Treatment Of The Hurricane Victims VS The Routine Urban Homeless

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
At the request of several member of AAC, I'm moving my comments about the disparity in the treatment of the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the abusive treatment of the homeless population that's routinely living on the streets of all the cities in the U.S.

This is a very complicated and emotional subject and I've done a lot of research that I want revealed to the public. So I've tried to arrange for an on-the air interview on one of the KGO Radio talk show programs in the San Francisco Bay Area where the truth can be revealed . I've copied the script of my proposed on-the-air interview to a new thread where you can read my findings. Of course for privacy on AAC, I've blanked out my name and my comments appear under the heading of "GUEST".
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Host
My guest is Mr. _ _ _ _ _ and he has done a lot of research on the housing crisis, homelessness, land use and the environment, and governmental affairs in general. You are undoubtedly aware of the housing crisis in the Bay Area.

You've often heard there’s a tech boom and a building boom all over the Bay Area. Rents and evictions are increasing, neighborhoods are being gentrified – that is low income people are being displaced by high income residents, and we’re seeing more and more homeless people are living on the streets.

However, Mr. _ _ _ _ _ has performed literally 100s of hours of research on the tech boom in real estate development in the Bay Area and Southern California, and he says there’s a lot more to the tech boom and housing crisis than what the media is telling us. Mr. _ _ _ _ _ , could you tell us a little bit about your research and findings about this hotly debated issue?

Guest

First of all, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have not been involved in (nor do I know of anyone that has been connected with) setting any of the fires that have destroyed several large apartment buildings under construction in Oakland and other cities in California. However, I’m not surprised that the discontent over all the double digit rent increases, evictions, and displacement has reached a boiling point and we’re now witnessing 1960s style violence complete with the burning of property that is perceived as a symbol of class warfare.

Putting things in perspective, the level of anger we’re seeing over the housing crisis looks like something straight out of a third world country with 1000s of impoverished people rioting in the streets over poor living conditions and government corruption. In fact, some parts of the Bay Area are rapidly taking on a third world appearance much like what you’d see in India or the Philippines with 1000s and 1000s of people are living in slums - the equivalent of what are called homeless encampments here in the U.S.

Also we’re seeing low and middle class neighborhoods throughout the region being condemned to make way for new market rate apartments and condos. However, the residents of the old buildings no longer have a place to live and ultimately, many of them wind up living on the street. We constantly hear that this socio-economic mess is the result of the so called tech boom and the law of supply and demand running its course.

However, my research reveals that many of these new buildings are being constructed in accordance with the something called the "Plan Bay Area" Redevelopment program. This plan is actually the result of Senate Bill 375 (otherwise known as the "Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008") which requires every city in California to enact zoning laws that will reduce transportation-related pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this goal, the plan requires that all new development occur within existing urban boundaries by increasing population density and creating more options for transportation.

This is why we’re seeing 100s of medium and high rise apartment buildings going up all over the Bay Area and also throughout Southern California. In Los Angeles, the redevelopment plan is known as "Re: Code LA", but its objective is the same as Plan Bay Area: To allow a substantial increase in the height and density in most neighborhoods in the city.

The plan (and others like it throughout the country) also seem to follow United Nations “Agenda 21” which proposes the creation of 100s of megacities like Manhattan, Tokyo, Beijing, and Hong Kong, all over the U.S. Everything we’re seeing in the Bay Area – the construction of high density housing, adding bike lanes to streets, imposing large fees and taxes to discourage the use of private autos- is straight out of Agenda 21. In addition to Agenda 21, Plan Bay Area aggressively promotes the replacement of low rise, low income neighborhoods with high rise, high income housing -and that’s what we’re already seeing with the gentrification of older neighborhoods throughout the region.

Interestingly, Plan Bay Area (and other redevelopment programs throughout the U.S.) also seems to be based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling "Kelo VS New London Connecticut" (decided in June of 2005) which allowed the city to declare a particular low income neighborhood as a form of "blight", then bring condemnation and eminent domain proceedings against the property owners.

