Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy 65th Birthday, Jill!

Happy 65th Birthday, Jill!
If you'd like to send a birthday gift to Jill, 
 click here:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Open Letter to Fuller Seminary: "Finish well" in Pasadena, leave behind a legacy of affordable housing

This letter is being sent to the Board of Trustees of Fuller requesting that they leave behind a legacy of affordable housing to Pasadena, a city that has been its home for 70 years. The Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) believes this is a reasonable request because Fuller made an agreement with city to designate 179 units to be permanently affordable. They must be sold with that condition. GPAHG is asking the Board to comply with this agreement by selling part of its property to an affordable housing developer at a reduced rate. This letter provides the moral and theological as well as policy reasons for this request.
Oct. 23, 2019
Dear Fuller Seminary Board of Trustees and Senior Administration,
As Fuller Theological Seminary is preparing to leave Pasadena and build a new campus better-suited to preparing Christian ministers and leaders for the next century, there has been discussion, both within Fuller and the local community, about what legacy you will leave here, that you will “finish well.” What better legacy could there be than a project that would minister to the most vulnerable among us, a project that would remain in the city that has been home to Fuller for the past 70 years?

For this reason, it is the recommendation of the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG) that at least one of Fuller’s sites be sold to an affordable housing developer at a price point that makes it feasible to develop affordable housing.  We also ask that you extend the deadline so that affordable housing developers can make bids. We have stated our specific recommendations toward the end of this letter.

GPAHG is a community group that is faith-based and deeply invested in advocating for the poor. Our vision is that all Pasadena residents shall have safe, quality, accessible, and affordable housing; people are not displaced from the community; and our community is racially, ethnically and socially diverse. Our group consists of members throughout the Greater Pasadena area, including business owners, city planners, seminary students, pastors, teachers, and the homeless—all coming together to address one of the greatest crises in Southern California—homelessness, and a lack of affordable housing.
Before we delineate our reasons for this request, we call to remembrance the distinct role and history of Fuller Seminary. We understand that Fuller’s vision is to “form global leaders for kingdom vocations.”[1] Fuller’s Mission Beyond the Mission names as a key purpose: “to work for…the good of human society at home and around the globe.”[2] Considering Fuller’s legacy and purpose, the question at hand is whether Fuller Seminary will conduct the sale of its property by embodying its core values to be faithful, courageous, collaborative, innovative and fruitful leaders that serve “the least of these?” (Matthew 25:40)[3]
Chang Commons has 179 units of affordable units
 thanks to the City's inclusionary policy
Over the past few years, GPAHG and students of Fuller Seminary have advocated tirelessly for Fuller Seminary to reflect its decision to sell 197 housing units affordable for students, to Carmel Properties. This resulted in zero affordable housing for the community and a displacement of many of Fuller’s students who were no longer able to live there. We write this letter out of deep concern that Fuller Seminary be true to its commitment to affordable housing, as stated in the Fuller Master Plan.
There are a number of reasons for this request. First, it is important that Fuller finish well and leave a legacy for the city (as well as for those of us who have attended Fuller) that we can be proud of, namely, a much needed affordable housing development. There are also deeply theological and spiritual principles at play here.
On a personal note, as the Chair of GPAHG and the Director of Making Housing and Community Happen, and as an Evangelical Christian with a Doctor of Ministry, who has studied at Fuller and has been invited to guest lecture in many classes, I feel a deep love and sense of connection with Fuller Seminary. I therefore feel led to share with you this biblical perspective.

At the end of this letter there’s a list of scriptures that indicate how those who demonstrate a commitment to love the poor by addressing the root causes of poverty will be blessed abundantly. It is my prayer that Fuller be blessed abundantly in its new location. In His wisdom God has bound up the way we love the poor as a way to show our love of God, and receive His blessings.  It can be tempting to move forward and “leave the past behind,” but the key theme of Deuteronomy is “remember” for a good reason—we have been given the Bible in part so we might remember the past to inform our future. We must not forget the pain and unintended consequences of hasty decisions lacking transparency and learn from them, so they won’t be repeated.

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible makes it clear God’s priority is to bring the most vulnerable and those on the margins into the center of his care. The poor, the widow and those on the margins of society are the focus of every message directed to pharaoh and the kings, from Moses to Esther. Additionally, Jesus lifted up the poor and disenfranchised in each story and parable. He brings them front and center and so should we.  Jesus died for our sins but he also died because he was proclaiming a kingdom of love, mercy and justice, which was contrary to the greed of the leaders of his day.
When God gave us all we need to sustain us in Genesis 1, he never gave us the land. God made it clear that “the land was mine, thus says the Lord.” We are to steward the land according to God’s principles.

