Category Archives: Common Sense Opeds

Joe Sixpack Belches On NIMBYism

COASTAL POST –  SEPTEMBER 17, 1990

Joe Sixpack Belches On NIMBYism

As some of you know, Joe Sixpack re­cently took a job with OLTP (Office of Long Term Paining) in Sacramento. His job de­scription, outside of his after hours environ­mental responsibility for crushing his weekly average of 47 aluminum cans, in­cludes “Monitoring the Progress of Pain in the Capitol of NIMBYism.”

Aware of Maria through his advancing politics/law studies at the BAR (earned through seminar work at Smiley’s Schoo­ner, The Cantina, and the Alvarado Inn), Joe was miffed by his job description. In May he asked his boss, Ulysses Stephen Shirkit, this question:

“Sir, how does one monitor pain in the Capitol of NIMBYism when everyone

knows that everyone wants to live in that idyllic oasis. I mean, everyone knows that every 4th car in Marin is a BMer or Porsche, that every one either has a twin screw, 6 sleeper cabin cruiser or a hot tub, that even the torn and tattered Levis wearers are mil­lionaire rock stars or have cultivated millions through other magical habits…How can I monitor pain there?”

Mr. U.S. Shirkit explained to Joe that he had to get by the surface superficialities and into the basics of life, which Joe’s studies for the BAR should have made him aware.

Joe’s first assignment turned out to be study­ing the St. Vincent’s/Silveira (SVS) initia­tive launched by Robert Marx, obviously a cousin of Groucho Marx. The basic he stud­ied on SVS was land and the future of little kids’ lives.

The other basic his boss wanted to awaken him to was more down and dirty—politics. His computer analysis and tutoring from U.S. gave him his first lesson in illogical (termed “stupid” by BAR friends) land use planning. Joe’s computer monitor informed him that passage of the SVS initiative would cause an SOS to be floated by: low and moderate income households—Marin’s most endangered species; the Catholic Youth Organization—which is trying to continue generating finances to help troubled kids; the embryonic rail system—the long term answer to gridlocked 101, air pollution, and someone named Sadham Pastrami Who-sane.

Joe learned a lot in that assignment. So much so that he had to crash more than his normal after-work quota of six light, empty aluminum cans against his sweaty forehead. Today he thought he might have a similar post work need.

“Joe, find out what’s behind these stories from the Coastal Post saying that the Marin Conservation League, Sierra Club and Audubon Society are against the Marin Sales Tax, which will put 52 percent of its revenues into making railroads operational again in the North Bay,” U.S. said, as he handed Joe a stack of papers and a 1.44 megabyte computer disk.

Joe rubbed his bloodshot eyes, went to his 486 chip powered, LAN networked, laptop computer and asked his first question.

“Why are these environmental groups against the train? Isn’t the train more envi­ronmentally sound than a bunch of people driving around in cars?”

Against the liquid gel video came, “That is the same question former Mill Valley Mayor Ruth Schneider publicly asked a MCL spokesperson. MCL’s standard an­swer avoids the ‘environmental’ question by claiming a train would be growth induc­ing. Therefore, MCL says don’t let the train happen until there is ‘more’ growth con­trol.”

“Does Marin have a growth problem?” Joe input on the keyboard.

Red bold letters flashed on the screen: “I TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE, STUPID!…Marin’s population growth has average 4/l0ths of 1 percent per year for the last 15 years, equaling about 1,000 people per year. Only 4 percent of the total of 12 percent of developable land remains to be developed. 2 percent of that is flat land lying along the railroad right-of-way which these environmental groups and Groucho Marx’s cousin want to acquire for open space. This potential acquisition will bring 90 percent of Marin’s land into “sorely” needed open space.

Incidentally, California’s population grows about 2,000 persons per day. Most of them, however, don’t earn $90,000 a year and have $30,000 for a downpayment to allow them to purchase the median priced Marin home. Most of them are normal, hard working families who are only allowed to drive through Marin.”

A bit embarrassed by the computer, Joe read some of U.S.’s reports before inputting another question. One of the reports dealt with the National Sierra Club calling for housing and commercial development along lines. Joe input: “Why is the Marin Sierra Club against mixed use develop­ments at SVS and other suggested sites when their national chapter says that is how we must sensitively handle future growth throughout the nation?”

A gentle green filled the screen: “GLAD YOU ARE DOING SOME READING, JOE. IF MORE PEOPLE HAD TIME TO READ AND LOGICALLY ASSEMBLE THEIR THOUGHTS, INSTEAD OF BEING STUCK IN TRAFFIC AND GRINDING JOBS, I WOULDN’T NEED TO WASTE SO MANY PIXELS ON THE SCREEN. The Regional Sierra Club looks on the Marin Sierra Club as an anomaly in the environmental movement. In more basic BAR studies talk, of which you are more familiar, they would on this crucial 20th century issue of energy conservation, logi­cal land uses, and jobs/ housing balance be called an environmental hypocrite by any intelligent, logical, sober, poker player who knows how to call a spade a spade.”

