Saturday, October 30, 2010

Election Blogging Break

Dear Reader:

I’ll be taking an election period break from blogging until Wednesday, November 3rd, when I hope we will all share in a great wave of common sense voting, bringing committed public leadership to serve this great nation and our beloved communities.

Take care.

David H. Lukenbill

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bike Riders in LA

I haven’t ridden a bike to commute in years—and never rode one in LA—but this article from New Geography brought back many memories of the bike commuting I did way back when.

An excerpt.

“A recent Los Angeles Times article chronicled a showdown between drivers and bicyclists, inspired by the installation of bike lanes and — more significantly — the reduction of auto traffic lanes on a San Fernando Valley boulevard. The change was clearly intended to encourage cyclists, but I had to wonder: Which ones? In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, even the bike riders are divided, loosely, into different tribes.

“On a San Andreas Fault tour, on the San Francisco Peninsula skirting Silicon Valley, my friends and I passed large numbers of people riding back and forth on bicycles. They had brought their bicycles up into the Santa Cruz Mountains in the backs of their SUVs, and were riding back and forth, exercising their legs. Most of them were dressed in bicycle helmets, and costumes that looked like a cross between a surfer’s short wetsuit and a ballet tutu. It did not seem to me that this sort of activity was really going to replace the automobile for any serious purpose, and anyway, they were not commuting..

“In my own Orange County “paleo-urbanist” community we have the people of the helmets and ballet tutus, who use the streets. But we also have regular folks, who dress in shorts and often T-shirts. These ordinary adults and children use the sidewalk, not the street. I hear that many parents forbid their kids to ride in the street, especially when the street is Pacific Coast Highway. It is actually, as I understand it, illegal to ride a bicycle on most sidewalks. It is also against the law to drive more than 65 miles per hour on the freeway, to drink alcohol if you’re under 21, or (at least till November) to possess or smoke marijuana. As the young folks like to say, Bwahaha.

“I’ve heard about (I think there was an LA Times story some years ago) what I would like to call Los Midnight Riders – those who ride bicycles to work for economic reasons, not ecological ones, because they A) have jobs that don’t pay enough to support owning a car and B) have jobs with hours or locations that preclude using public transit; it either doesn’t run to where they're going, or it shuts down long before they can go home. These people are the real bike commuters. They often cannot, alas, afford proper front and rear night lights, which makes them a hazard. And they live in parts of town that may not be the best equipped with bike lanes, bike lanes being a rather bourgeois-bohemian interest.

“I taught myself to ride a bicycle at college when I was 21, not having had much opportunity or daring to learn earlier. There was a campus fad for bike riding at the time, but there were no ballet tutus or anything resembling them – ordinary shorts and the like were the costume for our rides. I felt incredibly self-righteous. For some time afterward I used the bicycle once in a while for local trips. But I did so less and less as time wore on. I still have a bicycle, and still use it occasionally, but bikes need to be kept in working order, and being of a certain age I fear I must confess that yes, yes, I do walk my bike up long or steep hills. I don’t wear a tutu, though when I get off a bike I often understand why other people do: My “privates” have gone to sleep, and when I dismount they begin to wake up with a tingling that is about as different as can be from titillation.

“Will bicycles ever become a transit option for masses of commuters? Office dress and decorum has not yet deteriorated to the point where bicycle commuting will be practical without a locker room. One would arrive at the office a sweaty mess and need to shower and change, I'd think, which could be as much of a hassle as going to a health club, and just as time-consuming.

“About a month from now I will be in Copenhagen. There, bike paths run between the street and the sidewalk, including right in front of hotels. Anyone getting out of a car must keep this in mind, for bicyclists are moving past at very high speeds! They seem to be dressed, for the most part, in long pants, and even in business suits. Not having spent a lot of time meeting with Danish bankers and lawyers, I don’t know whether or not they reek of sweat, or if their offices include huge locker rooms.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parkway Car Burglaries: Announcement

From the Sacramento Bee.

“Sacramento County rangers are dealing with an explosion of car burglaries along the American River Parkway this month and are looking for help in locating two suspects for questioning.

“Typically, rangers report about seven car burglaries a month along the parkway in October but have had reports of 22 so far, Ranger Supervisor John Havicon said today.

“Several of the cars were hit Sunday at the William Pond access point or in the neighborhood nearby at Ivanhoe Way and McClaren Drive, where many people park on the streets rather than pay the park entry fee.

"The suspects are consistently breaking into the cars and using the trunk openers to get inside the trunk," Havicon said in an email. "The thieves got away with several thousands of dollars in property and cash along with credit cards, which they immediately went shopping with."

“Havicon said store surveillance cameras in shops where stolen cards were used have identified a suspect vehicle - an older dark Ford Aerostar van with running boards and a missing hubcap on the right front wheel. The cameras also captured photos of two men believed to have come from the van shopping in the stores.

“Anyone with information on the van or who sees suspicious activity in the parkway should call 916-875-PARK (7275).”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Public Salary Information Online

In an excellent example of public transparency regarding tax-payer funded government salaries, the California state controllers office has released position salary information, as reported by the Sacramento Business Journal.

An excerpt.

“The California State Controller’s office unveiled a website Monday that lists the salary, pension and other compensation of nearly 600,000 city and county employees in the state.

“The listing also includes payments to elected officials.

“The absence of transparency and accountability invites corruption, self-dealing, and the abuse of public funds,” California Controller John Chiang, in a statement. “This website will help taxpayers scrutinize local government compensation and force public officials to account for how they spend public resources.”

“The site, which can be found by clicking here, has the compensation paid in 2009 to 594,000 city and county employees throughout the state.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flood Prone Sacramento

Sacramento has a 100 year flood protection level, which means there is a 50% chance we will flood; scary news every rainy year, which this one appears to be, based on the first storm of the season and another coming in Friday.

This article in the Sacramento Bee about the Natomas levees, points out the obvious.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento voters have made funding flood control a priority. They gave SAFCA's work a massive boost in 2007 when they approved a local property tax assessment for flood protection – not just in Natomas, but citywide. This money allowed SAFCA to seek bond funds, approved by statewide voters, to undertake the Natomas work.

“Construction started in 2008, and it is a massive project. In some stretches, the new levee is 3 feet taller and 350 feet wider. The construction cost by the end of 2011 is estimated at $360 million.

“Where the levee could not be widened, some sections include new slurry walls up to 100 feet deep to prevent seepage through sand layers underneath the levee.

