Gary Patton 
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Recent Comments

Re: “Monday's Briefing: Uber/Lyft Drivers Net Just $8.55 an Hour; 48% Percent of Bay Area Residents Back Schaaf on ICE

From the first day, these so called "new economy" jobs like Lyft and Uber have been an exercise in false advertisement and a business model that is unsustainable. How anyone can sign up for this obvious hustle is mind boggling and illustrative of a culture of lemmings focused around a phone. These business have played by different rules and stolen car services from legitimate taxi cab companies. It is no surprise that at the end of the day, drivers are getting taken. Uber has no responsibility for insurance, gas, maintenance or even providing adequate background checks. It is about time that these folks are exposed for the scammers that they are.

Posted by Gary Patton on 03/05/2018 at 4:36 PM

Re: “You're Not a Progressive If You're Also a NIMBY

Despite all of the progressive or conservative discussion points and various opinions about the governments role in applying zoning laws and developer greed, at the end of the day, the problem is not complex at all. Americans have been mentally programmed to believe that living in white single family neighborhoods is what will give you the American dream life that everyone wants and should be pursuing. Look at the images of family life and good neighborhoods that mainly television and many movies have projected since inception. There has been endless programming of "family" TV, from shows like "Leave it to Beaver" (60 years ago) to "Last Man Standing". It is a delusional vision of the world containing single family neighborhoods, mostly thin white people and a place where everybody is both economically comfortable and good looking. Living in that picture for many is the definition of success in life and is the main motivation for economic and political decisions related to housing. Nothing else makes any sense because you can forever make intellectual arguments for both conservative and progressive sides and be correct. This reality is illogical and we should stop trying to make it make sense. There is no other reason why Americans spend billions of dollars a year traveling to great cities around the world. These cities are celebrated by all for the energy and vibrancy created by housing density, grand boulevards and public transportation. From an urban design perspective you can break down the street and sidewalk widths, building heights, densities and massing into a formula that can be built anywhere. The formulas create safe spaces and scale of buildings that frame the public realm so that humans are comfortable. Despite Americans enjoying these places around the world, city planners at home try and use the formulas to create this environment in their neighborhood and they oppose it. Not only do they oppose it, they threaten any local politician who dares to interrupt the mental programming ingrained in their brain. It makes no sense, so we should stop trying to make it logical. Sometimes you just need to call a thing a thing. You only have to look at the recent poll and list of most desirable places to live in America that came out this week. At the top of the list are places like Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. Really, most desirable for who?

Posted by Gary Patton on 03/01/2018 at 4:52 PM

Re: “Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley Announces New Policy to Reduce and Dismiss Potentially Thousands of Marijuana Convictions

It is about time that the criminal justice system do something to address the blatant racial inequities of the "marijuana industry". The facts are that the overwhelming majority of those setting themselves up to make money hand over fist in this new day of marijuana legalization are white males. At the same time, millions of Black and Brown people across the country continue to be arrested, jailed and otherwise have their lives ruined for the exact same activity. That activity is the cultivation, harvesting and sale of marijuana. No matter what legal spin you want to use, at the end of the day, the behavior is the same. The difference is that if you are a white capitalist who can finance a growing operation and get a permit, you are applauded as an enlightened capitalist. If you are not, you are a criminal. There are similar parallels in the new transportation service economy. At least in the bay area, the cab industry is dominated by drivers and owners from the middle east. Now, with the advent of companies like Uber and Lyft, those people are being pushed out. It would be one thing if the these new companies succeeded through fair competition. But once again, that is not the case. These new economy transportation capitalists are primarily young white males who are stealing the industry from hard working people by not playing by the same rules. They don't do background checks on drivers, they don't insure the drivers or the public. In fact they claim that their drivers are not even employees. All the profits go to the owners who provide the electronic platform and all the risk is on the drivers. This kind of no risk business model cannot help but make money. However, it trounces on all notions of true competition. It is blatantly unfair and the complicity of the government in waiving and modifying rules that compromise public safety is just plain wrong. These are just the latest examples of America at its best, favoring certain people over others and trying to convince you that nothing is wrong.

