Skytran Trumps High Speed Rail

Unlike Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology which is years Hyperloopaway from being developed there is a High Speed people mover already in use that would accomplish what the current High Speed Rail, HSR, is seeking to perform yet instead of the present price tag of $68 billion this superior technology would only cost $7.2 billion.

Over the last few weeks there has been a great amount of interest in Elon Musk’s idea of a Hyperloop train transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco at a fraction of the cost of the HSR project.

Elon Musk of Tesla Motors is quoted as stating, “How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) — doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars — would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”

Actually Mr. Musk is half right.  It is true that Highskytran 3 Speed Rail is significantly overrated however there is a company, Skytran, right here in silicon valley that has already created a bullet beater using Maglev technology.

This technology is not years away like Musk’s Hyperloop, at this very moment Skytran is building a system of Personal Rapid Transit in Israel where the company believes the future of all innovation will be developed drawing people from around the world to work and learn about Skytran.

Israel’s bureaucracy “is not as onerous as in some other Western countries. It’s a ‘two-telephone call’ country. Once the government knows about something and is interested in it, they find a way to clear the bureaucratic hurdles, and that is what is going on with us,”  Jerry Sanders, CEO of Skytran

Although geared to decreasing vehicle use in large urban skytran 4settings there is no reason why Skytran cannot be built at a fraction of the cost of HSR connecting L.A. to San Francisco transporting the same number of people that HSR would in the same period of time or less.

Unlike HSR, Skytran integrates into the urban landscape without disrupting traffic flow infrastructure or current land uses; including private properties.  This ability to unobtrusively blend into the existing environment will reduce the push-back that HSR is currently receiving from a number of communities.

High Speed Rail Cost:   

$68 billion for 800 miles of track equals $85 million per mile.

Skytran Cost:  

$7.2 billion for 800 miles of track at a cost of $9 million per mile.  (Approximately $5 billion for the 380 miles from S.F to L.A. track.)

It is 380 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Some estimates place the High Speed Rail traveling up to 200 mph transporting passengers to S.F. from L.A. in 3 hours or less.

That is if it is an express train with no stops.

What happens if you want to go to someplace like San Mateo from L.A. and not S.F.?  You will fly by your destination to S.F. where it will take you another hour to back track to where you truly want to be.  This dilemma does not exist with Skytran as Skytran’s individualizedskytran 2 pods take passengers directly to where they want go.  At 150 mph Skytran does not equal the top end speed of HSR however overall travel time will be much shorter using Skytran than HSR as every ride is an express ride.

The question is, why won’t the politicians scrap the current model of High Speed Rail for one that will require less energy per mile traveled enabling more people to access the system while removing more cars from the roadways and thereby obtain more goals than the current HSR system at a fraction of the cost?

Some answers here:

$7.2 billion is less than the $9.95 billion in bonds the people approved of and only 18% of the $40 billion cost sold to the people in 2008.

What would be the people’s approval rating of Governor Jerry Brown and our state representatives if they were to terminate the current technology of High Speed Rail and replace it with Skytran?  Instead of building tracks out in the middle of nowhere our elected officials could circle the greater San Francisco Bay Area all they way to Sacramento with Skytran as well as through-out the Los Angeles Basin down to San Diego prior to building anything connecting northern and southern California.

This would cost $10 billion for 1,111 miles of track which would also be the quickest and most cost effective method of reducing traffic congestion as well as green house gas emissions.   During this first phase Brown and his colleagues in Sacramento could then allocate up to $1 billion dollars to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop technology to prove its viability.  Should Mr. Musk’s Hyperloop technology be validated then Brown and our officials at the Capital would allocate up to $9 billion dollars to construct the Hyperloop system connecting L.A. and S.F.

If the Hyperloop cannot produce what Mr. Musk claims it can then the $9 billion would go to connecting L.A. to S.F. with Skytran during phase two of California’s High Speed Rail project.

For $20 billion, less than half of the original cost of the very limited High Speed Rail project the people of California couldskytran 6 have Rapid Personal Transit in the major metropolitan areas and High Speed Rail connecting Southern and Northern California.

Is there any logical reason why Governor Brown and the State legislators do not want to save the California people $20 billion to $48 billion when it is within their ability and authority to do so?


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Only First Amendment Happy Talkers Need Apply

Free SpeechAs I have always done before, in preparation for one of my worldwide expedition adventure, I clean out and go through many of my accumulated personal documents in the event of some unforeseen disaster.

I always leave instruction with #1 son to disallow the rummaging through of personal effects leaving some things, “For his eyes only”. I have two sons and since he’s #1, that task naturally falls on his shoulders.

While I examined that which would be shredded, and I highly recommend shredding rather that upsetting the EPA by blowing smoke up the chimney. What caught my eye was an oral communication document (1st Amendment Free Speech Application)

Communication Guidelines for Commissioners and Community members during Human Relations Commission Meeting.

“While we understand that you may be attending to express your opinions about an agenda item or an issue of concern to you, we ask that you refrain from clapping, shouting, booing, hissing, or other such BEHAVIOR that disturbs, disrupts, or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.

While we honor free speech we ask that you not use abusive language (i.e.; no profanities, obscenities, or threats.)”

I thought to myself before placing it in the shredder, that’s a bunch of “Bull Shit”…got to save that one.