Confused by so much information, and thirsty, Joe input “Does that mean the Sales Tax will win even with opposition from these recognized Mann environmental groups?”

“Joe, reread what I said earlier about what the National and Regional Sierra Club chapters say are the development patterns that can address out affordable housing, traffic and air pollution problems. Then, if you use environmental facts to draw logical conclu­sions, you will begin referring to these groups as “so-called” environmental groups.

‘To you question: If voters read in depth and understand the Marin Sales Tax Issues and use logic and common sense, they will pass the Marin Sales Tax. Politics, however, more often is determined by emotion and rhetoric rather than facts, real long term needs, logic, and common sense.”

Joe was thinking about that answer when he glanced at the clock. It was 5:05. Earlier the afternoon heat had him looking forward to his couch, a few beers, the Giants game and his favorite show, “Married With Chil­dren.”

“Enough of this serious stuff, I’m outta here.”

DWAYNE HUNN

(Dwayne sweats over affordable housing and traffic issues with Novato Ecumenical Housing. He sometimes studies and quenches his thirst with Joe. He recycles, too.)

CASA program a model

Novato Advance       May 9, 1990

Viewpoint

 CASA program a model

        By DWAYNE HUNN

Some interesting things have been happening at Novato Ecumenical Housing recently. Last month NEH was notified by the Federal National Mortgage Association (FANNIE MAE) that our Community Assisted Shared Appreciation (CASA) home ownership program for low and moderate income households will re recognized in FANNIE MAE’S  1990 Blue Book as one of two national models shared equity home ownership programs. FANNIE MAE uses its prestigious annual publication to recognize programs that it believes should be emulated by other cities across the nation.

The national recognition does not come without some irony. For years, NEH  has struggled to obtain additional funds to expand our CASA program in Novato and throughout the county. So many political, environmental, and bureaucratic boulders have been placed in our path that we often feel like Sisyphus, the mythological figure who was compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope, the stone always escaping him near the top and rolling down again.

Perhaps the uphill fight, taking place among the rolling hills of exclusive Marin, is part of the reason the program has been recognized. CASA has assisted more than 60 low and moderate income families in purchasing their first homes in Novato. Families earning as low as 34% of Marin’s median income have purchased homes through this deferred principal and interest second mortgage home ownership program. Our average second mortgage assistance been $37,000 per family and their average income has been $22,700.

NEH is proud of the award. We are prouder, however, that we have been able to help many starting families obtain the Great American Dream. Our assisted owners are not, as our uninformed opponents like to portray them, low-lifes. They are nurses, sheriff and police department employees, private entrepreneurs, secretaries, hard-working, single moms, etc. They are essential service providers and they have an almost  non-existent mortgage failure rate.

NEH has been able to raise more than $2 million to fund this program. The sources from which we raised the funds might help explain to some who oppose our work why we often argue on behalf of sensible, long-term environmentally sound developments. Source of Affordable Ownership Housing Trust Funds:

  • 53 percent developer contributions. Densities have been cut so drastically in Novato that no new sources of in-lieu fees are foreseen in the near future.
  • 18 percent Community Development Block Grants. We have not received and additional CDBG funds since 1984.
  • 15 percent NEH’s recapture of its equity share and second mortgage. Soon NEH will be the second largest supplier to its own program. Unfortunately, that means the program is not growing to handle the increased need.
  • 11 percent San Francisco Foundation. The San Francisco Foundation was replaced by the Marin Community Foundation.
  • 4 percent Marin Community Foundation.

As you can see, most of our funds which allow us to assist Novato residents in purchasing their own Novato homes come from developer contributions. When reasonable densities are drastically reduced to such a low point  that developers cannot justify the expense of affordable unit development or developers are not required to contribute in-lieu fees, we cannot help balance the jobs/housing imbalance.

The Brookside development is an example of how drastic density reductions hurt Novato’s ability to balance housing with the purchasing power of local residents. Ten years ago Brookside was approved for 120 units, of which 34 were  to be affordable. The Novato City Council then cut the allowed development to 70 units on 59 acres with no affordable units. Now come “concerned” citizens want the density to be cut to 0 units and want to you to assess yourself a parcel tax to purchase the Brookside  land for open space.

This desire for more open space is taking place in a county where more than 84 percent of the land is set aside in open space, agriculture reserve and park land. The petitions are being gathered in a city where, in 1980, the city averaged four units per acre and where today that average has dropped to about 2.4 units per developed acre. Politics, like awards, often has an ironic character to it.

For more information, call 892-8136.