The condemned property was bought by the city and intended to be sold to a private developer who would build expensive apartments and other commercial amenities, thereby gentrifying the neighborhood and increasing the property tax base. This is called “tax increment financing”, but it’s a convoluted scheme that often goes south with the government losing money.

Furthermore, the plans for the redeveloped land did not have any provision for relocating the residents of the old neighborhood. In New London, the plan was redevelopment, gentrification, and ultimately the displacement of the existing residents. This sounds exactly like what's going on in the Bay Area and L.A. Obviously, this aggressive approach to redevelopment is rightly seen as a form of class warfare and it's fueling the social unrest seen throughout the Bay Area.

Older neighborhoods in the city (such as the Mission and the South Of Market area) are a prime example of redevelopment gone wrong with low and middle income residents being forced out in order to make way for expensive homes and luxury amenities. Although Plan Bay Area is now affecting mostly low income residents, it’s burning its way up through the middle class and eventually no one will be safe from displacement .

Host:
Where did Plan Bay Area come from and who enforces it?

Guest:

The basic frame work of Plan Bay Area definitely originated in Agenda 21, but its objectives were formally enacted into law by the California legislature as SB 375. Every large urban region in California (San Francisco/Oakland/ San Jose, Sacramento, L.A., San Diego) must comply with it by developing a plan for increased population growth and higher density in housing construction. The word “density” is a polite term for more people living in more crowded conditions much like Manhattan.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the plan for compliance with SB 375 is being formally developed by the the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) also works closely with the MTC to develop zoning and urban planning strategies for the all nine counties in the region.

Both of these agencies also have strong influence over bridge tolls set by the Bay Area Toll Authority. In fact, the MTC receives a large part of the revenue from bridge tolls to fund transit agencies. However the MTC also provides subsidies to build high density housing near major transit lines in accordance with something called “transit oriented development to reduce traffic congestion and also establish bike lanes on main thoroughfares.

However, a large group of citizens have filed a class action lawsuit against the MTC and ABAG alleging that both them are unelected governmental agencies who have pre-empted local control of urban planning. The suits also claim these unelected agencies are engaged in “taxation without representation”.

Host
How does Plan Bay Area control land development and housing construction?

Guest

In accordance with the plan, large parcels of land along transit corridors have been designated “Priority Development Areas” (or PDAs) and developers who build high density housing in these areas are also eligible for government subsidies through the MTC. Therefore PDAs inflate the value of land and properties in less attractive neighborhoods can suddenly be transformed into prime real estate. Interestingly, anything built ½ mile from a transit corridor can be considered as transit oriented development and designated as a PDA.

In San Francisco, the South Of Market Area from the waterfront to Van Ness and the northern segment of Mission Street have all been zoned as PDAs. That's where we're seeing most of the development -and gentrification/displacement of low income neighborhoods in the city. The same thing is happening in Oakland and the South Bay. Anything near BART or CalTrain/VTA has been zoned as a PDA.

Host
Who is promoting Plan Bay Area?

Guest

Plan Bay Area is being promoted mainly by the real estate and also the construction industry - which are some of the biggest money interests in California. They consist of a plethora of building trade unions, engineering consultants, contractors associated with urban planning and development. They also heavily lobby Sacramento and Washington for legislation and funding to promote open-ended construction. However, real estate and construction is now highly dependent on government support and I doubt that the industry in California or the U.S. would have survived the economic collapse of 2008 if it were not for heavy lobbying to keep the industry afloat.

In fact, two of the prominent high rise projects in the city nearly went bankrupt because of the real estate collapse in 2008. However, Plan Bay Area has now rescued the otherwise failing industry and possibly saved it from complete extinction. Never-the-less, I’ve found that several large projects funded by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and the Mayor’s Office Of Housing have gone “in the red”.

Host
But, hasn’t the tech boom created a huge demand for lots of housing? Aren’t foreign investors such as China and the Mid East also buying these expensive homes and fueling demand?

