In pandemic, it’s ‘us versus them’

By Lizzie Johnson : sfchronicle – ecxerpt

When Nevada County outside of Lake Tahoe became a coronavirus hot spot, tensions grew between year-round locals and those escaping cities

TRUCKEE — The coronavirus pandemic at first seemed impossibly distant to residents of the hamlets ringing Lake Tahoe.

It was winter, and snowdrifts pillowed the Sierra Nevada. The novel virus seemed to be contained to urban places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, or as far removed as Wuhan, China. Besides, people in this mountain town are hardy — the type used to hunkering down.

“I think there was a bit of hope and thinking that, ‘Oh, we’re our own little place, and it’ll never get here, and we’ll be fine,’” said Truckee Mayor Dave Polivy, 42.

That wasn’t the case…(more)

Green Space: Ways to stay environmentally conscious during the pandemic

By Robyn Purchia : sfexaminer – excerpt

Protecting public health can seem more important than reducing plastic these days…

Protecting public health can seem more important than reducing plastic these days. Even in environmentally conscious San Francisco, shoppers are buying more disposable cleaning wipes, masks and gloves. The plastic-free, bulk food section at Rainbow Grocery is closed during the pandemic. City officials un-banned plastic bags, claiming they were safer for people than reusable totes… (more)

Same as it every was. This pandemic gives us a chance to re-examiner the need to change the way we “save the planet”. Banning essentials is not, and never was the answer to dealing with products in the market place. The answer lies on the manufacture side. It always has. Government needs to incentivize industries to design new materials with the characteristics of plastics and other unwanted products, that do not create the monsters we need to banish from the planet. We need to re-examiner our use of plant based materials such as paper and glass that may be less hazardous and more re-usable than plastic. For this we need more scientists and less programmers. We need more chemists and doctors and less game designers and marketeers. Hopefully the education system will be able to change itself to help society train the future workforce we need and try to instill in people a better sense of public service than the get-rich-quick priorities we have seen in recent years.

Governments Splurged on Stadiums and Luxury Hotels Before Coronavirus Shut Them All Down

By Christian Britschgi : reason – excerpt

These subsidies were a bad deal for taxpayers even in good times. In the midst of a global pandemic, they’re devastating.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the hotel industry, and in doing so put the taxpayers who funded generous incentives for these hotels at risk of never being paid back.

This week, The New York Times reportedon publicly funded hotels from around the country that are having to delay openings, or sitting empty thanks to coronavirus-related shutdowns and cancellations…

That’s because targeted subsidies for things like stadiums and hotels don’t make economic sense even in good times, says Michael Farren of George Mason University’sMercatus Center…

“Targeted economic development subsidies don’t work. They don’t actually raise the standard of living in the communities that use them,” he tells Reason.

Farren says these kinds of incentives, at best, spend scarce public dollars on economic activity that would have happened regardless of the subsidies offered. That’s a loss for local businesses and residents who have to pay these taxes but don’t receive any of this largess, he says…

Now both types of investment are losing money at the worst possible time. Local governments are under tremendous financial strain as sales taxes they rely on evaporate, and the demands for all forms of public services grow.

This would be the case regardless of whether governments had splurged on dubious economic development projects. It nevertheless means that cities across America are having to divert money from providing essential services to cover the costs of luxury hotels…(more)

Here’s how putting California’s homeless in hotels actually works

By : calmatters – excerpt

How to deal with homeless Californians in a pandemic? State officials are trying to find hotel rooms for those with COVID-19 symptoms, but say the logistics have proved daunting…

As homeless Californians begin to move into these units, new questions have arisen for hoteliers, shelter providers, health care workers and government officials: How much should a room cost, and who should pay for it? How will meals be delivered? How will residents with mental health and addiction issues be handled?

And, when all this ends, will people in these rooms end up back on the street?

Here are some answers:

How many homeless people have been moved into hotels so far, and how many rooms are available?(more)

Lithium Extraction

lilacsolutions – excerpt

Most of the world’s lithium reserves are found in salt brines, with current production concentrated in South America. The conventional process for extracting lithium from brines requires large evaporation ponds that are expensive, slow to startup, vulnerable to weather, and often impossible to permit. This conventional process suffers from low lithium recovery and is ineffective for most new brine discoveries with lower grades of lithium. Lithium producers are seeking new extraction methods… (more)

America’s Biggest Cities Were Already Losing Their Allure. What Happens Next?

By Sabrina Tavernise and : nytimes – excerpt

The urge among some residents to leave because of the coronavirus may be temporary. But it follows a deeper, more powerful demographic trend.

Even before the coronavirus, Nina Brajovic wasn’t so sure about her life in New York. As a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, she spent most weeks out of town traveling for work. She often wondered whether she could do her same job for cheaper — and more easily — while based in her hometown, Pittsburgh.