The problems right off the bat is that the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission is trying to control Free Speech plain and simple. I mean what the fuck! And if you can’t see that, then something is gravely wrong with your thinking process in that we all live in a free democratic society that protects our First Amendment rights.  Let’s see if you or anyone else can deal with this decision….SOB’s

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 308 147 (1939)

“[I]t is a prized American privilege to speak one’s mind, although not always perfect good taste on all public institutions.” …..even the expression of “legislative preferences beliefs” [oral communications] cannot transform minor matters of public inconvenience or annoyance into substantive evils of sufficient weight to warrant the curtailment of liberty of expression.”…..

Who can argue with that? Well the Mayor and and everybody else in between. BTW,  Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff is an attorney educated and sworn to protect our constitution and yet he chastises the audience and speakers all the time to refrain from clapping I mean, all the time!  What give’s with that?

And we have yet another attorney, Molly Stump tasked with defending city employees, its mayor and city council from unwanted litigation has remained silent and has refuses to debate the rationale and logic behind its long held position of not allowing citizens to criticize our government officials unfettered and without bias, including clapping.

That’s “Bull Shit”. In our opinion Molly, Greg and the other two attorneys are making a mockery out of our constitution.

Our constitution forms the bedrock of all state and city municipality ordinances. Let’s get real.  The constitution trumps any city of Palo Alto ordinances, in regards to Free Speech and if disputed, should be made the subject of debate and remedy. Another guarantee afforded to all citizens, foreign and domestic when discriminated against.

We simply do not understand why city council, its mayor and its staff of attorneys are fearful of any debate.

The First Amendment was designed for the purpose of debate. Accordingly, in the following opinion, former Supreme Court Justice Brandies identifies fearful individuals unwilling to debate as “cowards.”

Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357 374-777 (1927)

“Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the process of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion”.

Time and time again, members of the community who have come before city council to redress their grievances have been met with intimidation and stiff opposition and often rebuked when criticizing their elected politicians or the police.

My observations have been that if these same individuals were to come before city council with praises and clapping and singing, they are always embraced without distinction.

Those who come before city council with critical comments and speech are always made to feel that it’s only First Amendment happy talkers or speech that need apply.

Never in the history of the city of Palo Alto has the First Amendment been placed on the agenda. Maybe the time has come for all “cowards” to come forward and put to bed the city council’s reasons, within the confines of our Constitution, why we as citizens cannot criticize our public officials including clapping without being made to feel that our speech is on ice or bullied.

History and documented on-going patterns of First Amendment abuses by the city council of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Police Department.

It’s time to put a stop to this rubbish!

Palo Alto’s Butt ugly buildings

City Hall side-by-side comparisonPalo Altan Doug Smith was spot on yesterday when he said the city is being undermined by architects who have completely different taste then the general public.

Smith will go to Palo Alto City Council to appeal the approval of a proposed four-story “glass box” office building that would replace the old Radio Shack store next to City Hall at Hamilton Avenue and Bryant Street.

He’s also doing an online survey of residents’ architectural tastes, and not surprisingly, most residents lean toward more traditional styles.

Smith’s research raises this question in my mind: How do we get local architects to design buildings that are more appealing to the community?

Shaming them with Top10 lists of ugly buildings might be one way to go.

A more positive approach would be a seminar where Palo Alto residents would educate architects about what they do and don’t like.

This ugly architecture issue isn’t going away. I suspect the uglification of Palo Alto will be front and center in next years City Council campaign, where four incumbents will likely seek re-election.

They’ll have to explain what they were thinking when they approved repulsive buildings like 801 Alma St. or the new Mitchell Park Library.

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Palo Alto unlocks online requests for public records

unlocking-public-recordsPalo Alto is making it easier for people to get their hands on government records.

The City of Palo Alto this week launched an online system to process requests in accordance with the California Public Records Act, which requires government agencies in the state to disclose records by request of the public.

“Palo Alto’s online CPRA request form and back-end system is live,” said Mr. Jonathan Reichental, the chief information officer of the City of Palo Alto, in a statement Saturday to the Palo Alto Free Press. “You can find it under the Services menu on the City homepage. It is also accessible via the City Clerk microsite.”

Public officials did not immediately respond to queries from the Palo Alto Free Press in regard to further detail on the new system.

The City of Palo Alto says on its website that the new platform helps to “avoid confusion and delay” when officials respond to requests for public records, but adds that the California Public Records Act declares no limit on the methods in which the public can submit requests. The statement does not confirm whether the public can continue making requests on paper.

Still, the move marks a significant step toward transparency for the city’s government, which in 2012 unveiled an open data platform. The recent addition to the city’s website allows the public to easily access census data, pavement condition ratings, tree locations, bike paths and other government records previously available through less convenient means. The platform supports an application programming interface (API), which lets developers use the data in third-party applications.

Mr. Reichental said in an interview with Mashable in July 2012 that the city hopes its efforts build public trust in government. “We’re starting at a place where we can build our expertise and take the community with us. They’ll give us strong, important feedback and we’ll go on this journey together,” said Mr. Reichental.

“We’re not just reinforcing expectation that government should provide services, but that it helps facilitate citizenship,” added Mr. Reichental.

The redaction and confidentiality of some of the information exchanged between public officials, however, remain protected under state law.

Here is a link to the city’s online submission form for requests of public records.

