Thursday, February 12, 2015

Water Conservation Hypocrisy

This lake near San Luis Obispo, California barely contains any water following a several year drought.  Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

The ever helpful nanny state types have invaded my neighborhood app, called Next Door, with tips about saving water.  Of course, there was no discussion about why we don't have any water and why agriculture is dying in California.  Since the hypocritical nanny-staters didn't allow me to comment on their post, I am responding here.

I muted the discussion topic "Waste No Water" because they closed any discussion of their post. The fact is that California is suffering more from this drought because of the stupidity of past kowtowing to the environmental movement that killed reservoir projects. Victor Davis Hanson has a great  summary on the The City Journal web site.

Just as California’s freeways were designed to grow to meet increased traffic, the state’s vast water projects were engineered to expand with the population. Many assumed that the state would finish planned additions to the California State Water Project and its ancillaries. But in the 1960s and early 1970s, no one anticipated that the then-nascent environmental movement would one day go to court to stop most new dam construction, including the 14,000-acre Sites Reservoir on the Sacramento River near Maxwell; the Los Banos Grandes facility, along a section of the California Aqueduct in Merced County; and the Temperance Flat Reservoir, above Millerton Lake north of Fresno. Had the gigantic Klamath River diversion project not likewise been canceled in the 1970s, the resulting Aw Paw reservoir would have been the state’s largest man-made reservoir. At two-thirds the size of Lake Mead, it might have stored 15 million acre-feet of water, enough to supply San Francisco for 30 years. California’s water-storage capacity would be nearly double what it is today had these plans come to fruition.

If these groups so concerned about the drought's effects would work to increase the state's reservoir capacity I might not ignore them for their hypocrisy. I have cut back my water usage by over 40%, but the state is killing jobs by not reserving water for farms and industry. I don't think the state can thrive without agriculture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

San Diego Planning Follies

From the U-T:

The City Council voted 6-3 on Monday to reject plans to build three homes on the Jessop estate in Point Loma, adding to the single one built in 1926.
. . .
"When you have properties this big, you shouldn't be putting the houses 12 feet apart," said Council President Sherri Lightner, adding that the design would make firefighting difficult. "I have grave concerns about public safety."
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose district includes Point Loma, said she could support adding­ development to the site, but not this particular proposal for La Crescentia Drive because of the locations of the new homes.
Monday's council vote was actually in favor of a res­ident's appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the proposed subdivision last June.
. . .
The owner of the property, Carolyn Kutzke, has been trying for several years to develop it.

The OBRag has more background on the story.  Apparently, there were 700 signatures on a petition to overturn the planning commission vote.  I think that Carolyn Kutzke should sue under the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution if she is not given a way ahead to develop her 1.5 acre property.

I hope that the city council is as fearful of resident's dismay when they vote on jamming dense development into the Morena district.  I am sure there will be far more than 700 people willing to sign a petition.  In the meantime, the council approved the path ahead to change the Bay Park community plan bypassing an update of the entire community plan.  This is a process foul that didn't go unnoticed by RaiseTheBalloon:
While we appreciate that the city threw out the original timeline to complete the Morena Blvd Area Specific Plan and replaced it with a more reasonable one, Raise the Balloon and residents of our community have made a formal protestation of the City’s attempt to change/amend our community plan through the Morena Blvd Station Area Specific Plan instead of updating our ENTIRE plan through the process of a comprehensive community plan update (CPU).
Meanwhile, all that money that the city collects from developers to make your neighborhood better?  It's not getting spent.  Apparently $78 million isn't enough cash to start a real project.  From the U-T watchdog:

Developers have paid more than $157 million in impact fees since San Diego approved the charges on new construction in the 1980s, and despite a litany of needs the city has spent only half the money, budget records show.
The money was collected from builders in some of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods, with the idea that they should contribute to community needs such as parks and fire stations. Much of the money has remained in the bank for years while city planners save up for projects or figure out how it should be spent.
In the downtown district alone, the city has assembled $25 million. The city has not completed an impact fee-funded project in that area in more than 10 years, although officials have spent more than $400,000 of the funds on administration.
Citywide, $78 million of the money collected so far has not been spent, as of June 2014, the most recent accounting available.
Creative way to waste tax dollars? Don't spend it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Short Term Rental Issue in San Diego

