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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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Affordable Housing Requirements in Question at California Supreme Court // SF Public Press

"The state Supreme Court is deliberating whether the City of San Jose’s so-called inclusionary zoning legally forces developers to build or help pay for new affordable homes whenever they also build large market-rate projects. If the court strikes down San Jose’s law, that may invalidate similar laws in San Francisco and other cities, and it could keep municipalities from adopting new inclusionary programs.

"...The plaintiffs in the case, California Building Industry Association vs. San Jose, argue that San Jose’s law amounts to an unconstitutional “taking” of property. The city may legally require developers to mitigate only direct strains a project places on the surrounding environment and infrastructure, said attorney Anthony Francois during the Forum episode. Instead, San Jose is using the law to fulfill its own civic duty — to build affordable housing — with money taken from developers."

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San Jose Police Department to launch leadership program with teens // San Jose Mercury News

"The San Jose Police Department is embarking on a new venture this summer that aims to help 25 teens harness leadership and self-confidence skills to make them 'leaders in the community.'

"The San Jose Youth Leadership Academy is a first for the department, according to officials. It is not a cadet program, nor is it like many of the local Police Athletic/Activities leagues that are in place across the Bay Area, where programs are sponsored by police agencies but officers aren't always on hand.

"The academy, said San Jose Deputy Chief PhanNgo, offers a way for police officers and teens ages 14 to 18 to interact and to learn from one another on issues including gang violence and drugs. Hopefully, he added, the two groups can also teach each other about respect, good communication and conflict resolution."

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Developer's Campaign Contributions May Have Been Illegal // East Bay Express

"UrbanCore CEO Michael Johnson's proposal to build a luxury apartment tower on city-owned land near Lake Merritt has run up against fierce opposition from neighbors and affordable housing advocates during the past few months.

"...But there's at least one more problem with the city's plan to sell the parcel to UrbanCore. According to public records, UrbanCore's executives, the company's lobbyists, and the architect partnering with UrbanCore on the project have all made what appear to have been illegal campaign contributions to Mayor Libby Schaaf, members of the city council, and candidates who ran for mayor and for seats on the city council in the last election.

"The Oakland Campaign Reform Act is designed to prevent city contractors from funding the campaigns of politicians who are in a position to award them lucrative contracts. The law bars any city contractor from making a contribution to any candidate or officeholder while negotiations are underway for a contract, and up to 180 days after the completion of any negotiations."

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On Guard: Planning Commission blew it; Airbnb proposal has no teeth // SF Examiner 

"The Planning Commission’s vote Thursday to go soft on Airbnb enforcement requirements pulls the teeth out of short-term housing rental regulations, rendering them worthless.

"And lobbyists working behind the scenes on behalf of Airbnb should also raise eyebrows of San Franciscans who may wonder whom among our city officials have been bought by the tech giant and its allies.

"...Basically, The City can require hosts play by the rules, and actually live in the apartments they rent out. But if hosts don’t have to display their registration info online, the Planning Department will have no way to ensure the rules are being followed.

"It’s like an honor system for obeying the law."

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Green Businesses Flock to Alameda Point // Oakland Magazine

"After years of dormancy since its closure as a Navy Base in 1997, Alameda Point has quietly become an incubator of new green energy and tech businesses. Its open space, old aircraft hangars, and light-industrial capabilities have attracted innovative businesses seeking to change how energy is generated and consumed.

"Makani Power, Natel Energy, Saildrone, and Wrightspeed are among the green businesses that will soon occupy 175,000 square feet of space at Alameda Point. The latter company just signed a lease in January to move into an 110,000-square-foot hangar at the Point. Together with Makani and Natel Energy, Wrightspeed will generate some $1.4 million in annual lease income for Alameda, according to Eric Fonstein, development manager for the City of Alameda."

Liza got her start in radio with KALW's Audio Academy. Now, she is KALW's econmy reporter and a mentor for in the KALW Audio Academy.