Monday, October 31, 2011

California Regulations

It is given as one of the major reasons businesses choose not to move here and for those already here, consider leaving.

The regulatory burden on the small farmer, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, makes the point clearly.

An excerpt.

“Farmers must live with plagues of uncertainties – pests, crop prices, labor shortages and, of course, the weather.

“Listen to a family farmer in California like Doug Brower, and there's a whole other reason it can be such a struggle: a tangle of regulations.

“Brower splits his time between Folsom and the Uhrhammer homestead hard by the Merced River south of Turlock, where he grows almonds and walnuts on 40 acres. His wife's family moved there just after World War II. Since he retired from 30 years as a military contract officer, Brower has been spending more time on the farm. Since his father-in-law passed away last October, he has taken over running it.

“The more he's learned about all the government rules he's supposed to follow, the more frustrated he has become. By his count, the farm is subject to at least a half-dozen local, state and federal agencies.

“There's the state Water Resources Control Board, which wants to know how much water he's pumping out of the river to irrigate his orchards. The orchards have rights to about 405 acre-feet of water a year. Since he can't afford fancy monitoring equipment, he mostly guesstimates his monthly diversions, but stays well below the limit.

“There's the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, which requires reports on what he sprays to protect his almonds from the navel orangeworm and walnuts from the husk fly and codling moth. If he didn't do it himself as a state-certified applicator, and had an employee spray instead, there would be many more safety rules to worry about.

“There's the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which issues the permits he has to get to burn pruned limbs and other agricultural waste.

“There's state and federal Occupational Safety and Health and the state Employment Development Department, which want paperwork for the farm's one full-time worker.

“Until he found out at a seminar that he didn't have enough fuel to qualify, Brower thought he'd have to come up with a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan for his above-ground petroleum tanks.

“His home office is strewn with bulging files as he tries to keep track of all the requirements and when he's supposed to submit reports.

"I'm trying to do the right thing," he told me as he steered a beat-up golf cart through neat rows of nut trees.

“Brower says farmers like him are expected to know about every regulation issued by any government agency that might somehow apply to them. That's impossible, he says.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad Bridges

It is not good news that our area has some of the worst bridges in the country, as reported by the Sacramento Business Journal.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento has one of the highest percentages of structurally deficient bridges among metro areas of its size, according to a new report from Transportation for America.

“The Fix We’re in For: The State of Our Metro-Area Bridges,” ranks 102 metro areas in three population categories based on the percentage of deficient bridges.

“In Sacramento, an average of 59 drivers cross a deficient bridge every second, according to the study. Sacramento ranked fourth for its percentage of structurally deficient bridges, or those in need of substantial repair or replacement, among 20 metro areas with populations of more than 2 million.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sacramento Bee on Gibson Ranch, Wrong Again!

The Sacramento Bee—which inexplicably, does not like Gibson Ranch Park being operated as a forprofit, even though it is now open and being highly utilized by area residents, whereas before it was closed—ran an editorial yesterday, entitled “Back at Gibson Ranch, little county oversight”, which is apparently not quite accurate, as the response in the comments section from Doug Ose notes:

His response.

“Dear Pia -

“Once again you nitpick based on ignorance. You really should just pick up the phone and call me if you have questions.

“First and foremost, the County has received a monthly statement detailing all income and expenses including the names and amounts paid for all checks issued. The information forwarded to the County contains a precise breakdown of the monies collected for the Equestrian Trust Fund as well as a detailed listing to the penny of any expenditures made therefrom. This is precisely what was agreed to when the lease was executed. The reporting being provided dwarfs by orders of magnitude any reporting being provided to the County under any other existing County park lease with any of your beloved nonprofit organizations. I request that you cease and desist from impugning my character by suggesting that I am engaged in financial shenanigans.

“Second, the park is open every day, something that was not occurring prior to April 1, 2011. I fail to understand why you continue to object to the park being open.

“Third, the park is clean, the grass is mowed, the bathrooms are clean. I wonder how that compares to the parks you are operating.

