This Refugee Camp Is The First In The World To Be Powered By Solar Energy

By Willa Frej : huffingtonpost – excerpt (includes video)

A group of about 20,000 Syrian refugees living outdoors have access to electricity as of Wednesday thanks to a newly constructed solar plant in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It’s the first and only solar-powered refugee camp in the world.

“Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives abroad,” the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement.

UNHCR built the 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant farm in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, which provided the funding, according to the statement… (more)

Are solar powered RV dwellers homeless, or are they just lacking an address to park their homes?

Freight Rail Fight Could Impact Calif. High-Speed Rail Project


AN FRANCISCO (CN) – An impending decision by the California Supreme Court over whether the state or federal government has jurisdiction in railway decisions could have major implications for the Golden State’s high-speed rail project.

The justices heard oral argument by the North Coast Railway Authority, which argued the federal government’s decision to allow freight service to resume on a 316-mile line that runs through northern counties outweighs the state’s environmental rules under the California Environmental Protection Act.

“Federal courts have universally ruled that open-ended pre-clearance processes like CEQA are preempted by the authority of federal regulators,” said Andrew Sabey, attorney for Northwest Pacific. The railroad operates the freight trains that traverse through Sonoma, Humboldt and Mendocino counties…(more)

California lawmakers aim to repeal anti-rent control law

Grassroots Actions

by :curbed – excerpt

Landlords love the Costa-Hawkins Act, a bane to tenants’ rights advocates

A new bill authored by San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu would do away with the 22-year-old Costa-Hawkins Act, the law that exempts new construction from rent control and generates ire with tenants’ rights activists.

Introduced by Chiu and two other California lawmakers in February, AB 1506 is only two lines long in its present form, which read:

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prescribes statewide limits on the application of local rent control with regard to certain properties.

This bill would repeal that act.

Not much room for loopholes there… (more)

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California Eyes Climate Leadership Role, But Trump’s EPA Holds a Key on Cars

By Lauren Sommer : KQED

California Gov. Jerry Brown is vowing to lead the nation on climate change, as the Trump administration pulls back. But the Trump administration could get in California’s way.

In his annual State of the State speech, California Gov. Jerry Brown had one key message about climate change: perseverance.

California has rules limiting carbon pollution from cars, but it can’t have those rules without permission from the federal EPA.

“We cannot fall back and give in to the climate deniers,” Brown said. “The science is clear. The danger is real.”

And just as President Trump took the oath of office on Friday, California acted, releasing its latest plan for tackling climate change. This includes renewable energy and putting millions of electric cars on the road.

It’s a challenge Brown first made in December, when climate scientists from around the world met up in San Francisco.

The mood at the conference had been dismal. Scientists were worried about losing federal funding for research and even the NASA satellites that collect basic climate data… (more)

Audubon slams oyster project’s legality

by Paul Mann : MadRiverUnion – excerpt

EUREKA – Audubon California and EarthJustice, the San Francisco-based environmental law advocate, charge in a joint statement that the lawful certification of the Coast Seafoods Company’s expanded oyster farming project must be ruled out.

The reason: the Final Environmental Impact Report has not received “an adequate review” under the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In a nine-page letter submitted Jan. 18 to Jack Crider, executive director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, the two organizations acknowledged the series of modifications made to the 471-page environmental impact report in response to voluminous public comment.

But the two groups argued that “both the project and its impacts remain enormous and have yet to be fully analyzed and disclosed as required by the CEQA.”… (more)

It is our policy to track the media on these subjects. Please post comments on the source. Not sure this is a positive way to approach food production when there is a need to feed human beings and the interior department closed down a farm recently in California. People do need to eat and oysters clean the water, so this argument does not win me over, especially when the administration is threatening to cut imports of other foods by increasing import tax. We should perhaps increase local food production.

This Golden State Podcast: Gavin Newsom Vows to Fight the Border Wall with Hellish Bureaucracy

By Lamar Anderson : modernluxury – excerpt – including This Golden State, a podcast from  Randy Shandobil

California will drown bigotry the best way it knows how: with endless CEQA appeals.

In these last days before the inauguration, legions of Democrats are trying to decide which Trump they must prepare to fight. Trump the demagogue, riding a wave of white supremacist backlash? Trump the dictator apologist? Trump the potential nuclear proliferator? “One thing that’s certain is the uncertainty of the moment,” lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom tells This Golden State’s Randy Shandobil.