Posted by Gary Patton on 02/20/2018 at 3:25 PM

Re: “Alameda's Big Mistake

Come on EBX, I expect you to a better job of providing factual context for your articles. I know that your page space is limited, but in this case, a simple Google search of the project would tell you that the issues here are more complicated than your attention grabbing headline suggests. There is no doubt that historically, Alameda and it's politicians have a very poor record when it comes to building housing, especially affordable housing. The local politics have always tended to support the maintenance of the "old" island demographics and having a multi cultural community with more than single family homes has generally not been seen as a good thing. With that being said, the facts in this case seem to suggest that this project was not ready to come forward for action. Despite the State Law encouraging the approval of new housing, the City Council is responsible for insuring the long term best interest of the future residents of this neighborhood and the City as a whole. It seems that this project is proposing a woefully small number of affordable units (59), with no deed restrictions to insure that they remain that way. Instead, they propose "affordable by design" units, meaning that they will be cheaper by virtue of size alone. Secondly, there were no agreements in place for long term maintenance of the proposed public open space and nothing in the proposal addressed sustainability issues related to the potential rise in water levels in the bay. The leveraging of the public space by the City Council in order to get the developer to adequately address issue of affordability, sustainability, maintenance and public safety is totally appropriate.

Posted by Gary Patton on 02/06/2018 at 4:49 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Spent $6 Million on a Computer System to Track Officer Misconduct, and It Doesn't Work

Len, perhaps what I should have said is that if Oakland had a strong City Manager, as opposed to a City Administrator, perhaps the results would be different. The difference may seem subtle to most, but as a person with years of experience in both systems, there is a major difference. The biggest difference is that a strong City Manager sets the work priorities for the organization, not the Mayor. This helps keep politics and knee jerk desires of the Mayor and City Council away from the day to day life of the employees. Additionally, the City Manager is hired by and reports to the full City Council, not the Mayor. In my opinion, that difference in the distribution of power and authority is why, under the current system, Oakland will never attract strong experienced, qualified candidates.No good public administrator would go to a place to take orders from a Mayor, who has no technical qualifications or experience to lead an organization.

Posted by Gary Patton on 02/05/2018 at 11:17 AM

Re: “Smart Growth Housing Bill Is a Game-Changer

Mr Gammon, I hope you are right. I have not read the bill, so I trust that the sticks you mention are strong enough. Excuse my lack of faith. My hopes are clouded in skepticism based on history and the concern that local politicians, who have to run for office, will still have a problem voting to approve projects that their constituents do not want. White America has demonstrated over and over again that they will go against their own best interest when it comes to race and class. The bill may allow more affluent suburban communities without mass transit nodes to continue ignoring the affordable housing issue in favor of continuing to believe that "those" low income people can go live in Oakland or Berkeley. Increasingly, the new development pattern is for large employers like Amazon to locate in places like Tracy and Modesto where they can purchase large tracts of cheap farm land and spread out unconfined by existing infrastructure. The majority of the jobs they create are not high paying and those employees will need to find affordable housing somewhere. There is no reason why that should not be in Tracy or North Livermore. There are remaining sites Hacienda Ranch. What are the chances that affordable housing will be built there? Probably slim and none. For many reasons related to social equity, affordable housing needs to be spread out over a region and not necessarily concentrated in centralized urban areas, who have historically carried that burden.

Posted by Gary Patton on 02/02/2018 at 2:59 PM

Re: “Smart Growth Housing Bill Is a Game-Changer

To suggest that the housing crisis in California can be addressed by a Senate Bill connecting housing and density to climate change is naive at best. The State of California has had requirements for cities to create affordable housing through it's Housing Element of the General Plan for 30 years. In addition, over the last 20 years the law has required cities to designate specific sites and suggested development densities that would be appropriate. The resulting development of much needed high density affordable housing statewide has been a joke. The problem is not the law, no matter how it is written. At the end of the day, it is always about race and class.These laws have no teeth that would either penalize cities for failing to meet their goals or automatically approve development consistent with the densities on identified sites. Without a stick in the law, local politicians remain subject to political pressures to stay in office. That means that low density and affluent neighborhoods still have the political power to prevent local council members from allowing development that they know they should be approving. What we need is a law requiring these huge job creators to be required to fund or build affordable housing as apart of these mega tech campus entitlements. These companies (Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook) have more money than the federal government and are actually better able to address the housing problem at the local level. Until we build housing where the jobs are this will only get worse.

Posted by Gary Patton on 02/02/2018 at 9:09 AM

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