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August 30, 2014

Comments

Joanne

If I hadn't a bought my house here years ago I would not be renting anywhere on the Peninsula these days.
If I didn't have a job that held me here I would simply move to a cheaper part of the state. My mortgage is about the same as what my daughter pays for a studio apartment in Burlingame.

Peter Garrison

I admire " I " statements on this forum. And real names.

Douglas Radtke

How about the topic of whether ABAG, as an non-elected, non-governmental board has the right to make collective decisions and dictate any policy at all?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cHaqU3X-RM

Joanne

One Bay Area Plan, ABAG...all basically a scam to achieve their ultimate goal.

JFW

Does anyone mourn the evil landlords when the "prosperity bubbles" burst? Does anyone say, you know, those landlords took on a lot of debt and risk to buy that property--maybe they should get a subsidy when there's an economic downturn? yep, didn't think so.

--Always suspicious of altruism.

Honorarium Creo Factum

JFW, no one that I'm friends with thinks landlords are evil. Yes, that's where your family decide to invest its retirement savings, or perhaps as a choice in managing your family's wealth.

People are concerned about gouging existing tenants, both commercial tenants and residential tenants. Some great examples of attempts at 30% increases for office and restaurant spaces around Burlingame Ave, which resulted in true pioneering tech companies leaving Burlingame for SOMA just as they hired a bunch of new employees, or that favorite restaurant with a charming owner who moved south with his business.

People are concerned about the careful Burlingame/local public hearing/planning process being secretly trashed via the douchebag...I mean ABAG city consortiums where otherwise nice guys like Michael Brownrigg support Union-Make-Work dumb projects like The Grand Boulevard Initiative in the name of [Green is the new Red] the environment. GBI is generally not wanted by probably 80%+ of Burlingamers in my estimate.

Tough sh*t - The Unions are in charge because YOU voted the Democrats into power and boy did those politicians make big promises during that endorsement interview and subsequent Honorarium speeches.

That's why I like the Libertarian perspective instead. It's like Ben Franklin...common sense. Tolerance for other people's perspectives and great respect for the individual rights of others...and just as much honor for individual responsibility and work ethic.

Certainly, we respect the environment, but we're not going to bake income /wealth redistribution into Green Monster-veiled Agenda 21 and its hideous offspring, ABAG and GBI and HSR.

Like The Pope recently said, [You don't have to be Christian to have salvation. Do good deeds for other people]. Oh yeah, that's called Integrity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity

fred

Libertarianism would support the laissez-faire economic approach and let the market dictate the rents. Just like the property prices.

Honorarium Creo Factum

Fred, modern day Libertarians are not 100% laissez-faire. It's much more about limited government, fiscal responsibility, and social tolerance.

Besides, I'm speaking out against Union bullying and their lack of tolerance for any perspective but their own. It's either their way or they'll back stab you...proudly.

I'm also speaking out against the terrible culture that the is created when minority perspectives are stamped out by the Dem Super Majority (aka Unions).

Unions SHOULD exist, but they should not disrespect other's perspectives and frequently disregard the law (see HSR illegal actions), and actually encourage their members to use "Rules For Radicals" backstabbing on anyone that doesn't obey their whims.

I'm pointing out again that "Honorarium Creo Factum"...that local politicians have admitted in front of me and other witnesses (two separate times) that they get paid money to support Union agendas, which is actually illegal. But, the good people of Burlingame and California keep voting these folks back into office. Hey, even Leland "Shoulder-Fired Rocketlauncher" Yee got over 200,000 votes. Good job, Dem voters.

I'm also calling for people to remember integrity and love thy neighbor ethics among the negative culture of the backstabbers.

Honorarium Creo Factum.

Bruce Dickinson

It's been a long time since I've taken Latin folks (yes, Bruce Dickinson was trained in the Classics), but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that "Hononarium Creo Factum" does not appear to be an actual Latin saying? It sounds suspiciously like a motto of the fraternity that I almost joined during my undergrad years at NYU, but something seems off.

