California State Senator wants to remake cities with midrises near public transit, but he is facing a wave of nimbyism

Scott Wiener is California State Senator for San Francisco, whose SB827, co-sponsored by State Senator Nancy Skinner, will move some zoning responsibility from cities to the state, forcing cities to allow the construction of higher-density housing (duplexes, eight-plexes and midrise, six-story apartment buildings) near public transit stops. Read the rest

LA's soaring homelessness is distorting the national statistics

LA's homeless population is up 75% over the past six years; remove LA from the national statistics and the rate of American homelessness is actually in decline. Read the rest

Three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco's live music

Jamie Zawinski (previously), who owns San Francisco's amazing DNA Lounge venue, does a postmortem on the announcements from Slim's and the Great American Music Hall that they have "partnered" with Golden Voice, a division of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a $8 billion company that is the world's largest owner of sports teams and events; owns Coachella and ten other large festivals, and is in turned owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier. Read the rest

California joins Montana and New York in creating state Net Neutrality rules

The FCC's order killing Net Neutrality in December 2016 also includes a prohibition on states making their own telcoms rules that restore it (this is a mixed bag -- if states' rights don't permit them to overrule the FCC, then a future FCC that reinstates a Net Neutrality order could stop states whose governments are captured by telcoms lobbyists from subverting it), and states have fought back though a loophole: the governors of Montana and New York have issued executive orders banning non-Neutral ISPs from doing business with the government; but in California, the State Senate just went further. Read the rest

Converted garage now home to museum of 'curious scents'

Almost directly behind the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California is a garage that has been converted into a tiny museum dedicated to fragrance. Its curator, author and perfumer Mandy Aftel, opened the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents just last year.

Bianca Taylor of KQED Arts recently visited the archive and writes:

Aftel tells me that the natural oils in her perfumes are not as pungent and long-lasting as the synthetic oils that you’d find at a makeup counter.

The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents was founded as a way to share her love of natural fragrance with the world...

Aftel says perfume is more than just Chanel. Scented materials have been used in spiritual traditions from Buddhism to Catholicism, and Native American rituals. She has created nearly all of the 300 scents in the museum.

“Perfume has a very tangled history,” she explains. “There is no civilization that didn’t revere and want scented materials.”

The New York Times Style Magazine visited in 2017 and reported:

...[It] is not just the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to perfume, but more beguilingly, the first one dedicated to the experience of fragrance. This tiny museum manages to contain the olfactory history of the world: hundreds of natural essences, raw ingredients and antique tinctures gathered from every corner of the globe, and all available for visitors to smell.

The museum is only open on Saturdays from 10 AM to 6 PM, and tickets are $20. That buys you one hour and "3 letter-press scent strips to dip in essences and take home."

image via Aftelier Perfumes Read the rest

I'm speaking at UCSD on Feb 9!

I'm appearing at UCSD on February 9, with a talk called "Scarcity, Abundance and the Finite Planet: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess," in which I'll discuss the potentials for scarcity and abundance -- and bright-green vs austere-green futurism -- drawing on my novels Walkaway, Makers and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Read the rest

California's lax usury laws means out-of-state loan sharks are charging desperate Californians 183% APRs

California regulates payday loans (good thing, since Trump's about to kill the federal rules preventing payday loansharking), but not "installment loans" of $2,500 to $5,000 and that means that out-of-state lenders are able to target desperate Californians; they're getting seven-year loans of $5,000 that cost $42,000 to repay. Read the rest

Watch 'The Lyft Rapper' co-create music with his passengers

Shakespeare wrote that "All the world's a stage." But for Oakland, California-based Ashel Eldridge, he's made his car his stage. Dubbed "The Lyft Rapper," he invites his passengers to choose a topic and style of song and he'll make up a song about it on the spot.

KQED Arts writes:

Elridge, who also goes by the emcee name Seasunz, says his mission is to elevate the consciousness of his community by helping people understand the forces that may be manipulating them.

His passengers say they’re startled at first when their Lyft driver begins rapping to them. But after the song, they admit the Lyft Rapper has turned a typically mundane trip into an unforgettable experience.

