Saturday, May 25, 2013
The project in question was a Saca project, the same guy who made the hole at 3rd & Capitol; the city council's opposition to that project was probably based more on their unwillingness to see another city block sized hole in downtown Sacramento than their desire to preserve the view of the Capitol from City Hall. And yes, Zen is correct that Fargo has supported plenty of Friedman properties and projects. The problem is that she didn't applaud (or subsidize) all of them.
The problem is that the money drives the message. The candidate with the most money can broadcast their message the loudest, drowning out candidates without big-money supporters. Some voters are more informed than others--but if you can win over the not-so-informed ones with big colorful ads, you can win elections and override the will of the more informed voter.
Jim: Not a syllable of the SMI will change as a result of that 18 months of public scrutiny, including the portions which will cause serious legal challenges and unworkable situations--including the 9th district issue, its utter failure to address who represents the city in contracts, and more. Public review means an opportunity to change the process--the SMI offers none of this.
Jim: You are aware that it is those same developers who are behind the Strong Mayor Initiative, right? It has been mentioned a few times, it should have sunk in by now.
"It will be much easier to control one mayor, corrupt or not, than eight of the buggers."
This much is true--the problem is that it will be the people with deep pockets who will control the Mayor. It gives them more control while requiring that they only bankroll a single Mayor's campaign instead of the majority of the city council's campaigns--having one puppet is easier and more certain than trying to maintain a majority of the Council as puppets. It certainly won't be the voters--they will be farther removed from the political process by the SMI, regardless of who occupies the Mayor's chair.
The Planning Commission changes were made over the past few weeks--instead of a board consisting entirely of at-large members vetted by city staff (to ensure that people on the Planning Commission knew something about planning) the Commission will consist of 11 people--eight hand-picked by city council members, one hand-picked by the mayor, and two people vetted by staff to have some planning experience. The change is from a system based on knowledge of planning to political patronage--there is little to stop a city council member from nominating the employee of a developer (or a developer) to the Planning Commission, or a friend to whom they owe a favor, even if they have no planning background.
There isn't much financial gain to be had directly--I think Planning gets about $100 a month, although most commissioners have gone without pay for many months in an effort to help the city balance its books--but "packing" the Planning Commission with representatives of the building trades and developer community guarantees that pet projects will sail through regardless of their merits (or lack of same.)
The owners of the place seemed to have their heart in the right place, talked to the neighborhood about what they were doing, and tried to do everything right in terms of crowd control--their security was very present and very courteous. It seemed like the people who came to Whiskey Wild were folks from other parts of the region, rather than the patrons of places like Benny's, the Old Tavern or Press Club, who are more likely to be locals (even if they don't live within walking/stumbling distance.) I only went to Whiskey Wild once, to eat lunch (the burger was pretty good) but it didn't really seem like my kind of place. I did get the sense that they had to make cuts in security staff towards the end, which probably made crowd control a more difficult proposition.
Excellent, thorough article!
The term "instruments" is a very broad thing in noise. Noise performer IDX1274's preferred musical instrument is a bench grinder, used to grind metal noisily and create a shower of sparks. At a past Noisefest, performer Moe! Staiano made a rhythmic staccato by throwing a stack of dinner plates at a brick wall--during an earlier Fest he made noise by placing several vibrators onto the innards of a piano sitting on the floor and letting them skitter around.
Some use high-tech methods, like laptops and MIDI sequencers, while others use traditional instruments like drums, horns and string instruments like guitar and stand-up bass. Some make instruments from scratch, like Art Lessing and the Flower Vato, or modify children's toys to make sounds their designers never imagined, like CHOPSTICK. Probably the most common approach is using a series of guitar effects pedals--but instead of being connected to a guitar, the sound input is provided by an oscillator, a ring modulator, or just an inexpensive piezoelectric microphone inside a sound source (such as an Altoids tin with some ball bearings in it.) At Noisefest 2001, a performer set up an electric skillet on stage and pan-fried portobello mushrooms in olive oil, with a microphone stuck in the skillet to pick up the sound.
