Tag: 2022-06-nn-roundup

Inside the DIY effort to deliver tiny homes to homeless people

By Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, May 1, 2022

“Jay Samson [is] the [NASA] engineer behind grassroots emergency housing effort Simply Shelter.

“Every other weekend for the past year, Samson has gathered friends, co-workers, and volunteers to build the boxes with … slanted walls, small triangular windows, locking doors, and solar charging stations. Once complete, the shelters are hand-delivered to homeless neighbors — all without asking permission from cities, police, or agencies that administer California’s multibillion-dollar homeless-services budget.

“With six micro homes now scattered around San Jose and Santa Cruz, Simply Shelter is part of a wave of homeless aid spearheaded by ordinary residents during the pandemic.

“Alex Londos, the 41-year-old Santa Cruz climate activist who designed the ‘Micro Tiny Homes’ that inspired Simply Shelter [said,] ‘It’s not a solution for the homeless problem. … It’s a really good solution for people who are suffering.’

“Simply Shelter was born after Samson saw an interview with Londos about the first two micro homes he built in Santa Cruz in late 2020. A plan to work together emerged: Build more shelters, canvas cities to find residents in particularly dire, and start moving people in. The hope was that small units in good condition wouldn’t attract much attention from police, but wheels mounted on the units provided a way to move people quickly if needed.

Across … [Santa Cruz County] … which was home to … 2,167 homeless residents as of 2019, costly legal battles over encampments and new laws limiting camping and sleeping in vehicles have stirred debate. A 2019 grand jury report titled ‘Big Problem, Little Progress’ tallied 279 year-round homeless shelter beds and 16 in-patient mental health beds in [the county].

“[Samson is] working to establish partnerships to help with underlying challenges, like addiction resources and connections to housing, and considering whether to turn Simply Shelter into a nonprofit.”

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California approves bullet train link from Central Valley to Bay Area

By Lauren Hernández, Ricardo Cano, Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2022

“The High Speed Rail Authority Board unanimously approved plans and environmental clearance for the segment between San Jose and Merced on [April 28]. Now, the agency estimates the line will open for service in 2031, though the project has faced repeated delays and cost overruns.

“The train system could take riders between Fresno and San Jose in about an hour, a roughly three-hour drive by car today. Dan Richard, a former chairman of the Rail Authority Board who resigned in 2019, said the extension will help California address a jobs-housing mismatch between the disparate regions.

“The section approved … will connect San Jose’s Diridon Station and a station in downtown Gilroy to the five-station Central Valley segment from Merced to Bakersfield, the project’s initial 171-mile stretch.

“Rick Harnish, executive director of High Speed Rail Alliance, a national advocacy group, said the move underscores how the Rail Authority has not lost sight of its ultimate goal of connecting coastal and inland areas — and creating a system that spans physical and economic barriers.

“ ‘This is the first rail crossing of Pacheco Pass, which changes the economic geography of the state,’ Harnish said, referring to the mountain range between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley. ‘This is a huge step forward.’

“A second phase in the Bay Area — from San Jose to San Francisco — is expected to gain its environmental clearance this summer, according to the authority. It’s projected to open for service in 2033.”

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Rohnert Park purchases 30-acre property it plans to redevelop into future downtown

By Bay City News Foundation, Local News Matters, April 29, 2022

“Rohnert Park city officials took a big step toward a future downtown this month when the city’s $12.5 million offer was accepted on a 30-acre parcel at the corner of Rohnert Park Expressway and State Farm Drive.

“ ‘This is a bold step toward creating downtown Rohnert Park,’ said Mayor Jackie Elward in a city news release. ‘With this purchase we are taking charge of our destiny.’

“A surplus in the city’s general fund and cash on hand will fund the purchase, according to the news release, which added that the city also could obtain grants to offset some of the costs.

“ ‘We’ve been working for a downtown for years,’ Councilmember Pam Stafford said. ‘We’ve approved plans and built infrastructure, and we’re still waiting. The time has come to blaze our own path.’ ”

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Here’s the U.S. state each Northern Section county is most like

By Nami Sumada, The Chronicle, April 26, 2022

“The Chronicle identified the state (other than California) that best matches [each California county] in terms of its demographics, including race and ethnicity, age and income, as well as voting behavior and election results. It’s not the only way to think about similarity across places, but it’s an illuminating one.

“Based on these characteristics, San Francisco is most like Massachusetts. The two areas have similarly small shares of Black residents (5 percent in S.F. and 6.5 percent in Massachusetts), Hispanic residents (16 percent in S.F. and 13 percent in Massachusetts) and lower-income households (15-16 percent in each area earn less than $25,000 per year).

“The region most represented across the 58 California counties is the Northeast, with 22 matching with states in the area.”

The analysis showed Alameda and Santa Cruz counties, in addition to San Francisco, most similar to Massachusetts; Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, and Napa counties most similar to New Jersey; Humboldt most similar to Rhode Island; Lake County most similar to West Virginia; Mendocino County most similar to Florida; Monterey County most similar to Alaska, San Benito County most similar to Colorado; Santa Clara County most similar to Hawaii; Solano County most similar to Maryland; and Sonoma County most similar to Connecticut.

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Why Americans are leaving downtowns in droves

By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, April 25, 2022

“The metros of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. … shrank by a combined 900,000 people [in 2021] according to an analysis of census data by the Brookings scholar William Frey.

“In every urban county within the metros of New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, immigration declined by at least 50 percent from 2018 to 2021.

“Nearly 5 million Americans have moved since 2020 because of remote-work opportunities, according to Adam Ozimek, the chief economist for the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

“[Yet] … housing prices are going up in almost all of these metros [and] rents are up in every city on the above list, except for San Francisco.

“The … simpler answer is inflation. That is, cities really are struggling with population loss, but urban rents and housing values are rising along with national inflation, which is surging toward 10 percent.

“America’s superstar cities might be in a little more trouble than we think. … Mass-transit ridership has collapsed from its pre-pandemic highs in New York, Boston, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. … In San Francisco, vacant office space has nearly quadrupled since the pandemic to 18.7 million square feet. … America’s downtown areas support millions of jobs that can’t be made remote — in retail, construction, health care, and beyond.

“With rising prices and shrinking populations, with emptier downtowns and bustling residential neighborhoods, with booming leisure and busted offices, the near future of America’s richest cities could be pretty weird.”

Read the full article here. (~5 min.)

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Bay Area hopes for more than 100 new park projects by 2030

By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 2022

“[A new global initiative, also implemented by the federal government and California,] known as 30 by 30, aims to conserve 30 percent of the world’s lands and water by 2030. It’s a bid to not only protect natural areas and biodiversity but to slow the planet’s warming by ensuring enough plants and soil remain to suck up carbon.

“With new sources of state and federal funding becoming available, a coalition of 67 Bay Area nonprofits and public agencies on [April 19] rolled out a $700 million plan for how they’d like the region to contribute to the effort. The document is a wish list of more than 110 projects that supporters say could become reality when the new money is released.

“In the Bay Area, some proposals are geared toward wildlife, such as building highway crossings for mountain lions and other animals around San Jose and Gilroy.

“There are also cultural endeavors, such as developing a network of outdoor community hubs on ancestral Lisjan Ohlone lands in the East Bay.

“In the Bay Area, nearly 30 percent of the land is currently under protection, according to Together Bay Area. But the organization believes that because of the biodiversity here, more conservation is needed.”

Read the full article here(~5 min.)

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