“Your comments regarding the open ditches reflect the fact that you still have not visited Gibson Ranch since my team took it over. Prior to April 1, under the supervision of the former Parks Director, the irrigation ditches were dredged by the County, significantly enlarging the ditches and turning them into public hazards. The project being contemplated would eliminate the public hazard while preserving the ability to irrigate the pastures on the property. There are no marshlands within the area being irrigated by the ditches in question.

“The main challenge to local government remains that their obligations exceed their revenues. At Gibson Ranch, the County was budgeting over $200,000 per year to keep the park closed. The lease with me requires the County to pay up to $100,000 per year to correct deferred maintenance that accumulated prior to April 1, 2011. That is a net savings to the County of over $100,000 per year. And, the park is open. And, the accumulated deferred maintenance is being repaired.

“When we had lunch at the Crocker Art Museum prior to the Board's action to approve the proposed lease, I asked you what was the plan you wished to propose as an alternative to the one I was proposing. I appreciated your candor in admitting that you had no plan and that it was not your responsibility to create a solution that opens the park. Six months later, it is clear now that your only plan has been to use the bullhorn of the Sacramento Bee Editorial Page to advocate for new taxes dedicated to parks maintenance and operations on the November 2012 ballot. It must be frustrating for you to see my team PROVING EVERY DAY THAT NO SUCH NEW TAXES ARE NEEDED.

“Have a nice day..”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taxes & Prices

When you tax business, consumer prices go up, not a good thing, but California has apparently done it anyway, as this article from the California Chamber of Commerce notes.

An excerpt.

“October 21, 2011) Yesterday the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to adopt the rules for a cap-and-trade program that would set a maximum limit for greenhouse gas emissions while allowing regulated industries to buy or trade emissions credits to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as established by AB 32. Included in what was approved by CARB yesterday is tax, estimated by a CARB member to raise $2 billion from businesses, that will drive up costs for California consumers.

“California Chamber of Commerce Policy Advocate Brenda M. Coleman has urged the Board to eliminate what has been identified as an illegal and arbitrary tax. The CalChamber has also argued for adoption of an operable, cost-effective market designed to meet the goals of AB 32 without creating undue harm to the economy.

“Imposing a tax on business via CARB’s proposal does nothing to maximize environmental benefits required under AB 32 and it is not needed to ensure the stringency of the overall cap,” said Coleman. "In fact, the tax proposed by CARB contradicts the AB 32 requirements of minimizing costs and maximizing benefits for California’s economy in the design of emission reduction measures. The tax will negatively affect all California businesses and increase costs that will be passed down to consumers.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safety, Access, Water (SAW)

That is the strategic mantra of our organization’s advocacy work once all of it is refined through the policy sieve.

Safety 24/7 enhanced by a much more cultivated and landscaped Parkway to create sight lines helping in the reduction of crime through environmental design by opening up the deep thickets hiding generations of illegal campsites—especially in the Parkway’s Lower Reach, Discovery Park to Cal Expo.

Access to the full Parkway for everyone requires the continuous visible presence of public safety officers and a vastly enhanced trail structure accommodating dedicated trails for pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians. And the trail model we use is that developed by Rails to Trails.

Water represents having optimal flows for salmon, rafting and swimming and Parkway erosion control, which can only be assured with the extra water storage above Folsom Dam the Auburn Dam would provide.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Golden Necklace Trail

Information about it and a map have been posted to our website.

An excerpt, with links at the jump.

The Golden Necklace Trail, (as written about in our 2007 research report, on report page) is envisioned as beginning in Coloma, running southwest along the South Fork of the American River over the Salmon Falls Bridge, southwest along Folsom Lake to connect with the American River Parkway, continuing southwest along the Parkway Trail to the confluence with the Sacramento River, turning south along the Sacramento River to the historic Chinese town of Locke, and then turning northeast up the Cosumnes River Preserve, to—either the Folsom South Canal Trail or the Deer Creek Hills Preserve Oak Woodland—both of which would then turn northeast to connect back to the American River Parkway at Lake Natoma.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Think Local Management

The argument for local management of local parks—such as the Joint Powers Authority & nonprofit management we advocate for the Parkway—is examined in this article from the Property & Environment Research Center.