“The project employs about 200 people, according to SAFCA.

"We literally wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning to the sounds of large Caterpillars," said Matt Breese, a homeowner on the land side of the Garden Highway levee along the Sacramento River. "It's shake, rattle and roll all day long, all through the house."

“Early on in the project design, Breese was told he would have to give up his house for the project. Later, SAFCA changed the design to build the levee around him.

“But Breese still lost a large slice of his front yard, along with several large shade trees. The property is now surrounded by a chain-link fence, noise and dust, and Breese's three children lost access to farm fields they used to play in.

"I'm not sure we've been through the worst of it yet," he said. "But there's always a silver lining, and I truly believe, once it's done, it's going to benefit the community."

“The eventual goal is to provide 200-year flood protection for Natomas. That means the risk of flooding would be about 13 percent over the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared with an estimated 50 percent risk now.

“The corps needs funding now just to achieve a 100-year level of protection in Natomas. It will need more money in years ahead to meet the 200-year goal.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Great Gray Owls in Yosemite

Here is a very nice story about the majestic owls, from the Modesto Bee.

An excerpt.

“FRESNO — For years, scientists thought logging, mining and development drove North America's largest owl out of Northern California forests and into Yosemite National Park.

“Scientists are rethinking that assumption. Genetic research shows the owls in Yosemite are a subspecies, a subtly different version of the great gray owl in North America.

“Scientists say the evidence suggests the Yosemite bird was stranded by vast ice fields and glaciers in the last Ice Age, evolving in isolation for more than 25,000 years.

“Such a discovery would make news about any Yosemite creature, but the great gray owl is a wildlife emblem, swooping down on rodents in wide mountain meadows.

“The great gray is an unmistakable yellow-eyed bird with a five-foot wingspan, but it is on the state Endangered Species Act list, and bird-watchers say it is a challenge to find one. Yosemite officials say there are about 150 great grays in the area.

“The Yosemite owl is not only genetically different from great gray owls in Oregon, Idaho and Canada, it also nests slightly differently and prefers a more narrow diet of rodents, scientists say.

“More than half of California's great gray owls are in the Yosemite region, and there are very few between the park and southern Oregon. Scientists say they still do not understand why there are only a few great grays in Northern California forests.

“It is not unusual to find species in the Sierra that were stranded during the last Ice Age, said wildlife ecologist John Keane, who led the research for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station.

“Researchers from the University of California at Davis also worked on the study, published in the July issue of the scientific journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Scientists with the National Park Service, the state Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency were involved in the studies, which began six years ago.

“Great gray owls live at an altitude of 4,000 to 8,500 feet in the Sierra, but they migrate to lower elevations in snowy winters or when there is a lack of food.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hope & Change

Certain times seem to generate optimism, others pessimism, and for many observers of the public arena, this is one of those very optimistic times, as we wait for the results of the elections across the country that will surely usher in a new sense of public policy making.

With all of the hitches in the formerly ascendant narrative putting some halt to its once remorseless advance; the stiller, smaller, voices of the people have been raised in a dynamic chorus of hoping for change, and it does appear that change will occur, at least in public leadership.

Whether the change in public leadership—assuming it does happen—will actually lead to a change in public policy, remains to be seen, as many who enter the halls of power from main street often become so self-enamored by their very ascension, that they forget how and on whose shoulders they arose, but I am optimistic it will happen and they will not forget.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Railyard Development, Update 350

In today’s Sacramento Bee, the lack of a developer able to shepherd the project, is noted, and one hopes that the new ownership considers approaching some of the local developers who have the financing and experience needed to handle this massive project.

An excerpt.

“A half year of uncertainty over who's in charge of the downtown Sacramento railyard ended Friday. The question now: What's next for the massive redevelopment site that has bedeviled more than one would-be developer?

“Inland American Real Estate, a deep-pocketed Illinois-based investment company, took control of the property at a foreclosure auction Friday….

“The company indicated it understands the importance of keeping the project moving forward.

"We look forward to working with the community to redevelop this important part of the city," the Inland statement read.

"Work continued at the railyard Friday on two bridges that will carry Fifth and Sixth streets into the site, opening it up for an internal road system, offices, housing and retail buildings.

“In comments Thursday, Mayor Johnson said he is looking forward to sitting down soon with the head of Inland to talk about the new owner's vision for development of the site, and to see if Inland might be interested in helping get a sports and entertainment center built in the railyard.

"We have a new partner we have to cultivate," Johnson said.

“City officials, meanwhile said they will spend the coming weeks drawing up documents that transfer entitlements and legal responsibilities from Thomas to Inland.

“Among those, they said, is the obligation for Inland to pay the city of Sacramento $2.7 million Thomas had owed the city for the city's overpayment on 33 acres of land the city is purchasing at the lower end of the railyard around the depot.

“Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the city needs agreements signed soon so it can resuscitate its stalled plan to move the train tracks a few hundred feet north, making room for a new transit center and potentially an arena….

“Inland's arrival on scene creates a number of questions. Inland is an investment company and property owner, but not a developer, observers say.

“The company likely will have to hire a developer to manage the railyard project. Inland has declined to say whether it plans to hire a local developer or bring someone in from outside Sacramento.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Railyards Update 349

The difficulty with getting large public/private projects done in downtown Sacramento continues, as the railyards saga re-enters bizarro land, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

“An Illinois investment company is poised to take control of Sacramento's downtown railyard today in an auction that would make the newcomer an instant major player in Sacramento real estate and politics.

“Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he's eager to quiz Inland American Real Estate executives about plans they may have for the site, as well as the company's potential willingness to help get a downtown arena built.

“And state officials say they want to hear what Inland has in mind for the site before they decide to release tens of millions of dollars in redevelopment grant funds now on hold for the massive downtown railyard property.

“Inland could take ownership of most of the 240-acre railyard at a foreclosure auction on the county courthouse steps this afternoon.

“The current owner, Thomas Enterprises, failed this year to make a balloon payment on $185 million in loans from Inland.

“Atlanta-based Thomas Enterprises bought the site from the Union Pacific Railroad in 2006, and has been slowly preparing the land for development. Company representatives did not respond to Bee requests for comment Thursday.

“Inland can, however, postpone or call off the auction, if it wants more time to negotiate with Thomas, county officials said.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not Wikipedia!!

One of my favorite sites, but yes, the global warming propagandists have done their work there also, but now they’ve been caught and booted, as the Wall Street Journal reports.

An excerpt.

