Lafayette city manager quits over lack of movement on new housing

By Kimberly Veklerov : sfchronicle – excerpt

The top official of the small and affluent East Bay city of Lafayette last week announced his resignation because of residents’ intransigence on building more housing, saying he could not stay in the role he has held for three decades when his views diverge so sharply from the community’s…

City Manager Steven Falk is the latest Bay Area official to air his frustration at housing shortages and policies that slow development. He said Lafayette has an obligation to take regional needs into consideration in its city planning…

In his resignation letter, Falk pointed to two recent ballot measures he spearheaded that voters quashed. One, in 2016, would have enacted a 1 percent sales tax to pay for downtown parks, restoring a historic theater, protecting open spaces and increasing police patrols, among other services. The other would have authorized a project with up to 44 homes and new recreational facilities. Voters rejected that plan in June.

“Elections have consequences,” Falk said, “and one is that Lafayette residents deserve a city manager who is better aligned with their priorities.”…(more)



MEDA upgrades plans to 12-story tower at 18th and Mission — the tallest building in the Mission

By Julian Mark  : missionlocal – excerpt

The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) is proposing to build a 12-story tower on the corner of 18th and Mission — now the site of a dilapidated former stove store — that would contain 63 below-market-rate condos.

The proposed building would be the tallest building in the Mission, exceeding the 10-story US Bank building on the corner of 22nd and Mission, the current tallest.

The new plans are a dramatic upgrade from MEDA’s original plans for an eight-story building that would contain 48 affordable condos, studio space for Dance Mission Theater, and classrooms for Mission Neighborhood Center’s early childhood education programs. The space reserved for the dance studio and the classrooms will expand in size as well. It would include no parking spaces… (more)

This is going to give nonprofits a bad name in the Mission. How can the nonprofits argue against tall buildings when their 8 story becomes a 12 story? MEDA should stick to developing the properties in the pipeline now.


Meet the newest recruits in California’s war on climate change: carbon farmers

By Alastair Bland : calmatters – excerpt

Loren Poncia’s idling pickup shudders in a powerful gust of afternoon wind in western Marin County. Inside the warm cab, he scans the sun-browned hills through his binoculars, counting his grazing cows. Poncia raises beef cattle. As he sees it, though, what he is really doing is raising soil.

“I’m growing grass to feed to my cattle, but it all comes down to having high-quality soil,” said Poncia, who owns Stemple Creek Ranch with his wife, Lisa.

He is among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in California’s soil. Part of the state’s overarching goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, the California Healthy Soils Initiative took effect a year ago, when the state’s cap-and-trade program made $7.5 million available in small grants to farmers like Poncia. This year, the Healthy Soils Program, one component of the initiative, is receiving about $15 million… (more)


MTC CASA technical committee hopes to raise billions from Bay Area taxpayers

Report on CASA meeting from a taxpayer perspective (includes three videos) full meeting  CASA Technical Committee ( 2. 5 hours)  MTC Director Steve Heminger’s opening remarks (4 min.) MTC CASA New Tax Revenue Concepts for housing (30 min.)   Bay Area Housing trust fund (5 minutes)

Here is the full meeting and excerpts from the full meeting of the MTC Casa meeting of 9/19/18 for your reference (including the last one sent earlier today)

This meeting should shock the average Bay Area resident . It is a brazen attempt to bypass the normal democratic channels of government.  They even discuss ways to avoid a public vote on the taxes.  I consider this very serious attack on the public’s right to self governance by the very individuals who stand to collectively make billions of dollars in funding for real estate development.

Did anyone ask you to vote on this?  This is the most ambitious cash and power grab I have seen in my lifetime. What is the point of democracy when this can happen?

Yes, it is time to wake up.

Please watch and draw your conclusion. Some notes below. Post comments if your like.

Notes: from the CASA Technical Committee video: For some of these fees we may need enabling legislation, and we may even need voter approval. Some may need both.

There is mention of a Regional Infrastructure Bank to finance infrastructure need to build more housing. A regioanl housing trust fund is envisioned as a place to pool the money.

Some thoughts of preservation: Some types of housing ie, Mobile homes and SROs should not be targetted for upzoning because you will never get them back and you need to protect that level of affordability. ADUs should be allowed everywhere. Housing overlay and minimum density overlay should be along Transit rich areas within a half mile radius. But, communities of concern would be able to opt out, but not 100% affordable.

The Committee to House the Bay Area and the coming tax tsunami

by: Bob Silvestri : marinpost – excerpt

On Monday evening, I attended an event held by the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T) at Piatti Restaurant, entitled “What they don’t want you to know about taxes, pensions, public education and services.” David Crane, the guest speaker and founder of Govern for California, made a compelling presentation about the coming financial crisis in our state.

Some of the many causes of Crane’s well-reasoned predictions included the State’s bogus accounting tricks, its imaginary investment return projections, and its skyrocketing retiree benefits and healthcare obligations. He also noted how California’s tax revenues have become lopsided and increasingly dependent on fewer and fewer super-wealthy individuals, so that the next recession promises to be long and painful and expensive.

In his words, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”….

It’s all about housing, or so they say

MTC is now unofficially the San Francisco Bay Area’s most powerful planning and housing agency. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the former nemesis of local control seems to exist only as a consulting firm to MTC or to justify its existence and huge budget by doing “studies” and managing projects set in motion before its planning functions were stripped away by MTC. Our elected representatives who continue to sit on its general assembly and committees, effectively have little say anymore on planning and housing issues.