How America Is Solving Its Homeless Problem

The relentless assault on American Labor has resulted in record numbers of homeless people.  Assault on AmericaAccording to the Economic Policy Institute if the minimum wage had kept pace with the productivity growth over the last 35 years as it did for the twenty years prior to 1968 the minimum wage would be $18.67 per hour and the median wage would be $28.42 per hour instead of the $16.30 per hour workers currently receive. (1)

That extra $11.42 and $12.12 per hour of productivity went somewhere, where?

CEO pay grew 127 times faster than worker pay over the last 30 years despite workers doubling productivity over that same time period. (2)

Income for the top 20 percent of American workers has increased since the 1970s while income for the bottom 80 percent declined. In the 1970s the top 1 percent received 8% of total income while today they receive 18%. During the same period income for the bottom 20% had decreased 30%.

In the 1970s the top 0.1 % of Americans received 2 percent of total income. Today they get 8%.

In 1980 the average CEO made 50 time more money than the average worker while today the average CEO makes almost 300 time more than the average worker. (3)

49.7 million Americans live in poverty. (4)

From one end of the nations to the other, American cities are dealing with an inadequate supply of housing for the working class by sending those who fall off the bottom rung to jail or shelters.  Many shelters are shelters in name only and are more reflective of a nighttime jail.

Which one is the shelter and which one is the jail?

Shelter ThreeJail Two
Tampa Florida enacted a law a few weeks ago that makes it illegal to sleep or store personal belongings in public. (5)

Columbia South Carolina has criminalized the presence of homeless people in downtown while Palo Alto, California recently outlawed the use of vehicles by homeless individuals. (6) (7)

Being forced into shelters of substandard living conditions has a lot more in common with the segregation laws of the 1950s south and the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. (8)

The general tune that you hear from homeless service providers, policy makers and the justice system is that people are homeless because they have substance abuse problems and or mental health issues.  This belief allows policy makers to blame homeless people for their circumstances while simultaneously avoiding the true cause of homelessness, a lack of housing.

26.2 percent, 79 million, of Americans suffer from mental illness and 6 percent, 18 million, of Americans suffer from serious mental illness. (9)  The 26.2% mental illness rate for all Americans was the same for those who were homeless across the nation on a given night in January 2010.  (10)

More than 22 million Americans age 12 and older – nearly 9% of the U.S. population – use illegal drugs, according to the government’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (11) (12)

44%, 137 million, of Americans drink alcohol at least once a week. (13)  15% of the people living in the United States, 47 million Americans, are considered “problem drinkers,” according to the National Institutes of Health. (14)

34.7% of all sheltered adults who were homeless had chronic substance use issues which are higher than the 24% of the general population yet it is theorized that many people who do not suffer from substance abuse problems actually develop one as a result of and response to being homeless.  Thus the increase in substance abuse in the homeless population is directly related to the difficulties and despair of being homeless. (15)

There are only 1,600,000 people who endured a night of homelessness in 2009/2010.  On a single day in January 2012, 633,782 people were experiencing homelessness.  Only 110,000 people suffer from chronic homelessness.  (16)

If the primary reason why people become homeless was the result of mental illness and or substance abuse then there would be a minimum of 30 million people suffering homelessness in America yet there is at most 1,600,000 who endured one night of homelessness over the course of a year with the current daily average being 633,782.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration most Americans who are illicit drug users, 9.4 million in 2004, or heavy alcohol users, 10.6 million in 2004, also hold full-time jobs. (17)  This statistic obliterates the argument that people are homeless due to their own self-destructive decisions from mental health issues or of abusing mind altering substances.

125,000 families that are currently housed are at risk of becoming homeless not because of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse but because of nation wide cuts to the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. (18)

“Because rents are so high, many of these families may, quite literally, find themselves out on the street as a result of these arbitrary budget cuts,” Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, Washington State (19)

So in places like Columbia South Carolina, Tampa, Florida and Palo Alto, California people could literally go from an apartment to the street and then to jail because the government has removed them from the Section 8 rental assistance program.

If it weren’t for mom and dad allowing their grown children to live at home there could easily be 1.5 million more young adults who do not have a mental illness or substance abuse problem living on the streets subject to arrest for simply being homeless. (20)

If people are not homeless because of mental illnesses and substance abuse then why are they homeless?   Why do the homeless service providers, policy makers and law enforcement promote these erroneous reasons to the public as the cause of homelessness?

Answers, people are homeless because there is a shortage of housing created on purpose to maximize property values and the homeless service providers, policy makers and law enforcement industries all have a monetary incentive to create more homeless people not less.  By promoting these fallacies the special interest groups can mold public opinion away from the solution that would eliminate the vast majority of homelessness.

“In early 1984 on Good Morning America, Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement saying that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.” (21)

Anywhere from 30% to 44% of homeless people have a job, thus being unemployed isn’t the cause of homelessness necessarily. (22)

In the 1980s the proportion of the eligible poor who received federal housing subsidies declined. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units. (23)

The cost of an emergency shelter bed funded by HUD’s Emergency Shelter Grants program is approximately $8,067 more than the average annual cost of a federal housing subsidy (Section 8 Housing Certificate). A recent HUD study found that the cost of providing emergency shelter to families is generally as much or more than the cost of placing them in transitional or permanent housing. (24)

The un-housed spend more time in jail or prison than the housed, which is tremendously costly to counties and states.  Often, time served is a result of laws specifically targeting the homeless population, including regulations against loitering, sleeping in cars, and begging.  Additionally since the homeless do not have private residences to drink alcohol upon as most people do they are disproportionally arrested for drinking in public compared to the general population.

