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April 09, 2020


Barking Dog

Burlingame voters did their part in Nov by soundly defeating Mr Dunham. Even more evident now by his Twitter and whom he retweets. Also his Feb 2020 oped in the San Jose Mercury.

Richard Cranium

I'm sure the city/county of San Francisco would never let a crisis go to waste to further push their agenda in our backyards. Oh, what's this???? .... https://sfgov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8229644&GUID=B7F18743-E03D-4966-8D8B-01BC67E96E45

Peter Garrison

This resolution lends itself to the panic buying.
Not so much worried about panic buying as panic shooting.
Everybody calm down.


Back on topic, I'm not the only one thinking we should rethink high density. Here's a bit of Linda Koelling's Guest Perspective in yesterday's DJ:

This health crisis should also be a sober awakening for local and state officials to rethink high density living in light of social distancing. We continue to evolve into a global society and close living conditions can be a Petri dish for fostering person-to-person transmitted health issues. The Bay Area skyline has changed dramatically without consideration for unknown situations like a health crisis let alone the infrastructure to handle the additional building. We do need some amount of additional housing but unless or until there is a way to build structures in a way that prevents or minimizes the spread of viral infections, housing projects need to be re-evaluated. We have seen through this virus what close living conditions can do throughout our country and around the world.




Fugit All

Has the science changed on COVID-19 now showing it can be transmitted through solid walls and doors? Can any of the folks Joe is quoting point to a single case where an outbreak of coronavirus can be blamed on an apartment building? I'm wondering where "Ann & Phelim", Linda, and Joe think low-wage essential workers should live during a pandemic: you know the ones who are stocking grocery shelves, delivering food, working at gas stations, and staffing the hospitals in non-clinical roles? Or maybe y'all will support a wage or housing cost schemes for those essential employees that would allow them to afford single family dwellings in areas like ours where prices begin in the 7 figures? Somehow I doubt it. It seems to me the people using this crisis to further their agendas along with a little good old-fashioned fear mongering are the people Joe is quoting, and it's pretty gross.


What's gross is ignoring what is happening in NYC. Get a clue and stop furthering YOUR agenda. Talk about anti-science.

Fugit All


Are you implying that density is the cause of the explosion of cases in NYC? If that were so then cities as or more dense than NY would be experiencing the same number of cases, but that simply isn't so. It would also imply that outbreaks can't happen in less dense cities and towns but we know the opposite is true. We also know that transmission of this virus can be mitigated through modification of BEHAVIORS regardless of density.

I"m a front-line healthcare worker providing direct care to COVID positive patients. And, sit down for this because it will shock and horrify you, I live in a setting that's denser than a single family home. Somehow I haven't infected my entire building. So come at me with anti-science accusations all you want but it rings hollow.

And please tell me what you would propose as housing options for low-wage essential employees who are keeping the basic gears of our society running through this? Or have you not bought food, gas, and other items since SIP went into effect? And if you had to go to the hospital, would you not want the floors and beds disinfected and basic supplies to be stocked?


Unfortunately, Density-Humans, are EXACTLY the reason CV is here.

Christopher Cooke

Contrary to your thesis, Joe, rural America now has the highest rate of infections per capital, but almost no multi-family housing. Have you ever lived in an Apartment building and not known many of your neighbors? I think the key factor is not the type of building you live in, but how you live that explains the rates of infection. If you know your neighbors and closely interact with them, (at church, school etc) you are more likely to get infected. I think dense housing matters less than the degree of interactions. Public transit is different because your physical distance is so much less. That is why people in Japan wear masks on the subway. Something people here should copy


That's another thesis, Chris, but I don't think it's a very good one. As I posted on the Townhall Update thread when I put up today's new case number (12 in the County) another theory is emerging about our high levels of interaction with the Chinese as part of our Silicon Valley business transactions. This may have generated an early herd immunity here. I have had one off-line comment from someone who thinks he and his wife had it in November--just didn't know what it was.

The rural per capita rates could be driven by a number of things including people bugging out of cities to go there. I just got word that Tahoe/Truckee is a new hot spot--care to theorize how that happened? I was very close to bugging out myself.

Also every big apartment building relies on elevators--often small ones. This is the case even with two, three or four floors--it's an ADA regulation I would suppose. So how do you handle that? People in Japan don't just wear masks on the subway--they wear them on the street too, mostly due to knowing they are infected already (e.g. a cold). Plenty of theories to go around, but on its face there's ample evidence that high-density living is less safe in a pandemic.

Fugit All

I guess a nice thing about running your own blog is that you can claim "there's ample evidence" of something without having to actually provide any. Carry on.


Same goes for the commenters. Would love to see the data that says rural areas have a higher per capita infection rate. The CDC data doesn't get nearly that granular, but whatever.

I'll add more support as it comes in. I already got an off-line pointer to another supportive source book called "Deadliest Enemy" by Michael T. Osterholm. But I'll bet you don't care.

Barking Dog

Excellent interview with Michael Osterholm from 3/10/20


Fugit All

I care deeply, Joe. It's why I willingly risk my own health and postpone seeing my own family every time I go to work. What I don't care for is seeing my neighbors use this crisis to advocate for policies that make living here even more untenable for my fellow essential employees who are also risking their health for far less money to support your ability to SIP and stay virus free as you fear monger about the dangers of density. We had a housing crisis before coronavirus hit and the fact that it did does not mean we should give up trying to solve it.

Christopher Cooke

See this article in Scientific America on high infection rates in some rural areas.