The first five books of the Old Testament prepared a people to go into the Promised Land with detailed laws on how to govern in such a way that land would be distributed to every tribe and person to have a place to call home—to live together in peace and security—in a way that would be a light to the nations. Israel lost their land because they didn’t obey God’s laws. The book of Lamentations is all about grieving the loss of land. Many of us have been grieving the devastating loss of Fuller in Pasadena.

God sent prophets to hold kings accountable to make sure such laws and principles were upheld. But as we all know, prophets were killed and stubborn Israel refused to honor God‘s laws. At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees and Sadducees, in collusion with Roman rule, had gobbled up most of the land, leaving the peasants landless. Jubilee land distribution and other anti-poverty laws throughout Leviticus and Deuteronomy had not been upheld. In Luke 4 Jesus came preaching good news for the poor and inaugurating his ministry by proclaiming jubilee—a type of land redistribution. The Early Church lived this message (Acts 4) by sharing all things in common. Many churches across the US are providing affordable housing as a way to emulate the Early Church.

Fuller wisely set aside student housing at 10 to 20% below the market. This commitment within the Fuller Master Plan is something to be admired as a wise steward caring for the students and employees. 

Fuller is not alone in its struggle as churches are re-envisioning what it means to be the church, and pastors are not attending seminaries as they once did. A number of seminaries are trying to figure out the best use of their land. Taking the lead by providing a site for affordable housing would be an example to other seminaries and churches seeking to address the housing crisis, one of the major social issues today in the US.  It is important that Fuller not only care for its students, but also demonstrate a love for “neighbor as yourself” as commanded by Scripture.

As a faith-rooted organization, we at GPAHG feel that it is not at all unreasonable to request that at least one parcel, large enough to do a sizable affordable housing project, be sold to an affordable housing developer. We are not indicating what we feel would be a reasonable number of units, but wish you to keep in mind that 197 units affordable to students were lost to our city. This impacted the city by causing students to compete with long-time residents for the few affordable units that exist.

Additionally, we understand that the 179 affordable inclusionary units at Chang Commons are required to be kept affordable in perpetuity. Pasadena’s policies make this clear. Yet we understand that Fuller is seeking to get out of this commitment and sell only some of these units as affordable, ignoring the city’s policies.  Since Fuller has embraced addressing homelessness in its course offerings and praxis, partnering with Urban Initiatives to assure that each homeless person is counted, we recommend that these units be sold to an organization like Door of Hope, a Christ-centered ministry seeking to help formerly homeless families stay in Pasadena, so they will continue to be nurtured by this excellent ministry located just a few blocks from Fuller. There are a number of highly respected affordable housing developers that could also partner with Door of Hope as a way to keep the 179 units permanently affordable. 

 Leaving behind a legacy of affordable housing would indicate Fuller’s love for the city of Pasadena, as Jesus loved Jerusalem and other cities. By showing concern for those that Jesus cared deeply about, Fuller will have indeed finished well in the city of Pasadena.
With over half of the seminary students embarking upon ministry outside of church walls, Fuller Seminary is being watched and held accountable by a host of community members to see if it will conduct business in a manner that is a faithful witness to not only teach and disciple others for kingdom work but to demonstrate by example how to do so while caring for the poor.[4]

Signed, Jill Shook

Anthony Manousos
Cynthia Kirby
Rev. Connie Milsap
Lorynne Young
Treasure Sheppard
George Patton
Tom Petersmeyer
Mercedes Young

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!
    The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
 The Lord protects them
    and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land. Psalm 41:102

He gives generously to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever;
        his horn is exalted in honor. Psalm 112:9 (ISV)

Those who give freely gain even more;
    others hold back what they owe, becoming even poorer. Proverbs 11:24 (ISV)

 Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to the Lord
    the benefit of his gift will return to him in abundance. Proverbs 19:17 (ISV)

 Whoever refuses to hear the cry of the poor
    will also cry himself, but he won’t be answered. Proverbs 21:13 (ISV)

When a king faithfully administers justice to the poor,
    his throne will be established forever. Proverbs 29:14 (ISV)

In Isaiah 58 God’s Reward is clear for those who shelter the homeless and loose the bonds of injustice:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will spring up quickly; and your vindication will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will guard your back.

