signed

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

The day of the hearing in the Senate Appropriation Committee is today. If this bill is not stopped in committee it may go to the full Senate to be voted on soon. Contacting your State Senator to let them know you oppose this bill, may be the best action at this time.

Where indeed are the voters in this fight? How many know about this legal blitzkrieg that is going on in Sacramento? How many of the thousands of victims of the wildfires will be helped by this legislation in their dire needs for help? This bill is poorly timed and off track for delivering the housing we need in the state right now. See updates and action items here :

Trump’s tax changes already casting shadow over Bay Area housing market

By Mark Calvey : bizjournals  – excerpt

The impact of lower tax benefits for home ownership will become more evident during next year’s tax-filing season, with an Oakland real estate agent warning, “There’s going to be a rude awakening next spring.”… (more)

Eyeopener moments from a recent CASA meeting of the MTC

From author at Marinij – (includes video links)

The CASA technical committee is stacked with housing insiders trying to shape housing policies.  Almost every new policy, takes away local government control, property rights, environmental protections and establishes new taxation.  Homeowners are not considered  “stakeholders” even though they will be funding it all.

It is an outrageous attempt to overturn our democratic traditions and what it means to hold property.  These insiders seem completely oblivious to the likely reactions to their radical schemes and obviously self aggrandizing policy prescriptions. Some believe it will spark massive flight from California and social conflict.

CASA establishes  Legislative Goals  (gut CEQA, local control and give special favors to developers):

CASA proposes new Taxes:

Technical Committee wants housing on Public Lands (schools, dmvs, etc.):

Former ABAG Chief Economist pleads “Don’t ignore middle class housing”:

All of these are shorter clips taken from the July 18, 2018 CASA meeting available on the MTC website.

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