But on at least one issue, Gavin sees Trump for what he is: a corner-cutting real estate developer with a probably illegal building project. When Shandobil asks how California can fight back against Trump’s “beautiful,” Mexico-funded border wall, Newsom gives perhaps the most California answer ever: CEQA, aka the California Environmental Quality Act, aka the litigation equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. “There’s something called CEQA in California—NEPA at the federal level,” says the former S.F. mayor. “There’s indigenous lands and autonomies relating to governance on those lands. There are all kinds of obstructions as it relates to just getting zoning approval and getting building permits. All those things could be made very, very challenging for the administration.” Spoken like a true San Franciscan!…(more)


Does Newsom want to be the guv who turns SF into Miami Beach?

Universal scream against the machine.


By Tim Redmond :48hills – excerpt

The Lt. Gov is pushing a lawsuit to strip voter control over waterfront development

Gavin Newsom seems to want to be the governor who turned the San Francisco waterfront into Miami Beach.

Newsom, who as Lite Guv chairs the State Lands Commission, is suing his former hometown to try to block the voters from limiting height limits on the waterfront…

Now Newsom is essentially saying that the State Lands Commission can decide who controls the San Francisco waterfront. That’s what’s at stake here.

When I asked him about this last year, he shrugged it off, saying he just wanted to enforce state law. But enforcing his vision of state law means a whole lot of inappropriate development – which is the Housing Action Coalition and the building trades, which strongly supported 8 Washington (with its ultra-luxury condos) are siding with Newsom on this…

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Proposed state law tells cities: Build more, or we’ll do it for you

by : sf.curbed – excerpt

San Francisco’s new state senator pitches housing bill mere hours into his term

Every California city is required to build a certain amount of housing to meet the state’s overall housing goals.

And a lot of places just plain seem to ignore the mandate. Earlier this year, former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner Kate Downing opined that the Regional Housing Needs Assessments lack so much as a built-in slap on the wrist.

A new law proposed in Sacramento would put some spurs to it by telling cities to start building before the state steps in to expedite the process.

If SB 35 eventually passes the governor’s desk, cities not pulling their weight would be hit with a Sacramento-designed, streamlined development process forcing them to fast track projects.

Local governments guard authority over hometown development quite jealously, and the new rules would play that to the state’s advantage by threatening loss of control.

San Francisco’s own Scott Wiener introduced the bill hours after being sworn in as state senator on Monday… (more)

The Native Species Arguments

It is our belief that those supporting Native Species over existing plants have bought into the FAKE NEWS being fed by Monsanto and other industries who benefit from widespread slaughter of plants.

Here are a couple of documents that support on my side of the argument. You can find plenty to support the other side elsewhere:

WEED WHACKERS: Monsanto, glyphosate, and the war on invasive species By Andrew Cockburn : harpers – excerpt (harpersmagazine-2015-weedwhackers)

Arguments against certification of snramp-eir By Tom Borden : of the SF Forest Alliance Leadership Group  (70 page document)

We are bringing this up because of the planned slaughter Van Ness Trees.

Van Ness Trees on Death Row  by Chris Parkes
Not all the threatened trees in San Francisco are in our parks. San Franciscans have been dismayed to find that many of the SFMTA road improvements seem to have been designed with no thought for the mature trees that are so important in reducing pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing habitat. We’ve written about these before HERE. Now the Van Ness Project is imminent, and the neighbors are fighting to save these trees. Here’s an article by Chris Parkes:

Developer allies again try to take over Sierra Club

Grassroots Actions

By Tim Redmond :sierraclub – excerpt


For years, the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club has been part of a progressive environmental movement. The Club has worked on clean energy, better transit, and sustainable development – and has opposed giant, out-of-control projects like the Wall on the Waterfront. It’s worked with tenant advocates on affordable housing. The influential Club slate card typically endorses the same candidates as the Milk Club, the Tenants Union, and the Bay Guardian.

But for the past couple of years, developers and their allies have been trying to take over the chapter and change its politics. They want a more growth-friendly board that will support market-rate housing development and big commercial projects – and they want the club’s endorsement to go to developer-friendly candidates.

That would be a huge blow to progressive politics in San Francisco.

Last year, a pro-development slate of candidates was…

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