An excerpt.

“Proponents of free market environmentalism do not usually invoke government as part of the solution to environmental problems. But when they do, free market environmentalists promote governance by the smallest entity possible. PERC, for example, advocates using land trusts or endowment boards to help manage public lands. Arguments for smaller government imply that local control will produce better environmental policy because representatives are closer to their constituents and, therefore, more responsive. It is also argued that competition between multiple smaller governments leads to better policy outcomes. When governments compete, constituents win.

“Is Local Always Better?

“There are typically three arguments given for local representation offering better solutions to environmental problems. First, local governments better represent local interests; and there might be shared values between local interests and the interests of free market environmentalists. Regarding the management of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, for example, many locals preferred less governmental supervision of the land and free market environmentalists were recommending an administrative trust arrangement. But this alignment of interests ought to be thought of as subject to change, or even accidental. Moreover, this representation of local interests might instead facilitate overexploitation.

“Consider the case of a fishing stock shared by two localities. Each local jurisdiction might, depending on the alignment of interests, have the incentive to overexploit at the expense of the other jurisdiction. Clearly this would be the case if both local governments represented fishers. Each would have the incentive to overfish—to snag the fish before the other locality could do so. Thus, with public good problems that cross political boundaries, the tragedy of the commons brought about by individual decisions can simply be replicated by the decisions of local governments. Consequently, this reasoning should be put aside as a convenient but ultimately unconvincing argument for local control.

“The second, and more compelling, argument for local control is that representation of local interests produces better environmental outcomes. Favorable environmental outcomes might come about because of superior local understanding and knowledge of an environmental situation. This is the reasoning invoked by arguments against “one-size-fits-all” command-and-control solutions to environmental problems. For example, residents might know where the spawning grounds of the fishery are and be able to encourage the local government to limit fishing in those grounds. Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom argues that, for small common pool resources, this localized knowledge plays an important role in designing the appropriate institutions to govern and enforce the rules regarding the resource.

“Given the role of localized knowledge, it seems clear that a more appropriate argument than to simply prefer local over state control and state over national control is to match the size of the government to the size of the environmental problem. If the size of government was infinitely customizable to each issue, it should be no larger than the size of the problem. Governments of various sizes, however, are costly to set up, so choices must often be made from a discrete set of levels. With this consideration in mind, optimal jurisdiction size can actually be larger than the scope of the problem since it might be necessary to choose federal over state management for a regional problem.

“The third argument for local government as preferable to larger governments is that multiple jurisdictions can facilitate competition, even for public goods. As the Tiebout model explains, people can choose which jurisdiction they prefer by voting with their feet. This process encourages local governments to provide quality public goods. This is perhaps easiest to see in the market for houses near high-quality public schools, but it also seems to hold in the environmental arena. Economist and PERC fellow Spencer Banzhaf and his colleague Randall Walsh recently found that areas around large industrial facilities with high levels of pollution experienced population decline, while neighborhoods that cleaned up gained population. This movement of people, and potential voters, gives local governments the incentive to provide public goods.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Solo Auto Commuters

This is something I noticed recently driving up Highway 50 during the height of the rush hour to a family dinner. My wife and I were in the car pool lane, virtually alone, as we sped past the thousands of cars winging it at about 10 miles an hour, and we never had to slow down until we moved over to our exit lane.

New Geography writes about the surprise results from a recent study.

An excerpt.

“Despite higher prices and huge media hype over shifts to public transit, the big surprise out of the 2010 American Community Survey has been the continued growth over the last decade in driving alone to work. Between 2000 and 2010, driving alone to work increased by 7.8 million out of a total of an 8.7 million increase in total jobs. As a result, this use of this mode reached 76.5% of the nation's workers, up from 75.6% in 2000. This is the largest decadal share of commuting ever achieved for this mode of transport.