“As the world saw in the Climategate emails last year, global warming advocates have a habit of demonizing anyone who disagrees with them. Now comes the Wikipedia version of this story.

“The influential online encyclopedia is written and edited by anyone with an Internet connection, and contributors are supposed to stick to a fair recitation of the facts. So it's news that last week Wikipedia acknowledged it had been hijacked by global warming alarmists who squelched dissenting science. A group of Wikipedia arbitrators banned British blogger William Connolley from participating in any article, discussion or forum dealing with global warming.

“Mr. Connolley is a former Green Party candidate for local political office and until 2007 was a climate modeler for the British Antarctic Survey. He is also a missionary for the view that humans cause global warming, and over the years he used his power as an "administrator" on Wikipedia to rewrite the site's global warming articles. He celebrated such controversial scientists as Penn State's Michael Mann, of Climategate fame, and he presented even disputed global warming science as fact. He routinely deleted entries that presented competing views and barred contributors with whom he disagreed. He also smeared scientific skeptics by rewriting their online biographies.

“All of this was an embarrassment for Wikipedia as it became more widely known, and last year it stripped Mr. Connolley of his administrator rights. He nonetheless continued his campaign, and last week Wikipedia's group of seven dispute arbitrators banned him from the topic entirely. They also banned other posters who had turned Wikipedia into their global warming propaganda outlet.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Budget Cutting & Innovation

As our region’s governments experience the consequences of budget cutting, it is crucial to remember what is the real public issue, which this article from Governing addresses.

An excerpt.

“Budget cutting requires a unique skill set. Public officials have to think creatively about how to ensure needed public services get delivered. This means thinking outside the usual parameters regarding how to simply sustain government processes.

“Or, as former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo once put it, "It is not a government's obligation to provide services, but to see that they are provided."…

“Officials must continue to diligently work to reform governmental systems and make sure they are funded as completely as possible. At the same time, officials must look at the issue from the broader frame of the public's access to important services….

“When I was struggling with how to improve the public schools in Indianapolis, economist Milton Friedman warned me not to confuse the purpose of a public service with its provision. In the case of education, Friedman reminded me that charter schools and vouchers were totally acceptable ways to provide children with public education.

“And so it goes as we explore transportation, or homeless services, or medical or emergency care. If we can't maintain government services in the traditional way, we have an obligation to look at how to make the market work better in other ways to serve residents.

“We need to remember, for example, that the goal isn't to provide bus service but to ensure mobility for residents. Our goal isn't to run schools, but to provide education.

“When thinking of how to do this, we need to think if there are private or nonprofit providers that could extend their service if government would reduce market barriers or provide subsidies.

“In general, it is best to politically separate those who currently provide a service from those who might oversee such an expansion. Organizations responsible for primarily providing a service tend not to be very good at licensing and/or subsidizing their competition. Local schools boards, for example, rarely approve charters that will compete for "their" students.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marketing Ecosystems

This is another in a series of excellent reports from the Property & Environment Research Center.

An excerpt.

“When visiting a store, one expects to find useful goods and services such as apples to eat and a refrigerator to keep them chilled. We depend on similar items in our everyday lives. In much the same way, nature also provides us valuable goods and services. When we bite into an apple, if we pause to think beyond the store where it was purchased, we may think of soil and water, but probably not the natural pollinators that fertilized the apple blossom so the fruit can set. When we drink a glass of tap water, we may think of the local reservoir, but not the source of the water quality, which lies miles upstream in the wooded watershed that filters and cleans the water as it flows downhill.

“Largely taken for granted, healthy ecosystems provide a variety of critical goods and services. Created by the interactions of living organisms with their environment, “ecosystem services” provide both the conditions and processes that sustain human life. Trees provide timber; coastal marshes provide shellfish. That’s obvious. The services underpinning these goods, though less visible, are equally important. If you doubt this, consider how to grow an apple without pollination, pest control, or soil fertility.

“A specific landscape creates a range of ecosystem services. A forest at the top of a watershed, for example, provides water quality by filtering contaminants from the water as it flows through roots and soil, flood control as the water slows while moving through the watershed, pollination by those pollinators living along the edge of the forest, and biodiversity conservation if endangered plants or animals live in the woods. Or consider something as simple as soil. More than a clump of dirt, soil is a complex matrix of organic and inorganic constituents transformed by numerous tiny organisms. The level of biological activity within soil is staggering. Under a square meter of pasture soil in Denmark, for example, scientists identified more than 50,000 worms, 48,000 small insects, and 10 million nematodes. This living soil provides a range of ecosystem services: buffering and moderation of the hydrological cycle, physical support for plants, retention and delivery of nutrients to plants, disposal of wastes and dead organic matter, and renewal of soil fertility.

“Just as we tend not to think about everyday goods and services until the store is out of apples or the refrigerator stops working, so, too, do we fail to appreciate the importance of services until we suffer the impacts of their loss. One cannot easily appreciate the impact that widespread wetland destruction has had on the ecosystem service of water retention until after a flood. Nor does one fully appreciate water quality until recognizing how development in forested watersheds has degraded the service of water purification. The costs from degradation of these services are high, and are suffered in rich and poor countries alike.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Funding Parks

Raising taxes is not the way to fund parks, though this article from the Sacramento Bee suggests it is.

Our post from yesterday about the federal government creating more parks than it can take care of, may also be applicable at the local level.

The heritage most Californians would probably prefer to have have had left to them would be protection from flooding and the subsequent adequate water storage for the state through the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height (tripling its storage) and the construction of the Auburn Dam, posted on here.

An excerpt from the Bee’s story.

“They were left to the people of California, gifts of natural beauty and magnificence to be passed through the generations.

“For California's 278 state parks, that heritage is becoming an iffy proposition.

“Amid a sagging economy and chronic state budget deficit, California's parks – like other state park systems across the nation – are at a critical financial crossroads.

“Years of budget cuts have produced a $1 billion backlog of crumbling buildings and eroding trails, according to a five-month examination by McClatchy newspapers in California. The vacancy rate among California park rangers stands at 30 percent. Reported crimes in state parks tripled over the past decade as the state added more parks – but not park rangers – a data analysis shows.

"We're on the wrong end of a 30-year downward trend," said California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman.

"The cumulative effect is leaving a state park system that is seriously degraded and, in some places, buildings on the verge of collapse."

“Nationwide, California's parks system is considered by experts to be among the most threatened. Other states – including Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey and New York – also are struggling.

