All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

Homelessness – Is Housing the Problem?

homelessness

When we see so many people with no other place to call home except a piece of sidewalk or a tent, we need to ask whether our leadership is choosing the appropriate solution to challenges at hand. In the case of homelessness in numbers such as we see in purportedly rich California cities, the answer is probably “no.”

When we routinely see drug injection needles discarded in sidewalks, parking lots, and our kids’ playground, we really need to think whether the current narrative of gentrification and housing shortage as the primary cause for homelessness makes sense.

We need to ask what role the drug industry, facilitated by political leaders, may play in such a scenario. The folks in question here are not the usual small-fry drug dealers, but the legitimate barons of an industry not shy about prices.  Injection needles and other drug paraphernalia cost serious money, so does the increasingly ubiquitous naloxone.

Naloxone maker Kaleo has an injection treatment called Evzio that has a list price of $4,100. The company plans to release a generic version of Evzio with a retail price of $178 for a two pack this year. A two-pack of Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray, has a retail price of about $125. Generic naloxone costs about $40 per dose.  FDA Clears the Way to Increase Access and Lower Cost of Life-saving Opioid Overdose Treatment Drug.  CNBC. January 28, 2019.

The increase has cost the federal Medicare and Medicaid health programs more than $142 million since 2014, according the Homeland Security permanent subcommittee on investigations.  Drug Company Raised Price of Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Antidote More than 600 Percent USA Today November 19, 2018.

The Just Vote No Blog recommends the article Homelessness: Housing is not the Problem, in the California Political News and Views of August 4, 2019, for more on this unfortunate homelessness situation. 

 

Looking for Free Education: Watch Hardfire TV

Hardfire TV 2

This is an interesting find, scholarly discussions on economics in lay-person’s language.  There are over 150 episodes on YouTube of Hardfire: Libertarian Issues in Focus, produced by Cameron Weber, PhD economics.

Dr. Weber is generally pleasantly soft spoken, which is a plus in today’s strident public dialogue. As the title of the show suggests, issues are discussed from a libertarian (versus collective or socialist) perspective.

Why is the Just Vote No Blog recommending this show? 

As a nation, we are in need of the basic education that allows us to competently fill out a resume, keep a financially sound household budget, point to where a country is located on a map, and assess the economic feasibility of what is proposed at the ballot box.  Some point to home schooling, charter schools, and on-line courses as a way for students to improve their chances of competing favorably in an increasingly complex job market.  Others point to free or low-cost life-long learning as a way for everybody to stay informed.

The trick is not only to find free or low cost instruction, but to avoid the echo-chamber trap of learning only what often agenda-driven groups prescribe.  One way to avoid this trap is to explore different sources of information.  It is good to listen to what Robert Reich (professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley and partial to Keynesian economics) has to say, but counter that with what Thomas Sowell (Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and partial to Chicago School economics) says.

Cameron Weber’s show represents instruction that is freely available as well as libertarian (free market) economics which today is less widespread than the liberal central planning.

An Example of a Hardfire Episode

On the segment of August 2, 2019, Dr. Weber discusses what at first glance borders on the heretical – Adam Smith, father of free market capitalism, called for non-market government intervention!  However, as Cameron Weber explains, this apparent contradiction is the result of Adam Smith’s discussion of two separate situations.

One situation describes economic relationships between individuals.  For example, you sell widgets and I know you for being an honest and knowledgeable maker of widgets, so I decide to buy widgets from you.  In this situation, the free market is the best judge of who are the most successful widget makers.  Adam Smith discussed this theme in one of his two principal books, The Theory of Modern Sentiment (1759).

The other situation regards not individuals but nations, thus the title of Smith’s other principal work, The Wealth of Nations.  Now, the free market must take second place to national wealth and security.  Any benefit that might accrue to individuals comes as a result of government-determined policies on manufacturing and trade that aim to make nations wealthy and secure.  Such policies according to Smith must include exceptions to the free market that protect 1) products used in national defense, and 2) infant industries.

From a libertarian viewpoint, the questions would be 1) are we really talking about national defense or imperialism, 2) do industry protections ever end once implemented, and 3) where does the line of protectionism end.

