6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

Vilification, subversion of language, truisms and California’s one party government are just some of the tools being leveraged to push a developer funded radical rapid housing growth agenda that would dramatically reshape California’s single family home neighborhoods While Donald Trump is accused of having the attention span of a goldfish, the same accusation could be made of California voters. Few read ballot measures, typically basing their vote solely whether the the “headline” is appealing, or perhaps deferring to the endorsement of the local newspaper – newspapers which are often not without bias. This fact has not gone unnoticed by those who can benefit from it. This has led to one small but highly vocal minority special interest group hijacking not just state government but local councils and committees to push through their ideology – an ideology called “transit oriented development,” blended with the goal of driving rapid housing growth to address California’s housing crisis, above all other priorities and irrespective of negative, unintended consequences. This special interest group has successfully hijacked the conversation using 6 key tactics: Tactic #1: Propagate Opinions As “Truisms” While Dilbert creator Scott Adams accuses Trump of using hypnosis techniques, the same techniques are being used very effectively by pro rapid-growth groups such as the YIMBYs, and some groups using the pretense of advocating for “sustainable” development (there are many groups that advocate genuine sustainability which the author has great respect for). This tactic manifests itself at local council meetings, discussions with state government and, of course, in online community discussion forums. I recently started a poll on Nextdoor.com asking the seemingly simple question, “Will...
The Death Knell for California’s Single Family Neighborhoods

The Death Knell for California’s Single Family Neighborhoods

Unbeknownst to most Californians, changes to state housing laws are being proposed that substantially shift the balance away from development of single family homes and low density residential (duplex, triplex, etc.) to large scale high density development and they make it almost impossible for residents, councils or mayors to ensure quality development mitigating impacts on existing or new residents’ quality of life California’s Housing Accountability Act law, enacted in 1982, compels cities to take action on proposed developments. However legislation enacted by Governor Brown in September 2017 shifted the burden of proof that a development conforms to legal and zoning requirements to the local government. Now the judgment of elected city officials is replaced with that of any “reasonable person”, which can include the project developer who has a fundamental economic interest in the project. Should the city reject an undesirable proposal, until recently only the developer could file suit to appeal and overturn the decision. However in September 2016 this was also changed so that instead trade or industry groups, or housing advocacy groups could file suit with cities paying their legal fees. Developers are reluctant to sue cities when development proposals are blocked, because they are constantly negotiating with city officials over their projects. The new legislation allows developers’ surrogates to do the dirty work. There have been two suits filed in Berkeley and Sausalito by the housing advocacy group San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SF BARF, which is now known as SF YIMBY), both for market rate, not affordable housing. In both cases the advocacy groups prevailed with the city paying the advocacy group’s costs....
231 Train Riders Benefit While 362,390 Highway 101 Users Suffer

231 Train Riders Benefit While 362,390 Highway 101 Users Suffer

Want to do some good at Christmas – how about helping to save over three hundred thousand people collective hours of their time by sending a short email to the right person appealing for common sense? It’ll take you 2 minutes – and you can copy and paste from the email below to Supervisor Damon Connolly dconnolly@marincounty.org (click on the link to bring up a mail compose window). Delaying Hundreds of Thousands to Benefit a Handful of  Train Riders SMART’s extension to Larkspur is likely to…  help 231 daily train riders by the year 2035 (official SMART number) cause significant delays to 362,390 users of highway 101 (official Caltrans / DoT 2015 number). How You Can  Help? Send a letter like the one below to Supervisor Damon Connolly, who is both our district supervisor and our county representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Damon can be reached at dconnolly@marincounty.org Letter to Damon Connolly Damon, Can you please look into having MTC conduct appropriate traffic analysis and mitigation planning around the SMART extension to Larkspur? The extension is likely to cause backups onto 101 that should be analyzed caused by: crossings of 2nd and 3rd street relocation of bus services to surface streets from the Bettini Transit Center It is really important that the train does not exacerbate 101 backups. 2015 official Caltrans traffic counts for highway 101 show peak daily traffic of 217,000 vehicles on 101 at Lincoln Avenue – with 1.67 occupants (US DoT average car occupancy) this translates to 362,390 people. By comparison to 362,390 people using 101 at Lincoln, SMART estimates in it’s Environmental Impact Report (page 264) that it...
SMART Survey – How SMART Voters’ Views Have Shifted

SMART Survey – How SMART Voters’ Views Have Shifted

Several days ago we published the results of a transportation survey detailing Marin residents’ views on SMART and the potential impact it will have on traffic and transit center users in downtown San Rafael. You can find these initial results here. Next we wanted to focus on the attitudes and responses of people stating that they voted for SMART – or Measure Q – to see if there has been a shift as the reality of SMART has emerged. 34% Respondents Voted For SMART As of the time of writing responses were as follows: 476 people took the survey 163 of those respondents stated that they had voted in favor of SMART (Measure Q) when it passed in 2008 Respondent Locations SMART supporter’s locations reflected those of respondents as a whole, with the majority –  about 70% in both cases – living in San Rafael: The Big Revelation – Voters Have Turned Against SMART The big surprise is that of those respondents who said they had voted for SMART in 2008, 50% either believe SMART is no longer a worthwhile project or answered “don’t knonw”.  Specifically 28% said they no longer thought the project was worthwhile and 20% answered “don’t know”. This is a truly remarkable figure representing a significant reversal of support for SMART. Only 50% of those who voted for the train now believe the project is still worthwhile. This compares to a figure of 21% of all respondents believe SMART is still worthwhile. So whichever lens is used SMART is barely deemed a worthwhile project. SMART Supporters Prioritization of SMART and San Rafael Traffic Congestion When...