“In view of the much higher gasoline prices that prevailed in 2010, it might have been expected that driving alone would lose market share from 2000. But this did not --- despite many media and academic claims that would or was already taking place --- occur.

“The Census Bureau began compiling data on commuting in the 1960 census. In each census through 2000, commuting data was obtained through the census "long form" questionnaire. During the last decade, however, the Census Bureau has begun an annual survey, the American Community Survey, which includes commuting data and a considerable amount of additional data, and the decennial census survey was discontinued.

“Cars Dominate: There have been substantial changes in how the nation travels since the first survey in 1960. In 1960, 64% of the nation's workers traveled by car. Separate data was not obtained for driving alone and carpools until 1980. The 2010 data indicates that 86.2% of employees used cars for the work trip in 2010. This was a slight reduction from 87.9% in 2000. But the anti-automobile crowd should not celebrate; all of the loss was due to a substantial decline in carpooling. In 2000, 12.2% of workers traveled by car pool. This figure dropped to 9.7% in 2010. With the higher gas prices, it might have been expected that carpooling would have become more popular, because of the lower costs from sharing experiences with other workers. This simply did not occur.

“Working at Home: The big winner among the nation's commuting modes was working at home, a large share of which is telecommuting. Working at home increased from 3.3% of the workforce in 2000 to 4.3% of the workforce in 2010, for a market share increase of 33%, Overall 1.7 million more people work at home in 2010 than in 2000. It seems likely that the high gas prices encouraged a more working at home as did the move by companies to offload work to freelancers to reduce their costs or boost efficiency. Over the decade, gas prices increased 46%, adjusted for inflation, while the work at home market share increased 33%.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Compassion & Principles

I watched the City Council meeting on tv last night about the Occupy Sacramento folks who want permission to camp out 24/7 at Cesar Chavez Park.

This is an important issue for the Parkway because if that permission was given it would also have to be granted to the homeless folks who want the same permission to camp 24/7, which would result in even more camping in the Parkway than is now happening.

Mayor Johnson chaired the meeting and he exhibited one of the best examples of compassion while sticking to principle that I have seen from a politician.

This article from the Sacramento Bee reports on the meeting.

An excerpt.

“Two weeks have passed since Occupy Sacramento protesters first took hold of downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. They have set up small shelters and a first-aid station, created a bank of laptop computers linked to the Internet and conducted several rallies.

“What they still don't have is a common call for grand social change.

“As the Occupy Wall Street movement persists around the nation and spreads to other countries, demonstrations have morphed into a canvas of disparate protests with distinctly local flavors. In Phoenix, the issue is immigration; in Atlanta, small business.

“And in Boston, a hub of higher learning, it's the lack of jobs for college graduates.

“There is no single global or economic cause unifying the Sacramento movement. However, by demanding to remain in the park at all hours, protesters have waded into a local political issue that predates their demonstration by years: the fight by homeless activists against the city's anti-camping ordinances.

"Our issue? We want to be able to stay here overnight," said Sean Thompson, 27, who recently dropped out of Sacramento City College to help coordinate Occupy Sacramento's presence in the park. "After that's resolved, then we'll start to talk."

“That demand appears unlikely to be granted anytime soon. Despite the calls of protesters who waved signs inside City Hall and set up vigil outside the building, the Sacramento City Council decided Tuesday night to continue enforcing the city's anti-camping rules and to not grant a permit allowing protesters to remain in a city park past closure hours.

“City police will keep clearing out the park across the street from City Hall at 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends.

“Councilman Steve Cohn had proposed to allow the protesters to keep their gear in the park overnight, but that plan was not moved forward by the council.

“Mayor Kevin Johnson said he would meet with protest organizers over the next few days and listen to their "thoughts and concerns."

"No one here disagrees with your right to protest and have your voices heard in a real way," the mayor said.