 

 

 

General Plan Update is missing big climate change tool

Coastal Post online

Also in Marin IJ Marin Voice October 16, 2007

General Plan Update is missing big climate change tool

By Dwayne Hunn

If you find our self-imposed Iraq War much more than inconvenient, then prepare for scaring self-flagellation from the tsunami of climate change.

To prepare for the tsunami, Marin’s General Plan Update cultivates the right slogans. However, it doesn’t provide enough tools to grow the smart development needed for the affluent isle of Marin to do its share to combat global climate change.

Global climate change (GCC) requires every governmental level to develop an aggressive plan that, as Board President Kinsey says, “Walks the talk.”

Each Marinite’s ecological footprint requires 27.4 acres to recoup its damage. It is one of the nation’s largest, yet doesn’t include the damage Marin’s exclusive developmental pattern causes by fostering clogged commutes.

Marin’s General Plan (GP) espouses a call to action, but it doesn’t provide strong enough tools to allow some of today’s children to live here affordably tomorrow.

At the 1200-acre St. Vincent Silveira property, the GP fails in combating GCC. Allowing a paltry 50-221 senior units there does not provide the planning tool needed to increase the supply of worker housing, build new, resource conserving communities, provide senior housing in the state’s oldest median aged county, or reduce bloodying our troops supporting our automobile addiction.

The GP lauds “smart growth… building community… transit oriented development…” Yet, it fails to provide Marin’s largest undeveloped parcel with a mixed-use overlay map option that would allow designers, architects, and property owners the opportunity to offer a smart, new, rail oriented community to your children.

GCC’s devastating implications require we fight it as a war, which requires building sustainable, compact, mixed use communities along rail lines that preserve space, air, and your children’s military exemption.

Segregating seniors on 1200 acres in a county that already preserves 87% of its land continues ceding the GCC battlefield to clogged freeways. In a carbon war, winning armies will develop their rail infrastructure to help reduce resource consumption.

Europeans leave a much smaller environmental footprint than Marinites. In the 21st century, we have the design and rail opportunities to better European standards. Imagine a village on 10-15% of the land encircled by a neighborhood of porched-homes and small parks that encourages residents to walk to their mixed-use 2-3-story town center. Included in it would be the retirement community. Running through the town center would be the train, whose second generation would be fuel cell driven.

As the clock ticks toward climate change’s midnight, isn’t it time Marin offers designers and property owners the planning tools that provide as many environmentally healthy developmental options as possible?

Marin should not allow planning tools to be controlled by environmental sounding groups, who oppose providing new pedestrian oriented villages along rail lines that bolster train rider ship. The climate change crisis requires building smart transit-oriented communities at every opportunity. If a state law makes that difficult in Marin, change the illogical law.

While working as an affordable housing developer with North Bay Family Homes, we pushed the Vintage Oaks developer to add second story residential units to his Novato shopping center that fronted the rail line. His response, “We know how and would love to, but we are so sick of 13 years of politics here that we just want to get out of town.” We worked with the Berg-Revoir’s Hamilton proposal to provide a pedestrian rail oriented community that would have provided a windfall of worker units, start-up costs to the train, and $32 million (non-inflated) or $92 million (inflated) to assist on-site workers in owning or renting at Hamilton.

Both projects would have dramatically increased rail rider ship and reduced climate-warming pollutants. Both failed because too few provided the vision for a more sustainable today.

We are in the 11th hour of moving the black gunk of ancient sunlight into the atmosphere. For about 7 billion people, Mother Nature is about to vehemently respond. The Isle of Marin’s General Plan should provide the 21st century planning tools, so skilled visionaries can offer environmentally designed communities that takes Mother Nature’s anger seriously.

Dwayne Hunn consults for the Kerner Canalways Partnership www.canalway.hypermart.net and is Executive Director of People’s Lobby, sponsor of the American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals. www.WorldServiceCorps.us

 

Developers need a new strategy

Developers need a new strategy

Dwayne Hunn

Article Launched: 03/25/2007 11:05:29 PM PDT

Marin Independent Journal

HERE WE GO AGAIN. Roughly every decade, the county updates its general plan.  Not many pay attention.  Those who do usually have a perceived problem with something in it.

If you build homes or commercial space, you pray you don’t have a project in Marin.

Why?  Because in Marin, developers can’t win for losing.

Developers propose building substantial affordable and workforce housing, whose marketability they prefer, and what happens? A political fear machine scares elected officials who further slash housing densities. Developers are forced to build mega-estates, with just a few deeply subsidized workforce units. Then, the public blames them for the lack of affordable housing.

Developers are willing to work with those of us who develop workforce housing and push for mixed-use European villages along the rail line, but are rebuffed by groups parading as environmentalists. Had rail-oriented mixed-use developments been built at Vintage Oaks, Hamilton and the St. Vincent’s School for Boys-Silveira Ranch sites (seemingly losing to the illogical minuscule-development myopics) our freeway would be less congested, workforce more balanced, train ridership solidified and, in our interconnected world, oil addiction a little less deadly for our troops.

