Archive for April, 2012
April 7th, 2012
This is a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal that summarizes the reasons that housing costs are so disproportionately high in California. As planners add more and more rules housing costs go up and families leave the state.
April 13th, 2012
For the last month I have been waiting for the Coastal Commission staff to respond to the letter than Greg Sanders sent them about my vested right to connect to CSA 12 and also for their response to Dave Watson about the other minor issues like “visual impact”. After calling and sending emails for several weeks and not getting anything back I finally got so nervous that the Coastal Commission staff was screwing me over just like the SLO Planning Dept staff that I decided to escalate.
So what I did was send this email to Dan Carl at the Coastal Commission and Kevin McCarthy (my Congressman):
To: Dan Carl (firstname.lastname@example.org); Kevin & Judy McCarthy
Subject: A return phone call from the California Coastal Commission
Dan & Kevin –
I just made a $20 bet with my architect Lenny Grant that says I can get a phone call from the Speaker of the House John Boehner sooner than I can get a return phone call from the deputy director of the Central California Coastal Commission Dan Carl. Since it has been one month so far waiting for a return call from the Coastal Commission staff I am making a pretty safe bet.
So Kevin – can you give me the phone number to call John Boehner? I just want to say to him I appreciate the good work that he has been doing.
Thank you …
After two hours I got a phone call from Kevin and also an email back from Dan Carl. Kevin said he would give me John Boehner’s private phone number, but since I had gotten a response from Dan Carl I told Kevin to never mind. I was then able to actually talk to Dan Carl on the phone for about an hour. So I owe Lenny Grant $20.
April 16th, 2012
After I spoke with Dan Carl I sent him this email to confirm my understanding of the conversation.
And a couple of days later Dan was nice emough to reply, clarifying his positions …
Dan’s email says that the Coastal Commission staff is going to recommend to deny my claim of a vested right to CSA 12 water. Well, I had hoped for better, but maybe the Coastal Commission commissioners can go ahead and deny my vested right but give me access to the water anyway – since it is the best solution from the public policy and environmental point of view.
I can pursue this by suing the Coastal Commission – and if I can’t get the CSA 12 water any other way I will sue. It will be horribly expensive to sue – perhaps $500,000 in legal fees, so I will try other methods first. But I am supremely confident that I will win in court.
Dan is also still holding over my head the “visual impact” – I think the archeological issue is completely moot since we sited the house on the part of the property that was graded by a rancher sometime in the last century. “Visual impact” is completely subjective so the Coastal Commission staff can use this as leverage to get applicants to modify their permit applications. It becomes a barganing chip for the staff to use to get what they want.
April 21st, 2012
Here is a great article that summarizes land use issues in California:
“Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don’t have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” says Mr. Kotkin.
And this article explains where those people are going:
And while I’m at it – here is an article about how crazy the Coastal Commission is:
April 27th, 2012
I want to make a complicated argument here but I need to give you some background information about incompetence, morals and the unconstrained vision.
There has been some recent academic studies about incompetent people. Here is an article (originally from the NY Times) about this work:
Technically this is called the “Dunning-Kruger” effect. Wikipedia article here.
What the Dunning-Kruger effect says is that for a given skill, incompetent people will:
- tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
- fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
- fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
- recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve
A professor of psychology named Jonathan Haidt has published on book recently on “Moral Foundations Theory”. Wikipedia article here.
There is an excellent article about Dr. Haidt research in the NY Times here:
Moral Foundations Theory looks at the way morality varies between cultures and identifies five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals. These are:
- Care for others, protecting them from harm. (He also referred to this dimension as Harm.)
- Fairness, Justice, treating others equally.
- Loyalty to your group, family, nation. (He also referred to this dimension as Ingroup.)
- Respect for tradition and legitimate authority. (He also referred to this dimension as Authority.)
- Purity or Sanctity, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions.
Haidt has recently added a sixth fundamental value, Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty.
Haidt found that Americans who identified as liberals tend to value care and fairness considerably higher than loyalty, respect, and purity. Self-identified conservative Americans value all six values more equally, though at a lower level across the six than the liberal concern for care and fairness. Both groups gave care the highest over-all weighting, but conservatives valued fairness the lowest, whereas liberals valued purity the lowest.
The final idea is Thomas Sowell’s concept of the Unconstrained Vision. By definition left leaning people have an unconstrained vision. Those with an unconstrained vision distrust decentralized processes and are impatient with large institutions and systemic processes that constrain human action. They believe there is an ideal solution to every problem, and that compromise is never acceptable. Collateral damage is merely the price of moving forward on the road to perfection. Sowell often refers to them as “the self anointed.” Ultimately they believe that man is morally perfectible. Because of this, there must be some people who are further along the path of moral development and are therefore able to put aside self-interest and make decisions for the benefit and good of all.
The Coastal Commission
So how does this relate to the Coastal Commission? Well, they certainly are the “self-anointed” elite with an unconstrained vision that entitles them (in their mind) to make decisions for the benefit and good of all – regardless of custom, precedent, or the rights of individuals. And the Coastal Commission members have clearly shown that they completely ignore the moral dimensions of loyalty, respect, purity, and liberty (especially liberty). And finally, the Coastal Commission staff and commissioners have also shown the Dunning-Kruger effect by grossly over estimating their own skill and competence at making land use decisions.
This is demonstrated by this “anointed elite” deciding that the greater good is served by taking a 70 year old widow’s property and keeping it as open space. This “anointed elite” also decides what is a “visual impact” and what is or is not beautiful. And this “anointed elite” blithely overrules whatever decisions were made at the local level – not even taking into consideration that perhaps the local Planning Commission might actually be trying to balance competing priorities.
All of this is a very complicated way for me to say what is obvious to everyone who has had to deal with the real world consequences of the Coastal Commission: these people are incompetent, arrogant, smug, elitist, left-wing airheads who literally can’t understand that they are crushing the hopes and dreams of the productive class.