“As a result, from coast to coast, states are looking for new ways to save these public preserves from extinction. Last year, basic park operations cost Californians $235 million.

"These are all places of California's heritage," said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the nonprofit California State Parks Foundation. "It would be tragic to lose them and not protect them.

"These are the places that make California California."

“Vehicle fee gains support

“Goldstein and a wide coalition of interests believe they have a solution for California's parks in a November ballot initiative that would add $18 to the annual vehicle license fee.

“While a handful of other states have similar licensing fees, California's Proposition 21 would make the surcharge mandatory – a factor that has contributed to opposition here.

“In exchange for the fee, California motorists would have free day use at all 278 state parks, while nonresidents still would pay entrance fees.

“The proposal – opposed primarily by taxpayer organizations – would generate $500 million annually for state parks and wildlife programs.

“It has garnered wide-ranging support – from business and travel interests, environmentalists, labor, education, public health and faith communities. California State Parks has taken no public position.

"What we're trying to do with Proposition 21 is to find a long-term, sustainable solution to the problem," said Goldstein.

“Opponents, meanwhile, view the measure as more "ballot-box budgeting" that does not hold politicians accountable for setting spending priorities.

"The concern is, first and foremost, an increase in the vehicle license fee on all California drivers," said David Wolfe, legislative director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us."

“Wolfe and others argue that the proposed surcharge is a regressive tax, affecting many people who can ill afford an $18 hike for an amenity they may never use. And, they say, it is money being peeled off vehicle registration that does not directly relate to transportation.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Federal Lands

This article from the National Review makes a great point, with a very revealing map.

An excerpt.

“Bozeman, Montana — The next Congress should enact a moratorium on land nationalization. The feds should stop fleecing exhausted taxpayers for fresh billions to purchase new acreage for Uncle Sam to mismanage.

“Washington, D.C., already lords over some 650 million acres, or 26.7 percent of America. These 1,015,625 square miles are roughly equal to all of Alaska, Texas, and California combined. The federal government owns 45.3 percent of California, 48 percent of Arizona, 57.45 percent of Utah, 69 percent of Alaska, and 84.5 percent of Nevada. No continental state from the Rockies west is less than 30 percent federal, as are Montana and Washington.

“But that is not enough.

“Uncle Sam is like a hyperactive brat who trips over his abandoned train set and stumbles over his spilled Legos while running out to slap a shiny new dirt bike on Daddy’s credit card. Washington constantly expands the federal estate, even while mishandling its existing properties.

“In March 2009, President Obama designated 2 million federal acres as “wilderness,” thus limiting public access and uses thereon. Unsated, Obama last April announced America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, a national listening tour to concoct new ways for Washington to interfere in natural-resource matters. A report due November 15 will include ideas for “creating corridors and connectivity” across exterior spaces, most likely through land procurement.

“Even scarier is a secret Bureau of Land Management (BLM) discussion paper leaked to Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R., Utah). Labeled “Internal Draft — NOT FOR RELEASE,” this document confirms the federal government’s infinite desire for physical enlargement.

“BLM advocates “expanded landholdings” and “acquiring parcels adjacent to its current holdings.” These envirocrats also argue that “Should the legislative process not prove fruitful . . . BLM would recommend that the Administration consider using the Antiquities Act to designate new National Monuments by Presidential Proclamation.” So, if Congress fails to grip federal acreage even more tightly, Obama should grab it by decree.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Water Management

This is a brief report on work in Kansas to improve water use, using volunteer efforts rather than regulatory coercion, which also works better.

The eight page report is here and this is an excerpt from the news release:

“The management of agricultural lands in the Cheney Lake Watershed is unique in that landowners have incorporated measures to improve water quality into their management practices. What began with informal discussions among area farmers about water quality is now a well-organized watershed-wide program aimed at improving water quality, protecting Wichita’s primary water source, maintaining fish and wildlife habitat, and reducing sediment runoff without sacrificing agricultural production. Among the roughly 1,000 farmers, more than 2,000 conservation practices have been implemented on a voluntary basis. The farmers of Cheney Lake Watershed have illustrated that responsible land management begins with the landowner and that a bottom-up approach to watershed management works.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

California, Bad for Business

According to this article from the Sacramento Business Journal, our fair state’s ranking is falling even lower.

An excerpt.

“California ranks No. 39 on Forbes’s latest annual list of the best states for business, falling by one spot from its 2009 ranking.

“The rankings are based on business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Business costs -- including labor, energy and taxes -- are weighted the most heavily.

“California is ranked 44th best for business costs and 43rd for regulatory environment but 11th for growth prospects, 22nd for quality of life and 28th for economic climate.

“The Golden State’s $1.5 trillion gross state product is by far the nation’s largest. New York with $946 billion, is second; Texas, with $912 billion, is third; and Florida, with $588 billion, is fourth.

“Utah takes the top spot on the Forbes best-for-business list, pushing Virginia down to No. 2.

“The top 10 states on Forbes’ best-for-business list:
* 1. Utah.
* 2. Virginia.
* 3. North Carolina.
* 4. Colorado.
* 5. Washington state.
* 6. Oregon.
* 7. Texas.
* 8. Georgia.
* 9. Nebraska.
* 10. Kansas.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Helping the Homeless

While it is good that local politicians are eager to help the homeless, as this article from the Sacramento Bee notes, and all communities should help those who are struggling, it is crucial to remember that the greatest help one can give another is to teach them how to help themselves.

Self-help should be part of any community helping or else it is a continuation of the problem not a solution to it.

This 1997 article from the City Journal, when the two different strategies of helping the homeless—whether to give them fish or teach them to fish—were being heatedly debated, can give us some insight.

An excerpt.

“The political arguments often get testy on New York 1's popular evening TV talk-fest, The Road to City Hall. But it's hard to remember anything quite like the recent confrontation between George McDonald and Steven Banks, two of the founding fathers of the city's homeless-rights movement. McDonald instantly went on the attack, accusing the city's oldest homeless-advocacy group, the Coalition for the Homeless, of trying to torpedo the work-training program that his own organization, the Doe Fund, runs for residents of the Harlem Men's Shelter. Banks, the Coalition's high-profile lawyer, countered that McDonald and the Doe Fund were exploiting the shelter residents by charging them $65 a week for rent. Dumbfounded by the charges and countercharges, the show's genial, ultraliberal host pleaded, "You're supposed to be on the same side. What's going on here?"