What’s a winning strategy for developers? It’s similar to what the Bush administration needed for Iraq.

Developers need to build a coalition of landowners, affordable housing advocates, businessmen, etc., and build a vision that captures hearts and minds. After getting some media attention, the vision must be good enough to capture the belief of the too-busy, but still thinking, activists of both counties.

That is doable with a comprehensive development scenario that truly delivers good development, not merely mouths it. Unfortunately, when you have public officials overly influenced by scaremongers offering falsehood and simplicities, you do not develop smart, healthy programs.

Scaremongers have won most Marin battles by twisting facts and ignoring logical, visionary answers, while scaring politicians and citizens into buying into shortsighted nonsense.

What is some of the nonsense that scaremongers have foisted on too-busy people and politicians?

– That each new general plan has too much population growth, developable land, affordable housing and commercial space,

– That each general plan must be dramatically reduced so as to save our quality of life. This is said in California’s oldest median-age county where about 88 percent of its land is protected, only about 5 percent can have some development, and population growth has averaged about 3/10th of 1 percent per year for the last three-plus decades.

– That the Bay Area Association of Governments unfairly calls for too much affordable housing because Marin doesn’t have enough developable space.

– Therefore, the answer is to do less of everything in this new general plan update.

Consequently, each successive general plan fails to reach its goals. Then, the next general plan lowers it goals for previously unmet affordable housing, population, land use, transit oriented development, etc.

The scaremongers have developed a self-fulfilling decreasing development loop that hurts neighborhood, city, county, state and nation by scaring Marin residents into buying a small-minded view of how one of America’s wealthiest counties should be.

Developers, of course, are not faultless. They continue to fail to provide a vision of environmentally sensitive developments that feed mixed-use rail-oriented villages that should have been built for decades along North Bay rail lines.

By failing, they failed to build an army of supporters. Had they articulated that vision, in conjunction with supporting unobjectionable to all in-fill development, developers might reverse their long Marin retreat, and maybe save Baghdad. Oops, wrong battlefield.

Had pedestrian-pocket developments been built over recent decades, fewer would buy into scaremongering about “quality of life, my property values, parkingÉ”

If developers had built the vision and army, there would be fewer complainers sniping at the general plan’s social and housing benefits. Oh, yeah. Had that happened, Marin would be cutting our oil-trafficking addiction and reducing the underlying pretext for bleeding our troops in Baghdad.

wonrerase?

Dwayne Hunn consults on land development projects and is Executive Director of People’s Lobby, sponsor of the American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals.

How to prepare for disasters

Marin Independent Journal                             

MARIN VOICE                                September 23, 2005

Dwayne Hunn

Another Katrina will happen.  Another earthquake will.  With Mother Nature stuff happens, and you can’t always avoid it.  However, you can competently and humanely temper its aftermath.

Another Iraq and Vietnam may happen.  Another extremist act may.  With politics and policies, stuff happens.  However, you can avoid a lot of stupid policies from becoming bloody economic disasters.

Ø      How?  By making Americans and the world smarter.

Ø      How do we do that?  Give Americans a visionary program in which a significant number serve, share, understand, learn, and teach their young.  From that, America grows a super majority of smarter citizens.  That super majority then votes America away from stupid, costly mistakes that cost us dearly in blood and economy.

Ø      What is that vision?  It’s the citizen-initiated World Service Corps proposed in Congress.

If passed in Congress this year, the proposed laws would annually ramp up America’s best resource until by the sixth year one million Americans, or .6 of 1% of those aged 20 – 60-plus, would voluntarily serve in their choice of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, State Conservation Corps, etc.

Why would Americans volunteer to do the WSC?  Because Americans enjoy serving, like playing on great teams, and prefer building over wrecking.  In addition, the proposed legislation would offer simple, cost effective federal financial incentives to volunteers.

Upon completing service, WSC members would receive two years of community plus two years of state college tuition, equivalent educational loan pay off, or equivalent investment in Medical or IRA Accounts, which would be transferable to family relatives.  This updated mini GI Educational Bill of Rights gives the do-good governmental and non-governmental organizations the mix of enthusiastic, experienced, can-do Americans, aged 18 – 60+, who make the world safer and better.

In less dangerous and testing times, John Kennedy wanted the Peace Corps to put a million PCVs into the world.  Then, he felt, it would become a significant force bettering the world and America.  Today, one ofAmerica’s best and most cost effective programs has only about 177,000 returning Peace Corps volunteers.  The World Service Corps proposals legislate a million of our most cost effective resources into dealing with and learning from world and domestic problems.  It does so at a total (stipend plus incentives) annual cost less than 1/10th what it costs to maintain each of our military personnel, which is soaring past $500,000 each when supplemental and off-budget costs are added.  What a huge, long run cost and blood savings bargain.

