Robert Gammon 
Member since Oct 31, 2007

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Business Development director for Telegraph Media, which includes the East Bay Express, Oakland Magazine, Alameda Magazine, The East Bay Monthly, and Bay Woof.

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Recent Comments

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

Mr. Gilbert,

You're confusing percentage with percentage points. The Bay Area's use of mass transit (12%) is actually 140% greater than that of Los Angeles (5%) -- or 2.4 times greater -- not 7 percent greater. Going from 5 percent to 12 percent represents a 140 percent increase.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percentage_p…

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/06/2018 at 10:36 AM

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

Mr. Gilbert,

In this case, the facts show that Bay Area residents use mass transit at much higher rates than LA folks. Almost triple the amount per capita in fact.

Why is LA's use of mass transit so low? Its transit isn't very good. Most folks there drive work. According to this report, only 7 percent of LA commuters use mass transit:

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/…

That's car culture.

Bay Area residents drive a lot of miles, too. But the key word is miles. If a relatively smaller part of the population drives a huge number of miles, it can skew the per capita miles data. That's what's going on here, obviously. LA folks drive fewer miles to work, while Bay area residents that do drive, drive a ton of miles. That's how the Bay area can have both high rates of miles driven and high rates of mass transportation use.

See this report for more on transit use in the Bay Area:

http://www.vitalsigns.mtc.ca.gov/commute-m…

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 9:09 PM

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

Mr. Gilbert,

Yes. The Bay area drives a lot. But it also uses a lot of mass transit:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-y…

In the above ranking, it rates second behind New York City. LA is 15th. As I said, LA is still car culture. The idea that you're arguing against this point is absurd.

Have you read any of the info I've posted on the lack of housing causing prices to go up?

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 8:12 PM

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

Mr. Gilbert,

I read it. Of course home prices go up near transit. People want to live near transit. In the Bay Area, some of the most expensive neighborhoods (like Rockridge) are centered around transit.

But the author is blaming the price hikes on new housing when there's little to no evidence that new housing causes rents to up. Her argument is unsupported by the facts (although I do agree that Costa Hawkins should be overturned or substantially reformed).

The evidence is overwhelming that the lack of housing is what causes prices to increase -- NOT the creation of housing. Here are just a few things worth reading on the topic:

http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/finance…

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac…

https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/…

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 7:17 PM

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

Mr. Gilbert,

LA's problem is that it hasn't built enough transit-oriented housing -- and that its transit system is shitty. LA has long been in love with car culture.

It needs to change to mass transit in a big way. Here in the Bay Area, plenty of well-off people take BART or Transbay buses. BART, in fact, is being loved to death and needs to expand.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 7:02 PM

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

Mr. Gilbert,

If the choice is between having prices stabilize (or go down a bit) and having plenty of room for newcomers to find homes versus having prices continue to skyrocket and having no room for kids who grew up her and for newcomers, then I'll choose the former any day.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 6:58 PM

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

Mr. Hitchen,
Bruce Bruggman did more to hurt low-income renters in San Francisco than perhaps any other person. Through his newspaper, the Bay Guardian, he made it fashionable for progressives to oppose housing. And during the latter part of the 20th century, when his paper had the most influence in SF City Hall, the city built almost no housing. It also saw during that time huge price increases in homes and massive displacement because wealthier people outbid low-income people for the existing housing stock. Ironically, he also put himself out of business. His policies led low-income progressives, his readership, to leave the city in droves.

Mr. Geller and Mr. Johnson,
We need more money to improve transit. And the most effective way to do that is to collect tax revenues from the new people who move into the new housing we build. Otherwise, we'll have to raise taxes on existing residents, which doesn't seem too likely at this point.

Mr. Wrenn,
SB 827 does now include protections against displacement. Plus, Berkeley is free to enact its own policies.

But in terms of where developers will build first, many have told me over the years that they want to build in high-income areas because they can get higher rents -- but are not allowed to do so because those areas are typically zoned for single-family housing only.

But having said that, Berkeley needs to add a lot more housing. It's ridiculous that the city has about the same population it had in the 1960s, when the rest of the Bay Area has grown exponentially since. Berkeley is quickly becoming like Palo Alto, where post-war ranch homes sell for well above $1 million.

Mr. Allen,
The Bay Area desperately needs more housing. The evidence is overwhelming.

Mr. Kengaard,
The reason progressives don't address population issues is because it's racist for white people who already have homes here to tell others that they need to stop having so many babies.

Mr. McFadden,
I used to be anti-housing like you and anti-developer. But then I read numerous studies about a decade ago showing that one of the most effective ways to fight climate change is build dense housing near transit. I think of myself as a rational person who makes up his mind based on facts. When presented with new facts that contradict my existing beliefs, I pride myself in changing my beliefs, not fighting the facts.

Then a few years ago, when housing prices really started to get out of hand in the Bay Area, more studies convinced me that building lots of housing near transit is not only a great way to fight climate change, but also the best chance we have at stabilizing prices so that people who grew up here can actually afford to live here as adults. I have two kids. If we don't build housing for them and others like them, they will never be able to live here. That's not fair for them or for other people who come here or for Bay Area residents who will be priced out when prices go up further.

Mr. Delgado,
Lots of people obviously want to live in Oakland and SF. That's why prices have gone through the roof. But we should also build housing near transit in the burbs.


Mr. Marcus,
There is no plan to destroy existing housing stock to build new apartments and condos. And under SB 827, cities can enact anti-demolition and tenant protection rules to keep projects from displacing existing tenants. SB 827 also now includes tenant protection and anti-displacement provisions.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 03/05/2018 at 6:50 PM

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