“What's going on is a sea change in attitudes toward the homeless. The Coalition and other advocates remain wholly committed to the entitlement-oriented culture of the old shelter system, along with the belief that the cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. But the Giuliani administration has other ideas. It has been contracting with tough-love programs like the Doe Fund to take over city homeless shelters, a new and, so far, quite successful approach that fundamentally challenges the old culture of dependency. Rejecting the Coalition's insistence that "housing, housing, housing" is the only solution for homelessness, George McDonald's program is based on the premise that the only real answer to the problem is work and personal responsibility. As McDonald recently told me, "My experience with homeless people has brought me to the conclusion that they are more capable of helping themselves than I thought, and than the advocates still think."

“George McDonald's public challenge to the Coalition's entitlement philosophy and his unexpected emergence as an ally of the Giuliani administration represent a breathtaking 180-degree political turn. For no one, not even Steven Banks, has agitated more relentlessly in the trenches of the homeless-rights movement than he. …

“McDonald contends—breaking once more with advocate orthodoxy—that New York, like the rest of America, offers his charges a sufficiency of jobs. "I believe that motivated people in the city of New York who are drug-free and reliable and show up every day for work can always find opportunity," McDonald told me. "Even with high unemployment rates and all the barriers our people have to overcome—prison records, substance-abuse episodes, and spotty employment histories—still they wind up with jobs, because they are so motivated."

“But, as Steven Banks suggested on the New York 1 program, aren't these jobs of the "dead-end" variety, leading nowhere? The concept infuriates McDonald: "Going to work, even picking up leaves or sweeping the streets, anybody who says that's a dead end doesn't have any understanding of the difference between the work culture—the free-enterprise culture—and the welfare culture. I mean, drugs lead to nowhere—to the grave. Yet the attitude of the advocates is, well, the homeless person has a right to lie on the street. The person has a right, a right, a right. That's our basic philosophical difference."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wind Power Maturing?

It appears, as this story from Fast Company reports, that wind power may actually be maturing as an industry, with China leading the way, and—if true—is very good news.

An excerpt.

“Despite earlier setbacks, wind power may have reached a tipping point. This morning we learned that Google (of all companies) is investing up to $200 million in infrastructure to support a massive wind farm 10 miles off the East Coast that will be operational in 2016. And approval was granted just last week for the first offshore wind project in the U.S., a $1 billion 130-windmill affair off the coast of Cape Cod. Earlier this year the U.K. granted licenses for nine offshore projects, which could generate up to 25% of the country's energy needs. And tiny Portugal, which has had large offshore windfarms since 2008 and opened a new onshore facility in May this year, has the second highest wind-power mix in the world.

“In light of this massive expansion in wind power generation, Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council have been looking at the state of the wind-powered generating industry around the world, and have predicted how wind energy usage may evolve over the next 20 years in a new report out today. Their finding: 20% of our energy needs could be powered by wind inside 20 years--and China will lead the way.

Do we believe it?

“Among the numerous statistics in the study, there are two stand-out conclusions: In a best-case scenario, rapid uptake of wind tech by many countries around the world could result in between 11.5% and 12.3% (about 2,600 terawatt-hours) of global electrical energy needs. Continued uptake could see this figure expand to 18.8% to 21.8% (around 5,400 terawatt-hours). Even a very conservative scenario would see 4.8% of our needs met inside the next 10 years--equal to Europe's energy consumption.

“There's one simple eco-conclusion to be drawn from these figures: If the world really embraced wind power, 34 billion tons less carbon dioxide would be added to the atmosphere by 2030--that's more than the entire world's current level of CO2 output for a year, and the savings would obviously be ongoing into the future.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Naked Parkway

Police arrested two naked men indecently exposing themselves on the Parkway, as this post from the Sacramento Bee Crime Blog reports.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento police report they arrested two naked men Sunday morning in separate incidents on bike trails.

“In the first report, police said they received a call of a naked man south of Cal Expo along the American River Parkway. Police responded and arrested Lonnie C. Belton, 36, for suspicion of indecent exposure at 10:49 a.m.

“Shortly after that, Sacramento police said that a call was received about a naked man on the Two Rivers Trail north of Fifth Street. Police said they took Amit Kumar, 34 into custody on suspicion of illegal camping and indecent exposure.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shakespeare’s Consummation

In any of the issues dealing with the Parkway: enough water, more public safety resources, funding and management stability, and greater public access; the public policy shaped by government depends upon cultural forces influencing government and over the past several years those forces have been largely driven by an environmentalist movement which gives a superior status to the natural world through the demotion of humans.

The perambulations of logic that allow environmentalists to somehow fail to understand that human beings are the intelligent aspect of the natural world are sometimes exotic, but always corrosive.

However, recent cultural/political changes seem to indicate that anti-human environmentalism is on its last legs which—if true—would be a welcome sign that a more rational and traditional perspective of human superiority accompanied by human stewardship of the natural world, may take hold once again.

It is a consummation devoutly to be wished…thank you Shakespeare.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Environmentalism Became Godzilla

Following up on yesterday's post; the past few years have witnessed the slow unraveling of the environmentalist movement, and given where it has gotten itself, that is very good news, as this cogent analysis from The American Interest reveals.

An excerpt.

“Watching the colossal and implosive decline of the once mighty green movement to stop global warming has been an educational experience. It’s rare to see so many smart, idealistic and dedicated people look so clueless and fail so completely. From the anti-climax of the Cluster of Copenhagen, when world leaders assembled for the single most unproductive and chaotic global gathering ever held, the movement has gone from one catastrophic failure to the next.

“A year ago giddy environmentalists were on top of the world. The greenest president in American history had the largest congressional majority of any president since Lyndon Johnson; the most powerful leaders in the world were elbowing each other for places on the agenda at the Copenhagen conference on climate.

“It all came to naught. The continued stalemates and failures of the UN treaty process have fallen off the front pages; as the Kyoto Protocol sinks ineffectually into oblivion, no new global treaty will take its place. The most Democratic Congress in a generation will not pass significant climate legislation before the midterms pull Congress to the right, and there will be no US law on carbon caps or anything close in President Obama’s first term, and there is less public faith in or concern about climate change today than at any time in the last fifteen years.

“Has any public pressure group ever spent so much direct mail and foundation money for such pathetic results?

“The standard rap on the greens is that they failed because they were too environmentalist. Their pure and naive ideals were no match for the evil, ugly forces of real world politics. Beautiful losers, they dared to dream a dream too gossamer winged, too delicate for the harsh light of day. Bambi, meet Godzilla; the butterfly was broken on the wheel.