Sure, a million WSC members physically improve the world.  They do so by working shoulder-to-shoulder with the world that wants to idolize them.  Perhaps more importantly, they enlighten the world’s superpower, whose steps can improve or destroy chunks of the world, by directly exposing Americans to global village needs.

Only about 15% of Americans take out passports.  Many of them have corporate or Club Med world experiences.  The WSC exposes more Americans to the classroom of world needs, so that their voting decisions are based on real life experiences, rather than on forgettable TV designed for couch potatoes.

The WSC raises America’s political and policymaking IQ.  That, then, keeps American voters from stumbling into shortsighted, costly, or bloody policies that we could avoid by pursuing visionary, practical, cost-effective policies.

Imagine, if the WSC had been running for years.  Its incentives would have inspired more states to start Conservation Corps.  The day Katrina struck thousands of those new and expanded state Conservation Corps, plus thousands of Red Cross, Americorps, Habitat, Doctors Sans Borders, International Rescue Committee, etc., volunteers would have been moving into Mississippi and Louisiana, with or without a Federal Emergency Management Agency passport.

We need peaceful, productive Special Forces to handle today’s special needs, as well as to reduce terrorist recruitment.

The World Service Corps www.worldservicecorps.us needs your local and national support.  Before the next hurricane or earthquake, before the next terrorist act, citizens need to enlighten local, state, and federal politicians, so they will enact the WSC legislation to send a million can-do Americans into our and the world’s classroom of needs.

 

Dwayne Hunn of Mill Valley is executive director of People’s Lobby and sponsor of the World Service Corps proposals.  He served in the Peace Corps.

Pitching in to help build peace

Tuesday December 4, 2001              Marin Independent Journal

Marin Voice

Pitching in to help build peace

 Dwayne Hunn

In teeming Bombay of the late 60’s, he was a somewhat radical  Malaysian student journalist.  I was an Urban Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer.

The Bombay Gymkhanna had a rugby team that needed American footballers and a swift running back. The combination took us to the All South Asian Rugby Championship, and gave a few PCVs and a Malaysian student many meals we otherwise couldn’t afford.

Recently (about ten days ago), with him carrying a gimpy rugby back’s knee, I again tasted his renowned hospitality.

This time, however, Kadir was Malaysia’s Ambassador to Germany.  It is hard to imagine a more comfortable way to glean post 911 perspectives from Europe, ambassadors and Muslims.

None of them expressed hesitancy to America getting Bin Laden… “There is no one with an ounce of brains who would choose to live under the Talliban rather than with America… But you must do it carefully and not harm civilians… And if you attack other Muslims nations now you will be doing just what Bin Laden wants.  He wants you to strike out, so that he can rally extreme fundamentalists to bring those nations against you…And America must fix the Palestinian issue…”

Over and over it came back to America fixing this or that and Palestine….

When you are the toughest kid in the neighborhood even  grown-ups expect you to settle squabbles between foolish juveniles.  It’s not as easy as the strongest nation among nations that have centuries of wonderful civilizations intermixed with tragic warrings.

Nonetheless, so many point to young America as the world’s problem handler – militarily, diplomatically, economically.

At least when you were the toughest in the hood, you had experienced grown-ups who seldom hesitated to fill the roles you were learning.

In discourse, one hopes young America’s side is being heard.

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan.

Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?

Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter and killed over 500 fundamentalist inspired warlords?

Who sent force to Kosovo, stopping Milosevic from cleansing Albanian Muslims?

Who, for decades and more than any other nation, pushed Arafat to control stone throwers and Israel to withdraw settlements

Yet who is constantly vilified for meddling too much – yet not doing enough?

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan. Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?… Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter.

Yes, rich, strong America must do much.  But the world’s older, grown-up nations have a huge responsibility to take bold stands and implement solutions. They must educate against irrationalism. Aid and invest in needy countries.  Send  troops, food and foreign aid.  They should start their own Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, so they too can help make the world more livable for the poor upon whom fanatics prey.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, whose $10 million check to benefit  911’s victim’s families was returned because he said: “America has to face reality (regarding Israel) if they don’t want to fight terrorism for the next 100 years. What the Americans are doing now in Afghanistan is right. I’m with them all the way.  They have to take revenge.  And you can quote me. I – am – an – ally – of – America.  Exactly like Mr. Guiliani and the United States. I want to eradicate terrorism also.”

The Prince echoes most of the world’s embassies and capitals.  Perhaps, however, his check ought to be the down payment that eradicates terrorism’s seeds in the world’s seething cauldron while  addressing his concern that, “ Israel is doing a better job getting its message out.”

With his millions, he ought to offer to build state-of-the art UN staffed schools in a children labeled peace zone along Palestinian Israeli borders.

These peace zones would allow children from both sides to learn, play and build relationships that destroy hateful stereotypes – those too often seen in Middle Easterners’ eyes on TV.