Sprinkled throughout this segment are explanations of mercantilism, social scores, analytic egalitarianism, and other interesting terms.

The Just Vote No Blog hopes you will enjoy this show and also watch a variety of points of views on economics, so much of it free of change on YouTube.

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body & mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.  Thomas Jefferson

Observing the Great Blackout of 2003

ottawablackout014.jpg

Photo:  The Atlantic, August 13, 2018

August 14, 2019 marks the 16th anniversary of the Northeastern Blackout of 2003. On that day, over 50 million people in the Northeastern United States and in parts of the Midwest and Canada found themselves without any electric power. Fears of another 9/11 immediately surfaced, especially in New York City.  However, the culprits were over-loaded power lines that brushed against some overgrown trees on northern Ohio.

Alarm software failed to prompt human controllers into action, power was not re-routed among affected regions, resulting in a massive blackout that for some residents lasted three days.

Although sadly there were some deaths and injuries attributed to the blackout, thankfully residents met the challenge with civility and good will, thus avoiding greater harm to people and property.

Why Should We Remember the Great Blackout of 2003

Disasters like the Northeastern Blackout, as well as tragic events such as the 2018 Camp and Paradise wildfires in California, should be reminders of the need for private citizens and legislators to pay attention to the nation’s infrastructure.

Overloaded power lines, overgrown trees adjacent to power lines, neglected equipment, and outdated or poorly deployed software are major causes of blackouts, as well as wildfires. Blaming climate change and pouring tax money into green deals won’t help. Blaming power utilities or clamoring for government-owned suppliers won’t help. Using tragedies to advance agendas won’t help.

Even when there is specific legislation purporting to address power grid challenges, such legislation is often questionable, wasteful or both. The recent return to the U.S. Senate of Senator Angus King’s (I-Maine) proposal to replace digital power nodes with analog ones could serve as example. The Senator’s argument for proposing (in 2017, 2018 and now in 2019) a return to analog power systems is that the U.S. needs to protect its power grid from a cyber attack such as the one Ukraine suffered in 2015. True, no way to digitally attack what is not digital. However, with analog systems, there is no way to deal with massive and immediate movement of power when that is necessary to prevent or curtail regional overloads.

We Need To Focus on Infrastructure Not On Tweets

We have become a nation of Tweets. Why are we Tweeting about some legislator’s racial profile instead of his responsibility to keep his state free of crime and rats? Why are we Tweeting about Pacific Gas & Electric’s profit “greed” instead demanding that inspection crews follow up on aging or neglected equipment? Our infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes, including some of our power systems, but we focus on agenda-driven and/or distracting tactics instead.

Take Action of August 14, 2019

The Just Vote No Blog suggests observance on August 14 of the great Northeastern Blackout of 2003.  This would be a good day for everybody to contact their legislators and suggest they stop squabbling and start working on the increasing demands on our power grids.

The Coming of Nemesis: Kopp vs. Wiener

Hubris is interesting, because you get people who are often very clever, very powerful, have achieved great things, and then something goes wrong – they just don’t know when to stop. Margaret MacMillan

On July 31, Quentin Kopp, a fearless fixture in California politics, announced that he intends to challenge incumbent Scott Wiener for the state Senate seat in District 11 representing San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, Broadmoor, and parts of South San Francisco. The 90-year old Kopp seems mad as heck and is not going to take it any more.

The last straw for Kopp of Wiener’s schemes was Senate Bill 281, hearing of which scheduled for May 6 was canceled at Wiener’s request. SB 281 was the most recent in a long line of attempts to transfer management and/or ownership of the iconic Cow Palace from the current board to a local county joint-powers authority.

The 78-year old exhibit hall sits on 68 acres of coveted land owned by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions. Although its days of glory are over, when the Cow Palace hosted headliners like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley, the hall still has audiences that enjoy shows and fairs like the San Francisco Sport & Boat Show, Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show, Dickens Christmas Fair, and the Horse Show & Rodeo. The Crossroads of the West Gun Show will end after 2019 by decision of the Cow Palace Board.