“City officials worry that if they allow the Occupy Sacramento people to camp at the park, they would have to make a similar exception for Safe Ground Sacramento, the group of homeless people and their advocates that has been pushing for a sanctioned spot where the homeless can camp at night.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Rivers

A humorous look, from the Sacramento Bee, at an all too serious area of neglect in our fair city.

An excerpt.

“I love the Sacramento, and always have. Sometimes, in the evenings, I'll bicycle over to the promenade that runs atop its levee south from Old Sac. Once there, I look over at the Tower Bridge and see beauty. I gaze across at the lights of Raley Field and sense excitement. I peer down at water's edge and behold …

“… concrete.

Lots of concrete. And that's about it. (I'm lying. There are also rocks. Oh, and garbage. Lots of garbage.)

“Why is that? Why is it that Portland can have a river walk that's the talk of river walkdom, and all we have lining the Sacramento are cement blocks, rocks and old socks?...

“Of course, if we couldn't swallow the whole project straight off (if?), we could always start with baby steps. Connecting the bike trails along the American and Sacramento rivers might be a logical beginning. Imagine my shock when I pedaled via Discovery Park into Old Sacramento for the first time only to discover: no more bike trail! Have you ever tried wending your way through Old Sac on a bike while dodging drunks, cars, pedestrians, drunks, horses, trains, drunks, strollers, cobblestones and, oh yeah, drunks?”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Public Safety in the American River Parkway

The article yesterday in the Sacramento Bee is an excellent overview of the public safety issues in the Parkway, though the issues predate any shortage of rangers or lack of county parks funding, as two articles from 2004, Trail of Fears and 2008, Hell's Half Acre in the Sacramento News & Review note.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Three years ago, before the economic meltdown, Sacramento County had 20 rangers assigned to patrol the sprawling American River Parkway and the 23-mile bicycle path that lures 5 million visitors to the area annually.

“Last week, there were eight rangers, and here is what one of them, Will Safford, encountered in just a short span Tuesday morning:

• A man in the woods near the Northgate area snapping a bullwhip at some brush.

• A paroled sex offender living in an illegal campsite near a Boy Scout camp.

• A man with a hunting bow – but no string – protruding from his backpack.

• A pregnant woman sleeping in a shopping cart being pushed down the bike trail by two men.

"This used to be a two-man unit, and you can see why," Safford said of the ranger patrol in the lower portion of the parkway. "There's a lot of characters out here. I'll leave it at that."

“The county's economic crisis and the cutbacks that have devastated its parks department have left many users of the parkway concerned about whether it is safe to fish, walk or cycle areas that are now patrolled by a skeleton staff of rangers.

"Most of the stuff we deal with is quality of life stuff," said Chief Ranger Stan Lumsden, who took over the job last month just as an arsonist was setting 15 fires in two separate sprees near River Bend Park.

“Car break-ins, vandalism or dogs running off leash are the norm, he said, "unless you get down to the last six miles of the parkway."

“There, in the area starting near Discovery Park, a growing homeless population continues to pose challenges for the rangers and the army of bicycle commuters who pass through that stretch each weekday.

"We're starting to see a lot more violent crime down there, assaults, anything you can imagine that the transient population does," Lumsden said.

“Most of the problems involve disputes among the homeless in the various illegal camps that sprout up constantly, rangers say, but there is growing unease among other trail users about the safety of the parkway as a whole.

“One cyclist was assaulted over the Labor Day weekend by someone who threw a bicycle at him. Another reported being jumped by a group of teens on the Guy West Bridge near Sacramento State in July and having his bike taken.

“Jan Cotter's husband had been riding to work regularly on the trail since 1977 until last November, when he was riding home near the Northgate area and encountered two young men on the trail who pushed him off his bike and attacked him in an apparent robbery attempt.

"He was beaten severely," Cotter said. "They pushed up his bike helmet and put a gun to his head, pistol-whipped him, kicked him in the upper torso and the head. Another cyclist came along and the guys left."

