Guest opinion: Battle for the soul of Mountain View

by Lenny Siegel : mv-voice – excerpt

New housing shouldn’t displace residents

There is a battle underway for the soul of Mountain View. For decades the Mountain View community has treasured diversity. We have long accepted people regardless of ethnic background, political or religious beliefs, or economic condition. In turn, they have helped build our community, performing jobs that we all need.

But the fabric that holds Mountain View together is at risk. Our extraordinary economic growth is causing gentrification and the displacement of many low- and middle-income residents. When we turn a blind eye, we lose part of our soul as a community…

We do need new housing in Mountain View, but we don’t have to displace people to build it. The city is encouraging both apartment and ownership housing construction on land that is currently in commercial use. We can’t legally force the owners of old apartments to stay in business, but we can eliminate their incentive to demolish by denying redevelopments that displace low- and moderate-income tenants…

If you value our apartment dwellers, vehicle residents, and mobile-home owners, please join me in signing the Soul of Mountain View petition at The soul of our community is at stake… (more)

Major Regional Housing Plan – CASA Compact discussion on KQED Forum

Re: KQED Forum on CASA (audio track included)Monday at 9:00 am

Host: Rachael Myrow and Guests: Susan Kirsch, Founder, Livable California;
Michael Covarrubias, CASA Co-Chair, CEO, TMG Partners and Guy Marzorati, reporter, KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk.


Who will pay for the CASA Compact programs if they are implemented? Who will finance a new regional development organization composed of unelected officials with authority to collecting new taxes? It feels as if the major theme is to use our taxes against us to create a dense living situation that we oppose.

BARC-ing Up The Wrong Tree

By Polly Baker : nine-county-coalition – excerpt

What if your government set up and operated a regional system of agencies with the goal of eliminating your legal political power and jurisdictions while it took control of your life? If this sounds crazy, I assure you it is not. Check it out for yourself:

The Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC) works on climate change, sea level rise, and the many other existential crises facing the human race. They don’t really have the data, and one wonders if they have ever verified the true facts. Whatever you think of climate change, these crises require that you give up your money, property, privacy, freedom and country as you submit to a Soviet style patronage system of unaccountable appointed people and their five-year plans of the collective. It is the Soviet system of central planning. Does climate change really require this level of control over us?(more)

Housing Balance Report Reinforces Need For Preservation Legislation

December ccho newsletter – excerpt

The Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee held its hearing on the City’s latest Housing Balance Report recently released by the Planning Department. The report states just under 18% of net new units built in San Francisco over in the last decade were affordable, showing that SF is losing stable rent-controlled units at an astonishing rate — for every two new affordable units, the City loses an existing rental housing unit.

CCHO worked with ABC News on a story that aired over the weekend about the housing balance report and how it reinforces the funding need for San Francisco’s small sites acquisition program. Watch it here.

Stories around the housing balance report reinforcing the need for preserving affordable housing also appeared in SF Weekly, KQED, 48 Hills, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle



Push by Environmentalists to Build Housing Near Transit Centers Meets Stiff Resistance

By Chris Reed : capoliticalreview – excerpt

Over the past dozen years, the California environmental lobby has never seemed more powerful in the Legislature and in state government. Under Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, the Golden State has passed bold laws and emerged as the global leader in government efforts to combat climate change – with Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom certain to continue this tradition.

But a bracing report from the California Air Resources Board shows that environmentalists’ clout can’t shake the complete control that NIMBYs have over local planning in most of the state – to the detriment of the environment. It found that a 2008 state law – Senate Bill 375 – had been an abject failure. The law requires the state’s 18 regional intergovernmental agencies to push to put new housing near transit stations and to add new transportation options so as to decrease pollution from vehicle commuting…

69% of Californians want local control of housing

But the appetite of state lawmakers to take on NIMBYs may be limited in the wake of new evidence that NIMBYism isn’t just espoused by activists who see every new housing project as detrimental to quality of life. Instead, it’s a core belief of state residents. A USC Dornsrife/Los Angeles Times survey released in October showed 69 percent of Californianspreferred local control of housing decision-making…

This article was originally published by

SB 827 is not the answer. Advancing equitable development is.

A Key Tactic: Sue the Suburbs

By J. K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

Citing a state law that limits cities’ power to reject developments, lawsuits sometime result in new housing projects, sometimes just a big payout…

The campaign to tackle the Bay Area’s housing crisis by forcing residential development in reluctant communities started with a simple idea: Sue the suburbs…

Pro-housing activist Sonja Trauss, a pioneer in the YIMBY movement, was reading about a controversial 315-unit affordable apartment project in Lafayette in 2015 when she learned about a 1982 state law she’d never heard of before: the Housing Accountability Act.