“Even in defeat, the greens can’t get it right. The greens didn’t fail because they were too loyal to their ideals; they failed because lost touch with the core impetus and values of the environmental movement. Bambi wasn’t crushed by Godzilla; Bambi turned into Godzilla, and the same kind of public skepticism and populism that once fueled environmentalism have turned against it.

“The greens have forgotten where they come from. Modern environmentalism was born in the reaction against Big Science, Big Government and Experts. The Army Corps of Engineers built dams that devastated wetlands and ruined ecosystems; environmentalists used to be people who fought the Corps because they understood the limits of science, engineering, and simple big interventions in complex ecosystems.”

Friday, October 08, 2010


In this article from the Wall Street Journal, aspects of it are examined that no one likes, and some that everyone—almost—did.

An excerpt.

“The environmentally friendly Sun Chips bag is getting sacked. As Suzanne Vranica reported in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Frito-Lay succumbed to market reality. The company introduced the fully compostable, plant-based bag in January to loud acclaim. It looked like a green triumph—until customers started complaining about the noise, noise, noise.

“Instead of the slight crinkly rustling that accompanied digging into the old plastic bag, the new bag announced each reach with a big bang. The racket clocked in at around 95 decibels, louder than a lawnmower, a coffee grinder, or certain breeds of dog barking in your ear. (The European Union requires workers to wear ear-protection when exposed to such noise.)

“Customers expressed their dissatisfaction with the new packaging by choosing not to buy it, and this has some environmentalists all worked up. Over at Mother Jones, writer Kate Sheppard declares that the early retirement of Sun Chips' eco-bag is "Why We're Doomed." She's miffed that "a little noise was apparently too much for Americans to handle." She likens the snack-sack push-back to Americans' lack of enthusiasm for compact fluorescent light bulbs, which many resist because "they simply don't care for the way they look," the selfish brutes! Being willing to make aesthetic compromises "is the absolute, bare-minimum level of sacrifice Americans are asked to make." With no little contempt for the "couch potatoes [who] can't hear their TVs over the sound of their chip sack," she concludes that "If the sound of a crinkly eco-chip bag is too much to handle, then the human species really is screwed."

“Ms. Sheppard may be a bit overwrought, but she has one thing right: You can add the Sun Chip bags to the pile of eco-virtuous products that consumers found less desirable than the traditional products they replaced. Compact fluorescent bulbs are so unloved and so widely unadopted that Congress had to resort to conventional-bulb prohibition, with incandescent bulbs getting Volsteaded come 2014. Low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads failed to lure consumers from their water-guzzling predecessors, so the new devices were propped up by federal regulations—though resourceful end-users removed the flow-limiting gaskets to make their showers less stingy. Congress, it should be noted, has yet to mandate deafening snack-food packaging.

“Why do today's environmentally conscious alternatives so often seem such sad substitutes? It's not as though there haven't been products with environmental benefits embraced by consumers.

“Market-friendly economists have long pointed to the introduction of kerosene, gas-lighting and then electric bulbs as putting an end to whale oil for lighting. In whaling's heyday, there were alternatives for fueling lamps. But the quality of the light from burning whale oil made it something of a luxury good. The move away from it wasn't just because there were cheaper options, but because the new technologies were both cheaper and better.”

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bad Ad Causes Sponsor Withdrawal

Following up on yesterday’s post, a sponsor of the ad mentioned in the post, wants nothing more to do with it, as reported by Fast Company.

An excerpt.

“A PSA about climate change featuring exploding children and airborne body parts isn't something that corporations want to be associated with, apparently. The ad, narrated by former X-Files star Gillian Anderson (and displayed below), is part of the 10:10 global campaign to cut carbon emissions by 10% each year. The violent nature of the video so incensed Sony U.K. that the company dropped all support for the campaign.

“Sony isn't the only company to condemn the ad. Kyocera called the gory video "a grave error" of judgment, though it hasn't gone so far as to disassociate itself completely from the campaign.

“Sony expressed its disapproval in a statement, explaining that it "condemned the release by 10:10, the climate change campaign group, of a video entitled ’No Pressure’ that Sony considers to be ill-conceived and tasteless...[This] video risks undermining the work of the many thousands of members of the public, schools and universities, local authorities and many businesses, of which Sony is one, who support the long-term aims of the 10:10 movement and are actively working towards the reduction of carbon emissions."

“Harsh words for a campaign that has been planned for the past year--and which culminates in four days on October 10th, a global "Day of Doing" for the planet. The 10:10 campaign has, of course, realized that the video is a mistake. Eugenie Harvey, the director of 10:10 U.K. issued a statement apologizing for the ad, which is no longer available on the 10:10 website.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Humans are the Problem?

Given the platform of deep ecology—which is the foundational thought leader of the environmentalist movement—the type of advertisement noted in this article from the Wall Street Journal is not surprising.

An excerpt.

“What kind of people blow up children?

“White supremacists, for one example. On the morning of Sept. 15, 1963, members of a Ku Klux Klan "splinter group" set off dynamite under the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., killing four girls: Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. Denise was 11; the other three were 14.

“Islamic supremacists, for another example. Groups like Hamas and al Qaeda not only attack civilians indiscriminately but frequently employ Muslim children as suicide bombers. Our friend Brooke Goldstein made a whole movie about it.

“There's a new kind of supremacist on the scene: green supremacists. They haven't blown up any children--not in real life. But they've been thinking about it.

“A British outfit called the 10:10 Campaign hired Richard Curtis, a writer and producer of cinematic comedies, to produce a four-minute video promoting its effort to encourage people to cut "carbon emissions." The result, titled "No Pressure," struck James Delingpole, a global-warming skeptic who writes for London's Daily Telegraph, as "deliciously, unspeakably, magnificently bleeding awful." He's being too kind.

“The video opens with a young teacher lecturing a classroom of children who look to be about the age of the Birmingham bombing victims. "Right, kids, just before you go, there's a brilliant idea in the air that I'd like to run by you," she says. "Now, it's called 10:10. The idea is, everyone starts cutting their carbon emissions by 10%, thus keeping the planet safe for everyone, eventually. Now, this hasn't got to be a huge thing, but I would love it if you and your families would think about doing something."

"What sort of thing, miss?" asks a male student.

"Well, like getting your dad to insulate the loft, or taking your next holiday by train instead of flying, or buying energy-saving light bulbs."

"We're thinking of using our car less," says a female student. "I'm going to cycle to school."