“Cotter said her 59-year-old husband, who did not want his name printed, was left with broken ribs and serious injuries and did not touch his bike for months. Even now, he will not ride the trail in the winter months, when it becomes dark early, she said.

"We initially thought this was just a family tragedy, but then as time went on, I found out about more incidents," she said. "In July of this year, someone one of our kids knew as a child was assaulted at mile 0.4 and we just decided this is not OK."

“Since then, she and other trail users have been meeting with city and county officials and sending letters to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson urging increased patrols and greater communication about incidents along the parkway.

“Sacramento police, as well as law enforcement agencies from surrounding areas, already lend a hand in responding to calls and patrolling areas along the parkway, and the county Board of Supervisors agreed last month to continue looking for ways to come up with improved funding for the parkway.

“Despite the cutbacks in staffing, rangers say there is no evidence of a widespread jump in crime overall. Last year, they recorded 24 violent crimes and 53 car burglaries, compared with seven violent crimes and 10 car burglaries so far this year, they said.

“Staffing will rise to 10 patrol rangers overall when Lumsden hires replacements for two who left for other jobs this month.

“But rangers acknowledge that some trail users report feeling intimidated by what appears to be a growing number of transients populating the lower segment of the parkway, where they have access to food from Loaves & Fishes or from church and other groups that bring food donations down to the area to dole out.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Funding Parks

With the current funding problems with California state parks and locally with county and city parks, this report from the Property and Environment Research Center about using private management—as is successfully being done locally with Gibson Ranch Park—is timely.

The summary enclosed and, full pdf report here.

“Some state park systems rely on tax dollars provided through state general funds. When state budgets are tight, park funding is a lower priority than projects such as schools and hospitals. Hence park budgets are quick to hit the chopping block, leading to threats of park closures or reduced services.

“Rather than ride the roller coaster of state budgets, some parks have leased their operational activities to private managers. These private entities have proven they can operate the parks more efficiently, and sites that were once a drain on agency funds are now generating revenue.

“Private management can provide consistent, quality stewardship as well as more customer service.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alleys with Names

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, a very good—though long overdue—move by the city council; gives a little more flavor and character to our fair city’s downtown/midtown neighborhoods.

An excerpt, with a map at the jump.

“From now on, the best way to navigate through midtown Sacramento might be to hop onto Kayak. And someday soon, there might be people living on Eggplant or dining at a hip cafe on Jazz.

“After years of dead ends, the City Council voted Tuesday night to name the alleys of the central city grid. The new names will be a nod to Sacramento's history and character.

“As a result, alleys in most of midtown and downtown will begin with the letter of the street to its north. For example, Blues Alley will run between B and C streets and Victorian Alley will run parallel to V and W.

“City officials are beginning to develop the grid's alleys and hope to one day have cafes, housing and shops lining some of the corridors. In order to develop the passages, the city had to give them names.

"Sacramento's alleyways now have names that reflect their distinctive and fanciful character, helping to further brand the central city," said Councilman Rob Fong, who represents the midtown and downtown areas.

“In addition to aiding in the development of the central city, naming the alleys will help police officers and firefighters respond quickly to emergencies in corridors that until now didn't have names, city officials said.

“Some of the names include:
• Solons Alley, a reference to the minor league baseball team that once called Sacramento home.
• Tomato Alley, named for the city's most recognized agricultural product.
• Democracy and Government alleys. The city is, after all, the capital of California.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nonprofits Struggle

As with any business organization, and nonprofit corporations are still essentially that, adapting to the business—philanthropic—environment is crucial for survival, and those noted in this article from the Sacramento Bee have done a good bit of marketing getting their work and financial needs front page coverage.

As far as their work goes, one I know of, the American River Conservancy, has done some good with its trail building program, but the money for that should come exclusively from private philanthropy rather than the tax payers.

An excerpt.

“Nonprofit conservation groups have preserved tens of thousands of acres of land in California – wild places where both hikers and animals roam. Now, some of them say the economic slump could force them to scale back.

