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robertogreco : 1950   5

For Housing Affordability, California Must Amend its Constitution - Opinion | Political News | thebaycitybeacon.com
"This fall, California voters may have the opportunity to amend Proposition 13, one of the most regressive tax laws in the country. The 1978 initiative essentially freezes the assessed value of real estate at the time of sale—inevitably establishing and perpetuating wild inequities between the young and old, renters and landlords, immigrants and incumbents. How can California’s political “third rail” be reformed, albeit incrementally, with lasting, sustainable progress? There are several ways.

Evolve California is currently gathering signatures to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to allow re-assessments of commercial aka business properties—a move that could generate ~$10 billion a year for health care, education and other badly need investments in California society.

Another significant contributor to inequality, segregation, and the housing crisis stands unchallenged in 2018.

Article 34 of the California Constitution, enacted by voters in 1950, states that no cities, towns or counties may ”develop, construct or acquire” any “low-rent” housing “unless approved by a majority of qualified electors of the city, town or county” at the ballot box. Practically, this means our local governments and representatives are prevented from directly providing the homes struggling Californians need so direly today.

Article 34’s proponents intended to control the development of large, federally-funded public housing tower projects. The law also restricts local governments from efficiently building even mid-rise public housing or subsidizing low-income housing. A mid-century, single-story city building, or even a vacant lot, could become a five-story building with affordable rents and public services on the ground floor. Alas, we can’t really have that without an expensive ballot referendum and subsequent approval by a majority (or supermajority) of voters.

Moreover, the referendum process makes the provision of publicly-owned housing intractably slow. In California, prudent politicians tend refrain from placing affordable housing bonds on the ballot until they absolutely know the measure can win a supermajority of voters. When municipal coffers fill up with tax revenue or development fees, cities cannot use it to invest in modern mid-rise public housing directly, absent an expensive and risky Article 34-triggered election.

The crux of the issue is this: California’s landowners have become vastly more wealthy and powerful, by government fiat, at the expense of renters. This inequality is unsustainable. Homeowners receive exponentially more in public subsidies, and Proposition 13 tax rates disproportionately reward greater wealth and “incumbency” of property owners, but renters ultimately foot their landlords’ property tax bill. Not only do renters get little to no relief from this regressive system—because of Article 34, they are essentially forced to beg localized pockets of voters for the direct public provision of badly-needed affordable housing. Property owners, on the other hand, do not have to ask for their Mortgage Interest Deduction through a popular referendum every time they claim it.

Say it with me: public housing already exists. It exists largely not as shelter for the neediest, but as vestiges of historic inequality that abstractly, disproportionately rewards legacy homebuyers with secure asset wealth.

There have been concerted efforts to overturn this unfair system for almost as long as we’ve had it. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown led two unsuccessful efforts to repeal Article 34 in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The most recent effort, in 1992, was defeated before an entire generation of eligible voters was born, so the current electorate may feel differently about our status quo.

Perhaps its time has finally come.

Since 1950, California courts have whittled down Article 34’s power, and some cities work around the law by delegating the job of affordable housing construction to privately-run nonprofits. But given the severity and depth of our affordable housing shortage, California cannot afford more roadblocks to directly providing publicly-owned affordable housing.

To state the obvious, Article 34 also maintains racial and economic segregation. Requiring voter approval for the development of publicly-funded affordable rental housing means that racially and economically homogenous communities can effectively veto integration. The electorates of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have consistently voted to approve low-income housing placed on the ballot at regular intervals. Compare the generosity of those voters to, say, communities in Marin County or Palo Alto—I can guarantee that the results will not surprise you.

Governing by popular referendum may sound ideal, but California’s experience with direct governance over the last 107 years has demonstrated that local pluralities of voters can sometimes succumb to fear, uncertainty, and outright animus towards marginalized groups.

If you think this is all ancient history, think again: in 1994, nearly 59% of California voters approved of Proposition 187, designed to bar undocumented people from accessing public services like health care and education, prior to it being ruled unconstitutional by the courts. More recently, California voters repudiated marriage equality by approving Proposition 8 in 2008, only for it also to be overturned by jurists. In 2016, California voters brought back the death penalty.

Occasionally, the state’s voters have been unwise enough to approve unconstitutional legislation, and federal courts have found such laws especially offensive when they discriminate against political minorities in the exercise of civil rights or use of public programs, as was the case with Prop 187. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court found no such violation by Article 34 of equal protection under the 14th Amendment in James v. Valtierra (1971).

Renters from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties sought to have Article 34 invalidated on the basis of racial and wealth discrimination. Instead, Justice Hugo Black, writing for the 6-3 majority found such mandatory referendums on low-rent and public housing to indicate a “devotion to democracy, not to bias, discrimination, or prejudice.” (If only!)

Article 34 of the California Constitution, much like the general political aversion to subsidized housing, is explicitly rooted in prejudice against poor people, people of color, and immigrants writ large. The history is stark and ugly, and it is high time for California to face it head-on. That history, as it unfolded in Oakland, will be the subject of Part 2 in this series."
housing  california  policy  racism  class  2018  1950  article34  inequality  segregation  race  proposition13  sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  publichousing  affordability  taxes  williebrown  berkeley 
june 2018 by robertogreco
World City Populations Interactive Map 1950-2035
"The Global Urban Transformation

This map visualises the radical transformation that has occurred across the globe in the last 60 years, from a 30% urban world in 1950, to a 54% urban world in 2015 and a predicted 68% urban world in 2050. In 1950 there were 740m people living in cities; there are now 4 billion, rising to a predicted 6.6b by 2050. The circles on the map are proportional to city populations in 1950, 1990, 2015 and 2035. Move your mouse over cities to explore their detailed dynamics. Data is from the UN World Urban Propospects 2018.