And at Noisefest 2006, the performance by "Living Breathing Music" was based pretty much entirely on the human voice--moans, groans, cries and breathing sounds.
Great point about San Francisco's SROs, Tom--have you ever read "Living Downtown" by Paul Groth? It is generally about life in residential hotels but focuses mostly on San Francisco--although it does mention Sacramento, including discussion of a SRO replacement project from the 1960s that was planned but never built.
The funny thing is that the one neighborhood in San Francisco where there are still a lot of SROs is adjacent to Union Square, San Francisco's shopping district and location of many upscale hotels. Somehow, SROs are okay there but not here. One major difference is that San Francisco does NOT think of Union Square as a shopping mall--although it sounds like KJ learned that you still need to keep an eye on your bag in that part of town!
About 25% of 1801 L Street is low-income housing.
Of course, technically $1000 for a studio apartment counts as "low-income housing"--LI housing means a unit affordable to someone making 80% of the area median income, which as of this year is around $40,000 (average income in Sacramento County is around $50,000.) Someone making $40K, according to low-income housing rules, should be able to pay about one-third of their income towards rent--or about $1000. I think the units at 1801 are part "low-income" and part "very low income" housing--with rents of around $600-700, intended for people making 60% of area median income, or around $25-30,000 a year.
First, thank you for changing your mind. If you now believe that housing for the homeless will draw more homeless people to Sacramento, then you must have changed your stance that the homeless don't want to change their way of life.
Second, if a homeless person gets housing, they are no longer a homeless person. It isn't a permanent condition, as long as the solution to the problem (housing) is applied.
Third, not sure if you have noticed in your neighborhood, but the number of homeless is rising dramatically, even though we have LESS affordable housing, LESS services, LESS support than we did even just a few years ago. The problem is getting worse as we do less and less to solve it.
Fourth, if you're going to bring up "The Secret," let's talk about it this way: the purpose of concepts like "The Secret" is to reach goals. If our goal is to solve the problem of homelessness, we will never reach the goal if we continue pretending we don't have a problem. The secret of "The Secret" is to approach a problem with the mindset that a solution can be found, instead of focusing on all the reasons why you can't (like "it will just attract more homeless.") Giving homeless people hope that they can find housing is the whole point--and it should be the course that cities take throughout the country! Instead, cities race to the bottom to see who can offer the least. They are offering hopelessness, despair, pain and rejection--and homeless people are receiving those things. I doubt that the point of "The Secret" is that there isn't enough misery and horror in the world, and that by our inaction and indifference we should create more.
Because a funny thing happens when homeless people get into housing: they can suddenly start working on other problems they may have, like unemployment, or illness, or addiction, and because the #1 priority in their lives (basic survival) is dealt with, those problems become smaller and easier to solve.
Thanks for sharing this--and I hope you continue to do so. Our community needs to hear voices like yours.
I have worked at transitional homeless programs and as a case manager for homeless folks and folks in extremely low-income housing. I have been inside the homes of plenty of people who didn't have much money (sometimes, the person in question was me.) Sometimes they're less than ideal, but they're safer than the street, or the tents out by the railyards. I've visited the tents, too, although thankfully I never lived there.
I assume you are referring to New Helvetia/Seavey Circle by "housing at the end of Broadway." There is a waiting list, SEVERAL YEARS LONG, for that housing. The number of homeless on the street is much greater than the total capacity of shelters. The waiting list for housing choice vouchers (the term that replaced "Section 8" in government nomenclature years ago) is 5-6 years long. The waiting list for a stinky cot in a shelter is a couple weeks long, and pretty easy to lose. Even at absolute maximum capacity, there was not enough room at city, county and private nonprofit shelters to hold the current homeless population, not by a wide margin. There is literally no room in shelters and public housing, and not enough private housing anymore, because it was destroyed. It's kind of like a game of "musical chairs," except instead of chairs, it's housing, and as time has gone on, fewer and fewer people have a place to sit.