Alas, I digress. Look folks, to be upfront, Bruce Dickinson has been blessed with the opportunity to have a 50 year career in the recording industry, and I am an owner real estate property, in quite a few locations actually. Property ownership does confer certain advantages, but also I have seen the flip side of this, namely up-and-coming bands that either lived out of their cars or vans or lived in tiny apartments. Guess what I have seen over 5 decades? I have seen 5-6 recessions, and let me tell you folks, recessions are not kind to property "owners" who also have mortgage debt, who tend to get hurt during those times, but renters living in their small apartments can get by without all the baggage.

To wit, millions of americans' wealth were completely destroyed during the last recession because their home equity was wiped out, they had mortgages they could not afford to due to job loss or lower incomes, nor could they sell their houses as they were "under water". Rentals on the other hand offer a lot more flexibility in that you are not obligated to stay in one place, in addition to overall having cheaper options, so let's not paint this one sided picture that property owners have automatic advantages. They are advantages so long as real estate values and incomes go up and you don't have debt, but that doesn't always happen. I have known many property "owners" with mortgage debt, from lower income to higher income, lose their house or a substantial portion of the asset they thought they owned. You get caught in the wrong situation at the wrong time and an asset can become a liability, in a short amount of time. Also any mortgage interest deduction advantage is usually offset by property taxes, where the two essentially become a wash. If mortgages are above a certain level, there is no interest deduction beyond that point.

As mentioned before in one of the Dr. Dickinson lectures, there is a link between real estate values and rent, as it were, because property owners can choose to live in their property or rent it out. They can also choose to keep their apartment buildings or tear them down and build and sell condos, townhouses, or even homes. This means that rents increase because property values increase. They decline when property levels decline. There were some great rental bargains during the last recession, but those disappeared as property values regained some or all of their prior losses. This is why rent control doesn't work partially because there is a long term substitution effect between ownership and rental.

This is the story of the bay area, but other than that and a few select cities, the vast majority of housing in the USA has not recovered to its pre-recession highs. Ownership is not for everyone, especially if financed with too much debt, which really is another form of rent paid to a bank. This applies to businesses as well as individual households and I have seen countless examples of problems with debt. Bruce Dickinson urges everyone to broaden their perspectives, if you will, as there are two sides to every coin and the grass isn't always greener across the pasture. Tell the millions of Americans who lost their homes of their home ownership "advantages" and they would disagree, yes vehemently disagree, with that assertion, as it were.

Honorarium Creo Factum

BD,

Hononarium Creo Factum.

Getting paid an honorarium to speak at a Union event creates jobs for Union workers via the policy decisions of the politician, whose Unions paid off the politician.

It's also an illegal action, which a politician admitted to in front of several people in front of me (twice).

So, yes, the term is satirical of local politics.

Thus the make-work political decisions by Union backed politicians on mega projects like The Grand Boulevard Initiative and High Speed Rail - ad nauseam. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_nauseam

Great Grandpa Jerry!
Editor

Folks, let's try to stay on topic. Please continue the discussion regarding housing issues in Burlingame. Thanks.

hillsider

Thank you, Ed. Isn't the discussion moot since the old ordinance precludes any rent control?

Dave Mac.

I am strongly against any more significant development in Burlingame (residential or commercial). I think the amount of people and amount of business in Burlingame is just where it should be, and it might even be leaning on the side of overcrowding. Our schools are clearly overcrowded, and parking/driving is absolutely awful (granted there is construction, but it is largely completed and it doesn’t seem that final completion will make a significant difference). So guess what we should not be doing – adding more people. I moved out of SF to Bgame partly to own a home in a small town that doesn’t feel cramped. It seems Burlingame is on a path to becoming a miniature version of SF, the very thing we are trying to avoid. It’s pretty simple – we need to stop that from happening. We need to stand up like the people of Menlo Park and maintain Burlingame as the awesome small town that it is. In the case of Bgame - updating good; adding bad. There is just not enough room.

With respect to renters, it's a very tough issue. Adding “affordable housing” simply means adding more bodies into an already overcrowded town, which leads to more overcrowding. Burlingame is maxed-out. Stop adding to it. There is an awesome train stop that people can use to get to Burlingame, conveniently across the street from the downtown/commercial area. But yes, it would be nice if we could allow teachers, police, employees of Bgame businesses, elderly, etc to live in Burlingame without adding to it. Allowing your “market forces” to dictate what Bgame looks like simply means that there will never be any “affordable” housing in Bgame (this is the Peninsula after all), unless the real estate market crashes. But then when rents eventually go up, which they will (this is the Peninsula) those same teaches, etc. will have to leave because they won’t be able to pay the new rents. It’s a vicious cycle (for the renters) and unfortunately people (at least those who make decisions) seem to care more about money than about people, which is quite sad.