Guest
Yes, the tech industry is growing at a steady pace, but it's not growing fast enough to justify building 1000s and 1000s of luxury housing units. Furthermore, the hard core technology profession consists of people versed in science, engineering, and mathematics and only about 5% of the population have the education and training to draw 7 figure salaries. The tech boom is mostly a fabrication to mislead the public about the role of Plan Bay Area and real estate speculators in fueling all this construction.

Plan Bay Area has also turned the real estate market into an international lottery with foreign investors buying up properties in the hope of prices going higher and they can hit the jackpot. However if you get rid of all the government subsidies, home prices will drop like a rock and the foreign investors will bail out of the market.

Host:

Are there other sources of wealth that are driving up the cost of housing?

Guest
Yes, there’s a lot of government money going to politically connected interests and the stock market is creating yet another bubble.

Over the past several years, the Bay Area economy has been flooded with government money from the state, local and federal levels. Since 2010, Obama and Hillary have visited San Francisco a total of 27 times to raise funds for the Democratic Party in return for sending federal dollars back to dozens of special interests who made contributions. State and local governments are also sending tons of money to all sorts of politically connected business interests -especially the real estate and construction industry. Federal subsidies for land development are an enormous program in itself and congress is doling out billions every year.

In San Francisco, there are several agencies handing out money to the building industry. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, the Mayor’s Office Of Housing And Economic Development are two local sources of funding supposedly to build below market housing construction. However, these subsidies ultimately wind up going to high end projects.

However, without the massive amounts of government money flowing into the region's economy, there would be no reason to build all the market rate housing going up in the region. Ironically, Plan Bay Area seems to be a solution to the problem of way too much government money flowing into the economy and it’s creating a housing bubble.

The construction industry itself is a direct recipient of government subsidies in the form of salary mandates. If a government project receives federal, state, or local funding, all contractors must pay union wages. These are known as Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and since most building projects involve union labor, that drives up the cost of everything. That includes steel and concrete construction, electrical, plumbing, heating/ventilation, and elevators.

As for the stock market’s role in inflating the cost of housing, a lot of companies on the Down Jones and the Nasdaq are seriously overvalued and many are just casino stocks for investors to “buy low and dump high”. Stock options are creating a lot of “paper wealth” that doesn’t really exist. Government subsidies and market manipulation are also puffing up the value of a lot of tech companies -especially such those in the alternative energy industry and social media.

One of my PG&E bills had that little slip of paper (you know the ones in light gray fine print) informing me that the company had applied for a rate increase to fund “electric vehicle infrastructure and education”. That means the ratepayers are subsidizing the electric car industry such as Tesla and other automakers.

Facebook and Instagram are big players in the social media boom and supposedly worth over $300 Billion. But it’s obvious they’re just another Wall Street lottery. There are 1000s of startups that aren’t worth anything either, but they issue stock options and create paper wealth. It’s amazing how people are able to buy homes with all this funny money.

As for wasteful government spending, I’ve learned that UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital has squandered $15 Million per year for the past 5 years on radio, TV, and print advertising. Top officials at UCSF even get expense paid trips to Hawaii supposedly to hold seminars on medical issues.

Host
We constantly hear that the economy is very strong and the huge homeless population is actually due to alcohol, drug addiction, and mental illness.

Guest
By that perverse line of reasoning, if you’re not an alcoholic, drug addict, or mentally ill, you can tolerate double digit rent increases and ultimately being evicted. However, the government and business community don’t want to admit that the social safety net has been deliberately cut and people are hitting bottom.

Despite all the government money flowing into the building boom, the promised below market construction doesn’t seem to get much funding and the number of people living on the streets seems to be getting worse by the day. The displacement of low and middle income residents is the most visible -and volatile- aspect of the Plan Bay Area redevelopment program. Blaming homelessness on alcohol, drugs, or mental illness is just a way of marginalizing and covering up the effects of government sponsored redevelopment and gentrification.

Furthermore, if the housing bubble bursts and the market goes south, many people who do have homes will wind up “upside down” in their mortgages. Also, when people bid up the cost of a home, they’re also bidding up their property taxes. It’ll be a double whammy – when the market collapses, buyers will be stuck with a sky high mortgage and sky high property taxes. Of course when the income from property taxes shrinks, governments won’t have funds for public services and we’ll see a lot of deep cuts all over the region. This is the danger in relying on the tax increment financing scheme used by redevelopment agencies throughout the country.