There is a petition on asking the mayor and the city Council to ban short-term rentals in the city of San Diego. I'm not going to link to the petition because I don't want you to sign it. A total ban would be ridiculous and an invitation for people to just flaunt the law. However, there are some issues that ought to be dealt with regarding short-term rentals.  Some negative comments about short term rentals from my neighbors on Next Door.
  • The vacation rental on our street is basically a hotel. New people, often for only two or three days. Lots of parties lots of noise. Sometimes they book it for a wedding.if it was the neighbor getting married, nobody would object to them having a wedding at their house.
  • It makes me upset and ruins my quality of life by having a "hotel" on my street in my quiet residential neighborhood. It is not safe for my child and threatens my well being. Especially when I am verbally assaulted by a transient occupant who thinks it's ok to party until 2:30 in the morning.
  • I know that some vacation rental owners do NOT pay TOT [10% tax levied only on short-term rentals], which one must remit voluntarily. Most of these owners do tend to rent for longer terms [& thus do not have to pay TOT], but 2- & 3-week rentals are common, as in the beach areas, so those who do not pay TOT on their short-term rentals are cheating the city.
  • As long as the city is receiving TOT from a vacation rental, there is no reason for them to care if it is a full time mini hotel or not. Houses in residential neighborhoods should not be turned into full time mini hotels, that is why we have hotels in the first place.
Other cities have taken some steps to regulate short-term rentals.  Portland's approach, however, seems a little heavy handed.
Portland will start issuing permits for its first legal short-term rental operations in private homes as soon as September.
The Portland City Council on Wednesday gave its OK for Portlanders to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home over-the-counter, $180 permit after an inspection and notifying neighbors.
$180 permit? Why?  This will only encourage people to evade the system and reduce the extra tax revenue that Portland could receive.  Further, there is no need for an inspection. This market is very much self regulating, with renters providing feedback on the quality of their stay.

A better approach for San Diego would be very light touch regulation. Owners who want to do a short-term rental, should pay a very low fee, maybe $10, so that the city is aware of their activity. They should also pay the same transient occupancy tax (TOT) that hotels do. If owners don't control their rental properties their permits could be revoked.

Exit question: If I rent out my home on do I get to vote on the use of the TMD tax? Would I have standing to sue that it violates Prop 26?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leftism, corruption, and its causes

You can always count on the left to favor solutions that both increase government size and lead to cronyism and corruption. Holman Jenkins makes this connection in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.
But Europe, Japan and the U.S. have been desperate to stir private-sector growth and yet refuse to consider how they treat their private sector. Europe gave itself austerity in which the private sector shrank and the government didn’t. Big-name economists keep insisting monetary policy can conjure growth without anyone having to question any ideological, political or policy embraces of the past three decades. 
Nobody asks: How can we make our societies ones in which people find opportunity? They worry about the distribution of income but not the absence of income-creating opportunities for individuals.
When the left's solutions never actually solve the problems they report to solve, then it is fair to question their motives. Indeed I have come to believe that the motives of the leaders of the left are merely to aggrandize their own power. They have no interest in solutions, just as Al Sharpton has no interest in better race relations in the United States, because continued trouble gives him the continuation of his platform.

Another area of leftist hypocrisy, but I repeat myself, is in the area of global warming. It seems clear to me that man is having some effect on the climate, even if not catastrophic. But you might argue that it would still be good for the environment to impose a tax on carbon since the burning of carbon is associated with other forms of pollution.  Such a tax would need to be offset by other tax reductions to not distort the economy further. Of course, the left does not propose this. Instead, they opt for cap and trade, which does very little to reduce carbon omissions, is prone to fraud, and lines the pockets of politicians seeking donations from groups to get exemptions from the caps for their favored industries.  It becomes nothing but a graft machine wall destroying the wealth that we need to come up with a real solutions to the problem.

