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.

 

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The latest Silicon Valley housing idea: On a landfill

By Richard Scheinin : mercurynews – excerpt

Environmental watchdogs OK plan for 1,680 units at City Place

Are we this desperate for land that we need to build on a dump? Can’t wait to see the marketing materials and disclosure statements on this one. This is not the first I have heard about building on landfill. Major problems with shifting soil would seem particularly concerning in an earthquake zone. Maybe you can sell housing to non-natives, but, it may be hard to convince people to buy on landfill after watching the effects of Loma Prieta  on the Marina and other “filled areas” in San Francisco. CEQA is becoming a big toothless grin on the face of our state. I think Ruth Shikada’s comment sums it up rather well, ““But as long as we stay the course and continue to do the research and prepare the documents … then we’re going to see housing on that site.” In other words, we can afford to hire more consultants and attorneys than the pubic so we will win in the end. She left out the politicians who are busy cementing their power over the public this season in Sacramento. SB 35 is a developer’s wet dream.

SANTA CLARA — It’s not your typical site for a new housing development: a former landfill, containing an estimated 5.5 million tons of municipal waste dumped over a quarter century in the heart of this city.

But it’s looking more and more as if the Related Companies’ plan to build a $6.7 billion mixed-use complex with up to 1,680 units of housing across the street from Levi’s Stadium will come to fruition. The project represents the largest housing project ever proposed atop a landfill in the Bay Area, regulators say, and perhaps in the entire state.

Environmental overseers have accepted Related’s massive technical document, which includes elaborate safety systems to block the escape of combustible methane gas and other dangerous vapors, and to prevent groundwater contamination… (more)

Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

vineyards1

by Darren Smith : jonthanturley – excerpt

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider…(more)

How much damage can the government do before the public reacts? It appears we had two good outcomes in two states this week that prove when the public protests buildings casting shadows on parks and forced use of poisons on organic farms the government sometimes still listens.

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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.

The Housing Crunch Is Our Fault. We Can Fix It.

By Randal O’Toole : cato – excerpt (includes graphs)
(This article appeared in Washington Post on October 13, 2016.)

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place.

Housing prices are rapidly rising in many urban areas. Prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are higher today — even after adjusting for inflation — than they were at the height of the 2006 bubble. Data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency bears this out:..

Yet this is not a nationwide problem. Prices in many other areas remain quite reasonable. Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth are the nation’s fastest-growing urban areas, yet they remain affordable (which is one reason they are growing so fast). Here are home prices for areas that don’t try to control urban sprawl (again, the data comes from the Federal Housing Finance Agency):…

The difference is that the urban areas with high housing prices have almost all tried to contain urban “sprawl” by limiting the amount of land around the cities that can be developed, using policies such as urban-growth boundaries, urban-service boundaries or concurrency requirements that limit new growth until infrastructure is totally financed. Anyone who understands supply and demand knows that limiting supply in the face of rising demand leads to higher prices…

The only real solution is to repeal the state laws and local plans that created the problem in the first place. That means abolishing growth boundaries and other constraints and allowing developers to build and sell homes outside of existing urban areas.

There is a growing opposition to the dense development theme. SF has ballot initiatives and LA is preparing a moratorium initiative. People do not like living in crowded conditions and do not like being told how to live.
If the Democrats do not take back the Senate maybe they will start to listen to what the citizens are saying instead of telling us how we must change. It is time for Congress to change.

 

 

 

 

Jerry Brown is Trying to Quash the People’s Ability to Fight Mega-Developers … For Him, It’s Personal!

By Jill Stewart : citywatchla – excerpt

VOX POP–A few years ago, then-state Sen. Alex Padilla implored us to embrace a fast-tracking plan that let wealthy developers rush huge mega-developments through the courts, getting around opponents by slashing the time they were given to fight back under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

Padilla, who is now California Secretary of State, repeated at the time to KCRW’s Warren Olney what Gov. Jerry Brown and the majority Democrats in the legislature were saying in 2011: California’s then-12% unemployment rate justified the pushing aside of environmental damage concerns created by massive developments, to create jobs.