You want a public relations coup that will win the world’s hearts?  A stealth missile to obliterate the dark caves of poverty and ignorance where terrorisms lurks?

Bring students together.

Education and its relationships are how struggles – or jihads – are overcome.

Collected wisdoms on why Marin housing is so expensive:

…… because the opposition to any more housing is so well entrenched politically – as aides, on committees, trained through self-proclaimed environmental groups….

……. because there is little concern for costs that the well executed political actions of housing opponents force upon developers and thence onto those hoping to buy…..

For example, from the Marin IJ of June 11, 2001:

… After Kress’ (Marin Supervisor) departure, the group began talking strategy for the fight ahead.

Sitting in the chair occupied by his boss just a few minutes earlier, Kress’ assistant, Rick Fraites, offered advice to the group. He served on the steering committee for the Citizens to Save Bahia, the group that last month successfully blocked expansion of the Bahia subdivision project in Novato.

“Anything you can conjure up to get the developer to look at and spend money, throw it out there,” Fraites said. “That’s my advice, having just gone through this with Bahia.”

“That’s one of the reasons housing is so expensive in Marin County,” Schwartz said about Fraites’ comment. “If frivolous studies are asked for by the community and included in the environmental impact report, the cost of those studies get reflected in the cost of each home.”

Of Fraites’ comment, Leland added, “That’s probably good advice if your objective is to stop it. The classic paradigm in Marin County is an antagonistic one and we are going to do our best to make it a collaborative one, to work with the residents there.”

Source Marin IJ of June 11, 2001. For the whole story on a Santa Venetia development fight against 28 houses on 30 acres, click Development fight in Santa Venetia.

From Marin IJ Page C1 of August 26, 2001, “Center could hold key to ferry parking woes.”  In this section a paragraph reads:

Earlier this month, GGBD (Golden Gate Bridge District) officials said they had to delay plans to restripe and reconfigure the existing 1,370-space parking lot because the sole bid for the job was almost double the amount budgeted.  Ghilotti Brothers Inc. of San Rafael bid $1 million for the work, which officials had estimated would cost $520,000.

Beneath the more obvious points of this Larkspur Ferry area story that parking is dreadful because we failed to deliver a train and nearby workforce housing is this important point.  Contractors such as Ghilotti do not strenuously compete for Marin jobs because they have closed shop here.  Ghilotti has to bid high on these jobs since he must pay his employees either enough to buy homes in Marin or to commute long distances from where Marin provides its workforce housing – i.e. from Sonoma and the East Bay.  We are losing moderately priced workers since we force them to live elsewhere.   f

More collected wisdoms to be added….

Oh, God, have mercy on our failures

This is unedited version published in Marin IJ  January 18, 2000

Heavenly pictures and angel added by forlorn altar boy author.

MARIN VOICE

Oh, God, have mercy on our failures

Slipping into cushy slippers on a billowy cloud, he called out, “Gabriel, update me on my blue, green gem.”

“Sir, globalization is beefing up the bigs, strengthening some middies, while your poor continue arduously climbing their hill of needs.”

“Are my beefies being generous and creative in their good times?” he asks, as he sprinkles light into a black hole.

“Bill Gates and  Ted Turner have….”

“No, no, Gabe.  I don’t need to know of their endowments, or Ted and Jane trading aerobic sessions.  Give me an analysis of community actions addressing values extrinsic to mankind.”

“Extrinsic values, sir?

“Gabriel, you mastery of earthling jargon slips.  For planet Earth that means clean and ample water, air, food, shelter and peoples’ actions that help children’s eyes and dreams gleam from birth and far into their sunset years.  You remember, Gabe, it takes a village to raise a child?”

“Yes, sir, and extrapolations of that to raise a region and a world.  Shall I focus the window of your upgraded Deep Universal Problem Evaluating (DUPE) computer on your Golden State, sir?”

“Yes.  Zoom into my Garden of Eden County where they have set aside 301,314 of my 388,352 acres into open space, agriculture and park lands.”

“Zoomed, sir,” the archangel replies, as the 4-D panaview of Marin reels up over one of God’s universes.  “Goodness, look at the brake lights on their ‘freeway’.”

“Hmmh, looks like Chicago Bulls parking lot in the Airness days I dished them… Gabriel, where are those wonderful, friendly trains we watched years ago from this  view?  They zoomed north into surrounding counties, west into small towns and red wooded mountains.”

“Sir, big oil and auto companies derailed those trains 4 or 5 decades back.”

“Tssk, tssk,” God said, shaking His head, “Right.  My bigs sometimes think ‘Might makes right.’ But other parts of my Golden State are returning efficient, community enhancing trains.  What is My Golden Gated County doing?”

“Sir, four times in the last 40 years some have tried to revive them but…

“Who opposed them?” God interjected.