Dr. Pamela Fischer, of Johns Hopkins University, studied the 1983 arrest records in Baltimore and found that homeless people are actually less likely to commit crimes against persons or property than housed people but more likely to commit non-violent and non-destructive crimes like loitering, sleeping in cars and parks, drinking in public, begging etc…(25)

A University of Texas study revealed that it costs $14,480 per year to house a homeless person in jail and $20,000 per year in prison. (26)

Next door to Palo Alto is San Mateo County that is attempting to obtain public funds to build a new jail that will house 576 to 832 people at a minimum cost of $165 million to build yet is likely to double to $330 million as a result of issuing bonds to finance the project. (27)

We need to house all those homeless people somewhere

China’s population is 1.344 billion and incarcerates 1,548,498 citizens, 118 people for every 100,000 citizens.  The United State’s population is 313million and incarcerates 2,193,798 citizens, 737 people for every 100,000 citizens. (28)

The extensive homeless population is the collateral damage of a faulty housing market and corrupted economic regulations.  These deleterious institutions are the mines that produce the human fuel for the prison industry as well.  In 2008 approximately one in every 31 adults (7.3 million) in the United States was behind bars, or on probation and parole.  (29)

prisonOver $74 Billion dollars a year is spent on the prison system. (30)   It costs approximately $47,102 per year to incarcerate one person in a California prison. (31)   It costs U.S. tax payers $9 billion a year to feed, house and clothe the people who are in jail waiting for trial who cannot afford bail. (32)

Why all this information on the prison system?  Because the faulty economic system that produces the majority of inmates is same faulty economic system that has produced the increased homeless population.  The judicial, jail and prison system is a $100 billion dollar industry and those that benefit financially form it: bail bondsman; deputy sheriffs;  prison guards; construction companies; doctors; lawyers; etc… do not want to upset the apple cart by resetting the economy to ensure that most Americans can earn a good living.

It is this same conflict of interest that prevents people who earn a living from the homeless service provider industry from criticizing the policy makers regarding the faulty housing market and corrupted economic system.

Homeless service providers receive much of their funding from the government and wealthy interest groups, interest groups that are the ones actually directing policy makers in government to enact certain laws and policies that benefit them financially.

If a homeless service provider were to publicly criticize the policy makers for failing to produce enough housing the policy makers and private interests will withhold funding from that homeless service provider and give it to another service provider who is willing to go along with the program.

Additionally, if enough housing were created the majority of the homeless population would disappear on its own rendering the homeless service providers as an obsolete and unnecessary industry.  Hence, the reasons why the homeless service providers continue to promote the fallacy of mental health/drug use as the primary causes to homelessness is to perpetuate their gravy train job security.

“We’re pretty good about not talking about income inequality,” Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor. (33)

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”  Warren Buffett

The federal government’s multi-agency approach to help the homeless is often confused, according to a recently released report that catalogues the hundreds of different ways the government squanders taxes through waste, overlap, fragmentation and bureaucracy.

The Government Accountability Office report found that in 2009, federal agencies spent about $2.9 billion on more than 20 programs that targeted homelessness. If that money were to be targeted toward the building of homes, at say, $200,000 per home, it could theoretically produce 145,000 houses. (34) 

The two above industries, law enforcement/incarceration and service providers are small potatoes compared to the one which is directly responsible for the plethora of homeless and that is the real estate industry as a whole.  Property owners whether they be large corporations or the young couple who owns a single home have an inherent conflict of interest to producing a large supply of housing in close proximity to their low paying jobs when those low pay jobs exist in close proximity to expensive real estate.

The corporations and apartment owners are seeking to maximize lease amounts while the young couple wants to see the value of their house rise at an absurd rate to create a quick and substantial profit demonstrating that both have an inherent conflict of interest to producing a large supply of housing.

It is a case of supply and demand economics.  The housing market keeps the supply of housing low which creates a high demand and thereby enables the property owners to charge renters more money increasing profits.  In the case of home owners what historically was a lifetime investment is now a mechanism by which to sell for a profit within a few years and anything that would derail such a goal is to be squashed.

Federal Minimum Wage:   Pay before taxes  (40hrs per week)

1965            1.25        $200 per month

1970            1.60        $256 per month

1975            2.10        $336 per month

1980            3.10        $496 per month

1990            3.80        $608 per month

2000            5.15        $824 per month

2010/11       7.25     $1,160 Per month

One bedroom Apartment in Palo Alto

1965:       $87.50          to       $130.00

1970:       $115.00        to       $165.00

1975:       $125.00        to       $150.00

1980:       $385.00        to       $400.00

1990:       $600.00        to       $775.00

2000:       $1,200.00     to    $1,600.00

2011:       $1,100.00     to    $1,650.00

Percentage of a Single Person’s Minimum Wage Income

Used On Housing Cost

In 1965            43.5%   to  65.0%       of income to Housing Cost

In 1970            44.9%   to  64.4%       of income to Housing Cost

In 1975            37%      to  44.6%      of income to Housing Cost

In 1980            77.6%   to  80.%         of income to Housing Cost

In 1990            98.8%   to  127.4%     of income to Housing Cost

In 2000          145.6%   to  194.0%     of income to Housing Cost

In 2010/11       94.8%   to  142.2%     of income to Housing Cost

The Extortion of the Poor

A studio in Palo Alto typically goes for $1,400 a month in 2013.  Retail and grocery jobs generally pay $12.00 per hour if you’re lucky which equates to $2,100 a month before taxes.  After deducting federal and state taxes that amounts to roughly $1,900 a month which leaves $500 for food, health care and other expenses.

