Op-Ed: Don't Promise to Not Be Racist, Says League of California Cities
Long ago in the ancient days of 2013, The League of Cities published a useful manual: “How to Hide Your Segregation,” or as they put it, “Housing Elements: Beware of What You Promise.” In it, The League offers important advice on how to not get caught when your policies have widespread discriminatory impacts on protected classes of people. The League of Cities is a membership organization of many California cities and towns that lobbies the state and federal government, generally for greater... more
Editorial: Berkeley Finally Treats Crisis Like a Crisis
Berkeley’s homeless population adds to the downtown area’s “neighborhood character,” and that’s not a good thing. Last month, Laura Jadwin, a homeless resident, was found dead under a tree in an empty lot on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. After weeks of heavy rainstorms, it came as no surprise when exposure was found as the cause of death. These inhumane conditions are well within the city’s power to ameliorate. Such misfortunes are more than an embarrassment; they completely invalidate... more
Open Letter: Commentary on Central SoMa Plan EIR
Planning Department Staff, Members of the Planning Commission, and Board of Supervisors, I’m writing today to express my extreme disappointment in the Central SoMa Plan and its Environmental Impact Report (EIR). I live at 6th and Market near the edge of the plan area, and also write as a member of the SF Bay Area Renters Federation and SF YIMBY Party. The most critical paragraph in the Central SoMa plan for understanding why it must be sent back to the drawing board for a thorough... more
Op-Ed: All Is in Flux, Nothing Stays the Same
Boom California recently published an interview with Mike Davis, a “chronicler of the California dark side and LA’s underbelly,” and advocate for community planning. I’ve [excerpted] https://twitter.com/hanlonbt/status/802318722429952000) sections from Davis’ best-known work, “City of Quartz,” on Twitter to highlight how Los Angeles homeowners demanded land use and tax policies that enriched themselves while furthering racial and class exclusion. Davis is a talented prose stylist with a... more
Op-Ed: The Golden Door
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! —Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus" So you live in a liberal enclave in a blue state, one of the big progressive cities. One of those places where you're more likely to see a Sumatran tiger than someone who openly backed Donald Trump. One of those Sanctuary Cities. You want to do something, but well, locally it's already about as progressive as it's possible to get... right? Well, no. There is still plenty of... more
Op-Ed: Poor Housing and Lackluster Broadband Access in San Francisco
It’s hard to believe that San Francisco, a city home to a large portion of the Internet, has residents suffering from a lack of quality broadband access— but its does. We live in a state with almost 200 different internet service providers, yet of the 40% of San Franciscans living in apartment buildings or condominiums, only 3% have access to the fastest broadband technology available. Many landlords and building owners get kickbacks in exchange for steering their tenants to big broadband... more
Editorial: Prop 13, or, California's Progressive Blindspot Illuminated
In 1979, California voters passed Proposition 13. This locked in property tax rates at a maximum rate of 1% of its assessed value, which can change at most 2% per year. Most voters (in the counties labeled green above) hoped to protect homeowners from the market volatility of their own equity values, preventing foreclosures that could occur if tax assessments became more than their incomes could bear. Sounds good, right? As it turns out, the ballot measure legislated a de facto caste system... more
Op-Ed: What This Election Really Means
In 2017, Donald Trump will be our next president. That means that anything is possible politically, for better or worse. Trump won in part due to the increasing numbers of people who feel marginalized, regardless of background. The national election was more than anything about inequality, and the failure of political Progressives to respond to the marginalized in a meaningful way. Whether you rent or own, paying for housing makes up the biggest chunk of working families’ budgets, and the... more
Letter from the Editor: Who Is "We"?
This is a failed experiment. White people are the quintessential carpetbaggers. Insofar as “white” has coalesced as an abstraction to include once-disparate cultural groups united by colorist prejudices, today it seems merely a distinction of who emigrated to the Americas with some degree of autonomy (Bering Strait notwithstanding, of course). Abstractions may not be tangible, but they can kill. We—and my hand trembles as I type “we,” since my status among you has always been ambiguous—we... more
Editorial: Questioning Priorities in the Affordable Housing Community
We recently responded to an open letter from the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO), an affordable housing organization, to the City Controller on its study of Proposition C and its 25% inclusionary requirement. One of CCHO’s most surprising positions was that the very first goal of the city’s housing policy should be to “capture the windfall profits resulting from increased land values.” This means the actual creation of affordable housing comes somewhere after first in... more