Thanks to revenue from these exhibits, the Cow Palace receives very little funding from the California state budget.

In an interview with San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier, Quentin Kopp indicated that he felt SB 281 was a land grab to build more highrises in residential neighborhoods. Apparently, he is correct according the the text of SB 281:

This bill would authorize the authority to, among other things, enter into contracts or agreements for the development of the property for affordable and market-rate mixed-use housing and establish minimum local zoning standards, including, but not limited to, standards for height, density, parking, and floor area ratio, that apply to a project on the property that are different from those adopted by any other affected local jurisdiction.

Quentin Kopp is no lightweight in California politics. His resume is impressive:
San Francisco Supervisor 1971-1986, representing the West Portal neighborhood. State Senator 1987-1994, representing the southern part of San Francisco and the northern part of San Mateo County. San Mateo Superior Court Judge 1994 -2004. He retired after leaving his Court post.

After retirement from the Court, Kopp was appointed in 2006 to the California High Speed Rail Authority, a post he held until 2010. As Chair he was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 1A, which authorized a $9.95 billion bond to develop a high-speed rail system that would zip passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. The project received $2.5 billion from the Federal Railroad Administration. So far, construction can only be seen in California’s Central Valley, for an estimated cost to completion of $20 billion. Today Quentin Kopp rants against how the Rail Authority mishandled the bond money every chance he gets. The Federal Railroad Administration is angry too, and wants its money back.

In September 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors appointed Quentin Kopp to the City’s Ethics Commission. He resigned from the post in March 2019, noting the uselessness of the Commission in denting its backlog or tackling important reforms in its job of enforcing governmental ethics laws.

Term limits might keep Quentin Kopp from serving once again in the California Senate. His argument is that since his previous service occurred before passage of legislation implementing term limits, the rule would not apply to him. And, as is Kopp’s stand-up-and-fight nature, he declared that he will sue if the Secretary of State decides he is not eligible.

Today’s Gen X and Millennial voters, accustomed to undistinguishable politicians forever uttering prescribed sound bites, might want to get acquainted with Quentin Kopp, who might soon turn out to be nemesis to Scott Wiener’s hubris.

His column in the neighborhood newspaper, the Westside Observer, appears monthly.

America First vs. US Dollar as Major Reserve Currency

The Internet has been crawling with articles about the “death” of the U.S. dollar as the world’s principal reserve currency. Although reports of such “death” have been greatly exaggerated, the amount of U.S. dollars held by the world’s central banks in relation to the amount held in other reserve currencies has been fluctuating downward.
Reserve Currencies Historical 2
Why Should You Care?

Why care? Why would the U.S. dollar present status as major reserve currency be of interest to the average American?

The U.S. has an enormous national debt, a huge trade imbalance, and a disappearing middle class due to focus on either high-paying tech jobs or low-paying service jobs. Add to these concerns a push toward more of the same from current legislators that propose vote-getting green deals and Medicare for everybody.

The U.S. dollar status as a major reserve currency has a significant effect on all of these matters.

Background

Reserve currencies are held by governments and institutions to facilitate international payments. They also serve to influence the value of national currencies – for example, a country can buy or sell its national currency to boost or deflate the currency’s value.

What becomes a reserve currency depends on the global market. The currency of a developed country with a reputation for a stable economic and monetary system becomes popular, government central banks start shoring up their reserve accounts with it, and pretty soon the International Monetary Fund declares that currency a reserve currency.

Today the major global reserve currencies are: U.S. dollar, euro, Chinese renminbi, Japanese yen, and pounds sterling. The latest entrant is the Chinese renminbi, declared a reserve currency by the IMF in October 2016, as a result of China’s economic growth.

Benefits of Being the Issuer of a Reserve Currency

The issuers of these elite currencies enjoy two principal benefits only dreamt of by non-reserve-currency countries.

* Reduced exchange risks: Example – Commodities such as oil are sold in U.S. dollars. So the U.S. can purchase oil without needing to do any exchange of currency. But Brazil, for example, needs to first exchange its currency into dollars in order to purchase oil. Currency values fluctuate hour to hour, so planning and executing currency exchanges are risky and expensive propositions.