“Groups referred to as ‘environmentalists’ in your blessed county.”

“Gabriel, are you forgetting your earthling vocabulary again?”

“No, sir.”

“Environmentalists oppose trains that move more people while putting less pollution in my skies?  Trains that encourage friendly mingling and wondrous viewing of my open spaces?” God rhetorically asks.

“It is a little confusing, sir.  You might blaze read the DUPE computer folder “St. Vincent’s Silveira Stakeholders Task Force.”

God blinks His version of Evelyn Wood’s speed reading through 8,769 pages of county documents, “It says the environmental groups want no building on the ‘view corridor, flood plain or near 101 and some environmentalists want 37 units allowed on 1240 acres.  Where’s my colorful train that used to whisk people through this land and into Sonoma, Sacramento and Lake Tahoe?”

“Sir in the file titled, ‘Memo of Understanding’ the environmental stakeholders and politicians removed the train and station.”

“These ‘stakeholders’ are offering no alternatives for those stuck in traffic trying to get home to their loved ones?”

“Should we send them wings, sir?”

Hmmh, Gabriel, your jokes are far from divine… Wasn’t part of this stakeholders’ site owned by a Boys Town place?”

“Yes, sir.  Now St. Vincent’s wants to use development there to endow their future work with troubled children.”

“But without being more creative, thoughtful and logical how will these ‘tempholders’ of my land get the highest and best land uses to endow that hallowed work?  Provide enough housing for my middie and hard working strugglers?  If they continue being self-centered and deplete the region’s air and people’s quality time with myopic land uses, they will rob my not so well off children elsewhere.”

“What would you like done, Lord?”

“They must consider the bigger picture.”

“Shall I put some of them in space, for a bigger view, sir?”

“Perhaps it would be easier to put some of them in my struggling African villages, where the experience would adjust their priorities.”

“That would greatly alter their comfortable lifestyles…Should I zap them there now, Lord?” as Gabriel reaches for God’s staff leaning against a comet.

“For now, let’s just plant this with that IJ staff and see if they get people thinking more about values extrinsic to mankind.”

 

 

While listening to the St Vincent’s Silveira Task force meeting of January 6th discuss  “extrinsic values,” one-time forlorn altar boy Dwayne Hunn received this winged transcript from above.

A U.S. initiative can give us more clout

Published in Marin Independent Journal, Sunday, January 24, 1999A

U.S. initiative can give us more clout

DWAYNE HUNN

INCESSANTLY, CONGRESSIONAL phones rang, faxes and e-mails flew. Americans thun­dered not over a maiming Asian war, all illegally conducted Central American war, or political party robbery and cover-up.

Nope, America responded to a soap opera splitting the G-string over the dictionary definition of’ “sexual relations.”A zealous attack on a handful of sexual foreplays inspired most experienced Americans to say, “Let it lie.”

That, however, didn’t stop a constitutional crisis over our representatives’ understand­ing of  “’high crimes and misde­meanors.”Explicitly revealing the sex lives of public figures has, howev­er, advanced sex education well beyond the doll-faced Ken and Barbie level.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Supporters of a bifocaled and grown Ken named Starr have long opposed sex edu­cation in schools, yet they stand erectly by their man as he unzips what amounts to a $50 million sex cur­riculum that wows kids.

The thunderous debate should:

¨        Remind most Americans that common sense is not a prerequisite for holding office.

¨        Continue chipping away at the respect held for officeholders.

¨        Prepare America for a more European sexual at-tirade or a McCarthyist excursion into the personal lives of at least public officials.

¨        Make Americans wonder — if polls and communiques are ineffective in influencing our representa­tives: What additional tool will America need to make government more responsive?

With CNN, 24-hour radio and television news and talk shows, online interactive news, chat rooms, e-mail discourses, downloading government and ex­pert reports, instant books, sophisticated surveys, hard and electronic newspapers and magazines, Americans can validly wonder if today’s concerned and involved citizen can be more aware of issues than many elected representatives are.

Can it be that since our representatives’ work (talking to each other in endless committees and to their special-interest funders) deprives them of viewing TV soap operas, they now strain to create their own titillating soap rather than address the public’s needs?

A KGO radio talk-show caller recently said,  “Let’s recall these representatives who are so intent on im­peachment when we, the people, don’t want them doing that.”

The host replied that he didn’t think recalling U.S. representatives is possible. He is right. The people have the right to recall, referendum and initiative in about half the states including California, but not on the national level.

Perhaps this whole unbuyable soap-opera script will move the country closer to enacting a National Initiative, Referendum and Recall. If Congress feels that Social Security, health care, banking and educational reform, homelessness, poverty, food stamps, toxic cleanup, space exploration, balanced budgets, tax reform, fair trade, trade imbalances, jobs, drugs, crimes, merger mania, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, Russia’s plutonium stockpile, national and world economy, foreign aid, improvement of air, water and food quality, military budgeting and enhancements are not as important as arguing over a dismissed case of alleged ‘sex-harassment and a definition of sex, then perhaps Americans ought to add more legislative options to their firsthand powers.