Bruce Dickinson

Not to fuel the fire that seemingly cannot be contained, so to speak, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that perhaps some of the posters above need a new eyeglasses prescription and mistook the "e" for an "a", as in "to rant or not to rant"?

On a quasi-tangent (sorry Joe, but you must admit you do owe Bruce Dickinson some leeway on this for giving me a hard time for not initially biting your "Abbey Road" bait) I never understood the concept of a libertarian. As I understand it, socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Translation: I'm all about social equality, except when it comes to me and my wealth". It's like the term "Supermarket Catholic", where you can pick and choose the best of all worlds to define your own religion. Seems like a contradiction when you propose social liberalism but then say that only applies to race, gender, sexual orientation, but not really where it matters to you, ie how rich you are compared to everyone else. At least "limousine liberals" as it were, actually feel guilty about their wealth and probably do donate a ton of money to socially just causes (yours truly does, that is for sure) or regular liberals who really believe in wealth redistribution as a component of social equality. Even the Republicans basically say, I'm all about me, through and through, screw everyone else, but again it's consistent. Actually The "Libetarian Party" seems like a cop-out party, which may explain the low registration in that party, as it were, as most Americans get the joke.

Before I digress too much, I will say that the "market forces" are not just a Burlingame problem, but a Bay Area problem. Blame the low 25 inches of rain per year, no snow, mild winters and summers, coastal living, scenic vistas, leading global technology firms, et al. Folks, the Bay Area is a victim of its own success, as it were, as these characteristics make it highly desirable for people to live here and thus demand for housing will outpace supply, it always has and always will. Folks, it's the same "market forces" that exist where in parts of Detroit, Michigan, the house that you can buy costs a fraction of what you can actually build it for. In fact, you can actually move into an abandoned house and live for free for a limited time, of course.

Bruce Dickinson reminds everyone that the USA is a big country, and while it is sad that not everyone can afford to live where they really want to, there is freedom of movement that opens up options. Try this in a communist or dictatorial country. Yes, everyone is given a roof over their heads, but what is the price and would true freedom of movement result in "market forces" that make more people want to move into these countries than out of them? I think we all know the answer to this..it all comes to supply and demand. We have to support the less fortunate, but at the same time, it's a slippery slope to intervening in market forces and causing problems in the long run for would be renters and homeowners alike. You can't have your cake and eat it too, to wit, you can't intervene in the rental market without effecting rental prices for future renters or overall real estate prices. If you want to control both, you have to redistribute wealth, period. The "supermarket" pick and choose approach cannot apply here, in a similar vein to how the concept of the "Libertarian Party" is an inconsistent one.

Fiscally conservative

BD,

Fiscally conservative means don't take on massive debt whether it be for the High Speed Fail make work like $100B train, or don't make big promises on pensions to workers that the government won't be able to deliver ($70M in unfunded pension liabilities in Burlingame alone and $900M in the same at the San Mateo County level).

Fiscally conservative means don't give free health care for life to a Burlingame city worker and their significant other for only 5 years of service and let them retire at 50.

Fiscally conservative means don't regularly run a massive deficit like SF's $100M per year deficit. Fiscally conservative means don't give out free stuff to anyone that wants to illegally enter our country (a crime according to the law).

Fiscally conservative means pay taxes instead of taking a ton of under the table salaries.

Fiscally conservative means provide a safety net for people that have significant disabilities or who are temporarily out of work, but make a vigorous effort to root out fraud in the system (people are have a job and also take gov't hand outs).

Fiscally conservative is about operating with a long term perspective and not pandering to the Unions, or to any other special interest group in order to simply get their campaign contribution and votes.

It's a tough perspective to teach in California among the Dem-Wits.

Douglas Radtke

There is nothing "cop-out" about sticking to principle and registering as a Libertarian or even a Green for that matter. I would argue it is much less of a "cop-out" than registering "decline to state" or the Bay Area default "Democrat" in name only.