* Reduced borrowing costs: Reserve currencies enjoy higher demand than non-reserve-currency ones, since countries need to keep them in their portfolio in order to engage in global trade. This demand translates into low borrowing costs for the issuing country. The same would hold true if, say, Apple or Facebook issued corporate bonds that were in high demand – the companies could promise lower yields than if fewer investors wanted to purchase the bonds.

The Drawbacks

Unfortunately, being the issuer of a major reserve currency brings curses as well as benefits:

* Reduced borrowing costs induces more borrowing. That is true whether we are talking about a family taking advantage of lower credit card rates to purchase a new washing machine, or a legislators taking advantage of lower bond rates to finance his promises of more benefits for his constituents. Easy money eventually results into detrimental and unsustainable debt, such as we have today in the U.S.

* Countries that hold reserve currencies issued by another country are slow to rise against issuers, thus allowing issuers more leeway in economic and monetary policies. The U.S. for example can keep its voters happy by showering them with a variety of programs, paying for them by printing money. As the pile of fiat currency backed by nothing but “full faith and credit” rises, global trust eventually diminishes.

* Issuers of reserve currencies must be willing to operate under a current account deficit, which is mostly caused by importing more goods than exporting. For example: If U.S. consumers buy a lot of computer equipment made in China, a lot of U.S. dollars end up in China. China can then use those dollars to invest in bonds issued by the U.S. government. With money from the sale of those bonds, the U.S. can finance road construction, green new deals, etc. The U.S. factory worker, though, is left behind.

To put it in simpler terms, if the USD weren’t the world’s major reserve currency, probably its value would have fallen, US exports would be more competitive, and more people in the US would have jobs making goods for exports … While some people have said that the use of the dollar as the world’s major reserve currency is an “exorbitant privilege,” other people argue that it’s actually an “exorbitant burden” for just this reason.” What Happens if the US Dollar loses its Status as the World’s Major Reserve Currency, Quora.com, April 15, 2019.

Reserve currencies

* Major currencies have come and gone throughout history, so there is no reason to expect the U.S. dollar to retain its status forever.  This chart developed by JP Morgan’s Michael Cembalest, is helpful in visualizing the turnover of reserve currencies.

Source:  We Believe the US Dollar Could Lose Its Status as a World Reserve, Zero Hedge, July 23, 2019.

 

The Contenders

With the fall of every major currency there are winners and there are losers. Today, some powerful potential winners are working to be the successful contenders in replacing the dollar, or working to implement their agenda by dethroning it.

* China makes no bones about wanting the renminbi to replace the dollar as the principal global reserve currency.

* Germany, France and the U.K. adopted the Instex system in January 2019 in order to allow their companies to get around U.S. sanctions, dollars and banks, and trade with Iran.

* Even Facebook has gotten into the act by developing its own “global currency.” Some say FB has aspirations that the Libra will someday serve as a reserve currency, although that goal is not listed in the white paper that describes the objectives of this blockchain currency.

* The United Nations is not a country nor a jurisdiction such as the Eurozone (really!), so theoretically it cannot issue currency that might compete for reserve status. However, the U.N. is an amazingly powerful force that can drill its ideas into the heads of globalists everywhere. One of its ideas is the “retooling” of the current reserve currency system. The current system still has as its basis, albeit tangentially, in the economic market. Countries get to be reserve currency issuers because the market finds their currency desirable. Conversely, the U.N. wants a managed system based on what one could call “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.” Sound familiar?

… the build-up of global imbalances to global crisis levels may be traced back to a trap inherent in the reserve and payment system whereby reserve-creating countries are able to run payment deficits as long as other countries find it in their interest to keep building up their international reserves in the currencies of the reserve-creating countries … What is required is a reserve and payments system that does not rely on national deficits to provide reserve assets … Of great interest are proposals to shift to the allocation of SDRs based on need or performance, instead of on economic significance that determines voting shares in the IMF. Ocampo (2009) proposes giving larger allocations to countries with the highest demand for reserves and allowing IMF to use unutilized SDR’s to buy bonds from developing countries.”  UN report Retooling Global Development and Governance edited by Bloomsbury, June 2010.