Here's his most recent video:

Yes, he has his passengers sign releases. And no, I don't believe he's sponsored in any way by Lyft. Read the rest

In California, an underground network of anti-vax doctors will write your kid a medical exemption letter to get them out of their vaccinations

After an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, California lawmakers had enough and passed SB277, banning kids from attending the state's schools unless they were fully vaccinated, and eliminating the waiver that let parents put their kids and others' in danger by signing a form stating that "immunization is contrary to my beliefs." Read the rest

ICE Director wants criminal charges against local officials in sanctuary cities

Thomas Homan is the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency; in an interview on (where else) Fox News, he said that local officials in "sanctuary cities" (cities where law enforcement agencies do not pro-actively check immigration status of people they question or arrest, and require immigration officials to present warrants along with requests to detain people) should be held criminally liable for "harboring and smuggling" unauthorized immigrants. Read the rest

Big Weed: ten farms could supply all of America with marijuana

When Washington State legalized recreational marijuana three years ago, it created a licensing regime that was supposed to protect and encourage small growers, but the data shows that marijuana growing has consolidated into a few large suppliers, even as the price per gram has fallen -- and that the industry's embrace of exotic derivatives like edibles and concentrates is capital-intensive and inaccessible to small, independent providers. Read the rest

California's record poverty and real-estate bubble are creating a "wheel-estate" boom of people with good jobs living in their cars

Extreme housing prices in California -- driven by a combination of speculation, favorable legal/tax positions for landlords, foreclosures after the 2008 crisis, and an unwillingness to build public housing -- has created vast homeless encampments, but there's a less visible side to the crisis: working people in "good jobs" who have to live in their cars. Read the rest

California bans recreational abalone diving

California's abalone, once thought to be bouncing back from astounding levels of over-fishing, are again in trouble. Environmental conditions have led to mass starvation and are dramatically reducing this beloved sea delicacies chances of survival. In response the already limited recreational fishing season will be cancelled.

Via CA Diver:

By a unanimous vote of the California Fish and Game Commission, the abalone fishery on California’s North Coast will be closed next year. The decision came as the Nature Conservancy and avid divers were desperately looking for a way to save the season.

Fish and Game Commissioners made the decision Thursday in San Diego. Their decisions were based on evidence of mass starvation and mortality among red abalone over the past several years. According to several studies, over the past three years the growth of kelp — a major food source for abalone – has declined significantly, and a dramatic increase in the population of purple sea urchins have competed for the remaining kelp with the abalone.

Ongoing surveys at 10 popular diving sites on the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts suggest density has declined by an average 65 percent this year compared with years past, according to Fish and Wildlife data. An estimated 25 percent of the red abalone found in the surveyed area were starving, and between 22 percent and 67 percent of abalone in the water were found dead at the survey sites, said Sonke Mastrup, environmental program manager at the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Read the rest

Intensity of Southern California fires as seen from space

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the horrific fires rapidly spreading through Southern California. Stay safe, friends. From NASA:

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on Dec. 05, 2017. Actively burning areas (hot spots), detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Each hot spot is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for fire.

Read the rest

Disneyland to offer 'After Dark' events in 2018, starting with a 'Throwback Nite'

Starting on January 18, Disneyland will be offering a series of after-hours events called Disneyland After Dark.

The first one is called "Throwback Nite" and it taps into early Disney nostalgia:

Step back in time to the ‘50s and ‘60s for a taste of the classic after-dark experience at Disneyland. Come dressed in your best to enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth under a million twinkling lights, swinging to the tune of the bands and enjoying your favorite rides in the cool moonlight ‘till the clock strikes 1 a.m.!

Original attraction posters of Disneyland experiences from yesteryear welcome you as you commemorate the evening with special photo locations... Live music and dancing bring the bygone era to life throughout the park, and the sky lights up with an exclusive showing of “Fantasy in The Sky” fireworks. Guests will receive a commemorative lanyard and a vintage-inspired park map that will highlight the special experiences taking place throughout the evening.

It sounds to me like a nighttime, sanctioned version of the popular Dapper Day, ie. it sounds like fun!

Tickets go on sale at Disneyland.com to the general public on December 7 and on November 30 for annual passholders of the resort. Read the rest

After a show of solidarity from America's critics, Disney caves on blacklisting the LA Times from movie screenings

Disney has ended its blacklisting of the LA Times' movie critics from advance screenings -- a move it took in retaliation for a pair of in-depth, investigative articles that cataloged the one-sided deals it has extracted from the city of Anaheim, where it is the largest employer, taxpayer, charitable giver, and political contributor -- after the nation's movie critics announced that they would not review nor consider for awards any Disney movie. Read the rest

Rich people in Northern California got better firefighting services, thanks to private insurers

Wealthy people whose homes were threatened by last month's Napa wildfires got better fire-suppression services than their poorer neighbors, thanks to private firefighters paid for through their insurance plans. Read the rest

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