In an age when technology has put more Options in people’s laps and laptops — from buying to investing in education — perhaps it’s time to do the same with our democratic government.

Would putting the tools of national initiative, referendum and recall in the hands of citizens across the country do more to raise the IQ level of our nation and its elected representatives?

Such a debate may find support from both sides of the impeachment aisle. For those who think Con­gress can’t think straight, a U.S. Initiative, Referendum and Recall offers representative government yet another tool to increase its responsiveness.

For those fundamentalists who want to purify America’s sexy and lying ways, it offers a mechanism whereby dedication, hard work and their national organization can produce initiatives, recalls and referenda that further their own agenda.

Dwayne Hunn, who lives in Mill Valley, works with and sits on the boards of People’s Lobby, dedicated to educating citizens on initiative, political and economic issues, and of Philadelphia II, dedicated to implementing the U.S. Initiative.

With no train can we really clean…

Unedited version published in Marin Independent Journal 7-14-98.  Pictures added.

Marin Voice

With no train can we really clean the air?

Dwayne Hunn

Let’s ponder an imaginary debate on the following topic.  “Is the Marin Conservation League good for the world?”

Team Beemers’ Jennifer Comfy, of Marin’s Platitude High, opens the debate as Team Bikers of Oakland’s Tanning Vocational look on with big eyes.

“The Conservation League merges all those individuals and groups who work to ensure that tomorrow’s children have an environment that blooms with flowers,  billows with fresh ocean breezes, cascades with hiking trails and soothes our eyes with scenic vistas.  Without such a league of the environmentally conscious, not only would the greenery of  our lands and blue of our skies fade and darken, but the tranquility of our lives and creativity it provides our minds would dissipate.   Working locally, these courageous environmentalists institute programs that make the universe an extraordinary partaking….”

While shuffling to the podium, the Bikers’ Dirk Maloney responds, “Well, beam me and my crew up to your world, where life’s a beach and everyone bathes in sunshine and stellar lights.    Conservationists devour resources to save you the blue and green in wavy fields, while leaving others to view concrete and asphalt etched by bars and orphanages…

Zane Farr, the supervising teacher interrupts, “Refrain from being personal.   Use factual references to make your points.”

Bobbing his head, Dirk continues, “A true environmentalist measures his works by how they impact the world beyond the greenery of their county, their hiking trails and their tranquility.  He learns to see beyond a few pretty colors and local scenery when he views the impacts of his efforts.  Thank you.”

“Specifics points, Ms. Comfy,” interjects  Mr. Farr.

“In what is often referred to as Marvelous Marin, we have a richness and beauty of life creditable to the environmental  movement.  Years ago we stopped BART.   Recently we stopped hundreds of beautiful, bucolic St. Vincent’s / Silveira acres from being plied with development, so that our scenic, serene view from Highway 101 will remain.   By disallowing a future train stop and drastically cutting St. Vincent’s developmental potential, we insured minimal nature impacts.  It is such farsightedness that provides for a heavenly, ecologically sound atmosphere.”

“Wonderful vision,” Dirk grumbles.  “While here in Oakland none of your Marin Community Foundation money helps our  serenity.   Yet that money continues supporting Marin’s sereneness deprived environmental organizations.    We support Amtrak and BART to reduce the pollutants your self-imposed congested freeways cause.  Your Golden Drawbridge makes comfortable lives for the rich and famous, while the East Side Bridge relives West Side Stories.   Oakland scrapes for money to make our poverty programs work and spread rail transit, because we want hard working parents to spend as much time as possible with their kids.  Rail-less,  you force hard working families to pollute and commute hither and yon, trading thousands of parental quality hours for  latch-key kiddom.

“You think you’re saving the neighboring pearly mouse and pretty bird, while forcing working folk to exhaust stuff in the air that hurts those same and other critters outside your neighborhood.   The commute time you force on parents increases the likelihood their latch-kids will do time.”

Rolling her eyes, Jennifer retorts, “Conservation, Mr.  Maloney, is not about juvenile delinquency.  It is about saving the environment, so that future generations can enjoy its wonders…”

“Right, Ms.  Comfy.  For you there is no connection and I’m confused…   Someday rest your BMer for a rickety bike adventure on some mean streets or sweat in some poor country, where land use planning for million dollar estates lags far behind putting 1500 calories on tomorrow’s plate.  Then come back and explain to me why your environmental land use crusade to hurt middle class Americans, their kids, and the world’s air is so groovy good for the rest of the earth?”

Mill Valley’s Dwayne Hunn sometimes supervises debates, rides bikes, and gets confused.

“Bad Train….”