So the pressure is on, and the U.S. is at a crossroads. As with so many things in life, the choices are based on short-term gains that benefit the here and now and long-term gains that make present perpetrators pay for their sins.

Decisions should be made, hopefully in favor a retaining the market-based system of reserve currencies.

What To Do?

More folks need to care about real issues. The eventual unraveling of the nation’s economy due to unsustainable national debt and negative trade will harm everyone – conservatives, progressives, the privileged by birth and the unfortunate by circumstances.

Conventional wisdom has embraced a “strong dollar” and defense of its status as the principal reserve currency no matter what. However, today’s scenarios are developing into something quite different. The current administration and President Donald Trump in particular have called for the following U.S. goals,

* Growth of good-paying manufacturing jobs in order to diversify from the trend toward high-paying white collar jobs and low-paying service jobs. A strong dollar would hinder sales of U.S. made goods to domestic consumers who could easily keep buying imported goods. Assuming that U.S.-made goods would not depend heavily on imported components, a strong dollar would hinder U.S. manufacturers’ ability to export their goods.

* Lowering the level of the national debt. U.S. administrations always give lip service to the need to control the gargantuan national debt, without ever doing anything about it. The dollar’s strong position as the major global reserve currency, as noted above, aids and abets the continued growth of debt.

For decades, the U.S. stood out as the one nation that traditionally preferred its money superpower-strong. Investors flocked to it, enabling the U.S. to borrow lots of money at low interest rates. American consumers feasted on it, buying imported goodies for less … The president obliterated any remaining strong-dollar allegiance with a July 20 tweet saying the strengthening dollar was “taking away our big competitive edge.” …
By abandoning the strong-dollar mantra, Trump may be signifying he’s willing to toss tradition aside and join ranks with other countries that have weakened their currencies to get a leg-up in world trade.  The Strong Dollar, July 20, 2018.

President Donald Trump’s viewpoint as expressed in the above-mentioned tweet might be something for conservatives who traditionally support the idea of a strong dollar to consider.

Progressives who claim to want everyone taken care of might note that blue collar workers have been left behind since the U.S. push to focus on the white collar financial and technical sectors.

And everybody might consider what our current piling up of cheap debt to support our lifestyles will do to our children, grandchildren and generations to come that will have to deal with that can that we have kicked down the road.

Time for Congress to Solve the Border Crisis

Are We Paying Congress to Bicker or to Deal With the Nation’s Challenges?

Right after the Mueller Report, the more sanely-inclined among the U.S. population Border Patrolhoped that Congress would go back to work. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Taxpayers are paying Congress to bicker. Congress is not working with the Administrative Branch in developing an effective foreign policy. It is not addressing the nation’s unsustainable level of debt. It is not producing a realistic immigration policy. The latter is the most egregious inattention of the current members of our Federal Legislature.

Theatrics Won’t Help

Tears, fake or real, are not going to solve the problem of what to do with thousands of undocumented people who presented themselves voluntarily at the U.S. border. Mainstream media profiting from the dialog of “caged children” will not address why parents would subject their children to such conditions. Demonstrations and sign waiving will not speed up the process by which the case of each detained individual can be reviewed and decided upon. Constant harangue on the subject of impeachment will not ease the crowding, the unhealthy conditions, the diseases, the tragic deaths. It will not give relief to exhausted border agents.

Such theatrics are useless in remedying the border crisis because none of it offers effective or lawful solutions or contribute to productive dialog.

Disorderly Patchwork is Not Sustainable

Because Congress has failed to develop effective and lawful solutions acceptable to the nation as a whole, the Administrative branch has felt compelled to resort to what has proven to be disorderly patchwork.

Perhaps making undocumented people as uncomfortable as possible and scaring them as relentlessly as possible might discourage more from attempting to enter the country. However, one would need to ask whether such efforts bring desired results, are sustainable, or present the nation in a positive image before the world.