A person, John, is giving 74% of his/her income to a property owner just to have a box to sleep in.  Thirty hours of this person’s work week produces John zero lasting capital.

What does John do in response to being forced to hand over the fruit of his labor to someone else solely because the other person owns all of the land and refuses to build more housing, John moves into his van to keep the $1,400 for himself.  So what does the property owners and local business community do in response to John moving into his van to keep his hard earned money for himself, the property owners and business leaders lobby the local policy makers to make it illegal to sleep/live in a vehicle and thereby force John to move back into a wooden box and to hand over the majority of the fruit of his labor to the property owner, a person who has more money than he knows what to do with.

In any other circle we would call the above act extortion.

Duke Grad Student Lives in Van to Save Money:

In order to maintain their erroneously inflated property value and high rents property owners rely on the government to make up the difference between the underpaid worker or disabled person and the cost of rent through the Section 8 voucher program.

Due to a 1% vacancy rate the average one-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara County goes for $1,700 a month.  The current cap on the Section 8 voucher for Santa Clara County is $1,315 for a one bedroom which is considered the fair market rate but not necessarily what the market will bear.  This means that if a person finds an apartment for $1,315 the government will pay the landlord $854.75 while the tenant on the program will pay $460.25.  (35)

If there was a enough housing in Santa Clara County to create a 10% to 15% vacancy rate the cost of an average apartment could conceivably drop to $800 a month with the low end being around $500 a month.  This would enable the vast majority of people who rely on the Section 8 program to leave the program saving the government, tax payers, millions of dollars locally and billions of dollars nationally.

So the question is, why do we as a society refuse to demand larger supply of housing a surplus of housing?

Noted economist and columnist Robert Reich has called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour.

Increasing the minimum wage to $20.00 per hour will not solve the problem of affordable housing if the housing supply is not correspondingly increased as well.  If the minimum wage were increased 275% to $20.00 per hour the property owners would in turn increase their rents 275% negating any gain by the workers.  The gains in productivity would be shifted from the corporations through the workers and to the property owners resulting in zero benefit to the American worker.

Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Bill Clinton and even Richard Nixon and George W. Bush acknowledged that private housing markets fail the poor by not providing housing for people with low incomes.

A caveat should be made regarding Homeless Service Providers.  The criticism directed toward Homeless Service Providers is strictly to those organizations whose budgets are bloated with staff salaries producing minimal impact at reducing the root causes of homelessness.  There are many local and national organizations that truly help the homeless lessening the difficulties and hardships incurred by the homeless without seeking self enrichment off of the existence of homelessness and without compromising the fundamental values of fairness in the economy and housing markets for self preservation.

What’s the Solution?

What do all of the pundits like to say, “we’ll you’re good at criticizing but you don’t provide any solutions.”  Well to satiate all of the pundits, here is at least one feasible solution.

There is one significant solution to homelessness and the exploitation of the American worker and that is to shrink the difference between income and the cost of housing.  The only way to shrink the gap between pay and housing cost is to increase the supply of affordable housing.  Attempting to solve the homeless problem without decreasing the housing costs of the 49 million Americans living in poverty will be a fruitless effort.

Palo Alto is a magnified microcosm problem of what is going on around the country from San Francisco to Tampa, Florida.

The people who worked in the retail shops and grocery stores in Palo Alto in 1975 used to be able to afford a studio or one bedroom apartment in Palo Alto without requiring any government subsidization.  If these people were enabled to secure housing in the town they work in by providing a surplus of affordable housing then the working poor would no longer need government housing assistance freeing that assistance up for the homeless who do not have jobs and or are disabled.

There are a number of people in Palo Alto who claim that if a person cannot afford to live in Palo Alto they need to move elsewhere even is said person works in Palo Alto.  The problem with that argument is that the cost of housing in the twenty miles adjacent to Palo Alto is not much different than Palo Alto.  When you factor in the cost of commuting upon those who can least afford to commute to work what little might be saved by living 30 to 40 miles away from Palo Alto would actually result in a greater cost than living in Palo Alto without commuting.

“What the Market will bear.” The problem with that assertion is that the Market is not bearing requiring the government to step in and provide food stamps and housing vouchers to people who are working full-time.

The policy makers, homeless service providers and law enforcement have to blame the homeless for being homeless because if they didn’t then they would be forced to address the true cause of homelessness and that is the exploitation of American through the use of a housing shortage.

The policy makers created the problem of homelessness through implementing bad policy in order to maximize profits for special interests.  Now that there is a homeless problem instead of implementing the solution, creating more housing, the policy makers would rather criminalize the homeless so that more special interests, the justice system and homeless service providers can make a gravy train living.

If people could go to work and reap the majority of the fruit of their labor without having to hand it over to property owners would these people have more reasons or fewer reasons to commit crimes?  If the homeless drunk was not drunk in public but on private property he wouldn’t be cited for being drunk in public.

By increasing a surplus of decent and affordable housing even if it requires the government to step in with money the government will save money in the end due to the reduction in jail and prison costs plus there is the immeasurable benefit of reducing the number of victims of crime.

