Rules of Order

Rules of Order

Everything old is new again – which perhaps is why re-discovering Robert’s Rules of Order, the authority on parliamentary procedure, felt so right. The discovery was precipitated by my election to Secretary on the board of a local non-profit. When I inquired as to what my duties were, I found none of my fellow board members could tell […]

Civinomics Cofounder Robert Singleton’s TED Talk

Civinomics Cofounder Robert Singleton’s TED Talk

If you weren’t able to see it in person, here is Civinomics Cofounder Robert Singleton giving a TED talk about how millennials are using technology to improve our democracy. If you like what you see share it with your friends! Watch the Full Talk Here.

On Libraries

On Libraries

From the windows of my office in downtown Santa Cruz, California, I enjoy an excellent view of the main branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library. Every morning, in the minutes before opening at 10AM, people start congregating outside. It’s been instructive, over the years, to watch the patrons going in and out. There are […]

Can Regions Define the Times?

Can Regions Define the Times?

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom took the stage at the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s (MBEP) State of the Region event last week like an energetic Matthew McConaughey. His enthusiasm and self-reflective humor quickly dispelled any doubts the audience might have had that he has become a political wall flower in his under-tasked, vice president type […]

Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring most of the existing affordable housing sites within the City of Santa Cruz, and beyond the heavy rainfall, I actually learned a tremendous amount about what are affordable housing stock looks like, and how much effort it takes to develop. The tour was organized by members of the […]

No More Development in the Mission?

No More Development in the Mission?

The Bay Area is still in the midst of a Housing Crisis. This is a topic that we have covered extensively on this blog, with many articles being written about potential new development policies, on new state policies, on homelessness, and other potential reforms. However, there is one measure that recently qualified for the San […]

New Features: Tagging, Groups and Polls

New Features: Tagging, Groups and Polls

Since the beginning, we envisaged civinomics as a tool for cooperative company/organization decision making, in addition to a tool for public engagement and government transparency. Today we are proud to announce a suite of features that make it much easier to use civinomics in a diverse number of ways: Groups, Tags, and Polls. Groups You can […]

Innovative State: Government Contests are a Step in the Right Direction

Innovative State: Government Contests are a Step in the Right Direction

Today is the deadline for the CalTrans “$25K Find a New Way” competition. The agency has called for submissions from the public to solve the state’s transportation problems. This seems to be part of a larger trend of government agencies opening their doors, phone lines, inboxes, etc. to take suggestions from the public on seemingly intractable problems. The […]

Solving the Santa Cruz Water Crisis

Solving the Santa Cruz Water Crisis

It took 18 months of meetings. 18 months of studying, touring facilities, evaluating citizen submitted proposals, hearing from organizations, engineers, scientists, and pollsters, yet last Friday the Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee voted unanimously, as per their consensus based charter, to pass on a portfolio recommendation to the Santa Cruz City Council for addressing […]

Recap of 2015 Code for America Summit

Recap of 2015 Code for America Summit

“Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” There, I did it. This may be the first time a Berkeley grad started a blog post by quoting Ronald Reagan. Yet, it encapsulates the general sense I took away from the Code for America Summit last week. Don’t worry, this isn’t a doom and gloom post. […]

Can Jerry Brown Save The World?

Can Jerry Brown Save The World?

Jerry Brown was livid. The four term governor is not used to losing. Last week he had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat when a central part of his environmental legislation, SB 350, was taken out. The abandoned provision called for a 50% reduction in petroleum use by 2030. That part of the bill […]

Who Picks Up the Tab for Less School Days?

Who Picks Up the Tab for Less School Days?

It doesn’t make financial sense to have your children out of school, ever. In the old days, kids worked on the farm over “summer break.” The old school bell tower was silent while those strapping children got a late summer tan, helping their parents with the harvest. Those days are, clearly, long gone. Instead of farming […]

Vacation Rentals in Santa Cruz

Vacation Rentals in Santa Cruz

Vacation rentals have been a hot topic in Santa Cruz as of late. Earlier this year the County adopted a cap on the number of homes that could be rented out as vacation rentals in specific locations. One of these locations was Seacliff in Aptos, and the issue became bitterly divisive amongst property owners in […]

Can Affordable Housing and New Subways Ease San Francisco’s Growing Pains?