“Others say lean budgets make it harder for them to scrutinize land use proposals for environmental effects – a key role such groups play in the state's push-pull development process.

“Most groups don't like to talk about their financial difficulties, but one, the American River Conservancy, recently took the unusual step of going public. In an email to members and supporters, the group confessed that "times are hard" and it needs to raise $250,000 by year-end or it will be forced to cut programs in 2012.

"What is happening to our organization is happening to a lot of organizations. We're just being honest about it," said Alan Ehrgott, the conservancy's executive director.

“A major factor is the squeeze on government programs that provide money for land acquisition and education. In addition, private foundations that give grants to environmental groups have seen their endowments shrink substantially as the stock market has struggled.

"Every group really has got to focus on what they do well, what their core priorities are," said Tim Little, executive director of the Oakland-based Rose Foundation, which donates to environmental groups and is also helping coach them through tough times.

“Like a number of other land groups operating in the Sacramento region, the American River Conservancy has worked on setting aside land for both recreation and wildlife habitat.

“The conservancy has helped preserve 12,000 acres in the American River watershed, particularly along the south fork in the Coloma area. Among these projects was the acquisition last year of Gold Hill Ranch, site of the Wakamatsu Colony, the first Japanese settlement in North America.

“It also has built more than 27 miles of public recreation trails, including the new South Fork American River Trail, which opened last year between Salmon Falls Road and Highway 49.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

California Should Follow Florida’s Lead

Repealing the smart growth laws is a smart move, as reported by New Geography.

An excerpt.

“The state of Florida has repealed its 30-year old growth management law (also called "smart growth," "compact development" and "livability"). Under the law, local jurisdictions were required to adopt comprehensive land use plans stipulating where development could and could not occur. These plans were subject to approval by the state Department of Community Affairs, an agency now abolished by the legislation. The state approval process had been similar to that of Oregon. Governor Rick Scott had urged repeal as a part of his program to create 700,000 new jobs in seven years in Florida. Economic research in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States has associated slower economic growth with growth management programs.

“Local governments will still be permitted to implement growth management programs, but largely without state mandates. Some local jurisdictions will continue their growth management programs, while others will welcome development.

“The Need for A Competitive Land Supply: Growth management has been cited extensively in economic research because of its association with higher housing costs. The basic problem is that, by delineating and limiting the land that can the used for development, planners create guides to investment, which shows developers where they must buy and tells the now more scarce sellers that the buyers have little choice but to negotiate with them. This can violate the "principle of competitive land supply," cited by Brookings Institution economist Anthony Downs. Downs said:

“If a locality limits to certain sites the land that can be developed within a given period, it confers a preferred market position on those sites. ... If the limitation is stringent enough, it may also confirm a monopolistic powers on the owners of those sites, permitting them to raising land prices substantially.

“This necessity of retaining a competitive land supply is conceded by proponents of growth management. The Brookings Institution published research by leading advocates of growth management, Arthur C Nelson, Rolf Pendall, Casey J. Dawkins and Gerrit J. Knapp that makes the connection, despite often incorrect citations by advocates to the contrary. In particular they cite higher house prices in California as having resulted from growth management restrictions that were too strong.

“...even well-intentioned growth management programs ... can accommodate too little growth and result in higher housing prices. This is arguably what happened in parts of California where growth boundaries were drawn so tightly without accommodating other housing needs

“Nelson, et al. also concluded that “... the housing price effects of growth management policies depend heavily on how they are designed and implemented. If the policies tend to restrict land supplies, then housing price increases are expected” (emphasis in original).”

Thursday, October 06, 2011

ARPPS Annual Organizational Report

It has been posted to our website and here is the Executive Summary

Executive Summary

This has been one of the better years for the issues our organization cares about.

Concerning nonprofit management of the Parkway, the county recently entered into an innovative agreement with Doug Ose to manage Gibson Ranch Park as a forprofit organization, exactly the precedent setting model that could eventually lead to our goal of seeing the Parkway under nonprofit management.

