San Lorenzo Part II: An Unnecessary Sequel

Remember that time you asked out that really cute girl, or guy, or gender nonconforming person, or artificial intelligence with the the voice of Scarlett Johansson (I’m trying to be PC, but also funny, and it is a lot harder than it sounds), who is miles out of your league and as you anxiously pace back and forth staring at the three dots on your phone waiting for a reply, they enthusiastically agree to go out with you? Well, this has never happened to me but I imagine it is similar to how I felt to receive such positive feedback on my first blog post. Honestly, I was surprised so many people actually read it. After receiving such great feedback I was excited to get back to it, and just like when you meet someone new that you’re really into, I threw everything else to the side and got to brainstorming. Sorry finding a new job, moving out, and becoming independent will have to wait (okay, no more jokes about still living at home, promise)!

 

I figured the best way to approach my second blog post would be to do what Hollywood does after they have smashing success and that is to attempt to replicate the same success with a sequel that doesn’t live up to the original. For the record, most people will argue that Godfather 2 is the best sequel, but in reality it’s Rush Hour 2.  

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The spa fight scene is cinema at its best!

Let me start by answering some of my own questions regarding the empty lots in my neighborhood (this subsequent post might make more sense if you read the last one). It turns out the lots are owned by the Bohannon Company, founded by David Dewey Bohannon. Isn’t the name Dewey short for something? Dwight? Dewerd? The Bohannon’s have owned huge chunks of land in the Bay Area since the 20’s and have developed residential and commercial areas throughout the Bay. San Lorenzo may be David Dewerd’s greatest achievement, having been the largest privately financed residential area built during the WWII era. Here is a video by the Bohannon Organization on how San Lorenzo was built. If you’re feeling nostalgic, I suggest sipping a nice single malt whiskey while watching it and you can almost feel the racism and gender discrimination of a not so bygone era.


According to one of the San Lorenzo home association directors, the empty lot which was slated to be developed into condos before the mortgage crisis hit, is finally going to be developed. What is going to be developed into you ask? Sometime new, exciting and innovative? Maybe an indoor 3-story sports complex? Nope, more condos! Not that I have anything against more housing, the reality is we desperately need affordable housing in California. The future condos will be directly across another set of condos which were priced at 430k in 2009; I expect the new development will be much more expensive.

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This is a 3-story sports complex in Venezuela, not San Lorenzo

Ironically, nobody wants affordable housing in their neighborhood. People don’t even beat around the bush about this either — you’ll have soccer moms all fired up about how they don’t want poor people because it will lower the value of their properties. Part of me can’t even hate on soccer moms in their cute patagonia pullovers. Many scholars have pointed out that if you leave housing to the market, that is to say, you make it a commodity rather than a right, then the only goal is to continuously increase the value and profitability of the land (the actual housing means very little here), nevermind building a sense of community or fostering some sort of democratic cooperation. Here’s the thing though, lack of affordable housing isn’t just impacting low-income folks, it’s also impacting the “middle class”. The SF chronicle reported that middle class households use 53% of their income on housing compared to 38% in 2006. In order to meet the needs in the Bay Area alone, there would have to be at least 170k more residential units constructed.

 

Check out what’s happening in Oakland with the parcel on E.12th. It was originally proposed to be a market-rate apartment high rise but someone with a conscious, or maybe they were just trying to get theirs, leaked a memo and it turns out there was a violation of the state Surplus Land Act. SHADY BUSINESS Y’ALL!  Well, thanks to this leak community was able to organize and now there are 3 different proposals for the parcel, all with affordable housing mixed in. Check out the article here.

 

Now, say the residents of my hometown of San Lorenzo got together and wanted to see a mixed-use development project in that lot instead of condos. Well that’s impossible, because as one of my readers pointed out, the county has restricted nearly every parcel to residential units (unless the zoning map is amended). So if you were imagining a mixed-use development project where you could walk out of your affordable apartment to get a coffee and some pan dulce from the panaderia downstairs, forget about it! Want to demand public land to be used to meet the needs of residents like a very cool organization called PODER in San Francisco is doing? Forget about it! Just to be clear, in this case, the lots aren’t government owned, so, it would be difficult to persuade the Bohannons’ to hand over the lots to the county as public space. It’s similar to Yeezy trying to convince Mark Zuckerberg to fund him for his future projects–it’s like WHY?


Part of the problem here is local government, or the lack thereof. The last specific plan for San Lorenzo Village, where the lots are located, was in 2004 and it seems like not much has been done since the county bid for capital improvement funding. By default the home association becomes the local government, except their primary role is that of regulators. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use west coast rap in my blog and I finally have it– REGULATORS … MOUNT UP! I don’t have a beef with the home association, but I have heard people complain that directors will drive around making sure everyone’s lawn is cut, and that just seems like something your creepy ex would do. Furthermore, home associations are kinda wack because participating in one is based upon ownership, therefore excluding residents who don’t own a home.

One option for more local control could be incorporating into a city of our own. As crazy as it sounds, it’s completely possible. It was done in Texas and afterwards the mayor changed the town name to DISH, as in DISH Satellite. SERIOUSLY, check out this hilarious segment by the Daily Show. It can’t be that difficult to start a petition and have 20% of the people in the area agree to incorporate, can it? The other option would be to be annexed by a neighboring city like Hayward or San Leandro. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have thought of this before, and there must be some perks to having the county control services. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and the best thing to do for now would be to show up to this county update on March 16th at the San Lorenzo Library.


SO

How can we get the ball rolling on a community project?

 

Do you think incorporation is a good idea? Should we be annexed to a neighboring city?

 

Anyone else pissed off about the upcoming Rush Hour tv show?

 

Let me know in the comments below! Oh and follow me on social media stuff!

Well reader that’s about all I got. Thanks for making it through the second part of a two-part blog on San Lorenzo.

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