Can Affordable Housing and New Subways Ease San Francisco’s Growing Pains?

Understatement: San Francisco is growing. Being on the cutting edge of the technology industry, along with being just a gorgeous place to live, has lead to flocks of new residents migrating into the city . According to Plan Bay Area, the city is growing at a pace of approximately 10,000 new residents per year. By […]

Little Brisbane in a Booming Bay

Little Brisbane in a Booming Bay

The little town of Brisbane, a city of some 4,000 people just south of San Francisco, is in the midst of a major decision. The tiny city, the majority of which was built on artificial land dumped into the bay after the 1906 earthquake, is considering one of the largest development projects in the history of […]

2nd GOP Presidential Debates: Carly vs Trump

2nd GOP Presidential Debates: Carly vs Trump

As we approach the 2nd round of GOP debates at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA, everyone’s bracing for Trump vs. Carly. Neither candidate has held office, a fact that, in an age of frustration and disillusionment with politics, has largely contributed to their popularity. After the first round of voting on Civinomics ranked […]

On The End Of Protest

On The End Of Protest

“Activism is broken. Recent years have witnessed the largest protests in human history. And yet, these mass mobilizations no longer change society.” So speaketh  Micah White, Ph.d, former editor of Adbusters and co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, as he makes the rounds on social media and the big ideas festival circuit promoting his upcoming book, The […]

Our Cities are Slime Mold, Can We Zone for Something Better?

Our Cities are Slime Mold, Can We Zone for Something Better?

Slime mold is an informal name given to several kinds of unrelated organisms that can live freely as single cells, but aggregate together to form multicellular reproductive structures. When they band together they pass resources around in vein like structures. They were classified with mushrooms for a long time, but they are not mushrooms. However, like […]

A New Model of Local Entrepreneurship

A New Model of Local Entrepreneurship

I am standing at the corner of a bustling intersection surrounded by a sea of young professionals and curious tourists of all ages. Buildings of 10 stories and more extend into the sky all around me, boasting small shops on their ground level with apartments layered in the floors above. The line at a nearby […]

Should the Homeless be Kicked Out of SF’s Embarcadero?

Should the Homeless be Kicked Out of SF’s Embarcadero?

I would guess that San Francisco mayor Ed Lee probably didn’t sleep much the night before he made this announcement: “They are going to have to leave.” This was directed to the city’s homeless population that have settled in the Embarcadero area. The reason for kicking them out? The Embarcadero, and specifically Justin Herman Plaza, […]

What to Expect Next from Civinomics

What to Expect Next from Civinomics

As many of you may have been noticing, Civinomics has been going through some changes recently. Specifically, we have taken to rewriting a huge portion of our internal code, while also fixing some user interface problems. This hasn’t been for nothing, and has actually been in preparation for a whole new product that we are […]

Going Out With a Bang: Three Big Issues to Close the California Legislative Year

Going Out With a Bang: Three Big Issues to Close the California Legislative Year

This week marks the return of our elected officials to Sacramento for a four week sprint through some of the most important issues currently facing the state. Will they be able to pull it off? Read below to learn about what’s facing our legislators. First up: the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. As you may have noticed while […]

Funding Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Funding Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Last week the Santa Cruz City Council weighed in on the draft Housing Element for the City, a section of the General Plan that outlines how the City hopes to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) over the next seven years. The RHNA numbers are the projected total number of units that will need […]

A Little Less Direct Democracy: Raising the Fee to File an Initiative

A Little Less Direct Democracy: Raising the Fee to File an Initiative

As residents of California, one election day tradition we all get to look forward to is voting on at least a couple ballot initiatives. Ballot initiatives are where we, the citizens, decide on specific policies the state should adopt. Known as direct democracy, the practice is meant to empower average people to propose and pass […]

Civinomics Initiative Filings

Civinomics Initiative Filings

August 25, 2015 – Suggested last day for proponent(s) to submit proposed measure to the California Attorney General and request a circulating title and summary. sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures We are exactly two weeks away from the suggested last date to submit a ballot initiative in California. While Civinomics has frequently focused on local politics (city and county), […]

Can Congress Fix the Drought?

Can Congress Fix the Drought?