How this “coup” of the planning and housing development funding powers of ABAG by an unelected state agency came about has been well documented in the Marin Post by Zelda Bronstein (ABAG leaders betray local cities and Regional government sells out Bay Area cities)…

A case in point of this power grab is a new sub-commission of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), our largest Bay Area, unelected, state-funded agency. It’s called CASA – The Committee to House the Bay Area.

Unbeknownst to just about everyone, CASA is now the most powerful committee for Bay Area affordable housing planning, even though most of us have never heard of it nor had any say in who was chosen to be on it…

The chairs and co-chairs of CASA and the conveners of their subcommittees are:

Fred Blackwell – Chief Executive Officer | The San Francisco Foundation (Bio), described on the web site as a visionary leader working to ensure shared prosperity, innovation, and equity in the Bay Area.

Leslye Corsiglia – Executive Director | Silicon Valley at Home (Bio), described as “the voice” for affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Based initially in the Housing Trust Silicon Valley, SV@Home is a membership organization that advocates for policies, programs, land use, and funding.

Michael Covarrubias – Chair and Chief Executive Officer | TMG Partners (Bio), a privately-held, full-service development company headquartered in San Francisco focusing on urban infill projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Steve Heminger – Executive Director | Metropolitan Transportation Commission (Bio)…(more)

Tariffs to Raise Cost of Rebuilding After Hurricane Florence

By Nelson D. Schwartz : nytimes – excerpt

When the floodwaters from Hurricane Florence recede and rebuilding kicks into high gear, homeowners and businesses will face an additional burden as tariffs imposed by the Trump administration drive up the cost of construction materials.

Homebuilders and contractors say the administration’s trade policy will add to the price increases that usually follow natural disasters. In addition to materials like lumber, steel and aluminum, the United States will impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports next week, including countertops, furniture and gypsum, a key ingredient in drywall. All told, some builders estimate that construction costs could be 20 to 30 percent higher than they would have been without these tariffs.

“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” said Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association…

With most of the damage coming from flooding rather than wind, insurers will pick up only a small portion of the cost of rebuilding. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies exclude flood damage, and out of the millions of homes in the Carolinas, only 335,000 are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.(more)

Between the floods, fires and other disasters, the US need to rebuild housing where it was lost just to sustain itself and its communities. We are set for a huge new homeless population unless we act fast.

Affordable homes, not developer giveaways

By Maya Chupkov, Lisa Awbrey and Tes Welborn : sfchronicle – excerpt

In a recent op-ed published in the Examiner, Corey Smith, the paid Campaign Organizer for the citywide advocacy group for market-rate housing developers known as the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, or HAC, put on his “community hat.” The piece titled “Homes Not Cars on Divisadero” tilts non-existent windmills (no one is proposing any cars to replace any “homes” on Divisadero) in order to argue against a community-devised plan calling for more neighborhood-serving retail, affordable housing, and bike and transit improvements in exchange for a density giveaway after a recent upzoning of Divisadero…

Smith’s hasty dismissal of Affordable Divis made short work of the efforts of hundreds of neighborhood residents who devised the Divisadero Community Plan ( created over a four-month open planning process. The plan sought to balance the impacts of an ill-conceived massive density bonus conferred on the area by former Supervisor London Breed three years ago with no community participation.

Both SF Planning Director John Rahaim and Supervisor Breed later recognized the rezoning as deficient. In December 2015, Breed finally agreed with Affordable Divis that granting a huge development bonus without an increase in required affordability was an error, which she committed to correct by amending her rezoning legislation. No corrective legislation was advanced for over two years, and then the Mayor’s race took her complete attention(more)

Elizabeth Warren’s Ambitious Fix for America’s Housing Crisis

: theatlantic – excerpt

The Massachusetts Democrat introduced legislation that takes aim at segregation, redlining, restrictive zoning, and the loss of equity by low-income homeowners.

Ten years ago, the subprime-mortgage crisis stripped millions of Americans of their homes. Many haven’t gotten those homes back and now face skyrocketing rents. Ask an economist, or any recent graduate trying to afford rent, and they’ll tell you: America is still in a housing crisis. On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill tackling the issue head on, trying to lower the cost of homes in neighborhoods with greater economic opportunity.

The legislation, titled the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, is perhaps the most far-reaching assault on housing segregation since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It’s ambitious, pouring half a trillion dollars over 10 years into affordable-housing programs, and funded by raising the estate tax to Bush-era levels. An outside study by Mark Zandi at Moody’s Analytics found that raising the estate tax would ensure the bill does not create a deficit… (more)

City Is Poised to Back Down on Plan to Increase Height Limit – Again

by Andrew Keatts : voiceofsandiego – excerpt

San Diego city planners are walking back plans to let developers build taller buildings near a new transit station at Tecolote Drive. Residents have fiercely opposed plans to allow more housing along the new Mid-Coast Trolley corridor. They’ve now twice won concessions from the city… (more)

Affordable housing plans at shipyard move forward despite concerns over radioactive contamination

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

The City is forging ahead with plans to develop a 28,792 square-foot site on Parcel A at the Hunters Point Shipyard into affordable housing, despite ongoing testing for radioactive contamination in the area.

On Thursday, The City’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure issued a Request for Proposals seeking applicants to “develop, own and operate” low-income housing on Parcel A, a hilltop swath of land that was the the first to be developed into more than 400 homes under the massive Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project… (more)

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