This is our prayer and hope for Fuller as it seeks the Lord in how to finish well in the city of Pasadena.



[3]               Ibid.

Monday, October 22, 2018

It's time to house our homeless neighbors at Heritage Square South and through motel conversions

An Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council members of Pasadena,

I am saddened that the Ramada Inn motel conversion is not moving forward. However, we now have a golden opportunity to move forward with the Heritage Square South project, as recommended by Ed Tech. If the Council approves housing 69 homeless seniors at Heritage Square South, as Northwest Pasadena residents have requested, it will send a signal to the rest of the City that housing our homeless neighbors is not only a good idea, it has community support. 

Let's move quickly.We lost over $450,000 in funding in May because we didn't approve Heritage Square South by the deadline for using redevelopment funds. We are apparently missing another funding deadline this week.  We also lost a great deal of potential funding by not approving an increase in in lieu fees that could have been applied to projects currently in the pipeline like this one and future motel conversions. 

Below is a letter to the editor that I have sent to the Star News and to Pasadena Now in response to their coverage of  what happened with the proposed conversion of the Ramada Inn:

Dear Editor,
Thanks for your article on the Ramada Inn motel conversion (10/22/18). While converting old motels to homeless housing is excellent policy, it looks like this particular project may not move forward because of community opposition.  Such projects can't be rushed and community input is needed at the onset. Ironically, the residents of Northwest Pasadena made it abundantly clear at a community meeting in March that we want a homeless housing project in our neighborhood--80% of those surveyed said they want city-owned land at Heritage Square South to be used for homeless senior housing. Over 400 neighbors and church members sent letters of support. But the City Council is dragging its heels and missing opportunities to get funding. We are urging them to approve and move forward with housing homeless seniors at Heritage Square South
Tonight during public comment, community leaders will be urging the Pasadena City Council to take action on Heritage Square South and continue to support conversion of motels to homeless housing. The need is urgent, and the number of homeless residents will only increase if no action is taken. Here are our talking points:

Talking Point #1: I am here to speak in favor of permanent supportive housing for our homeless neighbors. Many residents of our city are fearful about having homeless housing in their neighborhood. Studies show, and police agree, that providing homeless people with safe, supportive housing can actually help reduce crime. People in supportive housing are screened and monitored to make sure they abide by the rules. This creates safety for the community. Our former Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez said, “Despite some of the stereotypes, affordable housing doesn’t impact crime. It doesn’t erode the quality of life. They’re highly regulated. They are highly monitored. Lieutenant Mark Goodman said, “The safety level is actually enhanced because you are taking people from off the street and putting them into a situation that’s stable.” Our police support permanent supportive housing because it makes our community safer. That’s why the residents of Northwest Pasadena want the city to move forward with homeless housing at Heritage Square South. They made their desires very clear at a meeting in March called by Vice Mayor Kennedy. Over 80% of those surveyed at this meeting wanted Heritage Square South used for house our homeless seniors. Ed Tech unanimously approved a recommendation for homeless housing and commercial development at Heritage Square South. Why is the City Council not taking action?

Talking point #2: I am speaking in support the ordinance to convert motels into homeless housing and also on behalf of approving homeless housing at Heritage Square South in Northwest Pasadena. Some East Pasadena residents are concerned that their area of the city will be flooded with homeless housing because of this ordinance. This won’t happen. The City Council has decided to experiment by permitting only three motels to be converted and then evaluate the results. They are also committed to making sure that each district will have homeless housing for its homeless residents. The ordinance requires public input for each proposed motel conversion. Other parts of the City have homeless housing, and it hasn’t created problems. Euclid Villa, Marv’s Place and Centennial Place are located in the central part of the city, where there are a lot of residences and businesses. This homeless housing haven’t caused any increase in crime and neighbors haven’t complained. In fact, homeless housing is such an asset that the residents of Northwest Pasadena are requesting that homeless housing be built on city-owned property on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove, north of the freeway. If these areas with lots of homes and businesses are comfortable having homeless housing, it seems reasonable and fair to expect homeless housing also to be built in East Pasadena since there are a lot of homeless people living there. I am here tonight to advocate for approving Heritage Square South to be used for homeless housing, as recommended by Ed Tech. Let’s move this project forward as an example to the rest of the city.

