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

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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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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Special Deal Would Benefit Influential Oakland Developer

By eastbayextress – excerpt

The Oakland planning department quietly proposed zoning changes that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer in the heart of First Friday.

The proposed zoning changes would make it easier for Signature Development to build a large mixed-use project across the street from the company’s Hive development in Uptown.

The Oakland Planning and Building Department recently attempted to quietly push through changes to the city’s zoning code that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer who has acquired a big chunk of real estate in Uptown Oakland, right in the heart of First Friday, the Express has learned. Planning staffers buried the proposed zoning amendment in a six hundred-plus page document amid other proposed changes that they described as routine and neutral efforts meant only to “clean up” Oakland’s planning code. But the zoning change, which underwent no public scrutiny before the planning department recently proposed it, would greatly increase the value of property recently purchased by Signature Development Group, a major Oakland real estate company run by Michael Ghielmetti, and would make it easier to build a large development project between 24th and 25th streets near Broadway.

“There seems to be a blatant disregard for the community,” said Hiroko Kurihara, founder and director of the nonprofit 25th Street Collective, in an interview. “The zoning changes that were proposed at the last minute … left even members of the planning commission scratching their heads.”… (more)

The technique is described really well by someone who researched the methods used by SFMTA to illegally alter the parking policies while claiming they were not making any substantive changes. See details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/

Codebreakers: The City Attempts to Streamline Its Epic Planning Rules. Hilarity Ensues.

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

The Planning Department’s ongoing effort to condense the codes governing building and development in this city has spanned 18 months. So far. The overall goal, says city planner Aaron Starr, is “to make it easier to use.” A new, user-friendly document weighs in at a svelte 468 pages. This is merely the ordinance amending the actual Planning Code, which stretches to nearly three times that length.

“Easier” is a relative term.

Concerned neighborhood groups, who exist in a perpetual state of concern, are concerned about who, exactly, will have it “easier.” A consortium raised red flags and marched into last week’s Planning Commission meeting with grave concerns over a specific clause within the 468 pages of arcana…

Stoking neighborhood groups’ fears was language they interpreted to shift conversion of a structure into student housing from a feat requiring a “conditional use” hearing to an activity that was “principally permitted.” The pernicious specter of sweeping up ever more American Spirit butts from one’s stoop sent a shudder through the neighborhood activists’ collective spine.

How surprised they were to learn, on the cusp of last week’s Planning Commission meeting, that the language in question regarding student housing wasn’t new at all — but codified via city ordinance all the way back in 2012. “It slipped through,” bemoans neighborhood activist Doug Engmann, a former Planning Commission president.

And yet, claims Starr, the Academy of Art still cannot legally infiltrate your neighborhood: Language in other sections of the nebulous Planning Code expressly forbids conversions of residential units into student housing. There is one caveat, he notes: An educational institution could indeed purchase an apartment and convert it into student housing — if it serves as a convent…

Engmann worries the city’s efforts to render the Planning Code less confusing have actually had the opposite effect. Starr disagrees. Cantankerous neighborhood activists, he says, “are finally able to see what is permitted in their neighborhoods. … And they may not be happy.”

No, they may not be.

“So, in that respect,” Starr says, “It’s a success already.”… (more)

 

California Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Salmon in Marin

by Joanna Nasar : indybay – excerpt

San Francisco (March 6, 2014) – Marin County Wide Plan Ruled Unlawful: CA Appeals Court Affirms SPAWN Position that County Failed to Analyze Cumulative Impacts and Provided Spurious Mitigation for Destruction of Salmon Habitat

Turtle Island Restoration Network ‘s Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) won a legal battle with the County of Marin to protect the last population of wild California coho coastal salmon…The case will now move to back to the lower court with a clear mandate from the CA Appeals Court to adequately protect California’s endangered coho salmon…

Read the Court’s opinion here: http://bit.ly/1f9e4v3  …

Turtle Island Restoration Network (http://www.SeaTurtles.org) works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. The Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN http://www.spawnusa.org) is a project of Turtle Island that works to protect endangered salmon and their habitat in the Marin County, CA.  http://www.spawnusa.org

PROTECT ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS: Planning Commission, Thursday., March 14, 12 PM

By Howard Wong

Hello Everyone:
IMPORTANT HEARINGS!  Forward this to friends and colleagues.
THREATS TO OUR ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS
Proposed CEQA legislation weakens public’s right to know and to participate.

The 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) gives environmentalists, neighborhoods, disadvantaged communities, ethnic minorities, cultural groups, Labor and the average citizen a chance to fight bad projects and powerful special interests.  History demonstrates that rigid state power and greased projects have bad consequences; by example, rampant freeway construction, filling in the Bay, destruction of ethnic neighborhoods, demolitions of the Western Addition/ Lower Fillmore/ Nihonmachi, disregard of environmental justice, erosion of open space, snubbing nature conservancy, demolition of historic resources, weakening health protections and ramrodding misguided development projects.
Please testify to oppose the proposed CEQA legislation.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA HASTINGS, COLLEGE OF THE LAW, CIVIL JUSTICE CLINIC: RE:  CEQA Amendments’ practical impact to community advocates
Conclusion:  The Amendments arguably would better reflect state law and streamline the CEQA process for various projects. However, they pose a substantial risk of significantly curtailing public participation and the ability of public officials to make well-informed decisions, contrary to the purpose of CEQA. The current fair argument standard should be preserved, requirements providing notice of CEQA determinations should be strengthened, and appeal procedures should be formalized and simplified.

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Is San Francisco The Brooklyn To Silicon Valley’s unbuilt Manhattan?

: theawl.com – excerpt

… Wired, the magazine that would define the first decade of the Internet Era, didn’t launch in Silicon Valley. It set up shop in San Francisco.
In 2013, the bigger tech companies are still in Silicon Valley, but the people working there… want to be in San Francisco. Zuckerberg is a part-timer, with a fancy apartment in the Mission. The rest are part-timers in Silicon Valley, commuting to and from work on immense luxury buses run by Google, Apple, EA, Yahoo and the rest. This has caused problems, notably for San Francisco residents unlucky enough to survive on less than a hundred-grand starting salary. Talk of raising the city’s skyline is met with anger. People argue endlessly over the appropriate comparisons to New York. Is Oakland the Brooklyn to SF? What about Berkeley, or Marin, or the Outer Sunset? And what does that make Bayview or Burlingame?
All of this assumes that urban San Francisco equals Manhattan. It does not. San Francisco, with its leafy parks and charming row houses and distinct villages and locavore restaurants and commuters fleeing every morning to work, is the Brooklyn to an as-yet-unbuilt Manhattan… (more)

This is the first reasonable approach to a solution for slowing development in San Francisco that I am aware of and bears some consideration for those of us who would like to preserve our city. Preserve San Francisco by building the new Manhattan above sea level on the peninsula where the jobs are. Build the new arenas and entertainment centers down there. Experiment with your transit first theories on a yet to be developed area with no natives and creative artists seeking a more relaxed, freer lifestyle.