Industrialisation and urban growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries were powered by Western Europe and the North-Eastern USA, but the urban population of these regions has been relatively static since 1950. Recent growth is instead the result of rapid urbanisation in China, India, Latin America and increasingly Africa. Over half of the world's urban population is now is Asia, with China alone comprising 20% of the global total. Asia and Africa will together account for 90% of the additional 2.3b urban dwellers predicted between 2015 and 2050.

The pace of recent change at the city level is unprecedented in human history. Shanghai (click on the city link to focus the map) gained 16 million people between 1990 and 2015, Beijing 13.6 million, Dhaka 11 million. Delhi gained 16 million residents between 1990-2015 and is now the world’s second largest city of 26m. Delhi is predicted to overtake Tokyo to become the world's largest city by 2030, with a predicted 43m residents by 2035.

Small towns like Shenzhen, Xiamen and Dubai have become cities of several million in little over two decades. While the proportion of urban residents living in large cities is increasing, it is important to realise that 50% of the global urban population live in settlements of less than 0.5m. The minimum population threshold for cities included in this map is 0.4m.

Our increasingly urban world now frames many of society’s greatest challenges. From global equality to health, education, prosperity and, not least, sustainability, solutions need to be interwoven with fostering liveable, efficient and inclusive cities.

Waves of Growth
We can see distinct waves of urban growth and stagnation over time. In the 1960s and 1970s, economic growth in Japan, Mexico, Brazil and later South Korea produced rapid urban growth. This growth peaked in 1990 in Japan, in 2000 in South Korea, and city populations are now peaking in Latin America. This is the typical urbanisation cycle of population stabilisation following development.

China and India’s rapid growth has been much more recent, accelerating in the 1990s and 2000s. China’s growth is predicted to slow over the next two decades, with its total population peaking around 2025, although it's rate of urbanisation will continue to rise towards 70% in 2030. India’s population growth will continue much longer to around 2060. There remains a huge rural Indian population of 800 million people, a significant proportion of which will urbanise in coming decades.

Meanwhile many sub-Saharan African countries are just beginning their rapid urban expansion. Lagos is set to gain 12 million residents between 2015 and 2035, Kinshasa 15 million, Dar es Salaam 8 million, Luanda 7.5 million. Urbanisation in Africa will ideally bring the scale of poverty reduction achieved in countries like China, though clearly there are many challenges and huge diversity across the region."
maps  mapping  population  cities  comparison  1990  1950  2015  2035  urban  urbanization 
june 2018 by robertogreco
In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock... | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"[video: "Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cgBvpjwOGo ]

In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock to take photographs of him painting his now famous drip technique. Unsatisfied with the results as they didn’t capture the energy of the paintings, Namuth returned and filmed video footage of Pollock in action. The result is a ten-minute filmed titled Jackson Pollock 51. Watching Pollock’s focus and intensity is fascinating as he produces his seemingly random paintings. I’m reminded of John Berger’s essay on Pollock, where he writes:
What is their content, their meaning? A well-known museum curator, who I saw in the gallery, said ‘They are so meaningful.’ But this, of course, was an example of the way in which qualitative words are now foolishly and constantly stood on their heads as everybody commandeers the common vocabulary for their unique and personal usage. These pictures are meaningless. But the way in which they are so is significant.

I think Pollocks on view of his work offers a profound insight into their significance:
When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of the paint. There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end. Sometimes I lose a painting but I have no fear of changes, of destroying the image. Because a painting has a life of it’s own, I try to let it live.
johnberger  jacksonpollock  jarrettfuller  meaning  process  art  hansnumuth  1950  content  significance 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Cybernetic tortoise by William Grey Walter - - Science Museum
"This 'tortoise' was made by neurologist William Grey Walter as an 'artificial animal' to investigate brain function. It travelled around floors, avoiding obstacles, and was attracted to light.

Alan Turing knew Grey Walter well, being a fellow member of the influential 'Ratio Club' for cybernetics researchers.

In August 1951, Turing visited the Science Museum with four Cambridge friends to see the Festival of Britain science exhibition. While there, the group saw a pair of Grey Walter's tortoises being demonstrated."
cybernetics  1950  williamgreywalter  brain 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Steven Shapin reviews ‘The Pseudoscience Wars’ by Michael Gordin · LRB 8 November 2012
"If pseudosciences are not scientific, neither are they anti-scientific. They flatter science by elaborate rituals of imitation, rejecting many of the facts, theories and presumptions of orthodoxy while embracing what are celebrated as the essential characteristics of science. That is at once a basis for the wide cultural appeal of pseudoscience and an extreme difficulty for those wanting to show what’s wrong with it. Velikovsky advertised his work as, so to speak, more royalist than the king. Did authentic science have masses of references and citations? There they were in Worlds in Collision. Was science meant to aim at the greatest possible explanatory scope, trawling as many disciplines as necessary in search of unified understanding? What in orthodoxy could rival Velikovsky’s integrative vision? Authentic science made specific predictions of what further observation and experiment would show. Velikovsky did too. Was science ideally open to all claimants, subjecting itself to…"
hyperscience  parapsychology  unorthodox  orthodoxy  predictions  logic  reasoning  haroldurey  hermankahn  stanleykubrick  counterculture  hope  fear  alfredkazin  psychoanalytictheory  darwin  uniformitarianism  massivechange  change  catastrophism  worldsincollision  mythology  astronomy  coldwar  1950  fringe  immanuelvalikovsky  books  2012  pseudoscience  science  michaelgordin  stevenshapin  charlesdarwin 
october 2012 by robertogreco

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