Talking Point #3: I am here to speak out in favor of homeless housing, in particular, the motel conversion ordinance and Heritage Square South. Many are fearful about homeless housing because they think it will harm neighborhoods. Similar fears were once expressed in the past about having people of color move into neighbors. These fears were based on prejudice, not fact. Homeless housing is not a stigma, it is an asset to a neighborhood, since it will tend to reduce (not increase) the number of unhoused people in a given area. Well-managed supportive housing is preferable to poorly managed motels. Paul Little, CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, said, “Local businesses don’t feel the impact of permanent supportive housing. If there is an impact, it’s a positive one because there are fewer people in doorways, fewer people sleeping on sidewalks, or under bridges.” Homeless housing and businesses can coexist together in a mutually beneficial way. Ed Tech recently recommended that the city-owned property on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove, be used for commercial development and homeless housing. I think this is a great idea. This site would be ideal for medical offices to service our seniors and other residents of this area. Combining medical offices and housing for homeless seniors makes good sense. I urge the city council to move forward to this idea.

Talking Point # 4. I am here to speak out in favor of homeless housing. Some people are understandably fearful about homeless people who are mentally ill and act out in disturbing ways. It isn’t a crime to be mentally ill and people can’t be jailed simply because of their illness. The only way to deal with our mentally ill homeless neighbors is to find housing for them that they are comfortable with. Homeless people who refuse to go to shelters are sometimes called “service resistant,” The most common reason that homeless people resist shelters is that they are afraid they may be robbed or molested. Women and mentally ill people feel especially at risk in shelters. When offered the opportunity, most homeless people gladly choose to live in supportive housing where they have individual rooms and feel safe. I urge the City Council to pay special attention to the needs of homeless women and mentally ill people who need supportive services. Our homeless seniors also need to be housed as soon as possible since they are especially vulnerable. That’s why I support motel conversion and approving homeless housing for seniors at Heritage Square South.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

"The Vine and Branches": John's Gospel

This month our Quaker Bible study will focus on John 15. This seems very fitting since John's Gospel is central to our Quaker theology, particularly our doctrine of the Inner Light. For more about Quakers and the Gospel of John, see my blog:  This blog entry describes a Bible study which was inspired by Mennonite peace activist Bert Newton’s book The Subversive Wisdom of John’s Gospel.

“John’s Gospel is known as the Quaker gospel because the universal Light is central, extending across all worldly barriers of class, gender, and race. Jesus is a model for us – of humility and obedience.”—David Johnson, Australia YM

“The three pathfinders of early Quakerism were George Fox, Robert Barclay, and William Penn. All three based their theology on the gospel of John.”—Howard Brinton.

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear friend he prunes so that it was be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.


Have you ever felt connected to God/Christ? What was this experience like?

How has this feeling of connection with Christ/God/your Inner Light helped you to be "fruitful" in doing acts of loving kindness?

How has God "pruned" away from you things that are unloving and unproductive of good works?

Jesus says that if you love others, you are no longer his servant, but his friends. Do you feel as if you are on friendly terms with Jesus/God? If not, what do you feel is preventing you from having this intimate and close relationship?

Did you find anything in this passage troubling or problematic? What troubled you?

Our Guide for CA Ballot Propositions, with some help from our friends, neighbors and our chicken

Sylvester Williams with our chicken
Checkers, who helped us make
our decision on Prop 12
Last night we had a “Prop Party” to discuss the various CA ballot propositions. Because California is one of the few states to have ballot props, it is worth explaining that  "a ballot proposition is a referendum or an initiative measure submitted to the electorate for a direct decision or direct vote (or plebiscite). They are very important because if passed, they can alter one or more of the articles of the Constitution of California, one or more of the 29 California Codes , or another law in the California Statutes by clarifying current or adding statute(s) or removing current statute(s)."

Our prop party has become an annual fun event with people emailing us asking if we will host it again.  Those who came: Anthony and Jill, and our friends Sylvester, Carolyn and Adrienne, and our friend and neighbor Patricia. We studied the propositions using the following guides to help us:  the Quaker Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA), IMPACT (the California Council of Churches) and ACT (a progressive political action group in Pasadena/Altadena).  These groups didn’t always agree, but we had a lively and fun discussion and came up with our own recommendations. Here is a brief summary of what we came up with:

Proposition 1: YES Authorizes Bonds to Fund Specified Housing Assistance Programs. Legislative Statute. Proposition. We strongly support this measure, as did FCLCA, IMPACT, and ACT. We urgently need affordable housing and we feel this bond measure will help meet that need. A bond is like a mortgage, a long term investment on something that will most likely increase in value. No one expects a home to be paid off in a year, so bonds are spread out over the life time of the use of the home.

