Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Page Turner

Hello Everyone:

A lovely afternoon to you and quick reminder before we get started:  Blogger will be off for the American Labor Day holiday on Monday September 2, 2019.  Blogger Candidate Forum is off for the week but not before a late breaking development: Democratic candidate New York Senator Kirstin Gillebrand is dropping out of the race.  This news comes after she failed to make the stage for the third debate next month.  In the meantime, enjoy a post on the proposed renovations to the George C. Page and La Brea Tar Pits.

A rather curious New York Times  (; Aug. 26, 2019; date accessed Aug. 27, 2019) op-ed piqued Blogger's interest.  The op-ed was authored by Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who outlined the case for the United States buying the autonomous Danish territory of Greenland.  Rightly, he points out China's interest in exploiting the territory's abundant natural resources.  Otherwise, the rest of the op-ed makes the case for contemporary colonialism.  No.  Bottom line, the United States is not, repeat not, buying Greenland or any other nation's territory any time soon.  Senator Cotton's thoughts on the subject notwithstanding, onward.

La Brea Tar Pits
photograph by Blogger
Amid all the hand wringing over the redesign of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, news about the proposed renovations of the La Brea Tar Pits and the George C. Page Museum got lost.  On June 6, 2019 the Natural History Museum, the entity overseeing the Page Museum and the Tar Pits, announced the beginning of a long-term renovation program for the 12-acre campus located in Hancock Park (; June 7, 2019; date accessed Aug. 27, 2019).  NHM President and Director Dr. Lori Bettinson-Varga announced,

We are excited to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just renovate these facilities thoroughly but also to think deeply about how to make them function as well for neighbors and guests over the next 40 years as they have for the last 40--perhaps, even better (Ibid)

The Tar Pits and Page Museum are unique one of a kind facilities that actively support paleontological research in the middle of Los Angeles, and a museum that helps interpret their work for more than 400,000 visitors annually (Ibid).  The proposed redesign initiative represent a significant change to a major L.A. area attraction that is already in the process of being rebuilt (; July 12, 2019; date accessed Aug. 27, 2019).  Together with the LACMA redesign and the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum on the west side of the campus, they offer a fresh opportunity to reconsider the circuitous site and their relationship with Wilshire Boulevard and the city at large.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art park
photography by Blogger
Three architect-led teams will compete for the honor of leading the master planning initiative effort.  The architect teams are: Weiss/Manfredi designers of Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park; Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects of The Broad Museum; and Danish firm Dorte Mandrup who have experience working on UNESCO World Heritage sites, recently presented their concepts at a public lecture at the El Rey Theater and you can see copies of the plans at  The goal of the redesign is "make a functional, contemporary park and museum in which a fiberglass Columbian mammoth family can feel comfortably at home?" (Ibid; Aug. 27, 2019). Yes, a fiberglass Columbian mammoth family.

Dr. Bettison-Varga explained that the teams, about the streetscape and needing more entry points and how everything is a little hidden, about way-finding and how to get visitors from different points (Ibid)

  Each of the design concepts offer a unique vision.  Dr. Bettison-Varga told the Times.

It's a conceptual approach,... When people see these [plans], they shouldn't they are not malleable (Ibid)

One of the tar pits
Photograph by Blogger
Each of the teams also considered the museum and surrounding park as a cohesive indoor/outdoor unit.  She continued,

They all have elements of visible collections and they all respect what we've heard about not wanting something really tall,.... They have all approached the actual sites and excavation areas as opportunities for people sit and watch and engage and learn (Ibid)

The real design challenge is to thread together a truly unique public space: "a public park that is also an active dig site, which also serves as a place in which to see paleontological relics and explore the notion of geological time" (Ibid).  Dr. Bettinson-Varga said,

The importance of this location is democratizing science,.... We want people to see science as accessible.  We want to engage students of all age (Ibid)

This sentiment is especially true at a time when science seems to be under attack from all corners.  With that in mind, why not have a look at the final three designs.

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Concept design for the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits

New York-based Weiss/Manfredi's concept preserves the current Willis Fagan and Frank-designed building with notable additions.  The plan keeps the original building and gentle berms.  To make room for much needed additional exhibition space, the architects proposed a new elliptical wing on the northwest side, where the parking lot now sits (Ibid).