Homelessness has increased as the quantity of affordable downtown housing has decreased--it's just that simple. SRO housing is inexpensive enough for people on SSI or Social Security to afford--so yes, many folks on the street can afford to live there. It isn't much--generally just a room with a bathroom down the hall--but it would be enough. The problem is, we used to have thousands of SRO rooms downtown, back when K Street was a thriving place. Now we have a few hundred--and a few thousand homeless people.
Are there some street folks who just want to be on the street? Sure. Would it solve 100% of homelessness to replace the housing stock we have lost? Probably not. But it would reduce the problem to a manageable level--and it is the only thing that will. Homelessness isn't a moral failing, it is very literally a lack of housing.
You're still thinking of K Street as a shopping mall, that somehow it is the same as Arden Fair or Sunrise or the Roseville Galleria, that it isn't actually at the heart of a city--that is what surrounds K Street, not a suburb, but a city. Unless we learn to deal with city problems, like homelessness and transit and the sheer, simple fact that in cities people have to pay for parking, we'll never solve the problem of K Street.
Light rail from Davis to Sacramento is a horrendously impractical idea, but that's another story.
I'm talking about K Street too. If your objective is to reduce the negative effects of homelessness on K Street, putting a Cheesecake Factory or other retail on it won't help. What will help is housing, so that people aren't sleeping on the street.
As I said above, the mall in Santa Monica works because it is a suburban mall, located in a suburban neighborhood and surrounded by affluent suburbs. Trying to pretend that K Street is a suburban mall has been a failure for nearly 40 years.
Unfortunately, "reforming the area" isn't the point when it comes to things like tent cities--the point is finding housing for people who don't have any. If you can fulfill the primary need--HOUSING--you don't have to "reform" the area anymore. Then, if the market calls for it, you can build a Cheesecake Factory--not to try to solve unrelated problems, but to fulfill a public need for cheesecake (and hopefully provide more tax base to pay for the housing.)
Part of the reason for that is because funds for new construction comes from a different source than funds for operation--they have plenty of new construction funds, but operating funds keep getting cut. In some ways, now is the time for public-works construction projects: it keeps tradespeople working during an era when there is little demand for construction, and builds infrastructure in an area where development is expected to occur in the next 5-20 years--one hopes, beyond the end of the current economic hard times.
Look at Portland's "Pearl District" for an example of why this is the way that transit works. Build the transit first, THEN the neighborhood. This is what Portland did in 2001--they opened a streetcar line when the neighborhood was almost uninhabited. Today it is one of the most densely populated parts of downtown Portland, with less requirements for parking than other parts of town. Fixed transit promotes economic development--waiting for the development first is a fool's errand, because you're sabotaging the biggest attractor of investment--transportation infrastructure.
Plus, as in Portland, if there is public transit, you don't need to build as much parking or car-centric stuff in a project, which makes it easier to pencil.
Yolobus and the Capitol Corridor trains already run from Davis to Sacramento. Building a light rail line to Davis would be comparable in expense to the airport line.
A better option might be a more-frequent BRT or express bus between Sacramento and Davis, or a DLR (Diesel Light Rail) operation using Union Pacific's tracks between Sacramento and Davis to supplement the Capitol Corridor trains (or more Capitol Corridor trains.) Save yourself about a quarter-billion in infrastructure costs by using what is already there.
Steven Maviglio: No matter how many people, real or imaginary, signed those petitions, THEY DID NOT CHANGE OR AFFECT ONE WORD of the "strong mayor" proposal. No process means no input, just the people being told to ratify the dictates of the developer elite--Sacramento's real status quo. So, you are wrong--the Charter Commission has had a lot more public input than the "strong mayor" initiative.
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