With a significant reduction of crime, hundreds of thousands of attorneys, prosecutors/defense attorney will no longer be needed.  These attorneys use their connections to with the policy makers to ensure that their industry stays afloat through economic oppression and exploitation.

The current mindset in America is that if you work in a grocery store you don’t deserve to bear the fruit of your labor.  It is this mindset that needs to be flipped on its head.

The average American male has the ability to go into the woods, chop down some trees and create a very nice log cabin in three to sixTUMBLE WEED HOMES months of work.  Once his cabin is complete he no longer has to work on it and is now free to pursue all the other necessities of life and personal objectives.  This is how it should be for this is how it was.

In 1965 it took 4.5 years’ salary of a custodian to purchase a 2 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.

In 1975 it took 8.5 years’ salary of a delivery driver to purchase a 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.

In 2011 it takes it takes 40 to 54 years’ salary of a delivery driver to purchase a 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto, California.   (40)

If Abraham Lincoln were forced to work 30 to 40 hours a week on his cabin year after year then he would not have had the time to become an attorney.  If Lincoln did not become an attorney he would have never become President.  If he had not become President then he would have never issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  Lincoln was liberated from the slavery of housing so that he could liberate an entire race.

Some where along the way the property owners convinced the policy makers that people should have to work 30 hours a week on their housing indefinitely.  They have accomplished this by manipulating the housing economy into making housing much more expensive then it needs to be or should be.  By artificially making housing more expensive than what most people are capable to pay off in a few years the property owners have shackled the low wage earners to working on their housing for the entirety of their lives unnecessarily.

This is theft.  This is extortion.  This is slavery.

Broken ShacklesIt is time that the policy makers liberate the 100 million Americans who are enslaved to property owners.  In the 1800s they picked cotton, today they pour coffee and stock your produce.

Every person should be able to afford a decent place to live in the town and or city that they work.

The State of California already actually does this through the Housing Accountability Act Government Code Section 65580-65589.8. (41)

However there is no teeth to the law which enables city’s like Palo Alto to avoid providing housing for every person who works in its city forcing the low income workers to live as many as twenty miles away.

Section 8 housing just enables the property owners to maintain their unnecessary exorbitant rent.

I’m sure there are other formulas that would be more appropriate and work better however here is one as an example for food for thought.

Housing Mandate

Every city and or town shall provide a 5% surplus of housing based upon the number of jobs each city/town produces that pay the federal minimum wage up to 30% of each city’s/town’s median income separated into four average income levels as follows:

ONE:  Each city/ town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing for the total number of jobs within said city/town paying the federal minimum wage at full-time at a cost not to exceed 25% of the federal minimum wage paid out for full-time work, which is 166 hours a month;

TWO:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 5% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 5% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

THREE:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 5.1% to the bottom 10% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 5.1% to 10% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

FOUR:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 10.1% to the bottom 15% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 10.1% to 15% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

FIVE:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 15.1% to the bottom 20% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 15.1% to 20% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

SIX:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 20.1% to the bottom 25% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 20% to 20.1% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month;

SEVEN:  Each city/town shall produce a 5% surplus of housing of the average income of the bottom 25.1% to the bottom 30% of income earners based upon the jobs produced within each city’s/towns boundaries at a cost not to exceed 25% of the average of the bottom 25.1% to 30% of income earners within each city’s/town’s boundaries based upon full-time work full-time work which is 166 hours a month.

For Example:

A)    If the average income of the bottom 5% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $1,700.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $425.00 per month.

B)    If the average income of the 5.1% to 10.0% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $2,400.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $600.00 per month.

C)    If the average income of the 25.1% to 30.0% of the median income of Palo Alto job earners is $3,600.00 per month and there are 1,000 jobs in Palo Alto that make up this income bracket then Palo Alto will need to provide 1,050 units of housing that cost no more than $900.00 per month.

Should any city/town fail to produce the above housing supply for its residents said city will be subject financial penalties which shall include but not be limited to federal conservatorship enabling eminent domain action to take place in order to secure the minimum housing requirements.

The excess in housing will drive down the cost of all other housing and open up housing for those homeless people who are on fixed incomes and or disability.

Mark Johnston, the acting assistant housing secretary for community planning and development, estimated that homelessness could be eliminated for a cost $20 billion annually. The housing department’s budget for addressing homelessness is currently about $1.9 billion. (37)

$20 billion is slightly less money than Americans spend on Christmas decorations, according to an analysis from ThinkProgress. (38)

National Security:

Cost of the War in Afghanistan: $654 billion

Cost of the War in Iraq: $814 billion

Money spent on Department of Defense for 2013 and counting: $488 billion

Money Spent on Homeland Security Since 9/11: $712 billion (39)

If we were to redefine Homelessness as a National Security Risk then $20 billion would look like a bargain.



(1) (2) (3) (3B) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (16B) (16C) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (22B) (22C) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38) (38B) (39)

(40)   Palo Alto Housing Costs:

In 1965 a 2 bedroom house cost $23,000.00

In 1965 a 4 bedroom house cost $36,000.00

In 1965 a Machinist earned  $8,500.00  a year

In 1965 a Custodian earned $5,100.00 a year

A Machinist’s yearly salary was  37% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.

A Machinist’s yearly salary was  23.6% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.

A Custodian’s yearly salary was  22% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.

A Custodian’s yearly salary was  14% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.

In 1975 a 3 bedroom house cost $61,000.00

In 1975 a Delivery Driver earned $7,200.00

A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary was 11.8% of the cost of a medium quality house.