It’s a saying you’ve probably heard quite a few times now amidst the coverage of California’s drought, but it’s worth reiterating – whisky’s for drinking, water’s for fighting. My guess is our elected representatives will probably appreciate a cocktail by the time Congress decides on a drought relief bill for the state. There are currently […]

Dealing with Gotcha Evictions in SF

Dealing with Gotcha Evictions in SF

As the housing crisis in San Francisco continues largely unabated so do many of the horror stories of tenants being evicted. We have covered this issue before when discussing the spike in Ellis Act evictions last year, which is a California law that allows property owners to forcibly evict tenets, even in a rent controlled property, […]

FairVote Partners with Civinomics to Launch Ranked Choice Voting Functionality

FairVote Partners with Civinomics to Launch Ranked Choice Voting Functionality

Early on at Civinomics, we learned that the choices you give someone for answering a question are as important as the question itself. The folks at FairVote certainly agree. FairVote is a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to improving American elections by promoting fair, democratic election systems that empower voters. Their research has shown that ranked choice […]

The Santa Cruz County Housing Element

The Santa Cruz County Housing Element

Last week marked the first public hearings on the County’s draft Housing Element, an important planning document that outlines how the County expects to accommodate future population growth in terms of additional housing. Under state law, every city and county must prepare a housing element, which is technically a specific part of each local government’s […]

Local and Congressional Action in the Wake of Kate Steinle’s Death

Local and Congressional Action in the Wake of Kate Steinle’s Death

It has now been almost a month since 32 year old Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed as she walked along San Francisco’s Pier 14. To recap the series of events, quickly following the shooting authorities arrested and charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with multiple drug related felonies to his name, as well […]

Why We Need to Have a Good Fight About Trains

Why We Need to Have a Good Fight About Trains

The CA Highspeed Rail Act of 2008 did more than just approve a state-wide train, it allocated $1B in funding for local rail projects and gave the green light to county transportation agencies to pursue rail as well. Now local rail is the latest battleground for whether train projects make sense in the 21st Century. […]

Should Congress Approve The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Should Congress Approve The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Man, a lot of talk about Iran lately, huh? But just what exactly is going on right now? Let’s see if I can break it down for ya – Last week Secretary of State John Kerry, along with representatives from five other nations (Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China), emerged from negotiations with Iran with […]

More Regulation for Uber?

It appears that the ride sharing taxi application, Uber, is once again facing regulatory hurdles, this time from the biggest regulatory agency in the State – the California Public Utilities Commission. Normally this agency is better known for rules governing our water rates and power supply, but in the case of Uber it comes down something a […]

The Promise and Reality of Digital Water Meters

The Promise and Reality of Digital Water Meters

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the first water department in the State of California to roll out digital water meters for every residential and commercial connection, all 180,000 of them. Digital water meters can update customers with their cumulative water usage in near realtime (every 24hrs). This information could radically increase conservation thanks to […]

An Update on Santa Cruz Water

An Update on Santa Cruz Water

Last October the City of Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee (WSAC) held an open call for citizen ideas about how to address our water shortfall. This culminated in a day long ideas convention during which over 50 proposals were presented, from recycled water, to quarry storage, to even pulling water out of the ambient […]

Vote: Should SF limit Airbnb rentals to 60 days per year or 120?

Vote: Should SF limit Airbnb rentals to 60 days per year or 120?

The debate over short term rentals in San Francisco comes to a head this Tuesday, the 14th, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will decide on two amendments to the city’s largely toothless Airbnb law. The hardline supervisor David Campos wants the board to limit the number of days a homeowner can rent out […]

With the Death of Kate Steinle, SF’s Sanctuary Laws Come Under Fire

With the Death of Kate Steinle, SF’s Sanctuary Laws Come Under Fire

Under the most unfortunate of circumstances, San Francisco has been thrust into the national spotlight. On Wednesday last week, Kathryn Steinle was walking with her father along Pier 14, a popular tourism destination for its views of the bay, when she was struck by a stray bullet. She was rushed to the hospital but died […]

Airbnbs in SF: The Saga Moves to the Ballot

Airbnbs in SF: The Saga Moves to the Ballot

Things have been heating up in San Francisco with regards to short term rentals. Part of the new “sharing economy,” sites like Airbnb and Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) have been in use for years now and have allowed residents to rent out either a room or an entire unit to short term renters (usually […]