ICE raids on individuals who have lived peaceably in the U.S. for decades might instill enough fear that some of them might leave or advise relatives not to come. But the tactic also results in advocates rallying their forces to protect immigrants, sometimes including the ones who have not lived in peace.

Endless busloads of detainees dropped by Border Patrol agents into various communities certainly serve to show what border agents are going through, but is equally unsustainable:

“They’re catching 3,000 to 4,000 people across the whole southwest border a day,” DeSio [Ralph DeSio, spokesperson for the San Diego office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection] said. “You could fill a stadium with these people in a few days. The enormity of this is flying over many people’s heads.”  Orange County Register, as quoted in GOPUSA, May 27, 2019.

In the progressive mind, and in the mind of many libertarians who believe in freedom of movement, the border crisis could be easily solved by simply not making much of an effort to apprehend those crossing the border without U.S. authorization. Maybe that is what Native Americans did back in the 16th Century when the Pilgrims started to arrive – for a while.

“Now, in Coachella, the places that can offer shelter are at capacity. Meanwhile, the Greyhound station in Indio, where many migrants hoped to catch a bus to get to their families didn’t have enough capacity to transport so many people. After that,” Amaya [Emilio Amaya, executive director of the San Bernardino Community Services Center] said, “agents started taking people further north, to San Bernardino … It’s a capacity issue more than a political issue …”   Orange County Register, as quoted in GOPUSA, May 27, 2019.

Yes, it is a capacity issue.

Time for Voters to Take Action

It is time for the people in each precinct, county, township or parish to hold their legislative representatives’ feet to the fire. Demand Town Halls and demand representation. Once representatives have orders from their constituents and understand their job is on the line if they do not perform, they will start working on solutions based on realistic and amicable negotiation.

Of course, the folks back home need to also remain flexible, and they need to eschew bickering themselves. This nation has ultra progressive areas that stand by their immigrant populations and ultra conservative areas that emphasize the need for law and order. Thus, any effective immigration reform would need to be the result of compromises. But a solution that is not perfect to each taste is better than the unhappy turmoil we have now.

With AB 1487 There is No Opt Out

What is California Assembly Bill 1487?

Authored by Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco), this bill enacts the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Housing Finance Act, which authorizes the creation of a region-wide housing authority with powers to “raise, administer, and allocate funding for affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay area.”

Thus, the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) would act as a permanent agency, the purpose of which would be to place on the ballot of all nine Bay Area counties concurrently identical ballot measures proposing fees, taxes and bonds to finance construction of affordable housing, preserve existing rent-controlled housing, and to provide tenant protections.  BAHFA would be one more regional agency operating under the wing, and sharing staff with, the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

CA Housing JuntaThe passage by the California legislature of numerous housing-related bills during the past four or so years made it possible for developers to receive ministerial stream-lined approval of housing developments throughout the state – regardless of city or county zoning rules.   (Pictured are Senator Scott Wiener, Assembly Member David Chiu, and Senator Nancy Skinner, the more prolific affordable housing advocates in the California State Legislature.)

Fees, taxes and bonds approved regionally by voters under AB 1487 would help finance development projects regionally – regardless of whether voters in each individual county voted to approve such measures or not.

Examples of the success of such region-wide measures enabled by state legislation are Measure AA (enabled by AB 746) approved regionally by voters June 2016, and Regional Measure 3 (enabled by SB 595) approved regionally by voters June 2018.

AB 1487 is currently housed in the Senate Appropriations Committee. As of today, no hearing date has been indicated. Perhaps legislators are having second thoughts about the viability of AB 1487? After all, the Appropriations Committee was the one that summarily placed Senate Bill 50 (the bill some have labeled WIMBY – Wall Street in My Back Yard) in hibernation.

Highlights of AB 1487

* The findings and declarations in Section 64501, i.e. why the bill’s author thinks his bill should be enacted, follow the by-now required mantra that there is a grand housing crisis due in essence to cities and counties failure to provide “enough” housing, and therefore, legislation needs to be enacted overriding local laws and regulations.

The housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay area is regional in nature and too great to be addressed individually by the region’s 101 cities and 9 counties.