In 2011 a 3 bedroom house costs $1,200,000.00

In 2011 a Delivery Driver earned $22,000.00 to $30,000.00 a year

A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary is 1.8% to 2.5% of the cost of a low-end quality house.

A person’s yearly income of the cost of an average house in Palo Alto went from 22% to 11.8% to 2.5% of in the last 45 years.

References:   The “Palo Alto Times,”  the “Palo Alto Times-Tribune,” the “Palo Alto Weekly,” and “Craigslist”


(41)  California Government Code:  65589.5. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) The lack of housing, including emergency shelters, is a critical problem that threatens the economic, environmental, and social quality of life in California.

(2) California housing has become the most expensive in the nation. The excessive cost of the state’s housing supply is partially caused by activities and policies of many local governments that limit the approval of housing, increase the cost of land for housing, and require that high fees and exactions be paid by producers of housing.

(3) Among the consequences of those actions are discrimination against low-income and minority households, lack of housing to support employment growth, imbalance in jobs and housing, reduced mobility, urban sprawl, excessive commuting, and air quality deterioration.

(4) Many local governments do not give adequate attention to the economic, environmental, and social costs of decisions that result in disapproval of housing projects, reduction in density of housing projects, and excessive standards for housing projects.

65580.  The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

(a) The availability of housing is of vital statewide importance, and the early attainment of decent housing and a suitable living environment for every Californian, including farmworkers, is a priority of the highest order.

(b) The early attainment of this goal requires the cooperative participation of government and the private sector in an effort to expand housing opportunities and accommodate the housing needs of Californians of all economic levels.

(c) The provision of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households requires the cooperation of all levels of government.

(d) Local and state governments have a responsibility to use the powers vested in them to facilitate the improvement and development of housing to make adequate provision for the housing needs of all economic segments of the community.


This Bud’s for you!

Talk about one stop shopping. Authorities have arrested the owner of a Redwood City liquor store where customers could buy alcohol and, allegedly, marijuana over-the-counter.

When the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force searched Avenue liquors, 2147 Roosevelt Ave., they found 150 individually packaged bags, each containing one gram of weed.

Each package worth $15, authorities said. The drug task force got a warrant to search the store after undercover agents made several purchases at the store, the most recent on Aug. 28, said Sheriff Cmdr. John Munsey.

Agents arrested the store’s owner, Balwinder Singh, 25, of Mountain View, on charges of selling marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and sales of drugs within 1,000 feet of the school.

Munsey told the Post yesterday agents found out about Singh’s drug operation through a confidential informant.

The liquor store is in a small strip shopping center at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Upton Street, less than 1,000 feet from Roosevelt Elementary School.

The store is next door to the young children’s learning center, and near a children’s gymnastics facility.

Munsey said young children seem to hang out in the nearby Little Caesars pizza parlor and a deli.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is conducting its own investigation to determine if the stores liquor license will be suspended. The store is currently open, Munsey said. Singh is out of jail in blue of $80,000 bail bond.

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We can fix ugly building’s recall city council members

City Hall side-by-side comparisonA Palo Alto man who said he’s fed up with the recent surge “ugly architecture” has launched an online survey that asks residents to weigh in on some of the city’s most prominent buildings.

Doug Smith, who lives in the historic Laning Château apartment building on Forest Avenue, told the Post yesterday that billionaire developer John Arrillaga’s proposal for 27 University Ave. and Ken Hayes’ proposal for 240 Hamilton Ave., sparked the survey.

“Living where I do, two blocks from 240 Hamilton site, I thought, oh no, they’re going to put a glass box in the middle of the most beautiful architectural district in town,” Smith said.

He said Palo Alto has been inundated with ugly buildings lately, such as the low-income housing project at 801 Alma, which don’t fit the city’s character.

“Something needed to do something to stop it, he said. The survey which online at Palo Alto Architectural Style and Aesthetics Survey is obviously geared toward making people question the “new “urbanism” architectural style that’s popping up all over the Bay Area.

New urbanism is a growing architectural trend that locates residents near transit and often pushes buildings right up to the edge of the street.

For example, the survey asks participants to pick their favorite out of a slew of side-by-side comparisons, including one that compares Palo Alto’s 70s-era modernist City Hall building to Pasadena’s Mediterranean revival and Spanish Colonial revival style City Hall.

The two are hardly comparable, but Smith is trying to make a point.

“I’m not going to apologize for it,” Smith said. “I picked the hometown city hall and I picked another that I really liked. I think there are enough side-by-side comparisons to make it fair.”

He said the problem with buildings like Palo Alto City Hall, in this opinion, is that they lack style.

He said Hayes’ four-story building at 240 Hamilton Ave., which he has filed an appeal against with the City Council, is an “offensive glass box” surrounded by historic buildings. “It’s completely incompatible with neighborhood,” he said.

The survey also lists several buildings, from 801 Alma St. project to Stanford’s Gates Computer Science building to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and asks participants to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 one meaning “wretched, it can’t get worse than this” and 10 meaning “breathtaking, I could look at it for hours.”

Smith, who’s currently writing a book on the functions of architecture, says aesthetics are an essential element – one he feels is missing in Palo alto of architecture.

Smith said there’s a place for every architectural style, but, Palo Alto is not that place.

“I like Cape Cod architecture, but it would look ridiculous in downtown Palo Alto” he said.