To define a Libertarian as simply "socially liberal" and "fiscally conservative" is a gross oversimplification. The principles of being socially liberal and fiscally conservative are actually in fact, absolutely mutually exclusive - you can believe in both concepts without fear of contradiction!

Libertarians believe that significant positive outcomes can come when you allow free market forces to take effect. We don't believe taxation is a force for social manipulation and definitely doesn't constitute what one would consider "charity" unless your idea of charity is having a gun held to your head to enforce that "donation".

Libertarians believe in the possibilities of the free market to create solutions for people. Government can function, and more often than not - functions as an obstructive coercive force rife with corruption. The larger the government grows, the easier it is to be such - Libertarians are generally against increasing the size and scope of government unnecessarily.

Libertarians are some of the most politically consistent individuals out there. We advocate maximum personal freedom, but with personal responsibility. That really doesn't mix with your view.

Where the other two parties only got a clue in the last few years - Libertarians have been advocating for LGBT rights since the 70s. They were against the Vietnam War, and generally speaking has there been any significant reason for us to be at war the last few times since then?

Let me point out the fact that "limousine liberals" are not as altruistic as you believe. Are you aware of Barbara Boxer? She's living off the spoils of elected office, having watched her salary more than double, become a millionaire and paid her family members hundreds of thousands of dollars out of her special-interest-funded political committees.”

On the topic of housing, there is absolutely no need for this absurd "wealth redistribution" to create positive housing outcomes for the people in the Bay Area. I dislike dialogue and the insistence that there is only option A and B - wasn't it option A and B in the form of political parties that got us in this mess in the first place?

It's the "San Francisco" liberal values that have priced the poor out of the area:

http://reason.com/archives/2013/11/29/san-francisco-values-pricing-poor-out-of

So let me make the simple problems to the housing situation clear:

1) You have an obstructionist government which prevents reasonable developers from building additional housing (and then hand-selects the ones they want via Plan Bay Area). Supply is limited artificially.

2) You have obstructionist, dated, racist laws from the past. Housing could be opened up to the most vulnerable and poor populations by striking out a few lines in the municipal codes. Bring back SF flophouses.

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/07/sros_flophouses_microapartments_smart_cities_are_finally_allowing_the_right.html

3) You have destructive economic policies such as anti-landlord laws and rental control in SF.

Hey honestly Bruce, agree to disagree on the topic of Libertarians and please excuse my bias (as I am a Libertarian), but I think just a dash of Libertarian thought could go a long way in this insane Bay Area.

Certainly under NORMAL economic policy, prices would have long normalized. I haven't even gone into EB-5 investment visas which I have written about in the San Mateo Daily Journal that further compounds the issue of speculative real estate (the individuals who get residence and then in turn, naturally buy homes in the Bay Area).

On the note of low registration:

Proposition 14 dropped quite the bomb on third parties outside the big two, that has had more an effect than anything on third party registration numbers.

The big two have a vested interest in placing obstructions for ballot access and promotion of third parties. It's part of the system. Would you relinquish control of your political system to the upstarts? Probably not.

Douglas Radtke

Might I also point out in a world of Uber, Lyft, and SideCar which are very "Libertarian" ideas - the establishment wants to shut it down for really no legitimate reason other than it threatens union and taxi cartel interests.

The same goes for AirBnb. Rooms are being rented to folks who can't afford expensive hotels, and the government seeks to crush it, regulate it, tax it "for your own good".

If you want to see how local government treats great ideas - look at how FlightCar got chased out of Millbrae. They were harassed, probed, and ultimately the issue is long-term parking tax.

The code academies (some which are absolutely free to women and minorities) are being harassed by California Education regulators despite having 95%+ employment rates... and helping those groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields! You'd think the "tolerati" liberals would be dancing in the street singing praises of the code academies - not so. Again, the mantra is regulate, tax, control.

I'm not sure about you, but these solutions which add real value to people's lives are sure a hell of a lot better than the "limousine liberal" endorsed options that weren't working.

If this is baking your own cake and eating it, then I'm going to keep baking and eating my cake all damn day - because the alternatives are simply NOT working.

Bruce Dickinson

Listen, Doug-baby, let me say this up front, and as everyone on this site knows, I'm not one to mince words. Let Bruce Dickinson say this: you have got what appears to be some dynamite ideas. I don't care what they're officially labeled or not and I don't disagree that the limousine liberal approach ain't working...period. I am a disaffected, yes very disaffected Democrat, but I think it's due to the way the party operates in California, which has literally taken this State hostage. This is not the party that I joined when I was starting my career in the early 60s.