Asked what the rush was, given the possibility of environmentally questionable developments sailing through the courts, Padilla said, “The urgency is 99 percent driven by the unemployment rate that we have,” which had soared to 12%.

He went on to predict that a purportedly badly needed NFL stadium for Downtown Los Angeles would create some 20,000 jobs. It was a wild exaggeration in a time of desperate unemployment.

Fast forward to today. The California unemployment rate has plummeted, its urban areas are vibrant, and the absurd plan for a downtown NFL football stadium, squeezed onto insufficient land next to one of the most congested freeways in the world, died on the vine. The phony claims about “Farmer’s Field,” proved to be just that — downtown Los Angeles soon exploded in growth and jobs, sans the NFL stadium.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown and some very sneaky California Democratic state legislators are trying to push through the 2.0 version of that end-run around our environmental protections. But because Brown and Co. no longer have horrible unemployment levels as an excuse for egregious environmental backsliding, they went with a hardball, last-minute, non-debated, surprise law as their strategy, Senate Bill 734.

It is opposed by the Sierra Club, the Judicial Council that administers California’s courts, the Planning and Conservation League, and my own organization, the Coalition to Preserve LA, which is aiming to place the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the March 2017 ballot to end developer control of Los Angeles City Hall.

SB 734 will allow wildly inappropriate private developments to breeze through the courts, such as the traffic-freezing “Crossroads of the World” mega-blob development, proposed next to badly jammed-up Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, an area  now all but shut down for hours each day by overdevelopment and its endless, attendant, commuter traffic… (more)

Major Changes May Come to Bay Area Planning As MTC and ABAG Move Toward Merger

Michael Krasny : KQED – excerpt – (includes audio)

MTCvABAG

THE MERGER UNDER CONSIDERATION

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201602180900

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) are responsible for housing and transportation planning for the Bay Area, including the controversial “Plan Bay Area” mandate. Now there’s talk of merging the two agencies, with a study underway on how that could be accomplished. But critics argue that the merger process lacks transparency, and that a consolidated agency will take decision-making out of the hands of local communities. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a potential merger.

Host: Michael Krasny

Guests:

  • Dave Cortese, chair, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; supervisor, District Three, Santa Clara County; former president of ABAG
  • Julie Pierce, president, Association of Bay Area Governments; council member for the city of Clayton
  • Egon Terplan, regional planning director, SPUR
  • Catharine Baker, assemblymember, 16th District (R) (Walnut Creek, Danville, Pleasanton), California State Assembly
  • Zelda Bronstein, Bay Area activist and journalist; former chair of Berkeley Planning Commission; writes for 48hills.org

More info:

CEQA Roundup: After meeting with governor, Steinberg puts comprehensive CEQA bill on hold

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy – excerpt

And just like that, after a year of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep his politically complicated CEQA reform package moving forward—a bill he not-so-jokingly referred to as the How to Make No Friends Act—Senate leader Darrell Steinberg last night decided to put aside his statewide CEQA legislation, SB 731, and turn his focus instead to his new bill, SB 743, to streamline the CEQA process for a Sacramento Kings arena.
The turn of events surprised many observers, especially because Steinberg seemed to be working hard this week to line up a coalition of infill builders, smart growth advocates, and labor groups he needed to move SB 731 forward over growing opposition from the business community.
A Wednesday evening meeting between Steinberg and the governor appears to have changed all that. Insiders say the governor pushed the Senate leader to pick one CEQA bill to get behind this legislative session, and Steinberg chose the Kings arena, putting his statewide legislation on hold until next year. Steinberg also reportedly promised to add several provisions requested by the governor.
According to amendments made public earlier this week, the Kings bill would already provide the arena with an expedited 270-day period for judicial review, give the city the power to use eminent domain to claim property for the arena project (even before the arena’s environmental impact report is complete), and create a new, super-compressed timeline for public review that will end disputes not in court, but in non-binding mediation … (more)

Looks like Steinberg has his priorities in order. He either cares more about the stadium or he just figured it was an easier, less complicated bill to salvage.