Rather than argue policy with the left, it is much easier and more effective to point out their massive hypocrisy. When they propose cap and trade, for instance, just ask them why they intend to increase corruption.  When they propose raising the minimum wage, ask them why they hate the unemployed. When they propose even more regulation of Wall Street, ask them why their legislation includes bailouts for Wall Street's biggest firms.  Ask them why they always favor the solution that increases corruption.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Left Coast Rebel provides an excellent review of American Sniper, without plot spoilers.
  • Dalrock continues to expose the ugliness of feminism through the subject of hot farts. (It is really worth the read.  Also, defeating feminism is necessary to maintaining liberty in this country.)  Fortunately, feminists have made themselves so darn easy to ridicule.
  • Duck Enlightenment (@jokeocracy on Twitter) guest blogs at Heartiste and puts the shiv to SJW feminism by asking "Who Bitch This Is?" Reasonable debate has failed and the feminist establishment refuses to listen to rational concerns about where they are leading our civilization. Direct words need to be spoken, and this man Shinblade has gifted us with these four powerful direct words to show us the way forward.  (Backstory, the woman pictured in the video had plotted ahead of time to provoke a reaction that would prove her SJWs theories.  When she is caught on video, the result is epic fail.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Surveillance State and the Erosion of Trust in San Diego

Revelations about the surveillance state are eroding trust in government and in law enforcement in particular.  Police officer involved deaths of civilians are also responsible. Setting the Ferguson incident aside, which details are murky; Eric Garner's death in New York and the death of Tamir Rices in Cleveland, both captured on video, cast doubt on the fairness and integrity of those police departments and the justice system.

Locally, this distrust played out in social media on my app, NextDoor,which allows people to connect with others in their neighborhood (the comments referenced below come from the Bay Park neighborhood news feed.)  Significantly on this app, anonymity is not allowed, which seems to improve on-line behavior.  SDPD Officer Hesselgesser posted an article about car break-ins by thieves capturing the key-fob signal. I applaud the SDPD for taking to social media in this way to work with the community.  But, subsequent commentary revealed the impact of the lack of trust.  Officer Hesselgesser advised against covering up the vehicle's VIN as a means of preventing thieves from getting fobs from the dealership. Some wondered why.
What's the valid, non big brother reason we should keep the VIN uncovered?
Asked Tom from PB in the comments.

Another interaction that reveals the mounting concern over surveillance comes from this posting about video cameras at a Balboa Ave. intersection.
At the intersection of Balboa Ave. and the Target store entrance driveway, there are 4 video cameras installed next to the hanging traffic signals. All 4 cameras are aimed toward the center of the intersection. Does anyone know why the cameras are there, and who is monitoring them?
And comments worrying about transparency:
I noticed those also. For sure those are video cameras. They are *not* traffic light sensors or Traffic Signal Preemption (TSP) sensors for emergency vehicles (turn traffic lights green). The TSP sensors don't look like cameras. That intersection is not on the 511 camera list:
I'm guessing those cameras are for law enforcement against illegal use of Traffic Signal Preemption devices which are sold on the Internet. If you want to dig deeper, call councilmember Chris Cate's office and ask.
In case you are curious the cameras appear to be optical detection cameras to sense approaching vehicles and linked to the traffic light controls.

Cylindrical object is optical detection camera. (Source: WikiMedia Commons.)

Finally, there is the unresolved issue of how the San Diego police are using the cell phone tracking devices known as the Stingray.  (This stingray is much more pleasant.) The Stingray is a mobile cell phone device that masquerades as a cell phone tower, allowing law enforcement to get a suspect's (or average citizen's) cell phone to divulge information to the interceptor.  Because information on the operation of the device is being kept secret by the San Diego police, we have no way of knowing if bystanders or even love interests of officers, are under surveillance.  The Snowden revelations have made us realize that once a technology is in the hands of the government, it will likely be misused without oversight.