The new exhibition space would be "composed of a series gently ascending ramps, would house the Page's collection, along with visible laboratories (a concept the museum helped pioneer)" (Ibid).  The current museum building would function as a gathering and event space that could accommodate large school groups.  Both wings would be connected by an entry hall underneath the berm.  The berm would be open to reveal the interior of the museum.  Founding partner Michael Manfredi told the Times,

Currently, the Page is a very introverted building,.... By creating that kind of horizontal cut along the Page, anyone wandering along the path can peek into the museum (Ibid)

At night, the space could be lit from within showcasing projections and animations.  Weiss/Manfredi co-founder Marion Weiss said,

Even if you haven't paid to be in the museum, you can be pulled into this publicly visible lens (Ibid)

The architects also propose adding new tress and increasing the lawn area.  The circular pathways would be streamlined into a series of three loops, one of which would circumnavigate the scientific area at the center of the park and another would serve as a bridge across the Tar Pit.  The fiberglass mammoth will remain a feature of interest.  Ms. Weiss said,

Our sense is that you can read all the text,... but not understand this place in the way understand it when you are looking at those mammoths (Ibid)

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Concept design for the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits
Dorte Mandrup

Danish firm Dorte Mandrup submitted a proposal that would significantly rework the Page Museum structure.  Firm namesake Dorte Mandrup told the Los Angeles Times,

We keep the museum, not as it is--but upgraded (Ibid)

The berm remains but the museum's structure would be gutted, eliminating the courtyard.  Pity, it is a nice courtyard with a turtle pond.  Ms. Mandrup explains,

The courtyard you have now is very pleasant,... but it doesn't have a relationship to the tar pits (Ibid)

An additional story would be placed on the current shell, enclosed by glass with a rooftop garden.  One element of the upgrade plan is a raised museum entry, bringing it to the forefront.  Right now, the Page Museum entry is buried on the south side of the berm.

Take a look at the rendering above, left, which features a second story with a boardwalk to guide patrons around the Tar Pits.

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Concept design for the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits (interior)
Dorte Mandrup
The expanded interior spaces creates a number of pathways that travel through the galleries, visible storage and laboratories that dot each floor.  Ms. Mandrup said,

The museum needs more area for the activities that they want to do,.... By reusing the building, you save of waste and embedded energy (Ibid)

The glass second story adds an element of transparency and references the building's current design by using a photovoltaic print of the ice age landscapes frieze by Manuel Paz.

Dorte Mandrup, in collaboration with landscape architects Martha Schwartz Partners, eliminates the surface parking lot on the northeastern corner of the park, covering it with a roof garden.  Ms, Mandrup, said By covering the parking lot, you increase the park 20% (Ibid).  Within the park, Ms. Mandrup clarified the circulation by adding more entry points and narrow gravel lined pathways that allow for exploration.  The best part of this landscape scheme?  The surfaces are permeable and capture rainwater.  What about the mammoth family?  They get to stay.

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Concept design for the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits 
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Urban Ecosystem

The final proposal we are going to look at is the one that requires the most mammoth overhaul of the current museum structure.  The plan, put forth by New York-based firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, calls for demolishing the current building and replacing it with a four stacked, overlapping plates around a glass box that peeks over the berm (Ibid).  The box would house an interconnected series of exhibition, laboratory, and visible collection spaces (Ibid).

The exterior of the plates would be landscaped, with sufficient grade for the requisite tumbling, a very important activity.  This allows patrons to enter the museum from one of the four cardinal points and make it more accessible.  The plates would make visible the topography that compose the site.  Elizabeth Diller, one of the founding partners, told the Times,

I think it's important to acknowledge that this piece of ground is super special,... There is a history there before there was a city (Ibid)

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Rendering of arrival area to the La Brea Tar Pits from Wilshire and Curson
Diller Scofidio + Renfro

 To increase the green space, the parking would be placed on the perimeter or moved to an off-site structure (something that would definitely get neighborhood push back).  Ms. Diller explained, "The idea is to provide a greater connection between museum and landscape" (Ibid).  Specifically,

It's a hybrid architecture-landscape that is more of a continuum,... The museum is as much indoor as outdoor (Ibid)

Elizabeth Diller has taken a holistic approach to the Tar Pits park: She considers each of the functions
to be overlapping ecological zones--ecotones (Ibid)--each blending into the next.