However, the current process is anything but regional; instead each city and county is each responsible for their own decisions around housing …

Regional funding is necessary to help address the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay area by delivering resources and technical assistance at a regional scale …

* The version previous to amendments made to AB 1487 on July 10, listed in great detail the powers of the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority. The current version does not. In other words, the door is left wide open as to what the Authority would be empowered to do. Here is what is left of the list of powers, in Section 64514, including the bills applicability to any other agency that might replace the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The board may make and enforce rules and regulations necessary for governing the authority, the preservation of order, and the transaction of business.

In exercising the powers and duties conferred on the authority by this title, the board may act by resolution.

It is the intent of the Legislature that the powers granted to the authority and the executive board under this title shall be transferred to a future regional agency if an agency is established to replace the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments and integrate regional transportation and housing funding and policy decisions within the San Francisco Bay area under one governing board, subsequent to a robust public engagement process at the regional level.

* Because California legislators have labeled the current high-cost housing in the state a crisis – not state and regional land-use policies unbeneficial to the general public – they can enact legislation that overrides any and all local laws and regulations. For example, AB 1487 specifically indicates the bill is not subject to either the orderly reorganization of city and county governments, or the relative independence of charter cities.

The formation and jurisdictional boundaries of the authority are not subject to the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (Division 3 (commencing with Section 56000) of Title 5).

The Legislature finds and declares that providing a regional financing mechanism for affordable housing development and preservation in the San Francisco Bay area, as described in this section and Section 64501, is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, this title applies to all cities within the San Francisco Bay area, including charter cities.

California’s Acme Co.

Acme CoRemember Willie E. Coyote? He tried so hard to defeat the Road Runner, but he consistently used products manufactured by the Acme Co. that failed to operate at all, exploded prematurely, or otherwise caused Willie Coyote the worst of harm. Some folks just don’t learn….

If after half a dozen or so years, say from the implementation of Plan Bay Area, and after numerous state mandates purportedly intended to make housing more affordable, California still sports the most unaffordable housing in the nation, then it would appear the state is facing a Willie E. Coyote vs. The Road Runner struggle.

The main characters in the struggle: On one side homeowners who worked hard to purchase a single-family home in a nice and quiet neighborhood, and wish to keep their neighborhood nice and quiet, as well as their home values astronomical. On the other side newcomers who want to live in those neighborhoods, whether the neighborhoods remain nice and quiet or not, and whether they can afford the market cost of those neighborhoods.

The supporting characters: Legislators at all levels of state government understand that clustering job-creating businesses as well as homes within narrow areas increases the value of both, which translates into higher state GDP and higher revenue from property taxes. Couple that with residents in the quiet nice neighborhoods that do not want job-creating businesses anywhere near them.

So, everybody in California seems to be a fan of the Acme Co. Will AB 1487 reach the finish line and thus change the entire character of city and county land-use planning? Will California residents realize AB 1487 offers no opt out for cities and counties?

The Ballot Box is the Ultimate Decider

AB 1487, as all affordable housing bills, will surely come with a price tag, because somebody has to pay for somebody to benefit.  In the case of AB 1487, the price tag will be in the billions,

The San Francisco Bay area faces an annual funding shortfall of two billion five hundred million dollars ($2,500,000,000) in its efforts to address the affordable housing crisis.  Section 64501 (e)

So far, legislators have not succeeded in doing away with voters’ rights to weigh in on tax proposals. Therefore, the expectedly huge amount of taxes needed to fund AB 1487 would have to be approved at the ballot box.

Since the bill does not offer residents an opt out, the ballot box will become the only venue available to those opposed to the bill to just say no.

Update July 13, 2019

It now has surfaced that on July 9, two days before the scheduled hearing before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, the sponsors of AB 1487 wrote a letter “To Whom it May Concern” saying they are “temporarily hitting the pause button…” on AB 1487 to allow for more time for feedback from the two main Bay Area bureaucracies deeply involved in land-use issues, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.  The Marin Post has a good article about the letter.

Good time for voters to use the “pause” to provide their own feedback.