Over the past month, she has gotten a sneak peek of that life, moving back in with her parents to avoid the wall-to-wall density of New York and working out of her childhood bedroom. She is now savoring life’s slowness, eating her father’s soup and watching movies on an L-shaped couch with her mom…

The country’s three largest metropolitan areas, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, all lost population in the past several years, according to an analysis by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Even slightly smaller metro areas, like Houston, Washington, D.C., and Miami grew more slowly than before. In all, growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas fell by nearly half over the course of the past decade, Mr. Frey found…. (more)

Report: S.F. Dept. of Building Inspection flooded with construction complaints

By : bizjournals – excerpt

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection has been hit with a slew of complaints of nonessential construction in violation of the shelter in place, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The city received 730 complaints of unauthorized work from March 30 to April 8 — 180 that went to the building department and 550 through the city’s 311 customer service center — according to the Chronicle, a volume that is heavy for the department, which prior to the shelter-in-place order averaged 12-15 referrals a day…(more)

NIMBYs Unlimited Time To File Anti-Housing Environmental Lawsuits

By Christian Britschgi : reason – excerpt

And they are taking full advantage of the opportunity

The COVID-19 outbreak might be a disaster for most of the globe, but it’s proving to be a windfall for California’s NIMBYs who are being provided with new legal tools for delaying real estate developments.

Last week, the Judicial Council of California—the rule-making body for the state’s courts—issued 11 emergency rules for the judicial system during the current pandemic.

Included in the council’s rules was a blanket extension of deadlines for filing civil actions until 90 days after the current state of emergency ends. Ominously for housing construction, this extended statute of limitations applies to lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)… (more)

2020 Moratorium on New Housing Legislation

sent via email:

What if the CA Assembly and/or Senate could be persuaded to declare a Housing Moratorium on new housing legislation in 2020? Think about what cities could accomplish if — instead of having to keep an eye on Sacramento housing bills crafted behind closed doors, it was safe to prioritize the budgetary challenges in your own jurisdiction? What if the COVID-19 pandemic opened the possibility of collaboratively working on a statewide effort to create a “Values & Policy Framework” to guide housing legislation in 2021?

I’m told CalMatters will publish my Commentary calling for a Moratorium on Monday, April 13.

If the Commentary resonates with you, please consider one or more of these options. If you send emails, please cc me with an open or blind cc so I can track who is being contacted.

1. Forward to your legislators and ask them to initiate or support a 2020 Moratorium and work on a Values & Policy Framework for 2021. Offer to bring your experience as an elected official to work on a 2021 Framework.
2. Forward to your City Council and/or Board of Supervisors. Ask them to put the Moratorium on the next agenda, with a recommendation to send a letter of support to Legislators re: the 2020 Moratorium on new housing bills.
3. Forward to your local print or online media sources with an email urging them to reprint. Offer to be available to comment on the idea.
4. Forward to and/or post on your neighborhood association, homeowner or community group.
5. Post a comment on the CalMatters comment page.
6. Send to other activist colleagues, family and friends.

This is a long shot, but it just might get attention and gain traction. Please send an email if you’re interested in working on a “Values & Policy Framework.” If we have a window of opportunity, let’s make it happen.”

Best wishes,
Susan Kirsch, President
Kirsch Associates
415-686-4375

COVID-19 Alert: Judicial Council Issues Sweeping Emergency Rules; Local Agencies Issue Regional Changes

judsupra – excerpt

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state and several local jurisdictions have issued orders/rules in the last few weeks that affect not only the timing of processing land use and planning entitlements, but also the filing of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other claims challenging land use projects and approvals in California courts. The situation is fluid, but this entry summarizes some of the major orders affecting planning and CEQA deadlines…

In one of the most significant developments, on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California issued Emergency Rules to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the judicial branch. Among other things, the Judicial Council added emergency rule 9 to the Rules of Court, which tolls the time to file any type of civil litigation from April 6, 2020 until 90 days after California Governor Gavin Newsom lifts the state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant time extension for many civil case types, and CEQA claims in particular, as they otherwise must be filed within 30 or 35 days of agency action. In practice, this means that project proponents and lead agencies will likely have a longer period of uncertainty related to whether a project will be challenged in court, both during the state of emergency and for some time afterward…

The situation is fluid and rapidly changing, given the uncertain nature of the pandemic. Accordingly, developers, agencies, and public stakeholders should carefully consider and monitor orders being issued by the judicial branch, as well as state and local agencies, to evaluate the potential effects on planning and CEQA deadlines, and on existing and potential land use and CEQA litigation.…(more)

This could be good news, but, I would confirm this with the parties you are working with, but, you may have a longer time to file claims. Not sure if this extends to motions, and other deadlines after the claim is filed and case is active.

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