Brown’s blunder down under

Editorials : Guest Opinion: By Andy Caldwell : capoliticalreview – excerpt
Please note the story originated on a site that is now a private site, so the linked version is coming from a secondary site. As net neutrality loses out we will see a lot more of these secondary stories. This one may be purchased for $2.50.

The biggest news story last week appeared in the classifieds. The legal notice declared a summons for all interested persons to appear in court in Sacramento as a defendant in a lawsuit. The lawsuit names the California Department of Water Resources vs. All Persons Interested in the matter of the Authorization of California Water Fix Revenue Bonds. That would be you.

Translation? Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to finance his Twin Tunnels project by way of a lawsuit. Each tunnel would be 150 feet below ground, 40 feet in diameter and 30 miles in length. The tunnel project would be as big a project as the English Channel tunnel and as big a boondoggle as Boston’s Big Dig…

Whereas most everyone agrees the Delta needs fixing, there is little agreement that the Twin Tunnels are the right fix. Hence, Mr. Brown is trying to move forward with this project by way of a lawsuit, which seeks to validate his authority to proceed without either voter, legislative or rate-payer approval…

I am very much afraid that Gov. Brown will actually make water less available due to the expense of this project, as it will make the state water unaffordable, leading to the cancellation of state water contracts. This will not just affect the parties that rely on state water directly. For instance, in Santa Maria, if state water becomes unaffordable, that means the city may end up using more groundwater than they do now. That will affect the water supply available to farmers.

Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of The Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290... (more)

This article is brought to you with the comments below based on our best knowledge of the situation. If anyone has better detailed information we will include that in a latter post.

All we know is that islands are being bought in the Delta by private corporations who may represent entities who want to claim riparian rights to the water in the Delta while farmers and others with water wells are being told their water rights may no longer hold for the water they are pumping on their land. If anyone has any other information on this subject, please let us know.

Meanwhile the city of San Francisco is starting to pump water to blend into the drinking water that they have been taking from Hetch Hetchy and residents are concerned about the quality and safety of this blended product.

People are switching to bottled water after recent attempts to make a big deal out of the great quality of the city’s Hetch Hetchy water supply, financial and legal constraints were enacted to convince people to drink tap water instead of bottled water. Now those constraints need to be removed since the water is no longer exclusively Hetch Hetchy, and some people with compromised health conditions will need to be careful with the blend.

This is especially important now that herbicides and other poisons are getting into our water system from such projects as the Beach Chalet. The voters approved the use of carcinogenic by-products that will leach into the soil near one of the aquifers on the west side.

 

Q&A Gabrief Metcalf: Is the housing crisis too big to solve?

When Gabriel Metcalf suggested at a forum on affordable housing that cities should be penalized by the state for failing to build enough housing, he drew gasps from fellow panelists.

It’s not that the other panelists disagreed with Metcalf, who as president and CEO of SPUR, is one of the Bay Area’s better-known housing advocates. It’s just that no one else had been willing to make the suggestion.

We talked to Metcalf to discuss the region’s housing crisis and some strategies that might fix it. As the head of SPUR — the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association — Metcalf is in the thick of the housing conversation. That makes sense: Over the decades, SPUR — which has offices in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland — has helped catalyze some of the region’s critical policy moves, from the founding of BART to the preservation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area… (more)

This is the beginning of the state-wide pitch for truly repressive legislation that will force communities to hand over their land to developers without any “right” to control it or protect them selves. Wiener is already at work on this in Sacramento.

This is why the country has new leadership. The public is wary of this sort of “sustainable” solution to “climate control” when there are many other ways to protect the planet. Clear cutting trees to make room for more towers and crowding people into cities is SPUR’s way of amassing greater wealth and power for the wealthy and powerful.

 

Scientific Reports Confirm Catastrophic Climate Change

By Jonathan Turley : Jonathanturley – excerpt

There are new reports confirming not only climate change but escalating losses of arctic ice. US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s annual Arctic report card has found that this is the hottest year on record in the Arctic and it is now twice as fast as any other place on Earth. Another international study found that the rapid loss of glaciers is caused by climate change to a certainty of 99 percent

The impact could well be catastrophic for the planet. The permafrost holds a huge amount of carbon which is released with the melting — releasing more CO2 and methane into atmosphere. That will further speed up climate change . . . which will result in more ice melting in an accelerating downward spiral. .. (more)

One wonders why any trees are being cut to release more carbon into the air if scientists are concerned by carbon release.

SF plan for natural areas likely to draw fire

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt

A comprehensive new plan for San Francisco’s natural areas could anger dog lovers, golfers and nature lovers in one swoop, while protecting delicate habitats and endangered species.