Concerning the illegal camping by the homeless in the Parkway, especially in the highly impacted area between Discovery Park and Cal Expo, with a particular and troubling concentration close to the Woodlake residential community; the new county supervisor for that district, Phi Serna, has taken a strong position.

In a February 23, 2011 article in the Sacramento Bee about the Parkway and the illegal camping he wrote:

“Parkway users deserve a safe, clean environment free from harassment or other personal threat. They should not feel compelled to avoid the parkway for fear of their own safety, which is what a number of constituents have conveyed to my office in recent weeks. They deserve better; we all deserve better.

“The American River Parkway offers one of the best recreational opportunities anywhere in the country, but it will be enjoyed only if it is safe. To that end, local law enforcement, including Sacramento County park rangers, have established added presence along the lower reach of the parkway to enhance public safety and to encourage parkway users to return.

“Let's also remember that the parkway itself is a "constituent" here. Illegal camping has produced tons of trash and debris, some of which is hazardous biological waste. Illegal campgrounds, large and small, "self-governed" or not, contribute to this problem. Along the American River Parkway, refuse has collected in makeshift dumps, and what doesn't remain in these derelict collection sites oftentimes is spread by the wind, is scavenged by animals or ends up pooled along the riverbanks.”

This is exactly the type of advocacy for the Parkway we deeply appreciate and our organization awarded him the Slobe Parkway Advocate Award in 2011, named after long time Parkway advocate, Bob Slobe, noted in the enclosed Press Release, (pp. 13-14).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

New Terminal A Beauty

While I haven’t been there yet, the photos and comments about it reveal a truly magnificent building that we should all be proud of, but as this editorial from the Sacramento Bee notes, the bottom line is important.

An excerpt.

“The new Central Terminal B is one impressive building, bringing a "wow" factor to Sacramento International Airport.

“It is also the most expensive public works project in local history, adding $950 million to the airport's credit card.

“Officials better hope that the thousands who traipsed through the terminal for a look-see over the weekend will return as paying customers once it opens for business on Thursday.

“Travelers are supposed to repay one-third of the debt through the existing $4.50 surcharge on every plane ticket; those who park at the airport will pay more. Airlines will fork over rent and landing fees, which more than doubled. Restaurants, concessionaires and car rental companies will also help pay the freight.

“Whether all those fees will be enough depends on how many people use the airport and on the broader state of the economy.

“Boardings dipped every year during the recession and the airport has lost flights. It would certainly help if more residents fly in and out of Sacramento instead of San Francisco and Oakland.

“As The Bee's Tony Bizjak reported a week ago Sunday, the new terminal's first five years will be crucial. By 2014, the airport's projected revenue, once operating costs are deducted, will be only 14 percent more than the required debt payment. That's a far thinner margin than the 33 percent typical for airports of Sacramento's size.”

Monday, October 03, 2011

California’s Debt

It’s a lot, as this article from the Sacramento Bee notes.

An excerpt.

“California will devote nearly 8 percent of its general fund budget to paying off debt this fiscal year, more than twice the share of eight years ago, according to a new report from Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

“The state has long borrowed for massive public works projects intended to last across generations.

“But state leaders and voters went on a notable binge during flush economic times in the past decade.

“They approved bonds for parks, flood protection, classrooms, children's hospitals, stem cell research and high-speed rail. They borrowed in 2004 to bridge a budget deficit from the last recession.

“As new bills stacked up, the state entered a historic economic downturn and revenues fell sharply over the past three years.

“The combination of higher bond payments and declining tax revenues has driven the debt burden to 7.8 percent of the general fund budget. Lockyer also blames a drop in tax rates this summer, after the expiration of 2009 temporary tax hikes.

“The rate is more than double the 3.4 percent California devoted to debt in 2003-04.

“California also faces a higher debt burden compared with other states. It owes $2,542 per person, compared with the national median of $1,066.”