"That's fantastic, Jemima," says the teacher. "Now, no pressure at all, but it would be great to get a sense of how many of you might do this--just a rough percentage."

“Almost all the kids in the school raise their hand. "That's fantastic!" says the teacher. "And those not?"

“A surly-looking girl, arms crossed defensively, shrugs her shoulders. A boy does the same. "Phillip and Tracy," says the teacher. "That's fine, that's absolutely fine. Your own choice."

“The bell rings. "OK, class," the teacher says. "Thank you so much for today, and I will see you all tomorrow." We see a close-up of Phillip, as the teacher continues: "Just before you all go, I just need to press"--she moves some papers on her desk to reveal--"this little button here."

“She presses it. Phillip and Tracy blow up. The other children scream as blood and viscera fly across the classroom. The teacher's parting words: "Now everybody, please remember to read chapters 5 and 6 on volcanoes and glaciation. Excepting Phillip and Tracy, of course."

“In case you didn't get the point, there follow similar scenes, involving adult victims, set in a workplace, on a soccer field and in a sound studio.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sacramento Beautiful

Following up on yesterday’s post, this story from the New York Times profiling Sacramento artist Wayne Thiebaud, reveals the harmony of land, people, and climate, we who live here have grown to love, through the eyes and spirit of a great artist.

An excerpt.

“MANY people would consider State Highway 160 to be a why-bother sort of a landscape, an isolated and unremarkable byway atop a levee along the Sacramento River in which the lone landmarks include a ramshackle bait and tackle shop and rusty pipes from an old sugar beet factory.

“But for the artist Wayne Thiebaud, whose paintings luxuriate in the commonplace — be it his signature bakeshop-window cakes and Boston cream pies or a roast chicken twirling on a rotisserie — the Sacramento Delta is fertile ground. Home ground.

“Aren’t the colors marvelous?” he asked one afternoon recently, as if seeing this watery Netherland-like country outside Sacramento for the first time. He will often come here with his artist friends, setting up his French painting easel along the levee. “The river changes almost constantly, from black to brown to coffee color to green to blue,” he said. An hour passed; the water shimmered silver. “It helps fortify your focus,” he observed. John Singer Sargent, he added, “was probably blessed with a photographic memory. But with me, it’s about remembrance — sketching certain types of reflected patterns, different kinds of lighting, then conjuring it up with your memory and imagination.”

“Mr. Thiebaud’s imagined delta landscapes — where azure furrows meld with emerald levees, violet fields and confetti orchards and a river with phosphorescent banks flowing dizzily in several directions — are among the 75 paintings and drawings to be featured in “Homecoming,” a retrospective at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the city he has called home since the 1950s. The exhibit, on view from Oct. 10 through Nov. 28, coincides with the opening of a 125,000-square-foot wing, designed by Charles Gwathmey and Gwathmey Siegel Associates, that nearly quadruples the museum’s gallery space.

“Mr. Thiebaud (pronounced TEE-bo) — who turns 90 next month — has been the subject of major retrospectives before, most notably the 2000-01 show that originated at the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco and traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art and elsewhere. But the Crocker holds a special place in his heart; it was here the first solo museum show of his work, “Influences on a Young Painter,” was held in 1951. “I love the Crocker,” he said, pausing to admire a Thomas Hill panorama of Yosemite Valley shared with generations of his art students. “I’ve stolen many ideas here.”

“Mr. Thiebaud’s affection for a city many Bay Area residents regard as a blur en route to Lake Tahoe — despite its status as the state capital — is long and deep. Like the artist himself, who greets people with a friendly “Howdy,” it is air-kiss-free, an unpretentious Giverny of the California interstate. It is arguably a rather odd place to find a major American artist. (The city’s other international figure, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a part-time interloper from Los Angeles.)

“It is a pretty real place,” mused Mr. Thiebaud, clad as he often is in tennis whites from the doubles match he plays nearly every morning at a neighborhood tennis club, often with men half his age. “There’s a sense of lineage, of families over generations,” he said. “The Gold Rush and the Pony Express made Sacramento a substantial place in terms of enterprise….

“In ways large and small, Mr. Thiebaud’s celebration and appreciation of the ordinary — “the flotsam and jetsam of middle-American life” as the philosopher Richard Wollheim once put it — is resonant of his home turf, the California sense of optimism. “Wayne has the character of this place in his bones,” said Lial Jones, the director of the Crocker. “There’s a directness about him, an ease, a humbleness.”

Monday, October 04, 2010

World Class & Philanthropy

Sacramento will never become a world class city in the way that term is generally used; primarily because we cannot begin to compete with the two world class cities already in our state.

What is, however, world class about Sacramento is that it is a magnificent area for families; a relatively stable, beautiful, diverse, and balanced region that has been attracting families and retirees for generations.

In this article from the editor of the Sacramento Bee, that aspect of world class is noted, primarily through the beauty and importance of the Crocker Art Museum.

It is also noted that the beauty and importance of the Crocker is largely the result of philanthropy and it will be through philanthropy that our other world class attraction— the American River Parkway—will be preserved, protected, and enhanced.

An excerpt from the article.

“Next time you're in one of those conversations about what the Sacramento region needs to become "world class," consider the example of the Crocker Art Museum.

“I'm not talking specifically about the museum's $100 million renovation and expansion, which open next Sunday, its new programs or its added works of art.

“The new Crocker, I think, demonstrates how leadership, determination and the right mix of public and private support can produce not just a handsome building but also a shared vision for community success.

“The old museum was a Sacramento institution that seemed by the late 20th century to have reached the limit of its potential. That tradition, however, became the foundation for an ambitious reinvention led by a corps of passionate local people.

“Most of the money – $73.5 million as of July – was pledged by individuals, corporations and foundations. The generosity of key donors, led by Joyce and Jim Teel and Mort and Marcy Friedman, stands out, as does the scale of the private fundraising.

“The city of Sacramento (which owned the original museum building and collection) contributed $12 million, with an additional $7 million coming from state, county and federal funds, according to the Crocker.

“As a special section in today's Bee illustrates, the new Crocker aims to reward serious art lovers and a wide range of others through exhibits, events and a lively mix of programs.

“From my view, the Crocker and other notable local attractions – among them Raley Field in West Sacramento and the American River Parkway – offer answers to the question of what "world class" really means.”

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Annual Report Posted

Our Annual Organizational Report has been posted.