The plan — originally proposed in 2006 — will review the biology and geology of the Recreation and Park Department’s 32 natural areas and trails, including Twin Peaks, Bernal Heights and Mount Davidson. It will also outline maintenance and capital improvements within those areas for the next 20 years. The Recreation and Park Commission and the Planning Commission will vote on the document Thursday.

The biggest impacts that could come are changes in urban forestry management, the removal of off-leash dog areas in sensitive environmental areas and the rejiggering of Sharp Park’s golf course — changes with which the various groups will probably be unhappy… (more)

The public comments for on this EIR lasted for over 6 hours. This is  major project that is highly controversial. Thousands or trees are planned for removal, that will release tons of carbon into the air. People anticipate a lot of herbicides will be used and that this will go into the ground water that is now being mixed into the drinking water. More details can come later. Comments welcome.

There is no money for any of this according to the proponents of the Natural Resources Plan. This is a big messy project that will get approved and then swept under the rug until someone comes up with money and the contract will be approved and then the public will hear about it. That is what happens with these large broad plans.

Warriors win second court decision in S.F. arena battle

By Roland Li : bizjournals – excerpt

The California Courts of Appeal upheld on Tuesday the environmental review of the Golden State Warriors’ San Francisco stadium plan, allowing construction to begin on the $1 billion arena and office development unless another appeal is filed.

The decision stated that the legal challenge by the Mission Bay Alliance, which has been fighting to block the project, didn’t have merit. The Mission Bay Alliance, which includes University of California, San Francisco staff and donors, alleged that the city didn’t properly study the 18,000-seat stadium’s impact on traffic and the environment. The project also includes two 11-story office buildings…

“The Mission Bay Alliance, Jennifer Wade, and SaveMuni are deeply disappointed with today’s court ruling. Our legal team is reviewing the ruling and considering options. We believe that the proposed Warriors’ arena is incompatible with the Mission Bay South neighborhood and would result in blocked access to UCSF hospitals, dangerous air pollution, and traffic gridlock throughout the community,” said the Mission Bay Alliance in a statement…

The group has said it intends to use all avenues to fight the project.

“We are fully committed to ‘Never at 16th and Third,’” Bruce Spaulding, a retired UCSF vice chancellor who is part of the Mission Bay Alliance, told the Business Times in August. “(The Warriors) must relocate to a different site.”…(more)

More than a million people in SF? Did anyone ask you?

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

New regional plan, adopted with little public input, pushes massive growth for San Francisco – with no promise of money for transit or social equity…

Source: More than a million people in SF? Did anyone ask you?

Judge blocks oil development in Central California over fracking

By David R. Baker : sfchronicle – excerpt

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from opening more than 1 million acres in Central California to oil drilling because the agency did not properly explore the potential dangers of fracking.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with environmentalists who argued that the bureau should have addressed the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing in an environmental impact statement issued as part of the formal process of opening public lands to drilling.

Instead, the 1,073-page impact statement only mentioned fracking three times and never discussed the controversial practice in depth, according to the judge…

Environmentalists who consider fracking a threat to California’s strained groundwater supplies hailed the ruling.

“The Obama administration must get the message and end this reckless rush to auction off our public land to oil companies,” said Brendan Cummings, conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of two environmental groups that sued the bureau. “As California struggles against drought and climate change, we’ve got to end fracking and leave this dirty oil in the ground.”… (more)

Not to mention the earthquake potential in an earthquake zone. They are worrying about it in Oklahoma now. We should consider it a potential threat in California.

 

CEQA: This law has done a good job

by Cesar Diaz and Kyle Jones : capitolweekly – excerpt

The California Environmental Quality Act has long been the punching bag of business interests and some policy makers. It has been blamed for everything from a dearth of affordable housing to a sluggish economy during financial downturns.

Yet, until now, precious little objective research has been conducted to understand the costs and benefits associated with this 46-year-old law…

Recently,  the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment commissioned BAE Urban Economics to draft an objective report to dig into this sticky question.

Leveraging a combination of rigorous quantitative analysis, a literature review of past research, case studies and a review of recent legislative changes to the law, the report found little evidence of economic harm inflicted by this landmark environmental law.

In fact, the report found that CEQA has done a good job of helping California to grow in an environmentally sustainable way. The state is relying more on increased density to accommodate a growing population and less on agricultural land and open space to accommodate new housing than it has in decades past.

California is now the 11th most densely populated state in the nation, up from its ranking of 13th in 1970. Nearly one-quarter of the most walkable cities in the US are now located in California.