A lot of financial analysts see the current upward spiral in housing costs as completely unsustainable and they are predicting the inevitable collapse of the real estate market. Based on the aftermath of 2008, the next collapse will be much worse and it will probably lead to a national depression.

Host

So what exactly is the solution to the housing crisis?

Guest
First, we need to get rid of Plan Bay Area, but thatmeans getting rid ofSB 375 which mandates that regional planning be implemented in all of the large cities throughout California. Los Angeles is also subject to SB 375 and Re: Code LA has created the exact same problems down there as Plan Bay Area has done up here.

Secondly, we need to put a stop to the huge amount of government money going to the special interests. That means getting rid of subsidies for tech companies, electric cars, alternative energy, and government advertising which is a little known, but huge expenditure.

This is going to be a very, very difficult venture because you’re dealing with 100s of big money interests who shovel millions of dollars in contributions to local, state, and federal officials. The system is now so riddled with corruption that the buying and selling of political influence cannot be stopped through the normal democratic process.

In the short term, the only workable solution is to let economics run its course and the market will collapse like it did in 2008. It will probably lead to an international depression, but when the dust settles, it will also produce a more stable economy. Unfortunately, the federal government will come up with another bailout program (such as TARP used after the 2008 subprime mortgage fiasco) and another boom/bust cycle will begin over again.

However for a long term solution, we need a ballot initiative in California to abolish redevelopment agencies and also SB 375 which is the state’s legal mandate for Plan Bay Area and Re: Code LA. In response to the case in New London, a number of states have passed legislation to prevent redevelopment from being used to get rid of low income neighborhoods and increase property taxes.

Finally, I believe people who have been evicted from buildings that were located in neighborhoods that were declared PDAs should file a class action suit against the various governmental agencies associated with implementing Plan Bay Area.

Host
So who would they sue and how would they be compensated?

Guest
I’m not an attorney and this would be a very complex case with a lot of potential defendants. However, I believe that displaced residents might be able to sue the MTC, ABAG, and other state and local agencies involved with the redevelopment process that ultimately led to their eviction. Because the redevelopment process is the result of SB 375, the state of California bears a lot of responsibility and I suspect the state would be a prime defendant.

The plaintiffs could demand damages for eviction and be compensated with a home equal to the quality of their previous residence, or they could just receive monetary damages and find a new home elsewhere.

This theory seems legally correct: The 14Th Amendment requires just compensation if government action of any type results in damages. Redevelopment of a city just for the sake of getting rid of low rise, low income neighborhoods is obviously a wanton and tortious act on the part of the government. Furthermore, this abuse of governmental authority can be perceived as socio-economic cleansing and it’s clearly a civil rights violation. Furthermore, if any of the new buildings were funded with government subsidies, all the people displaced by redevelopment should have some right to live in them at a reduced rent.

Anyone who’s been evicted from a building in a PDA (such as the South Of market or the Mission in San Francisco) should keep accurate records of where they’ve lived. That would qualify them for a definite amount of compensation if a settlement is ever reached. Unfortunately, this might be impossible if a person is living on the street with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Host:

How do you know so much about Plan Bay Area and Agenda 21 and what motivated you to go public with your findings?

Guest:
I used to work in the elevator business and it’s obviously a major part of the high rise construction industry. In 2009, I wrote several articles on the elevators installed in these tall buildings including the One Rincon Hill complex and the Millennium Tower. I'm also highly interested in governmental affairs and I do investigative reporting which is a powerful tool in revealing what the government is actually up to. Anything that the government does is subject to so called "Sunshine or Transparency" laws and any individual can make a formal request to view the records of most governmental affairs.

However, Plan Bay Area is a very well-known topic and most information is already available on line. Most of the other information is in plain view in the print media. The problem with getting my findings published is that the mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about anything that puts the government in an embarrassing light. And it is very embarrassing to have 1000s of people living in squalid conditions with many parts of the Bay Area taking on a Third World appearance.