Here is the summary:

Executive Summary

Our work over the past year has accomplished two things: 1) Increased the focus on public safety in the Parkway by placing attention on the illegal camping of registered sex offenders in the Parkway, resulting in their removal; (p. 37) and 2) continued the focus on a new governance and funding model for the Parkway resulting in further concrete work towards that eventuality, (p. 31)

We continue to keep attention on the formation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) for governance and the JPA’s formation of a nonprofit organization for daily management and supplemental philanthropic fundraising for the Parkway—the model we use, the Central Park Conservancy, raises 85% of funding—and we will continue that focus also.

Our public educational work continues primarily through the written word, and public meetings when available. ARPPS President Michael Rushford and Senior Policy Director, David H. Lukenbill were able to speak at the April 7, 2010 Woodlake Neighborhood Association meeting, the neighborhood most impacted by illegal camping.

The Senior Policy Director, David H. Lukenbill was interviewed by Laura Brown of for an article about the American River Parkway on January 11, 2010.

Inside Arden, a monthly news magazine distributed to neighborhoods along the Parkway, printed an interview with ARPPS President Michael Rushford in its July 2010 issue, nicely bookending the meeting in Woodlake.

As a policy development organization, our work consists in communicating ideas through available formats, and as this report will show, we have done that. Utilizing daily posting to the Parkway blog, sending open letters to public leaders and editors of local media, having articles published in local media, newsletters and e-letters to membership and community leaders, and the publication of public reports, we hope to enrich public dialogue seeking a comprehensive solution to the problems all agree burden the Parkway; funding, management, and preservation.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

San Francisco’s Homeless & The Matrix

They are still attempting to deal with one of the worst urban situations with the homeless on the West Coast—ever since the one success they had, the Matrix Program established by former mayor Frank Jordan in the 1990's.

This article from the Wall Street Journal reports on the latest developments.

An excerpt.

“Stroll down Haight Street these days, and chances are you'll be accosted by aggressive young vagrants. "Can you spare some change?" asks Cory, a slender dark-haired young man from Ventura, Calif. "Dude, do you have any food?" His two female companions, Zombie and Eeyore, swig from a bottle of pricey Tejava tea and pass a smoke while lying on a blanket surrounded by a fortress of backpacks, bedrolls and scrawled signs asking for money. Vincent, a fourth "traveler," as the Haight Street gutter punks call themselves, stares dully into space.

“Asked why people should give them money, Cory replies: "They got a dollar and I don't." Why don't you work? "We do work," retorts Eeyore. "I carry around this heavy backpack. We wake up at 7 a.m. and work all day. It's hard work." She's referring to begging and boozing. Asked if they're embarrassed to be begging, Cory says: "I'm not begging, I'm just asking for money."

“Such strapping young hobos see themselves as on a "mission," though they're hard-pressed to define it. In fact, they are defined by an oversized sense of entitlement.

“Of all the destinations on the West Coast "traveler" circuit, the Haight carries a particular attraction to these panhandlers, thanks to the 1960s Summer of Love. Over the last several years, however, the vagrant population has grown more territorial and violent. "I don't care if they ask for change," says Arthur Evans, a self-described former hippie who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years. "It's okay if they loiter and make a bit of noise. But I don't feel safe walking down the Haight at night any more."

“In July, two pit bulls bred by the residents of an encampment in nearby Golden Gate Park tore into pedestrians, biting a 71-year-old woman to the bone and wounding her two companions. Last October, one of three punks sitting on a blanket with dogs spat on a 14-month-old baby when its mother rejected their demand for change. These days vagrants carry knives and Mace; people who ask them to move risk getting jumped. Merchants trying to clean up feces and urine left by drunken youth are sometimes harassed and attacked.

“By late 2009, community frustration with the aggressive behavior led the police captain in the Haight district to propose a "sit-lie" ordinance to ban sitting or lying on city sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Police would first ask someone blocking a sidewalk to move along, warning him he was violating the law. Only if he refused could they cite him.

“The city's politically potent homeless advocates instantly mobilized against the proposed ordinance, as they have in every battle over public space in San Francisco over the last two decades. The real problem in the Haight, advocates claimed, is inadequate government housing and stingy welfare spending. Rather than "criminalizing poverty," the city needs to spend more money on social services and housing subsidies, they say. But the gutter punks are not looking for housing and have no intention of settling down in San Francisco or anywhere else. They are in the Haight to party, en route to their next way station.”

Friday, October 01, 2010

Portland & Sacramento

Portland has long been held up a model for urban planning, but research indicates the model is somewhat toxic rather than completely healthful, as this article from New Geography indicates.

An excerpt.

“Portland Metro's president, David Bragdon, recently resigned to take a position with New York’s Bloomberg administration. Bragdon was nearing the end of his second elected term and ineligible for another term. Metro is the three county (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) planning agency that oversees Portland's land use planning and transportation policies, among the most stringent and pro-transit in the nation.

“Metro's jurisdiction includes most of the bi-state (Washington and Oregon) Portland area metropolitan area, which also includes the core municipality of Portland and the core Multnomah County.

“Local television station KGW (Channel 8) featured Bragdon in its Straight Talk program before he left Portland. Some of his comments may have been surprising, such as his strong criticism of the two state (Washington and Oregon) planning effort to replace the aging Interstate Bridge (I-5) and even more so, his comments on job creation in Portland. He noted "alarming trends below the surface," including the failure to create jobs in the core of Portland "for a long time."

“Bragdon was on to something. Metro's three county area suffers growing competitive difficulties, even in contrast to the larger metropolitan area (which includes Clark and Skamania counties in Washington, along with Yamhill and Columbia counties in Oregon). This is despite the fact that one of the most important objectives of Metro's land use and transportation policies is to strengthen the urban core and to discourage suburbanization (a phenomenon urban planning theologians call "sprawl").

Anemic Job Creation: Jobs have simply not been created in Portland's core. Since 2001, downtown employment has declined by 3,000 jobs, according to the Portland Business Alliance. In Multnomah County, Portland's urban core and close-by surrounding communities, 20,000 jobs were lost between 2001 and 2009. Even during the prosperous years of 2000 to 2006, Multnomah County lost jobs. Suburban Washington and Clackamas counties gained jobs, but their contribution fell 12,000 jobs short of making up for Multnomah County's loss. The real story has been Clark County (the county seat is Vancouver), across the I-5 Interstate Bridge in neighboring Washington and outside Metro's jurisdiction. Clark County generated 13,000 net new jobs between 2001 and 2009.”