It’s difficult to justify claims that this law impedes environmentally-sensitive development with these facts at hand… (more)

Op-ed: Jesse Arreguín is right to oppose Jerry Brown’s anti-democratic give-away to the real-estate industry

By Zelda Bronstein : berkeleyside – excerpt

Zelda Bronstein is a former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission.

In his July 19 op-ed published on Berkeleyside, Garret Christensen slammed Berkeley City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguín for opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s Trailer Bill 707. Christensen called the legislation “an important state affordable housing bill” that “Berkeley and its councilmembers, especially those with aspirations of becoming mayor should welcome…with open arms.” “[I]t is truly baffling to me,” he declared, “why anyone who calls themselves a progressive is opposed to the governor’s proposal.”

In fact, Trailer Bill 707 is opposed by many people besides Arreguín who call themselves progressives— for example, the representatives of  the 60-plus organizations, including Public Advocates, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, Jobs with Justice San Francisco, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and SEIU 1021, who signed a July 8 letter urging the state legislature to reject the bill.

Brown’s proposal, they wrote, “gives developers the power to force approval of projects “’by right’ without public or environmental review.”

For Christensen, the lack of public or environmental review is a boon that would eliminate “Berkeley’s extra layers of approval requirements.” What he deems “extra” is anything beyond the “objective zoning standards” specified in the bill.

The problem: zoning is an essential but limited land use planning tool. A development could meet a city’s zoning and still displace existing tenants, small businesses, and jobs. By removing the right to negotiate with developers over such issues, Brown’s bill puts communities, especially disadvantaged ones, at the mercy of the real estate industry. Meanwhile, as the letter cited above notes, “privileged communities…can merely maintain or redesign zoning restrictions to keep out affordable housing.”

In any case, the amount of affordable housing created by Trailer Bill 707 is piddling, as Christensen himself intimated: “If a multi-family housing project includes a certain percentage of affordable units (the exact percentage depends on the level of affordability, but ranges from  5% to 20%) and meets the city’s zoning laws, the city must grant the permit.” In other words, as much as 95% of the new housing authorized by Brown’s proposal could be unaffordable.

Moreover, a proposed development could meet a city’s zoning and still damage the environment. That’s why Trailer Bill 707 is also opposed by the Sierra Club.

Christensen acknowledges that “[t]here is some environmental opposition to the bill…, since infill developments including the requisite amount of affordable housing would be exempt from CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] review.” But in his view, “these concerns are misplaced, since any honest accounting shows much lower carbon and water impact from allowing people to live in a denser, transit-rich city like Berkeley instead of making them commute from a far-flung car-dependent suburb.”… (more)

Comments are appreciated on the source as well as on social media sites. This is the most important campaign in the state. The more to remove local control over deciding how to build our cities by removing the options we have now to oppose projects we don’t like. This includes good ones as well as bad ones, but if this goes the state has taken away our options to control our environment. The only way to overturn this is to put new politicians in office who want to decentralize power and protect our rights to choose how we live.

Best comment I have seen on the subject: “If Jerry Brown really wants to help the housing crisis, he would repeal costa hawkins” – good point. How about it Jerry? Let’s repeal Costa Hawkins.

Letter from Sacramento: Sometimes Friends Are So Disappointing

By Newsroom America Feeds : newsroomamerica – excerpt

Dear Eric,

This letter begins with a sigh.

A large, loud sigh that implies disappointment. The kind of sigh that follows the news that a friend, someone you expected to be on your side, somebody who always had your back, does something disappointing and inexcusable.

It’s also the kind of sigh that says “Here we go again.”

In the last few weeks, one of the most important environmental laws for many Californians, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), has been under attack at the legislature – again. That law requires developers to honestly disclose the environmental impacts of proposed development projects.

Some developers, including public agencies that build roads, clean up toxic waste, or plan the future, view CEQA as an inconvenience.

Honestly, they’re right. It’s inconvenient to tell the people who live near a freeway or the site of a new high rise exactly how much pollution that freeway or high rise might create or attract. It’s inconvenient to then suggest and put into place measures to make sure that pollution from that road or building is reduced or mitigated.

Honesty and responsibility that take into account that other people share the commons are simply inconvenient.

It would be a much easier world if there was nobody else who mattered and each developer or city government could just build whatever at a whim. Much easier, that is, for the builder.

It wouldn’t be much easier for the rest of us, the ones who have to breathe the air near the freeway or walk on the sidewalk near the giant parking garage attached to the high rise. It would be anarchy – polluted anarchy, at that… (more)

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