Proposition 2: YES Authorizes Bonds to Fund Existing Housing Program for Individuals with
Jill and Carolyn Williams
Mental Illness. Legislative Statute. Proposition.
This prop also had the support of FCLCA, IMPACT and ACT. Some concern was expressed about taking money from mental health care and using it to build permanent supportive housing for the mentally ill, but we believe the only way to help mentally ill people on the street is first to get them housed, so we agreed that this prop is worthy of our support.

Proposition 3: YES, with some reservations. Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. Initiative Statute. This prop has the support of IMPACT and ACT, but FCLCA and the Sierra Club are concerned that “the proponents of this bond have added many wasteful items to attract rich investors to help support the campaign who will ultimately profit from the bond at taxpayers’ expense.” IMPACT, on the other hand, says “this is a comprehensive, thoughtful set of priorities emphasizing conservation, recycling and the wise use of scarce water resources that should improve the state’s water supply for years to come.” This prop may be imperfect, but we felt it’s worth supporting.

Proposition 4: YES Authorizes Bonds Funding Construction at Hospitals Providing Children’s Health Care. Initiative Statute. Proposition. ACT and IMPACT support this prop, but FCLCA had some reservations because the Quakers typically support universal health care, not funding private hospitals. While Jill and Anthony support “Medicare for all” would be a better policy, all of us last night felt that children’s hospitals are doing such fantastic and needed work they deserve our support.

Proposition 5: NO Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Proposition.  FCLCA and ACT both oppose this prop, and IMPACT didn’t take a stand. We felt this prop is not needed since Prop 13 already gives homeowners 55 + the chance to sell their home once and buy a new home at the same or lesser price and pay the same tax they did on their original home. This prop would give homeowners the right to get this tax break multiple times and to buy more expensive homes while paying a lower tax rate. The ploy to support this by including in caps “severely handicapped homeowners” we felt was a deceptive tactic to get us to vote for this prop.  Prop. 5 will primarily benefit the wealthy and take billions of much needed dollars from our schools. Compared to other parts of the US, the CA property taxes are low. Patricia mentioned that in New Jersey her friends’ property taxes are $35,000 a year!! Due to limited ways for cities to generate income,  which is causing some cities to go bankrupt and others to resort to higher and higher fees, we very much felt this this should be 

Proposition 6: NO Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Approved by The Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Proposition. This is opposed by IMPACT, FCLCA and ACT.  No one likes taxes, but gasoline taxes are needed to help pay for roads, bridge repair and other needed infrastructure. The California gas tax hadn’t been raised since 1994, so in 2017 the state legislation passed SB 1 which raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon. The tax increase was necessary and long overdue to help improve so many of our roads in need of repair. We discussed how in the US we subsidize our the oil industry to keep our gas prices low, but in other countries in Europe or Australia gas is typically $5-9.00 a gallon. What they have done in Europe is to require that cars have very high fuel standards, with 50+ miles a gallon, so that when you buy gas at high prices, you get more for your buck.   So why repeal it? This would be a great way to encourage more cars with better fuel efficiency.  Here’s what FCLCA says: “Prop 6 is a cynical play put on the ballot by the Republican anti-tax crusader Carl De Maio. Proponents hope its inclusion on the ballot will help drive Republican voter turnout and keep the House of Representatives in Republican hands.”

Proposition 7: NO RECOMMENDATION. Conforms California Daylight Saving Time to Federal Law. Allows Legislature to Change Daylight Saving Time Period. Legislative Statute. Proposition. We liked what IMPACT wrote, with tongue in cheek: “This proposition has no moral ground upon which to deliberate acceptance or rejection. It’s a matter of personal or professional choice. Farmers don’t like it. Recreationists do. While IMPACT takes no position, we do urge you, regardless of outcome, to remember to change your smoke detector batteries at least once a year.”

Proposition 8: NO Regulates Amounts Outpatient Kidney Dialysis Clinics Charge for Dialysis Treatment. Initiative Statute. Proposition. This had the support of IMPACT and ACT, but was opposed by FCLCA and the League of Women Voters (LWV). FCLCA expressed our concern that because this prop limits how much can be charged, “Chronic dialysis clinics could close in communities of color where they are needed most.” Therefore, until our broken health care system is fixed and there is universal healthcare, we need ae voting no to make sure that under-resourced communities get the health care they need.