The law said municipalities must approve a housing development as long as it is consistent with local zoning rules and general plan objectives, would not create a public health hazard or take water from neighboring farms, and would meet state environmental standards…

The California Renters Legal Advocacy Fund, or CaRLA — a group Trauss and her YIMBY allies formed in 2015 — is waging the sue-the-suburbs campaign. CaRLA has used the Housing Accountability Act to sue on behalf of developers in Sausalito, Berkeley, San Mateo, Sonoma, Dublin and Lafayette…

Earlier this year, a group of elected officials and other concerned citizens formed a new group called Livable California, with a mission to “protect California cities” and “oppose state overreach and big money influence.” The group started after a February town hall meeting at the Taraval Police Station in San Francisco and has several hundred members, including candidates for local office in Pleasanton, Cupertino, Orinda and San Luis Obispo…

Livable California co-founder Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley said the group has gained momentum among people who believe that the top-down push for housing development — and big money flowing into the YIMBY movement — is “eroding representative democracy and local decision-making.”

“The consensus was that we are getting clobbered,” said Kirsch. “There has been an amassing of power into the hands of state and regional government. We are not NIMBYs or anti-housing; for us the issue goes back to democracy and local control.”… (more)

Interesting to note that Trauss was trounced by the neighborhood she tried to represent at the SF Board of Supervisors. Even though her opponent was outspent, by double-digits, the district that Jane Kim represented and failed to support in her big against Scott Wiener, chose the least offensive and density-loving of the three candidates. In fact none of the YIMBY candidates won in San Francisco District Supervisor races. The citizens also supported “Prop C” that was opposed by Wiener and the Mayor Breed, proving that their is still a faintly beating heart in the city by the Bay that has not been bought by pro-development supporters.

Experts say California needs to build a lot more housing. But the public disagrees

By Liam Dillon : latimes – excerpt

Academic researchers, state analysts and California’s gubernatorial candidates agree that the fundamental issue underlying the state’s housing crisis is that there are not enough homes for everyone who wants to live here.

The problem, a new poll says, is that the public doesn’t believe it.

Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities, said she wasn’t surprised by the results.

“This affirms what has been true for many years,” Coleman said. “Residents put most of their trust and faith in local leaders to address these issues.”

She said state officials should consider mayors and city councils as essential partners in fixing California’s housing problems instead of trying to take power away from them… (more)

Lack of Rent Control and too little funding are the top reasons citizens blame for the high cost of housing. 69% of California voters polled believe their local government should retain authority over approving developments.

Politicians can’t accept a cheap easy solution to housing because everything they do has to generate jobs, profits, and taxes, not just housing. The cheaper the solution the less likely it is going to be supported by the politicians. but, the voters don’t see it that way. They see a lot of high-priced units they can’t afford on their wages.

People resist forced density, traffic, water shortages and other environmental changes being pushed at them at ever faster rates. Families need stability not constant change.

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)



Berkeley blocks housing project again, citing historic value of parking lot site

By : curbed – excerpt

Even SB 35 can’t get West Berkeley plans past city skepticism

Berkeleyside reports that its titular city has prevented a proposed 260-unit development in West Berkeley from employing the development-friendly state law SB 35 to fast track city approval, citing the proximity of the city’s Shellmound as a protected historic resource.

According to the development application, 1900 Fourth Street would be a 260-unit apartment complex built on what’s presently a parking lot.

“The project site is ideally situated for mixed-use development: it is transit rich, is adjacent to one of the City’s most vibrant retail areas and has easy access to the 1-80 corridor,” the would-be developers note in the application…

On Tuesday, Berkeley Planning Director Timothy Burroughs sent a letter informing Ellsworth that 1900 Fourth Street does not quality for SB 35’s largesse, chiefly citing the fact that it “cannot be applied to [a] city-designated historical landmark site without violating California’s constitution.” (more)


Our View: ‘Local control’ of housing is the problem, not the solution

By Patricia Chiang : bizjournals – excerpt

One of the basic laws of the physical universe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It generally applies to the political universe, too.

Housing advocates like YIMBYs have raised their profile and stepped up their game in the last couple years, backing candidates and supporting legislation that aim to reverse California’s decades of failure in producing housing sufficient to accommodate its growth.

Their few nascent successes have generated an equal and opposite reaction from housing opponents. So California’s NIMBYs are getting organized as well. They are joining together to push back against proposals that would require smaller communities to do more to enable housing or to be held accountable if they fail to do so. Under the banner of groups like Livable California, they are forming coalitions with like-minded groups and officials and have paid visits to Sacramento to lobby state legislators…

“Local control” is not a blueprint for effective action. It is a virtual guarantee of inaction. But then, maybe that’s the point… (more)

There is a natural limit to growth imposed by nature. There is a limited amount of water and natural resources that effect quality of life and many citizens feel these limits need to be respected by limiting growth to not exceed those resources. Livable California is a nonpartisan citiizen’s response to the state legislative efforts to force development over reason.

Why is all the development along the coast at or near the point of sea level rise? So the wealthy landowners can realize high profits on “high-valued” seaside property before the ocean swallows it, leaving the buyers submerged, or the big one hits . Nature always wins.

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