Finally, the recent outbreak of fires at several construction sites is an indicator that the housing crisis has reached a boiling point and someone needs to speak up and try to calm all the social unrest.
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Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
Exactly. Way back in the 70s I lived in CA. Remember Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot? We had an exceptionally bad rainy season one year and from my second floor apartment I watched cattle, mobile homes and all sorts of things head for the Pacific down the El Cajon river valley and it was a dry river bed right till... You would really think they would wise up but no. They cover tens of thousands of acres with asphalt and concrete so run off has nowhere to go. That was the mid to late 70s.

Ron
The problem is the real estate and construction industry thrives on developing more and more land without regard to the consequences of all that development.

However, if more and more jobs are eliminated by automation, many people won't have the income to pay for development and the real estate and construction business will eventually go extinct. In my previous post, I mentioned that most development in the S.F. Bay Area is now funded through government subsidies of some sort and that's the only thing that's keeping the keeping the market alive. Get rid of government $$$ and it will drop like a rock.
 

jgessling

Joined Jul 31, 2009
82
Glenn, I think you need to get out more. There's a good reason that the Sierra Club was founded in San Francisco, living there will make your head explode if you don't have adequate release. Or at least read something to soothe your soul. I suggest "Desert Solitare" by Edward Abbey. Breathe out that city grime and inhale the magic of the desert. Just be careful not to read something like this:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTop...egy_for_Arches-Arches_National_Park_Utah.html

Suffocating crowds of internet fueled canned humans will certainly undo any benefit gained from Mr. Abbey's words.

Sigh.
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,867
In my previous post, I mentioned that most development in the S.F. Bay Area is now funded through government subsidies of some sort and that's the only thing that's keeping the keeping the market alive. Get rid of government $$$ and it will drop like a rock.
Thats a standard example of supply and demand coupled to artificial supplementation of a system to keep it alive well beyond it's natural life cycle.

Humans and culture are dynamic and ever changing and thusly whenever a product prices itself out of reach of is support base it starts to wither and die until some new concept or approach or repurposing of whatever it is sets in.

California is a prime example of how bad regulation of a system will lead to it's own demise no matter how much money and micro management regulation is thrown at it.

At some point the very source of that money being used to artificially prop up their socio economic system will either dry up or just pack up and leave thusly forcing the paracytic end of the system to either adapt or collapse in on itself as it is now.
 

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
That's already happening in California and the state's circling a black hole.

California is so heavily mired in debt that it's raising taxes and fees on everything it can (without violating Prop 13 which put a cap on real estate taxes in 1978). However, if you own a car or drive in California, look out!!! You're a sitting duck for every kind of auto-related fee the government can come up with ---------- and it's pretty creative about coming up with them.

In San Francisco, they've been installing high tech parking meters all over the city in an attempt to suck up more and more revenue from car owners. Even worse, the time limit on those meters is set so low you can't help but get a ticket and meter maids are swarming like vultures. In fact, those meters must have a Cesium based atomic clock that can be set to a nanosecond. With such a short time, your car would have to behave like a sub-atomic particle that disappears the instant it enters a parking space.
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,867
I'm curious to see where california sits in a few more years being I so rarely ever hear of anything good being done there anymore to help the remaining good people they have with anything.

All I ever see is one more idiotic rule or regulation or whatever being cooked up to justify taking more from those who work to give it those who don't and to those who don't even belong there.

I don't get it. It's the total opposite of how my state and our culture here operates. Here we have minimal regulations and high state profits for it. Our environment is clean and our people prosperous all while having a reasonable state operational overhead despite the large area and small population in it.
 

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
In addition to all the private sector labor unions, California has literally 100s of government employee unions that shovel big $$$ to politicians in return for more lucrative salaries and more perks.

Believe it or not, there's even a politician's union for elected government officials. It's a prime example of how a vicious circle operates. Give more $$$ out to political contributors and get even more $$$ back in political contributions.
 
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