Proposition 9: This measure was stricken from the ballot by the California Supreme Court. Proposition

Proposition 10: YES Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. Initiative Statute. This has the support of IMPACT, FCLCA, ACT and virtually every affordable housing advocate we know. It’s interesting that the “con” description suggest that “Affordable housing advocates agree that it’s bad… ” It’s unfair to suggest that all advocates feel this way. I, Jill, was at a national affordable housing conference with over 1,000 in attendance, and I don’t think anyone there opposed rent control. There is a lot of misinformation about rent control and recent research helps to clear this up. See:  But it’s important to disclose here our bias, that we (Jill and Anthony) supported a campaign in Pasadena to get rent stabilization passed. We were pleased to see most of our neighbors were eager to sign the petition. In fact 10,224 signed (we needed 12,800), but this strong show of support may be why there are so many ads opposing it.  In Pasadena we have landlords increasing rent by $300-$1000 a month. 47% of Pasadena is spending over 50% of their income on housing cost. Is hard for a city be economically vibrant with such a high percent of the population little expendable income. We believe there should be a cap of no more than 2-4% increase a year, a fair return.  Prop 10 allows cities have a choice, until this is passed, cities don’t have a choice to enact rent control, only stabilization measures.  Prop 10 would give municipalities the freedom the craft rent control ordinances that would meet the particular needs of their cities, for example an ordinance that would not include any new construction. Some say that this will prevent development, but Santa Monica and West Hollywood, with some of the strongest rent stabilization policies in CA, are developing housing like crazy.  

Because Sylvester is a landlord (one who rents many of his places below market rate and is very fair to his tenants), we had an interesting dialogue about how rent control would impact landlords. We explained that rent control would create a board representing tenants and landlords that would help determine a fair rent increase, within limits; ensure landlords a fair return on investment; and provide much needed tenant protection. There is some concern that this might negatively impact some landlords and have other unintended consequences depending on how a city decides to have or not to have such an ordinance, but the trade off to keep long term stable tenants and prevent folks from falling into homelessness must be balanced with a fair and just policy. Today the no.1 cause of homelessness is the high cost of housing.

Proposition 11: NO Requires Private-Sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain On-Call During Work Breaks. Eliminates Certain Employer Liability. Initiative Statute. Proposition.  We felt this a complex labor-management dispute that shouldn’t be on the ballot, it should be resolved with a mediator, or in the courts or with the help of the legislator.

Proposition 12: NO. Establishes New Standards for Confinement of Specified Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Noncomplying Products. Initiative Statute. This prop was tough to decide on, since it has “bitterly divided the Humane Society and animal rights activists opposed to factory farming.” In the interest of full disclosure, Jill and I have a chicken named Checkers that is around 15 years old and has been coddled all her life. Since Sylvester wants to have chickens, we invited Checkers to join us during our deliberation. Checkers took no position on this prop, but her presence reminded us that we need to treat our feathered friends with compassion. We were shocked to learn that Prop 12 would give chickens only one square foot to live in, less than they currently have. The current standards says that chickens must have enough space to spread their wings, turn around and lie down, all without disturbing other chickens. We finally decided to agree with IMPACT, which said: “In 2008 California Council of Churches IMPACT supported Proposition 2 that would improve the quality of confinement for farm animals. Federal standards and legal findings affected most animals but not chickens. Our concern for the humane treatment of chickens rested on two issues: chickens are aggressive toward one another and will kill or maim one another when overcrowded. Highly crowded cages made attacks commonplace. This led to the egg industry’s practice of debeaking – cutting part of the beaks off – to prevent chickens from seriously harming one another. Proposition 2 called for changes in cage sizes that would stop overcrowding and thereby reduce the need for debeaking. Space requirements for each chicken were based on animal behavior: be able to spread wings, turn around, lie down, all without interfering with other chickens. This set a decent standard of care. Proposition 12 reverses that legal standard. While it calls for “cage free” as a goal, it permits vastly reduced space per chicken and still does not outlaw debeaking and other inhumane practices. Rather than basing the standard on chicken behavior, it requires 1 foot square of space per bird, far too small a space even in “cage free” settings. This is a setback in the humane treatment of chickens As in the earlier Proposition 2, standards for other farm animals are not seriously at issue in Prop 12. To regress on the standards for chickens and undermine what we already passed in compassion is totally unacceptable.”