Christopher Cooke

Here are actual medical experts calling bunk on "California has herd immunity theory" put out noted medical expert Victor Davis Hanson (a conservative military historian), which Joe just mentioned



I don't know why TypePad isn't showing Chris' second comment directly above. I'll try to repost it:

Here are actual medical experts calling bunk on “California has herd immunity theory“ put out noted medical expert Victor Davis Hanson (a conservative military historian), which Joe just mentioned https://patch.com/california/burlingame-hillsborough/s/h2vav/medical-experts-blast-calif-coronavirus-herd-immunity-theory

And interestingly enough after I posted my comment (by the way, I didn't know that VDH was one source and haven't seen him on the topic) but I did note with interest this bit of today's SF Chronicle article on the same topic:

This week, Monterey TV station KSBW, which is owned by the Hearst Corp., which also owns The Chronicle, interviewed Hanson. That’s when the theory about “herd immunity” spread locally to Bay Area stations and online news sources — including SFGate, also owned by Hearst, which published KSBW’s story (SFGate’s editorial director, Grant Marek, removed the article after questions about its accuracy came to light.)

Such a dangerous idea that the Chronicle must censor it and then revisit it in the print edition.....nice journalism. I first heard the idea from a VC with a lot of interaction with Chinese investors and companies.


I'm not sure why TypePad is keeping Chris' second comment from appearing (at least on my browser). I tried to repost it, but got the same result.

Update: TypePad found the problem--the extension on Chris' original link and was able to replace it. Good work.


Hey Fugit All you little snowflake. You sound like a guy who enlists in the army and then bitches that he might get shot at. Put your little arm band away and get back to work. You want sympathy go enlist in the navy and work on a carrier. That would get my atten-hutt.

Fugit All

Nice, JP.

What are you doing to support your community during this crisis?

PS, I'm a woman.

Bruce Dickinson

Folks, let's all just take a deep sheltered-in-place breath and not repeat what's going on that other blog, nextdoor.com, where people are getting into the craziest fights over gardeners and improper parking. Talk about cabin fever! Seriously, just go raid the wine cellar, order from BevMo or whatever and find a way to just relax!

Bruce Dickinson, as you all know, is a voracious reader and has a lot of friends involved at the highest levels of decision making as it concerns the virus, so like anything else I say, you can trust that it is well-informed, but that kind of goes without saying.

There is zero question that density is a negative contributing factor to the reproduction rate of the virus. We see this in an area like Los Angeles, where the higher density areas around the West side are having greater numbers of cases. In NYC, density definitely didn't help and studies will show that transmission was adversely affected by this.

However, density is also just a part of the story, as the rural areas in the South and Southeast seem to also be disproportionately hit hard. That is more about socio-economics and access to health care. Even in NYC, the poorer areas are seeing 2x+ the infection rate of Manhattan. Those who are in lower income, socio-economically disadvantaged groups already have more health issues, pre-existing conditions, worse access to care and lower life expectancy. In many ways, the virus is exposing how divided we are as a country in terms of the have's and have not's.

The US right now is like 50 different countries in terms of how the virus is affecting each state. And within each state, each county/municipality is further affected differently. A lot of this has to do with the different profiles of each community and the fact that we also have a federalist system that allows the national response, state response, county response, or city/municpality response to be all different. This is a downside of the kind of democracy we have.

We basically need in the US the CDC equivalent of a strong military, with centralized command and control that can easily tap the resources of each state and divert it to the highest, most impactful use. This is definitely going to change how we respond going forward, and the good news is that Bruce Dickinson can guarantee that the next viral outbreak will not be as bad as this one. We will learn from this and move on.

I have been talking about the time when we will face a recession for a while now and now that time has come, but in ways that were unanticipated and will be the most severe since the Great Depression. We will be looking at an alleviation of the pressures that are forcing higher density after 10+years of interrupted economic growth and wealth creation. With 2-3 months of working from home, how many companies are going to re-evaluate their commercial real estate footprint? Do you really need all that office space? How many retailers, already challenged by online shopping, are going to be shutting down stores at a more accelerated pace? How many tech IPOs are no longer going to be IPO'd, small businesses that will have a tough time recovering, hotels that will never see the kind of occupancy they've had historically, restaurants who have provided online ordering/takeout and don't need as large spaces etc etc.

Some of the hyper ventilation caused around crazy real estate prices, housing shortages, bidding wars, developers pushing for maximizing profit by building more on smaller parcels of land is going to go away for a while. It's too bad that the "balance" that will be restored in supply and demand had to be caused by something that has caused so much pain and suffering for what will end up being millions of people and something that could have been ameliorated by a stronger national government response.

I can say that sheltering in place in Burlingame isn't the worst thing in the world, as access to open space, beautiful springtime trees and flowers, people taking social distanced walks and bike rides and access to conveniences (food delivery, healthcare, groceries, Costco, Target) make it a lot more bearable.

Be thankful for what we have and would like to keep for the future!


Thanks, Bruce D. Sometimes I wish TypePad offered a "Like" button. If they did, I'd click it for your comment. The melange of contributing factors to this pandemic will be analyzed for years. Thank you again.

Willie Brown Sez

But what about the rules when it comes to construction?

Under San Francisco health guidelines, building housing is considered essential, but only if 10% or more of the units on the project are “affordable.”

So you can have a crew working on a market-rate job, and it’s considered a health risk. But if the same crew moves over to an affordable housing job, it’s OK.

Makes no sense.

Christopher Cooke

Joe thanks for reposting my comments. Slate has another piece on the herd immunity theory. The gist of it is that genomists can trace the virus through its mutations back to its origin and they say it was not in California until mid January. This theory has essentially been seized in by people anxious to lift shelter in place restrictions. But it is just wishful thinking, at best. I agree with Bruce’s post 100 percent. Rural America tends to be much poorer and the poor have both more health conditions that make them susceptible to the virus and less access to healthcare. But obviously the virus spreads among people and the closer they are to each other the easier it spreads.

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