He would like to see Palo Alto adopt stricter design guidelines that fit better with what the public wants. He cited the strict design guidelines of cities such as Santa Barbara and Carmel as something the city should consider.

“The city is being undermined by architects that have completely different taste than the general public,” he said, adding that “glass boxes” don’t fit with the city’s character.

“In terms of the class boxes, they’re not necessarily ugly, but they are offensive in downtown Palo Alto.”

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All we are is just a “leaf blower” in the wind

Where gas and electricity meet or circumventing the law
Where gas and electricity meet or circumventing the law

Palo Alto City Councilman Pat Burt says that the city’s current ban on-gas powered leaf blowers in neighborhoods isn’t working.

“It’s almost like we don’t have a regulation,” Burt said. “I continue to hear from community members and see frequent use of gas-blowers.

The gardening services people seem to just ignore the law we have most of the time.”

It’s illegal to use gas-powered leaf blowers in any residential neighborhood in Palo Alto. Electric leaf blowers are allowed during business hours. Gas-powered blowers are still allowed in commercial areas.

But according to Bert, violations are so prevalent that he’s even come home to find his own gardener using a gas-powered blower, despite the ordinance and his own warnings.

“I told them about (the law),” Bert said, “but a few weeks later I came home and found found them doing it again.

Particularly those who work a home

The problem is, Bert said, a lot of Palo Altan’s work from home, so the added noise from the blowers can be particularly disruptive.

Plus, he said sometimes the blowers are used in unnecessary ways. “Sometimes, on a sunny day, summer day I see these guy’s going around blowing 5 or 10 leaves with one of these things, usually into a neighbor’s yard. Since when are 5 or 10 leaves on a lawn bad thing?”

And, Bert said, the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers doesn’t just benefit neighbors.

“For someone who’s going to be working with a gas-powered blower all day, breathing two-stroke (engine) fumes this isn’t very good.” Burt said he thought the city should consider giving permits to gardener who want to use any kind of blowers.

Mac Clayton, of Parkington Avenue, said he had spoken to City Manager James Keene about the issue because he doesn’t think the current system of reporting the violations to the  police department was the best way.

“I don’t think it’s great to use police resources that way,” he said.

Clayton, said Keene suggested that he report of violations using the city’s mobile application for city related problems, which is called PaloAlto311 and can be download into smart phones.

Photo required

But Clayton said that the application required to take a photo of gardener kept using a gas-powered leaf blower, and he felt somewhat uncomfortable going up and photographing him in the act.

Liz Lee, a Crescent Park neighborhood resident,  also said gas-powered leaf blowers are a big problem where she lives.

“I see the law being broken all the time. And they are perpetual offenders. The same day, the same place, every week,” she said.  “if it were just one offender, that’s one thing. But when it’s multiple times per week and multiple times per day it’s really adds up.”

Health issues

Lee said that she particularly dislikes the blowers’ noise. But they also cause a health issue. “Gas fumes are really bothersome and the dust is an issue. All of us in our family have asthma to some degree.”

Burt said that the ban that passed 2005 was a compromise made after many people told the council that they wanted the Lief Blowers ban, but gardeners and landscapers promised to abide by rules that were less than a ban.

“The gardener community got together and made commitments,” Burt said, “and they have not stepped up to fulfill those commitments.”

Palo Alto’s current law permits the use of electric leaf blowers in residential areas Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Gas powered and electric blowers are allowed in commercial areas from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and on Saturday between 10 a.m and 4 p.m.

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Santa Clara County Public Defender or Public Pretender?

Molly O'Neil.jpgI am sure most of you have seen today’s Daily Post [if not it will cost you] (Saturday Aug. 31-Sept 1, 2013).

The headline reads: “Defender rips car camp ban …says criminalization of the homeless is not the answer”

The defender in question is: Santa Clara County Public Defender Molly O’Neal.

Although… I am sure most … if not all of us…would have preferred ….that our Public Defender…who earns $241,455 per year….have stepped to the plate sooner…to voice her opposition to this hate law (the vehicle habitation ordinance)…. passed by the Palo Alto City Council.. by a 7-2 vote… on August 5…. I still believe her… late to the game.. opposition to the ban ….should be acknowledged, applauded and encouraged.

Our support for Molly O’Neal my mind…particularly important… since upward of 90% of those individuals cited under the VHO are likely to be represented by members of the public defenders office.

We should encourage the office… I spent almost my entire career with…to zealously.. and with an undivided loyalty to each member of the unhoused community…who calls on the public defenders office to represent them… to represent them to the fullest…raising each and every meritorious defense to the charges.

The reality is…the public defenders office labors under large/huge case loads …and… as the old saying goes…the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

In other words… each and every time a member of the unhoused community is cited for a violation of the VHO, the StopTheBan Coalition…needs to support that individual… and let the public defenders office know that we are tracking the case…. and supporting the public defenders office to provide/guarantee the best possible legal defense in each and every case.

When ever possible members of the StopTheBan Coalition should pack the courtroom in support of each and every unhoused person charged under the VHO…. and the latest ordinance…. that prohibits members of the public from being in Palo Alto Parks… or on the property of public facilities …between 10:30 p.m and sunrise.

For any of you who wish to let Santa Clara County Public Defender Molly O’Neal know…. how you feel about her now very public stand against the VHO …and the criminalization of the homeless generally …here is her e-mail address: molly.o’