Crowdsourcing California’s 2016 Ballot Initiatives: Transportation and Marijuana

Crowdsourcing California’s 2016 Ballot Initiatives: Transportation and Marijuana

The last few years have seen a fabulous rise in the collective understanding of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing, using the ideas, knowledge and funds of the public to solve problems, has been used to discover the structure of the aids virus and respond to catastrophic natural disasters like the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Now crowdsourcing California Ballot Initiatives […]

A Salute To Pride

A Salute To Pride

Pride this year was special. The annual celebration in San Francisco is one of the city’s most joyous, colorful, delightfully cringe inducing, and important events of the year. Every year thousands upon thousands of revelers descend on the city of Harvey Milk and countless other gay rights pioneers to celebrate their legacy. But with the […]

Citizen Tech in Santa Cruz County

Citizen Tech in Santa Cruz County

Today marks the official launch of the Citizen Connect application for the County of Santa Cruz. That’s right, the County has created a mobile application for iOS and Android (iPhone and Google operating systems for the uninitiated) that will allow for citizen reporting of things like potholes, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, and even illegal dumping. County […]

In Wake of Charleston, Amending the Constitution May be Our Only Hope

In Wake of Charleston, Amending the Constitution May be Our Only Hope

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” You may have noticed the 2nd Amendment has been slightly, well, amended above. The new verbiage is the suggestion of retired Supreme Court Justice […]

Uber Versus The World: Should Drivers Be Official Employees?

Uber Versus The World: Should Drivers Be Official Employees?

Uber recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. The start-up that connects drivers with passengers like a taxi service has certainly disrupted the existing order, and has reaped enviable profits in the process. The company recently took on a $1.4 billion growth investment, and has been valued at $50,000,000,000.00. (That’s $50 billion in case you didn’t want […]

The San Lorenzo: To Paddle or Not to Paddle?

The San Lorenzo: To Paddle or Not to Paddle?

The San Lorenzo River is about to become the subject of a lot more human activity. The river, which runs through the center of Santa Cruz proper and serves as the City’s main water supply, may be open for more human recreational activities. Specifically, the City Council is set to weigh in on the potential […]

On Governance

On Governance

The Knight Foundation just released a report titled “Why Millennials Don’t Vote For Mayor”, examining why younger voters don’t vote in local elections. “Millennials” is the label foisted by the labelers upon people born between the early 80’s and the early 2000’s. You should download and read the report if you haven’t already, it can […]

Three Reasons Why It’s Old People’s Fault Millennials Don’t #VoteLocal

Three Reasons Why It’s Old People’s Fault Millennials Don’t #VoteLocal

Last week the Knight Foundation released a scathing report on the record low participation of millennials in local government. Why don’t millennials participate in local elections or care all that much about local issues? They don’t know anything about them. And, as a millennial who works four separate jobs that are all related to local […]

Bill Monning Recall, Proposition 13 Reform, And Voter Expansion Initiatives

Bill Monning Recall, Proposition 13 Reform, And Voter Expansion Initiatives

This past week saw a lot of activity in California state politics. Today we bring you three of the biggest issues for you to learn about and cast your vote on: Recall Bill Monning State Senator Bill Monning (D – Carmel) was served last week with a notice of intent to recall him from office. […]

Could Innovation Change Pompous SoCal Water Wasters into Water Producers?

Could Innovation Change Pompous SoCal Water Wasters into Water Producers?

It doesn’t take more than three minutes of being in Los Angeles to realize that Southern California is about luxury. There’s the cars, the billboards, the premium shopping experiences, and of course, the water. It’s green and lush all over the place, and it feels niiiiice. The warm breeze blowing through the urban oasis, picking up […]

Planning for Passenger Rail in Santa Cruz

Planning for Passenger Rail in Santa Cruz

Last Thursday the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission presented the results of a feasibility study evaluating the potential for passenger rail service along the now publicly owned rail line. The study looked at a range of metrics for evaluating seven separate service scenarios, including up front capital costs, annual upkeep and maintenance costs, expected ridership, the […]

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