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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Thursday, November 19, 2015

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"Traffic stopped, Call box, downtown San Francisco Freeway" by Wonderlane, used under CC BY / Resized and cropped
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Traffic stopped, downtown San Francisco

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

Caltrans Admits Building Roads Induces More Driving, But Admitting a Problem Is Just the First Step // Streetsblog California

"State DOTs, as the country’s road builders, have usually responded to congestion, and even safety concerns, by expanding and widening roads, expecting that more lanes will solve problems caused by too many people wanting to drive on them at the same time. But research has shown that making it easier and quicker for people to drive somewhere just encourages more driving. By linking to the policy brief, “Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Reduce Congestion,” Caltrans is openly acknowledging the connection between building new capacity and more driving."

"But linking to a policy paper doesn’t mean that California will stop building roads altogether."

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AP Exclusive: Big Texas welcome for Google self-driving cars // Associate Press

"With Google's self-driving cars slowed in a gridlock of California regulation, Texas is offering a fast lane."

"Officials in Austin have embraced the technology, a welcome so warm that the mayor used talking points written by a Google lobbyist when the tech titan began testing prototypes on their streets over the summer."

"That embrace came as state transportation and safety policymakers are struggling with whether they share Google's vision of — sooner than later — getting the public access to cars that have neither a steering wheel nor pedals."

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Paris attacks spark another fight against encryption // SF Chronicle

"Pointing to terrorist attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris, security officials are again pressuring Silicon Valley companies to weaken the ways they protect users’ private communications."

"The argument centers on encryption, which services like WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime use to ensure eavesdroppers can’t listen to private chats between people."

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Why One Affordable Housing Complex in Oakland Has Been Vacant for 10 Years // KQED

"The apartment house was built in the late 1970s to serve 15 low-income families. The Oakland Housing Authority was in charge of the complex, but OHA couldn’t maintain the property because it was being underfunded by the federal government, says Executive Director Eric Johnson . . . "

". . . Now, CAHI gets to decide who leases or owns the Ninth Avenue property, and Johnson says his group rarely agrees to a deal where it gives up ownership of the land. A ground lease may be more likely, he says, in which the nonprofit maintains ownership of the land but a developer gets to build on it."

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Supes oppose displacement — then approve displacement // 48 hills

"The Board of Supervisors approved a plan today to grant preference to existing neighborhood residents as a means of fighting displacement — just hours before approving a project that could lead to large-scale displacement. The measure by Sups. London Breed and Malia Cohen would set aside 40 percent of all new affordable housing units for people who live in the supervisorial district where the project is being built. The measure passed 9-2 . . . " 

". . . And then, fairly quickly, the board moved onto the 5M project. The project is deeply unpopular among the low-income residents, many of them Filipino, in the surrounding area. The testimony against the project went on for more than four hours. The message was consistent and clear: The project doesn’t meet the needs of the community."

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When Noise Machines Don't Work // SF Weekly

"To combat the constant presence of "campers and loiterers" outside its preschool on Golden Gate Avenue, nonprofit services provider Wu Yee Children's Services tried a novel intervention: noise. Thanks to a $3,000 grant from District Attorney George Gascón, Wu Yee installed an "anti-loitering system" — known as a "Mosquito" — outside the school."

"Before installing the small $1,200 box outside the preschool last year, Mike Neumann, Wu Yee's chief operating officer, tested the device in his office. (Colleagues found it "very annoying," Neumann told SF Weekly.) But a funny thing happened after Neumann set the device to ring starting in the evening, when several regular campers would pitch a tent outside Wu Yee for the night: Nothing."

Crosscurrents