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VOLUME 1, NUMBER 32    <>   MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2000

this & that

Bad lands. Hanford, Washington; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the Savannah River, South Carolina; the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory — what do these places have in common? They all contain vast nuclear weapons development sites. According to the August 8 L.A. Times, these and 105 other locations throughout the country are too hot for unrestricted access. And they will be forever.

A National Research Council report charges that the federal government has not made long-range maintenance plans or even guaranteed funding to protect the public from exposure to the radiation at these sites. Adds reporter Norman Kempster, "Since some radioactive wastes remain dangerous for several thousand years, the problem is analogous to a waste-management program established during the Roman Empire. It is unlikely that the Romans would have been able to foresee conditions in today's world, but their waste products might still be poisoning the environment." California sites include the Energy Technology Engineering Center near Simi Valley, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory near the UC Berkeley campus, the Sandia National Laboratories facility in Livermore, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University.

bernal.jpg (41855 bytes)Bad quotes. Last Wednesday’s SF Weekly carried an article by once-upon-a-time investigative reporter Peter Byrne that identified two causes of San Francisco’s present housing shortage — "political impediments to housing construction and rent control."

"Political impediments," in a city that habitually bends its Planning Code to encourage developers? What on earth is Byrne referring to? Travel back a year ago, when Supervisor Sue Bierman was attempting to rein in runaway live/work loft construction. A scuffle on the stairway of City Hall elicited a retort from Joe O’Donoghue, head of the Residential Builders Association: "This incident demonstrates how left-wing reactionaries, by gaining power, can put their right-wing counterparts to shame in putting their own self-interests ahead of the needs of renters, homeowners, schoolchildren, and all other residents, who are no more to them than cannon fodder for legislative quackery, of which Supervisor Bierman's legislation is a prime example. Sue Bierman has been consistent in promulgating similar draconian legislation over the years, which has resulted in the housing crisis we have today." Powerful woman, that supervisor!

To support the contention that rent control should be phased out except for "elderly, fixed-income, and impoverished tenants," Byrne quotes from Rent Control, a scholarly study by W. Dennis Keating, Michael B. Teitz, and Andrejs Skaburskis. A quick look at the book reveals that the citation is selective, to say the least. In fact, Keating, Teitz, and Skaburskis refuse to take sides in the debate, which they note has "frequently turned shrill." As a way out of the present nationwide dilemma, they describe a promising trend toward "limited-equity cooperatives and nonprofit housing corporations," such as San Francisco has begun to promote in the Tenderloin and elsewhere. Uh oh! That’s part of the problem, O’Donoghue says: groups that "have removed millions of dollars in taxable properties, which could have contributed to vital city services, from the tax roles by creating a tax-exempt niche for their subsidized housing."