The landscaping on the northern portion of the site would mimic the Pleistocene-era climate: arid and grow more dense and moist as it approached the creek bisecting the park.  The area around the Lake Pit would be connected to Wilshire with darker tones and the fiberglass mammoth?  Ms. Diller said,

What we are proposing to do is take it out of the lake and put it in a gallery that features the history of the tar pits and pop culture.... To save it... but just change the feel and tone of the lake and the surrounding landscape (Ibid)

What would Angelenos think about the Lake Pit without the mammoths?  No comment.   


Monday, August 26, 2019

Would You Pay More To Live Near A Nice Grocery Store?

Hello Everyone:

A happy start of the new week to you.  A quick programming note before we get started: Next Monday is Labor Day in the United States and Blogger will be off.  Onward.

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Trader Joe's and Whole Foods shopping bags
Trader Joe's and Whole Foods grocery stores are California food institutions.  Both chain stores offer a very fine selection of organic fresh and ready-to-eat food, beverage, and non-grocery items.  Whole Foods offers a very nice salad and hot food bar, sushi counter, coffee bar (great cafe au laits and Americanos), and bakery.   In Blogger's neighborhood, there are two Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods within walking distance, which makes Yours Truly very happy.  If you have not figured it out, Blogger regularly patronizes both stores, Joe's more frequently than Whole Foods.  Another truism, the home values in Blogger's neighborhood are high.  Coincidence?  No.  This is why.

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Which is better for your home value?

Both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are a staples of more affluent neighborhoods and recently begun opening in underserved neighborhoods.  Although their openings are not always welcome (; Feb. 4, 2014 date accessed Aug. 26, 2014), there is reason to believe that these stores increase the desirability of their host neighborhood.  A 2016 study by real estate website Zillow ( Jan. 25, 2016; date accessed Aug. 26, 2019) found that "homes tend to appreciate in value when there is a local Trader Joe's or Whole Food nearby" (; Jan. 28, 2016; date accessed Aug. 26, 2019).  Zillow examined city data on a variety of home types--single family, condominiums, and co-ops in over 80 locations across the nation--within a one mile of either store.  Between 1997 and 2014, "the value of these homes exceeded that of the median home in the U.S., according to Zillow's calculations.  And by the end of 2014, these homes were worth more than double the year's median home value" (Ibid).

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A comical side-by-side comparison of shoppers
The Zillow study found,

  • Homes located near a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods had a median of $406,600 and $376, 200, respectively, at the end of 2-14, while the median U.S. home was worth less than $180,000
  • Between 1997 and 2014, homes near Trader Joe's or Whole Foods appreciated an average of 148 percent and 140, respectively.  The typical U.S. home appreciated by 71 percent over the same period.
  • Neither Whole Foods nor Trader Joe's appears to drafting off already hot neighborhoods.  When factoring in store opening dates, homes near both chains began appreciating faster after the store opened than the typical home in their city overall (; June 16, 2017; date accessed Aug. 26, 2019)
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What me cause higher home values?
To give you some idea of how much of a home value appreciation a Joe's or Whole Foods can trigger, let us take look at Starbucks.  Starbucks is the most ubiquitous national and global chain coffee shop.  Zillow conducted a study of home values near Starbucks (Ibid; Feb. 13, 2015) and found that they appreciated faster than both the average American home and homes near rival Dunkin' Donuts.  While this may somewhat interest your barista as he or she is taking order, what would you say to the friendly Joe's cashier (they are) while he or she is bagging your chocolate covered almonds?  No worries, Zillow has the answer.

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Dunkin' Donut and coffee
It is all about the real estate.  With 500 Whole Foods stores and 460 Trader Joe's within a mile radius of each other--for Starbucks, Zillow used a quarter mile radius reasoning that people will walk shorter distances than groceries. "There were a total 1.5 million homes near a Whole Foods and 1.3 million near Trader Joe's" (; June 16, 2017) .  Zillow tracked the median home value near either store using historical Zestimate data.  Zillow found that "the typical home near either of these chains both costs more and appreciates faster than the median U.S. home" (Ibid).  The difference between home values near either store and the average U.S. home is greater than the Starbucks effect.  "In general, homes near a Trader Joe's were worth a median $406,600 at the end of 2014.  Homes near a Whole Foods were a median $376, 200, and appreciated 140 percent" (Ibid).  By comparison, "The median U.S. home was worth $176, 800 as of December 2014 and appreciated only 71 percent over the same time" (Ibid).

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Future customer
More recently, data provider ATTOM Data Solutions (; date accessed Aug. 26, 2019) and Zillow examined home values around the United States to find out if organic upscale grocery stores are powering skyrocketing home values or symptomatic of gentrification.

Both companies concluded that there "was a relatively string correlation between home prices and the grocer's location.  Home sellers near a Trader Joe's saw an average return on investment of 51%, while those near a Whole Food saw a 41% increase,..." (; Aug. 25, 2019; date accessed Aug. 26, 2019).  Essentially, "houses near Trader Joe's or Whole Foods began to appreciate more quickly after those store moved in than before--and that they appreciated twice as quickly as the average home in the United State" (Ibid).  Further, having one or both grocery stores fuels the debate over gentrification.

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One of the Trader Joe's in Blogger's neighborhood

Susan Warburg, an agent at Warburg Realty in New York City, told Yahoo,

We have the Trader Joe's downstairs in our building we are selling at 100 West 93rd Street... and a Whole Foods a few blocks away... (Ibid)

After a year, Ms. Warburg observed that the price per square inch of an apartment near the Trader Joe's increased by $300 (Ibid).

  1. However, in an expensive city like New York, where affordable housing is in high demand and residents in all five boroughs are complaining of surging price, it is not clear whether the grocery stores are a factor.  Ms. Warburg's colleague Steve Gottlieb added,

People would pay more to live near a nicer grocery store.  But, I think this might be more of a chicken and egg question.... People of means are more likely to demand nicer neighborhood amenities and higher end market chains are attracted to more expensive/upwardly mobile areas (Ibid)

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The Whole Foods in Blogger's neighborhood

As nice as it is to have both stores in Blogger's neighborhood, not everyone is thrilled with their presence.  Local resistance to encroaching gentrification and attendant rising housing costs have given grocers a case of indigestion.

In 2014, Trader Joe's abandoned its plans to build a store in Northeast Portland, Oregon because activists (; Feb. 4, 2014 date accessed Aug. 26, 2014) successfully argued "that the store would drive up rents and displace locals" (; Aug. 25, 2019).  The debate around nice grocery stores prompted one urban policy expert to dub Whole Foods (; 2013;  date accessed Aug. 26, 2019) the Lewis and Clark of gentrification (; Aug. 25, 2019) because of the company's ability to disrupt the communal status quo in Chicago and Pittsburgh.

This dynamic is reference to what urban theorist Phillip Clay said in 1979 was one of the "four waves of gentrification.  The first wave is the creative class, artists moving into a neighborhood.  A Trader Joe's and Whole Foods is somewhere between the second or third wave (Ibid).  In one respect, these grocery stores are signifiers for the types of changes in the neighborhood and its character.

In Blogger's neighborhood, those changes began in the early 2000s when the The Grove opened.  The Grove brought with it more upscale stores and restaurants.  This was followed by upscale apartment complexes and upgrades to Blogger's complex. There was a Trader Joe's already in the area and the addition of a second outlet and a Whole Foods came within a few years of each other.  To no one's surprise The Grove, the grocery stores, more upscale housing, and other markers of gentrification caused home values to increase.  Blogger finds it odd to hear Trader Joe's described as an upscale grocery store because, really it is not.  It is the kind of friendly grocery store with good food, great customer service, and reasonable prices.  It is the contemporary version of the corner grocery store.  Hard to say if the signifiers of gentrification are the drivers of higher home values but they definitely have a correlation.     


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Blogger Candidate Forum: Greenland Is Not For Sale

Hello Everyone:

It is a lovely warm Wednesday afternoon and time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  It has been a very eventful 24 hours.  First, during an Oval Office press conference, Mr. Donald Trump responded a question about a press conference held by Representatives Rashid Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).  The representatives expressed their anger that the Israeli government caved into American pressure and enforced a 2017 law preventing advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement from entering the country.  Blogger is not going to get into it because that is not the point for day's post.  During his response, he inferred that Jewish voters who vote Democrat either have a great lack of knowledge or are disloyal--i.e. disloyal to him and by extension, the United States.  This set off a category off the charts storm of criticism over this implied anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic trope.  Amid the hurricane of controversy, the president canceled his upcoming state visit to Denmark, bringing us to today's subject.

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Map showing where Greenland is
Greenland is an autonomous country of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic ocean, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the world's largest island.  Although Greenland is culturally and politically associated with Europe, geographically it is part of North America, really.  It is home to Thule Air Base, administered by the United States and rich in natural resources.  Its strategic location and the abundance of iron, ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare-earth, uranium, and oil have made it attractive to past presidents--Presidents Andrew Johnson and Harry Truman--and now Mr. Trump who wanted to buy it.  Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen firmly and politely turned him down, prompting the president to cancel an official visit days before he was scheduled to leave.  This prompted the question, why countries do not buy territories like they used to?

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American westward expansion

Once upon a time, sovereigns bought and sold territories to each other.  For example, the United States looks the way it does not only because of military conquest, but because real estate deals, notably the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska Purchase.  Occasionally, the land deals were tied to military action.  Case in point, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, transferred territories held by Mexico to the United States.  The United States paid Mexico $15 million in exchange for other consideration (; June 5, 2012; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019).  Somewhere along the way, the market for sovereign territory dried up.  Duke University Professor Joseph Blocher writes,

...To be sure, there is still an active market for proprietary interests in public lands; the federal government, after all owns approximately 30% [; date accessed Aug, 21, 2019] of the nation's land.  But borders--sovereign territory rather than property--do not seem to be for sale, especially domestically.  Why? (Ibid)

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Terraced rice farming in Madagascar

The closet thing to the kind of purchase that Mr. Trump was thinking of is China's state-run Heilongjiang Nongken Group's purchase of 800,000 acres of Argentina for growing crops for export (; Sept. 1, 2011; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019) or Daewoo Logistics' leas of 3.2 million acres (; Nov. 23, 2008; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019), half the arable land in Madagascar.  No national border had to be redrawn, but the mega-deals raises issues about national sovereignty in the host countries .(; June 5, 2012).

Professor Joseph Blocher wrote, "There are also some sign that the concept of sovereign land purchases may be making a comeback.... some commentators have half-seriously suggested sell off some its island [; Mar. 4, 2010; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019] to settle its debts" (; June 5, 2012).  Greece did not sell off some of its islands to settle its debts which brings us to question of why Mr. Donald Trump wanted (or wants to buy) Greenland.

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Scenic Greenland

The president floated the idea of buying Greenland (; Aug. 15, 2019; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019) multiple times but Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen dismissed the notion as "absurd" (Ibid).  However, the whole diplomatic row that this caused is an indication just how important Greenland has become in the geopolitical landscape.  How important?  It piqued the curiosity of the Chinese.

Jordan McDonald writes, "Greenland's strategic value is linked tightly to new North American shipping lanes opening up due to polar ice caps" (Ibid).  The new shipping lanes have drastically reduced maritime trade travel times, which typically includes passage through the Panama or Suez canals to circle the globe.

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Map of the North Atlantic Ocean

 Greenland's main economic drivers are fishing and tourism, but it has drawn growing interest in its vast natural resources (; Aug. 16, 2019; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019).  Mr. McDonald writes, "There have been expeditions to assess the extent of the nation's resources, but the true quantity is unknown" (Ibid).

China, which is involved in trade war with the United States, has previously expressed interest (; Jan. 25, 2018; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019) in a "Polar Silk Road" (; Aug. 16, 2019) of trade through the North Atlantic shipping lanes.  China even went as far as to propose new airports and mining facilities in 2018 by withdrew its bid (Ibid; June 4, 2019).  Michael Sfraga, the director of the Polar Institute at the Wilson, told NBC News,

If [China were to] have a significant investment in a country that is so strategically important for so many countries, they would have influence there,.... If you invest a lot in a small island country, you have a lot of sway there (Ibid; Aug. 21, 2019).

A report issued by the Pentagon earlier this year warned,

Civilian research could support a strengthened Chinese military presence in the Arctic Ocean, which could include deploying submarines as a deterrent against nuclear attacks (; date accessed Aug. 21, 2019)

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Thule Air Base

Greenland is an advantageous location for the American military.  Since World War II, both countries have had an agreement in place to house military assets on the island.  The United States has operated Thule Air Base since 1943 and has a ballistic missile early  warning system and a satellite tracking system (; Aug. 16, 2019). 

Greenland is not the only country in the North Atlantic to offer economic opportunities for a powerful country looking to invest in the region.  However, there is a cost to the environment, the history, and the culture of Greenland and the Arctic from a burst of investment activity.  While Mr. Donald Trump continues to press his argument for buying Greenland from Denmark (for now), let us hope cooler more rational minds will prevail over him.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Right To A Permanent Solution

Hello Everyone:

It is a very lovely Tuesday afternoon and time to chill out and chat.  Sorry about yesterday, had to go with Blogger Mum to another appointment.  Sarcasm alert: always the highlight of my day.  Onward.

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Homeless in Orange County, California

Homelessness remains the most confounding problem in the state of California.  So confounding that state and local lawmakers are at a complete loss over what do about the thousands of men and women living in encampments.  The problem is particularly acute in big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Today, we are going to take a look at one possible offered by County Supervisor  Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sacrament Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the co-chairs of Governor Gavin Newsom's Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force.   The plan, if enacted, is a "legal right shelter" (; July 21, 2019).

If put into law, "it would compel cities and counties to build enough large shelters to accommodate any homeless person who asks to come indoors" (Ibid).  Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Steinberg wand to go further.  They want to "require that homeless people be forced to accept shelter if offered.  How the state would enforce the second requirement is unclear" (Ibid).

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Mayor Steinberg, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Gov. Newsom

Good idea but neither one has a clue about how the right to shelter should be put into action: State legislation, executive order, or let cities pass their own ordinances.  It would signify a major philosophical shift in the way the state deals with homelessness.

Benjamin Oreskes writes, " In Los Angeles County, for example, close to 45,000 people [; date accessed Aug. 20, 2019]--out of roughly 59,000--live outside in tents or in vehicles" (; July 21, 2019).  The most of 59,000 people live in the city of Los Angeles and represent a political liability for Mayor Eric Garcetti, who aspires to higher office.  Los Angeles has struggled to keep pace with never ending problems of the encampments that have residents up in arms (metaphorically).  Overall, 90,000 of California's 130,000 homeless people continue to live on the streets (Ibid).

You may think, who would not be in favor of a right to shelter requirement, if means getting rid of the encampment at your local park, right?  Not so simple when you consider the incredibly high hurdles this requirement would have to jump over in order to be successful.  "Large amounts of capital would need to be appropriated from the state budget to execute a plan like this.  Plus, residents--particularly in areas where state  environmental laws [Ibid; May 19, 2019] have been used to file lawsuits [Ibid] to block shelters and affordable housing projects--would need to be placated" (Ibid; July 21, 2019)

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas admitted that it was still early and that he and Mayor Steinberg had not worked out would be the best way of implementing the right to shelter policy.  He told the Times,

I'm not trying to worry myself into in action,... The status quo is simply unacceptable.  I feel rather strongly that we can do better. (Ibid)

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Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA)

Governor Newsom declined to speak to the Los Angeles Times, despite multiple requests for comment.  Mayor Steinberg hopes to use the task force, which he co-chair [; July 16, 2019; date accessed July 21, 2019] as a platform for a conversation on how to put the plan in place.  The next meeting is scheduled for sometime this month.  Mayor Steinberg told the Times,

We have a long-term plan to build housing for people who are unsheltered,..., but we cannot continue with the reality that while we fix this problem that we are OK with 90,000 people being on the street (; July 21, 2019)

Mayor Darrell Steinberg first posited the idea in an op-ed that appeared in the Times (Ibid; July 16, 2019), illustrating New York City's plan to bring its homeless population inside.  Benjamin Oreskes writes, "...the mayor made clear in an interview The Times that he didn't want to just replicate that system.  Rather it could be a starting point as California's leaders consider how to respond more forcefully to homeless crisis" (Ibid; July 21, 2019).

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor Eric Garcetti's office issued a statement saying,

a state guarantee to a bed, with thoughtful shelter options, deserves our urgent consideration (Ibid).

Right to shelter requirements advocate say that "it saves lives by keeping the most vulnerable people off city streets, where..." (Ibid)  This is true of Los Angeles where sunshine and a mild climate can still lead to death by hypothermia-related causes.  Joshua Goldfein, a lawyer who works on the Homeless Right Project at the New York Legal Aid Society, told the Times,

The right to shelter itself is the most valuable aspects of the system,.... It means that there is always bed for someone, and that enables the city to engage with people in a way that they know there will be a place for them if they're willing to come in off the street (Ibid)

New York City's right to shelter policy was not implemented by choice.  The requirement came into being around 1981, two years after the city was sued for denying a homeless man shelter because of lack of space.  Both the city and state were forced to enter a consent decree, requiring officials to offer a bed to any homeless person who wants one.

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Homeless person on a subway platform
New York City, New York

 This past January, New York City volunteers conducting a point-in-time count documented 3,588 unsheltered individuals (; date accessed Aug. 20, 2019).  On an any given night, there about 58,000 (Ibid) homeless people who sleep in shelters, hotel room, or run-down apartments (; May 25, 2018; date accessed Aug. 20, 2019) paid for by the city.

This is an expensive way to address the problem.  Mr. Oreskes reports, "In the latest fiscal year, which ended June 30, the city spent $3.2 billion on services for homeless people, including $1.9 billion on shelters, according to the city comptroller's office [; May 22, 2019; date accessed Aug, 20, 2019].  Those figures have doubled since 2014, while the number of people in shelter has increased 11%" (; July 21, 2019).

Mayor Steinberg, while noting that New York City spends a large amount of money to keep people indoors, pointed out that "California is already spending tons of money to transform how the state's homeless population lives" (Ibid).

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Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
Mayor Steinberg told the Times,

We are spending untold tens of millions of dollars now ineffectively addressing symptoms of homelessness, through law enforcement budgets, through public health budget, through public works budgets just cleaning up a lot of the messes,.... There is no reason why we can't convert some of those resources--a lot of those resources--together with more investment for the state, which is what it's going take (Ibid)

Others wonder about the wisdom of going the extra distance to mandate the homeless come inside.  This expectation has not come into fruition in New York City.

Instead, the city has established a new type of shelter--"safe haven" (; May 30, 2019; date accessed Aug. 20, 2019).  Shelly Nortz, the deputy executive director of the New York Coalition for the Homeless, described the shelters that take people where they're at (; July 21, 2019).  Ms. Nortz said "there are more than 1,000 beds in these safe havens citywide in addition to more conventional shelter set-ups" (Ibid).  She said,

New York City has done a very good job of building a different shelter model,... To require the homeless to come into shelters is just going to push them deeper underground and into hiding.  It's the wrong thing to do (Ibid).

Another concern is that creating a sprawling shelter system will lead to homeless people cycling in and out of emergency shelter without entering into a permanent housing situation.

Image result for mayor bill de blasio
New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio

New York City Mayor and presidential candidate (still), also announced that he wants to build 15,000 permanent supportive housing units over the next 15 years, but progress is slow (; Apr. 24, 2018; date accessed Aug. 20, 2019).  Ms. Nortz said,

We have people who lived in shelters for years and years and years.  It's not what anyone envisions as a proper fate,.... People don't thrive living crammed together (; July 21, 2019).

Rightfully, some Los Angeles homeless advocates are wary of the spending so much on a temporary fixes when there is a real need for something more stable and secure.

Tommy Newman, the director of public affairs for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said "that if California is going to get into the business of creating new rights and reshaping government budgets, it should create a right to housing--not to temporary shelter--and work from there" (Ibid).  Mr. Newman added,

Anything else is a distraction from the true causes of--and solutions to--the crisis we face (Ibid)

Mr. Newman worked on Proposition HHH, the bond measure approved by voters in 2016 to build more homeless residences.

Peter Lynn, the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, cautioned "that the legal environment in which New York City's shelter system exists is completely different than what exists in California" (Ibid).  In the current climate of limited resources, creating more temporary places without building more permanent solutions will just change the situation, fix it.  With a shortage of affordable housing in California, homeless people will just cycle from place to another. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in June, Mr, Lynn said,

If I don't have enough housing resources to move people through the shelter inventory, then people will live in the shelters.  That's what happens in New York,.... That's not a good use of resources.  If we sheltered everybody, there wouldn't be any money left over to house people" (Ibid)