Having said that, I think the political posturing and stupid video links by many of the posters (not you, to be clear) are about welcome as a toddler taking off his diaper pooping on your marble floor, as it were. I welcome prescriptions with real solutions, not a bunch of tea party ranting with playground arguments and name calling. It is clear that the voice readers as well as the editors are, to put it succinctly, sick of it.

So please, keep the great observations and ideas coming, it was a welcome breath of fresh air when I started to see some dynamite thinking on this site! And coming from Bruce Dickinson, yes *the* Bruce Dickinson, that means a lot!

Hoffa and The Gangsters.

Listen, fake Bruce baby,

I've worked with many real rock stars while producing real concerts, and I'm guessing that you are actually Russ Cohen. I like Russ, so that works.

Anyway, your poop on the marble imagery was certainly vivid, but perhaps its time that you face the reality of the Dem-wits and abandon their equally fake promises of peace and love while ordering war and giving away billions to fund other people doing the killing.

The real stench is in the breath of corruption in our community, whether in Sac, SF, Burlingame or behind, and it's all the smell of money, in payoffs, construction contracts, and acid-inspired Social Justice that reeks of mental lapses and hypocrisy.

Arrogance never persuades for long, Bruce Baby.

Finally, the people of California are waking up to the scam that has been perpetrated on us in the name of make-work contracts.

Design & Tech Charter School in Millbrae - that's what will give that generation housing and savings and a future, not promises of free stuff and unsustainable entitlements via Hoffa and The Gangsters.

Douglas Radtke

Hey thanks Bruce, very thoughtfully written.

Call me disaffected by both parties to be frank.

I loved Ralph Nader's book Unstoppable, highly recommend it as a read. We've got to find ground we can agree and develop solutions from there. I think and hope the majority of people are advocates for transparency, accountability, and civil liberties.

You might find it strange that a pro free-market Libertarian is a fan of pro-regulation Ralph Nader, but it really isn't. A competitive free market is not a completely wild wild west laissez-faire free for all.

Anyway in this era of political bad faith (Don't think it's been worse than it is now in history), there's a glimmer of hope in joint alliances where we can agree on things.

At the local level, restoring local control, refraining from gratuitous spending, and establishing sound financial policies I think are a priority.

I'm from Millbrae, and some would think this is bizarre coming from a Libertarian but I had advocated for the establishment of an OPEB trust fund and phasing out defined benefit plans. The city made promises to past employees it can't keep. They sit on CDs and LAIF for their 15% reserves which is insane. Instead they choose the "pay as you go" method and suffer from annually increasing NOO for GASB 45 reporting purposes. ARC is already exceeding current PAYGO amounts.

It is my understanding that establishing an irrevocable OPEB trust and modification of the city investment policy may allow a more diversified portfolio of higher yield investments in the trust. I know that government entities are limited in their investment pool options since the Lehman bros fiasco - but without a doubt a trust that lockboxes existing and past employees benefits would SAVE the city money. It's very clear to me there is a lack of financial understanding in Millbrae. They refinance one bond, and they're all patting themselves on the back like it's a heroic move.

The details of creating a financially sustainable town is often not the sexiest platform to run on, but it is something I'm passionate about. I want to save the Millbrae government from their own future insolvency - that's the path they're heading down if the shenanigans continue.

Anyway I digress, thanks for the tip of the hat Bruce.

Holleyroller@hotwire.com

I went to the Millbrae Farmers Market this weekend. I parked two blocks away from the parking lot where the event was being held...
Two City of Millbrae Blocks. Every single business was Asian owned/sold only Asian products.
AS I approached the Farmers Market all I could smell was Cigarette Smoke. It was unbelievable that so many Asians were smoking.
AS I walked through the market, with the exception of Cuneo's Baked Goods, every single booth was Asian.
I am complaining.
Asian people treat white people horrible. The signs that advertise products are not written in "American." Same thing in the restaurants.
Why do you think that is?
Is the fact that I am a white female asking this question mean I am Racist?
Is there someone out there who will be able to make an excuse?
If so I am looking forward to your reason.

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