Law enforcement needs to be held to a higher, not lower, standard than the average citizen.  There should be consequences when the police don't live up to high standards, rather than the current culture that rallies the DA and fellow officers to get an exoneration.  Even when circumstances don't warrant prosecution, poor police conduct that results in the citizen deaths should be punished by dismissal.  Finally, local law enforcement needs to be transparent.  The San Diego police should release as much information about the Stingray that pushes the envelope of what the Justice Department has told them.  When they engage on social media, a good thing, they need to follow up on citizen's concerns.  Restoring trust that law enforcement is doing its job while protecting our constitutional rights will make us all safer.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What We Believe Matters - Reason, Faith and Islam

The adherents of Islam who tacitly or explicitly condone the latest violence, have placed themselves beyond the realm of reason. Their conception of God is that he is all powerful and unlimited in what he may require of believers. As a Christian, I too believe in all powerful God, but one who has chosen to be bound by the promises of His Word. He is a God of reason as well as a God of faith. He will not require of me that I commit idolatry or slaughter the innocent for that would violate his word and reason itself.

Muslim apologists often point to passages in the Koran prohibiting the latest atrocity. Others claim that such acts are not really the acts of Islam. But such apology misses the point, because those committing the heinous acts hold a belief that Allah may command them to do so regardless of what is written.  Further, this belief is widely held throughout the Muslim world.  They do not adhere to a philosophy that requires consistency and logic.  This matters. We will never be able to come to a rapprochement with Islam until such time as it's adherents  believe that reason, logic and fair play must apply in their dealings with nonbelievers.  

Pope Benedict said the following  when discussing the subject of forced conversion, which is also unreasonable to Christian thinking.
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.[5] The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.[6] Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.[7]

 (The entire speech is worth reading for Christians' education on the interplay of faith and reason.)

We should demand of the Muslim world a commitment to truth and reason. This commitment must extend even to their dealings with those whom they see as unbelievers. Without such commitment there will always be mistrust and conflict. 

[published from iPad blogger.]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Duty to Offend

The strain of Islam that motivated the killers in Paris appears to be Wahhabism.  I say this because one of the killers is said to have been trained by al-Qaeda. This strain of Islam is clearly incompatible with western concepts of civilization.  While Francois Hollande may say that these attacks have nothing to do with the Muslim religion, that is like saying that an action by say, the Southern Baptists, has nothing to do with Christianity in America.  Wahhabism has been the most successful global cultural export in modern times.  From Frontline
For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Culver City, California. 
This brand of faith has millions of adherents and its precepts infuse al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban with their religious fervor.  And the drastic interpretation of Islam contained in sharia law enjoys widespread support in Muslim countries
Overall, among those in favor of making sharia the law of the land, the survey finds broad support for allowing religious judges to adjudicate domestic disputes. Lower but substantial proportions of Muslims support severe punishments such as cutting off the hands of thieves or stoning people who commit adultery. The survey finds even lower support for executing apostates.
I infer that there are also many Muslims who believe that the publishers of Charlie Hedbo deserved death for heaping disrespect on the Prophet.  This belief system is the cauldron from which killers emerge.  This belief system is a threat to the west because its adherents tolerate those murder by select members of their sect.  It is unfortunate that their are other, more tolerant, Muslims who are offended by the images in Charlie Hedbo.  But as long there is a credible threat of murder in retaliation, then such images should be published, to hammer home the lesson that our right to free expression is inviolate.  I am sorry that the following image from Charlie Hedbo is crude and offensive.  I personally dislike giving offense to someone's religion; but if Muslims make a credible threat to murder in retaliation then it becomes a duty to offend them to defend our sense of the civilized order.  And the burden must be shared so that there is not a single convenient target for the terrorists to seek out.

I would prefer to live in a world where I could merely offer my indifference or hostility to cartoons that offend religious sensibility.  But today, it is only images that offend Muslims that have the remotest possibility of getting a publisher killed, so it is Muslim sensibility that will have to be offended.

And to answer my friend KT, yes, if a KKK rally was shot up by Black Panthers due to the presence of confederate flags, I would display a confederate flag.  But I note that even Black Panthers aren't provoked by mere symbols and drawings.

What You Should Be Reading: