Is Music Over at Mills College?

Even the concert hall at Mills College is different.

Looming at the back of the stage is a huge, bright mural of a forest opening onto a deep blue lake. The ceiling is painted in geometric patterns and vivid colors. Frescos of Gregorian chant scores flank the stage.

We are not in sedate, monochromatic Carnegie Hall. No, Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills, in Oakland, is a vibrant, even eccentric place, where it is clear from the surroundings that music outside the mainstream is not simply tolerated, but celebrated. “There was a real atmosphere of comfort and support for whatever it is that you wanted to do,” composer David Rosenboom, who led the music program at Mills in the 1980s, said in an interview.

Now that program and the electronics-focused Center for Contemporary Music, together among the most distinguished havens for experimental work in America over the past century, are facing possible closure. On March 17, the college, founded in 1852, announced that ongoing financial problems, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, would mean the end of its history as a degree-granting institution made up of an undergraduate women’s college and several coeducational graduate programs.

Pending approval by its board of trustees, the school’s final degrees are likely to be conferred in 2023. The statement announcing the proposed closure alluded to plans for a “Mills Institute” on the 135-acre campus, but the focus of such an institute—and whether it would include the arts—is unclear.

For composers and musicians, the potential loss of the Mills program has come as a startling blow, even though the college’s finances have been shaky for years.

“I long feared this might be the worst-case scenario, but I am still devastated by the news,” said harpist and composer Zeena Parkins, who teaches there.

It has been an astonishing run. The school’s faculty over the years has been practically an index of maverick artists, including Darius Milhaud, at Mills for three decades beginning during World War II; Luciano Berio, who came at Milhaud’s invitation; Lou Harrison, who built an American version of the Indonesian gamelan percussion orchestra; “deep listening” pioneer Pauline Oliveros; Robert Ashley, an innovator in opera; Terry Riley, a progenitor of minimalism; influential composer and improviser Anthony Braxton; James Fei, a saxophonist and clarinetist who works with electronic sounds; and Maggi Payne, a longtime director of the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills’ laboratory for electronic work since the 1960s, when Oliveros was its first leader.

Among the alumni are Dave Brubeck, Steve Reich, John Bischoff, William Winant and Laetitia Sonami; several former students ended up returning to teach after graduating.

“What Mills College had was unique,” said Riley, who taught there from 1971 to 1981. “I have never in my travels encountered another institution like it.”

Mills’ defining feature was its sense of community.

Despite all the famous names involved, the overriding impression was that music is not created by lone geniuses, but by people working together.

Fred Frith, whose career has included avant-garde rock and idiosyncratic improvisations and who retired from Mills in 2018 after many years there, said, “Music is essentially a collaborative activity, and if I’m going to teach improvisation or composition without real hands-on involvement, then we’re all going to miss out on something.”

In the first half of the 20th century, when composers like John Cage became associated with the school, Mills developed a reputation for nonconformity.

Performances ran the gamut from traditional instruments to obscure electronics to vacuum cleaners, clock coils and other found objects. Riley recounted an early performance of “In C,” his open-ended classic from 1964, at which the audience was dancing in the aisles. Laetitia Sonami recalled taking singing lessons with master Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, guru to Riley and others.

At that time, the program was practically public access.

“In the 1970s, Mills was still like a community group,” said composer Chris Brown, a former director of the Center for Contemporary Music. “It still had the idea that community members could come and use the studios.”

Robert Ashley, a guiding presence from 1969 to 1981, helped foster that spirit. Though the radically open sensibility faded as the years went by, Mills maintained a commitment to access through frequent performances in and around Oakland, many of them free.

“One of the amazing things about Mills is the rich musical community that it creates through the entire Bay Area,” said composer Sarah Davachi, who graduated in 2012.

As the personal computer revolution was taking hold in nearby Silicon Valley, experiments with home-brew electronics and microcomputers, like those of David Behrman, were common at Mills, where technology had long been at home through the Center for Contemporary Music. Serendipitous moments abounded: As a student in the ’70s, John Bischoff remembers running into David Tudor, renowned as a collaborator with Cage, in the hallway and being asked to assist with recording Tudor’s work “Microphone.” Winant said he found an original instrument built by composer and inveterate inventor Harry Partch hidden under the stage in the concert hall.

“It felt like utopia: an environment where students are encouraged, and given the support they need, to pursue any and all ideas that came to mind, free from the stifling pressures of capitalism,” said Seth Horvitz, an electronic composer known as Rrose.

Students built their own instruments and sound installations, exhilarated by the freedom to do what they wanted. “We commandeered every square inch of the music studio and surrounding areas,” said composer Ben Bracken, “putting up rogue installations in the courtyards, hallways and hidden rooms, inviting friends to perform in inflatable bubbles, screening Kenneth Anger films in the amphitheater with live studio accompaniments, Moog studio late nights that bled into morning.”

But pressures on institutions of higher education around the country, which have intensified in recent decades, did not spare Mills. In 2017, as a cost-cutting measure, it began laying off some tenured faculty. Celebrated composer and multi-instrumentalist Roscoe Mitchell learned his contract was not being renewed—news that was met with an outcry from the experimental music community. (Mitchell’s contract was eventually extended, but he chose to retire.) In 2019, the college sold a rare copy of Shakespeare’s "First Folio" at auction for just under $10 million, and a Mozart manuscript for an undisclosed sum. But the losses continued—and then came the pandemic.

Many musicians said they were concerned about the fate of Mills’ archives.

Maggi Payne said it includes over 2,000 tapes of performances, lectures and interviews, along with scores, letters and synthesizers—and hundreds of percussion instruments owned by Lou Harrison. David Bernstein, who chairs the music department, said the archives would be protected.

“We have been working on this project for quite some time,” he said. “And yes, there are instruments at Mills of significant historical importance. We are very concerned about their fate. Most of all, they should not be stored but used by students interested in exploring new sounds and different musical cultures. And they should also be played by virtuoso performers, as they are now.”

But if Mills’ future is unclear, Mitchell said, its legacy is not. It will live on “much longer than you and I,” he said. “It’s history. It’s not going to go away.”

40 Comments

  1. I for one welcome a music-less future. Music and all forms are art are built on equal parts cultural appropriation and white supremist oppression. What are scales and music theory but patriarchal hierarchical binary thinking.

    Hear Hear to a more Inclusive and Equitable Future!

  2. Was just listening to a story on NPR about Mills. The focus of that story was their emphasis on being attractive to, I believe the term was “non binary” students.
    Sounds like the place to go if you want to get a degree in transgender studies, followed by a career of mooching off the public.

  3. Mills apparently had a major role in shaping post-war American music trends. Even I, as a casual music fan, recognize and have heard works by many of the artists cited in the article. Have you John Galt?

    It’s sad we’re losing this educational diversity. The major university near where I live has recently ended its organ performance major as an example.

  4. JOHN GALT you wrote:

    “Was just listening to a story on NPR about Mills. The focus of that story was their emphasis on being attractive to, I believe the term was “non binary” students.

    Sounds like the place to go if you want to get a degree in transgender studies, followed by a career of mooching off the public.”

    WOW!

    First you are the kind of person that WOULD not allow any transgendered worker or customer in on your business if you could choose not to. BUT the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Transgendered community are a protected group under the Federal Civil Rights laws.

    Second, what I really think is that when given an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY a Transgendered person has ether threatened your job security or you just think they will STEAL your job away. BUT if they can outperform you objectively, they deserve that job. Speaking as a Human Resources Management Business School graduate, that is par for the course.

    Third, I remember once getting newspapers to address the fact that if you DISCRIMINATE against any group systemically enough, you force them into “ILLEGAL” means of survival. But that can happen to anybody. In the end, DISCRIMINATION just leads to more crime. And also prevents us professionals from finding people, whoever they are, that will be great means to outcompete our competition.

    We know that you are already expressing hostility to the Transgendered community, I wonder if you ever crossed the line and did something not legal?

  5. It’s not as if we don’t have noise in place of music routinely now, anyway, with plenty of low-brains wailing or screeching in a number of instances.

    There can even be artful poetry, too, to the sound of somewhat organized noise:

    “Don’t need no gun go a-rat-a-tat-tat/Gonna kill da [em eff] with a baseball bat”

  6. John Galt,

    You single out one “major” from so many it is not funny, but it actually is not Transgender studies.

    THe major is:

    “About the Queer Studies Program
    The queer studies minor delves into the intersection of sexuality with race, class, gender, ability, religion, and national origin. In small, interactive classes, you’ll study gender and sexuality from varying theoretical and methodological perspectives. You’ll choose from courses that explore queer literature, history, research methods, and social movements, among other topics. Professors dedicated to your success will help you customize the minor so it reflects the interests you’re passionate about and complements your major.

    Your professors will also embolden you to communicate your ideas powerfully and practice critical analysis of sexuality and power. Because Mills is located among vibrant queer communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll have opportunities to learn while engaged in community service and to conduct research in these communities. You’ll be empowered to forge your own visions for social change within fields such as education and social services. You’ll also gain a strong foundation for graduate work in numerous disciplines.

    View our program details for in-depth information on the minor. If you’re interested in majoring in queer studies, see the women’s, gender and sexuality studies major with a concentration in queer studies.

    THe classes are:

    “Courses You Could Take

    Schools, Sexuality & Gender
    The Queer Premodern
    Contemporary Queer Writers of Color
    Race, Sexuality & the State
    Feminist & Queer Theories
    Sexuality & the City.

    So You are singling out one major out of one major out of 38 Major groups.

    Maybe you are being rather single minded?

  7. Boy oh boy!
    Er, excuse me. I meant to say “Person of indeterminate gender oh person of indeterminate gender!”

  8. John,

    I have friends that are Transgendered, and they have more integrity, character, and competence in what they do in their pinky than what you couldn’t have if you were 300 pounds.

    But this definitely demonstrates more than that. Your namesake was a fictional character written by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was an adulterer. She had multiple affairs. Also believe it or not she collected Social Security and Medicare even when she tried to prevent the programs from being made. Arguing that social programs are not tolerated in a capitalistic society.

    So you and your wife, Ayn Rand can try to put everyone down, but that does not mean you are even worthy of listening to. You should read the book “The Passion of Ayn Rand”

    “In 1986 Barbara Branden published a memoir, The Passion of Ayn Rand, that disclosed Rand’s affair with Nathan and revealed unflattering details of her relations with members of the Collective and others.”( https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ayn-Rand/The-Collective-and-the-Nathaniel-Branden-Institute)

    Ayn Rand in effect used SEX to lure men into advocating for her. And it has been documented by others.

    Is this the kind of person we should model ourselves with?

  9. Goldstein, I’m truly puzzled at your ire. I think you’re smart enough to know that all people are flawed. If we demand perfection as a prerequisite to consideration of the contributions of others then if we’re truly honest with ourselves we’ll reject everything. And that ain’t right.
    I appreciate Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. The first fifty pages of that book seem to me to capture an element of society that I think rings true today even though it was written 64 years ago. Not everybody always practices what they preach. That doesn’t mean that what they preach isn’t worth hearing. But you’re right. Ayn Rand may well have been a hypocrite. That doesn’t mean that her thoughts, or ANYbody’s thoughts need to be cancelled and their names and beliefs banished from public discourse.

  10. On last thing to put the criticism of John Galt to bed regarding the Transgendered community.

    I once was hired as a researcher for a Psychiatrist, and I ran into a U. S. Department of Defense medical research article. The article was to prove the theory that a transgendered pilot could not be qualified or perform as a combat pilot in a helicopter. This was done because they DOD wanted to support the ban on all LGTB citizens from serving in the military.

    This was done by military doctors and trainers using the standardized methods of certification regarding the pilots.

    What happened? Not only did the theory get disproved, the research had to report that the pilot studied was FULLY qualified to be a combat pilot.

    The title of the article was “Transsexualism and Flight Safety” authored by Thomas L. Clements and Roland E. Wicks published May 8, 1987, it was done at Brooks AFB in Texas. The report number is USAFSAM-TP-97-9.

    So if a Transgendered pilot can and do fly combat to defend you in defense of the country, John Galt, then why are you expressing such hostility to that community?

    To me you are showing an ungrateful attitude to those that are just different than you.

  11. Mr Galt, I always thought Fountainhead was more readable and accurately predicted many bores I encountered through life. I couldnt read AS, the book was too heavy to hold up.

    Your logic is consistent with my take on Marx’s hot mess of a life, perhaps equally imperfect with Rand, is not a valid criticism of his work.

  12. Thanks for that story Mr. Goldstein. I have no hostility toward trans nor any other demographic group. I just think it’s regrettable that Mills College has stopped classes in music- something real, rewarding and worthwhile which can lead young people into a rich and productive career, and is instead emphasizing a curriculum that is self indulgent, completely subjective, and the goal of which is to pump up the egos of students and concentrate on their differences, but ultimately leaves them with nothing useful to offer society. And we’re supposed to pretend that this is something to be celebrated?
    My hostility is toward the political not the personal and it’s only due to my own clumsy way of expressing myself that this is not evident to all.
    Yep. Atlas Shrugged is a pretty hefty tome. But as I recall it was quite a page turner- maybe not all the way to the end though.
    I think I saw The Fountainhead. Gregory Peck as Howard Roark.

  13. JOHN GALT you wrote:

    “Thanks for that story Mr. Goldstein. I have no hostility toward trans nor any other demographic group.”

    OK but then you wrote:

    “I just think it’s regrettable that Mills College has stopped classes in music- something real, rewarding and worthwhile which can lead young people into a rich and productive career, and is instead emphasizing a curriculum that is self indulgent, completely subjective, and the goal of which is to pump up the egos of students and concentrate on their differences, but ultimately leaves them with nothing useful to offer society. And we’re supposed to pretend that this is something to be celebrated?”

    To0 me that was just a demonstration of your BIAS and most importantly that you disproved your claim you have “no hostility”. Maybe the reality is that you can so easily be disproven that there are no other propel other than yourself that can declare what is or is not a value to “society”. All I can say is it is difficult to grant any “fictional character” any “authority” to make such a declaration.

    My argument is that when you are a “non-fictional” person, with the proper credentials to make ANY determination regarding the “values” of any education, that is when you have the “authority” to make any judgement.

    And lets just point out another “GREAT” person of VIRTUE that was forced into committing suicide because he was “GAY”. Alan Turing, who made it possible to crack the Enigma systems during WW2 and even though had to throttle the amount of information causing more deaths. He literally was Chemically Castrated, and on top of that had the guilt of not being able to save more lives. WHY? Because if the Germans figured out the British had their strategic information, they would have scrapped Enigma. He suffered such depression and the side effects of the drugs eventually led him to kill himself.

    There is good reason to study when people are mistreated or discriminated against when they in fact do SO MUCH more than you could even imagine for the BETTER good of SOCIETY. Really all you are is a keyboard vigilante wanting to make others feel weak, when you have no authenticity to prove you are worth even listening to.

    My hostility is toward the political not the personal and it’s only due to my own clumsy way of expressing myself that this is not evident to all.

    You can attack the “political” groups have have on so many occasions actually have done more than you can possibly do for the better of “SOCIETY”.

  14. Wow! Tell me Goldstein. Where does a guy go to get such a high horse? You are way way up there!
    It doesn’t matter to me what YOUR name is or what YOUR credentials might be. You might be using an alias. You might not be. It’s not for me to do a background check to verify whether “Steven Goldstein” is “worth talking to”. I’m interested to know what people think. All people. I’m sorry you feel the need to categorize people before deigning to converse with them as an equal. Seems like a pretty elitist attitude.

  15. John Galt,

    You can argue I am using an “alias” but I am not. And you and your friends KNOW this. You or your friends “googled” me and discovered that I AM the person I claim to be.And since it is PUBLIC record my (ISC)^2 Certification number is 311851.

    The reality is that YOU chose to use a “FICTIONAL CHARACTER” as an identity.

    This is not a categorization. This is fact. You are not “JOHN GALT” because he was a character made up buy Ayn Rand.

    Please provide us with some authentication? Please provide us with some kind of qualifications?

    I am not elite, but you are not real. Maybe when we have no more fake names in these discussions when can have better discussions.

  16. So you want people to provide their id as a condition of being allowed to talk to you?
    Just like the State of Georgia wants people to provide their id in order to vote?
    Try coming down off that high horse of yours and mingle with the masses. We won’t hurt you. I promise.

  17. John,

    Nice try, I am talking to a piece of paper. A FIGNMENT of a woman’s imagination.

    You are NOT a person, and your masses are like the ones from the game The Sims. “WE” cannot do a thing to me as long as you are fiction.

    And the state of Georgia has nothing to do with this, you are just trying to justify your fiction.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am against Georgia law regarding voters anyway. But it is totally irrelevant regarding you.

  18. Nevertheless Goldstein here you are. Still talking to me, still venting your hostility.
    Are you insane? Arguing with a figment of a woman’s imagination?
    Get hold of yourself man.

  19. John,

    I was not the fool that kept on opening up the businesses and provided the COVID a means to infect, mutate, and reinfect. No one listened to me when I tried to give the warnings in Feb 2020, and tried to stop the people from becoming the “evolutionary” dish that made it harder to control.

    If we did not do the foolish thing and allowed people to cross county borders in the first place, it could have been destroyed in only 6 months. County tiers was a foolish idea and doomed to fail

  20. John Galt,

    Lets put it this way:

    Ayn Rand was an exploiter of the RED SCARE movement from the very beginning. She used that fear and anger to make her “organizations” popular to make her wealthy.

    She also made the false argument that ALTRUISM is a threat to society because it REQUIRED self-destruction. She made the false argument that ALTRUISM means man has NO RIGHT to exist for his OWN sake. Which as an absolute lie.

    She said that ALTRUISM means service to OTHERS is the ONLY JUSTIFICATION of his existence. Another absolute lie.

    Made the argument that ALTRUISM is defined as SELF SACRIFICE is his HIGHEST MORAL DUTY, virtue and value. Again another complete lie.

    She claimed that ALTRUISM destroys kindness, goodwill, and respect for rights. What absolutely crazy thinking.

    She also said that “the irreducible PRIMARY of ALTRUISM, the basic absolute is SELF SACRIFICE. Such absolute insanity, she said it forces self-ommolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction.

    She said that ALTRUISM means that the SELF as a standard of EVIL and that the SELFLESS is the standard of the GOOD. This hyper polarization of argument makes it so there is not one hint of grey let alone the spectrum of human behaviors.

    She claimed that ALTRUISM requires that the need of others is the FIRST mortgage on your life and the MORAL purpose of your existance. Again a HYPER POLARIZED idea that in reality does not even come close to.

    She uses this claim to argue that ALTRUISM makes MAN is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. This kind of unrealistic thinking was actually accepted by many.

    These are her own words recorded in an interview.

    ALTRUISM is the ULTIMATE demonstration of individuality, where no one COMPELS anyone to be ALTRUISTIC. They are however given gratitude and respect for doing so.

  21. This rant is more utter hogwash from the bottomless pit of Bay Area virtue signaling braindeadery. All altruism does is feed exploiters.

    The optimum strategy for social engagement, and one that almost all social species have evolved over billions of years is to employ what game theorist call “generous tit-for-tat” or “forgiving tit-for-tat”, which even the most obnoxious word-salad spewing contradictorians could say is the same thing as altruism. Altruism and whatever Rand was selling (I never read her nonfiction work) were idealistic models, and they don’t work in the real word. This is why good intentions generally pave the road to h e double l, and people like Ms. Rand end up looking like or being hypocrites.

    https://www.frozenevolution.com/generous-tit-tat

    “Organisms live in the real world, not in the world of idealized models. One of the basic differences between models and reality is the fact that the real world is always more or less unpredictable (stochastic) and errors happen there with a certain probability. An individual can, by mistake or accidentally, betray its opponent or, to the contrary, cooperate in error, or its behavior can be misinterpreted in the same way by the opponent. In the real world, Tit for Tat is not an optimal strategy and can be forced out of the population by other strategies. An example of a strategy that is more successful in the unpredictable real world is “Generous Tit for Tat”, sometimes also called “Firm but Fair” (Nowak & Sigmund 1992). This strategy forgives sporadic betrayal with a certain probability (30 %), i.e. it responds by cooperation in the next round of the game. If two bearers of the Tit for Tat strategy play against one another and one of them betrays by mistake, it launches a long series of mutual punishment and both opponents fail to profit. On the contrary, if this situation occurs for two bearers of the Generous Tit for Tat strategy or one Generous Tit for Tat bearer and one Tit for Tat bearer, the mutual punishment series will be terminated quickly as soon as the Generous Tit for Tat bearer responds to the betrayal by cooperation in the next round.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Oa4Lp5fLE&t=0s

    Sapolsky delivers the goods (as usual) at about the 45 min mark, and yes a Pavlovian Strategy is a threat, sneaky cheaters are. This is why we have disdain rent-seeking behavior and rent cheats. So if you, say manipulate land-use police power to artificially distort the value of real estate in your favor, you are rightly considered a heel. And if you game the pandemic to not pay rent when you have 2 degrees and are security licensed certified world-class decker and could easily otherwise worked (or just paid for out of your pocket) and take 80% rental assistance out of the mouths of the kids of the really needy and make you landlord pay your way for a year, you are also equally a heel.

    Always forgiving is dumb, never forgiving is equally dumb. That’s why tough love works and progressivism fails. Individuals vary in the balance of tough and love – and I would not be surprise that if the aggregate tough vs love aggregated over all humanity doesn’t end up at 30% – so tough love would result in a 30% forgiveness rate. Progressivism is not only a 100% forgiveness rate by a single central entity, it usually blames or even punishes a third party – doubly letting the offender off the hook, reinforcing unsuccessful behaviors.

  22. DEFINITELY NOT SJ KULAK you wrote:

    “Altruism and whatever Rand was selling (I never read her nonfiction work) were idealistic models, and they don’t work in the real word. This is why good intentions generally pave the road to h e double l, and people like Ms. Rand end up looking like or being hypocrites.”

    But you know her “FICTION” was a sales pitch to encourage followers of her “POLITICAL ACTION”. Right? You wrote:

    “Sapolsky delivers the goods (as usual) at about the 45 min mark, and yes a Pavlovian Strategy is a threat, sneaky cheaters are.”

    Sneaky cheaters like the PRIVATE HOUSING MARKET making no affordable housing at all, and simply PAYING a fee to avoid INCLUSIONARY housing. WOW you really are out to attack those that are proving their point. You wrote:

    “This is why we have disdain rent-seeking behavior and rent cheats. So if you, say manipulate land-use police power to artificially distort the value of real estate in your favor, you are rightly considered a heel.“

    About time it was admitted. You wrote:

    “And if you game the pandemic to not pay rent when you have 2 degrees and are security licensed certified world-class decker and could easily otherwise worked (or just paid for out of your pocket) and take 80% rental assistance out of the mouths of the kids of the really needy and make you landlord pay your way for a year, you are also equally a heel.”

    Actually, I lost my work due to COVID beyond my control. I had nothing to do with my lack of work. So, you try to claim I am “gaming” a system? The Private PROFIT HOUSING market has done that in the BILLIONS of dollars, and you complain my small $8000. situation is the same? Good luck. You wrote:

    “Always forgiving is dumb, never forgiving is equally dumb. That’s why tough love works and progressivism fails. Individuals vary in the balance of tough and love – and I would not be surprise that if the aggregate tough vs love aggregated over all humanity doesn’t end up at 30% – so tough love would result in a 30% forgiveness rate. Progressivism is not only a 100% forgiveness rate by a single central entity, it usually blames or even punishes a third party – doubly letting the offender off the hook, reinforcing unsuccessful behaviors.”

    You again HYPER POLARIZE the situation. I have no problem where “due process” can be performed to establish situations on a CASE BY CASE basis. In fact the CSFRA has the petition process for that purpose. So you can try to claim that “100%” forgiveness is in play. But in reality, if that were the case, than NO ONE would be paying ANY rent. Nice try, but you are not proving anything other than trying to distract.

  23. “This is why we have disdain rent-seeking behavior and rent cheats. So if you, say manipulate land-use police power to artificially distort the value of real estate in your favor, you are rightly considered a heel.

    About time it was admitted.”

    All I do, every day, is “admit” this point on this site and SJS. Frankly its a bit of a problem, I should be doing homework or researching more markets. But it is my charitable mission to get people to see the propaganda they are being fed hurts them.

    And it is why I don’t own in CA anymore and I won’t own in the markets I operate in now once the progressive virus infects them. Actually, I have already been moving money out of “near blue” counties. “Altruistic” land-use ordinances similar to the BS in California will just lead to $1M homes wherever it spreads. I am already hearing things like “smart development”, sprawl, and TOD now on the more progressive rags.

    Bye bye, no thanks!

    And sneaky cheats are sneaky cheats, they is no grading on a curve.

    Heck, why be a sneaky cheat so cheap?

    I leave you with this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szMu8si_YYQ

    I think Zuckerman bests the great Mr. Perlman, but the viola part got more love from the man. The second movement is a little blurred for my tastes, perhaps the orchestra didn’t want to show up the Masters.

    Now why does anyone need to wonder about Music Study when Mozart wrote such pieces?

  24. DEFINITELY NOT SJ KULAK you wrote:

    ““This is why we have disdain rent-seeking behavior and rent cheats. So if you, say manipulate land-use police power to artificially distort the value of real estate in your favor, you are rightly considered a heel.

    About time it was admitted.””

    Just understand that the REAL ESTATE game has been robbing the people blind in CA for decades to prop up the so called “property values”

    Also, it is interesting that Symantec just sold its offices in Mountain View, they are never coming back. So those workers just left town didn’t they. When the long term issues finally hits the valley, there is going to be a bad correction on the horizon. It has nothing to do with “renters”

    No grading on a curve here, more like a speck of dust compared to a mountain.

    “Police powers” will always exist, and they are an integrated part of the U.S. Constitution, no matter how much you complain about it.

  25. What is with you progressives and putting words in my mouth.

    Arguing about police powers was never the point. I am fine with disagreeing with the founders’ take of them, that discussion is academic. To say they are not the law of the land when the politic wants them to be is a denial of facts. I do not complain, I point out to those laboring under the myth that thinks they have inalienable rights, don’t. No matter what they teach in HS. They have none, police powers mean mob rule, period, and your rights in this country can be taken away a whim. If the majority thinks they need your stuff, they will take it.

    The problem is the general public has no idea what to do with that police power and they generally resort to revenge instead of fully considering consequences. And this is how they get conned by rent-seekers.

    Abstaining from abusing police powers demarks left from right in my definition. Many people in the US completely believe and act in a way consistent with police powers being subordinate to inalienable rights. This is seen, among other things, with the mask, shut-down, zoning, development, capitalism, property rights, the sanctity of contracts, etc. From my perspective, it is essentially the cultural divide in the country. It is a principle to them that the government can not take away their freedom, and they resist attempts for it to do so, intentions be damned.

    So, in the markets I operate in, I can buy anywhere from $50K-$100K a door to $350K a house. And since there are plenty of units and houses, they build them like crazy. I have to charge fair rent, our lowest rents are about $500/month and it goes up from there. Good for me and good for my tenants, no one feels screwed.

    Then public mismanagement and lack of personal safety drive progressives to conservative enclaves, in no time they start passing restrictive land-use laws that make real estate prices go up. It is a very odd and interesting dynamic.

    Believing and operating as if police powers are subordinate to inalienable rights is enough for me, but be there no doubt, once progressives move to these markets and tip it to 51% DNC, they pass laws based on these “police powers” that constrain supply / inflate demand. Those laws inevitably result in higher real estate prices.

    These real estate price distortions are due neither to landlords nor believers in inalienable rights, these land-use laws are driven completely by progressive authoritarian majorities.

  26. SJ KULAK’S WORST ENEMY you wrote:

    “Arguing about police powers was never the point. I am fine with disagreeing with the founders’ take of them, that discussion is academic. To say they are not the law of the land when the politic wants them to be is a denial of facts. I do not complain, I point out to those laboring under the myth that thinks they have inalienable rights, don’t. No matter what they teach in HS. They have none, police powers mean mob rule, period, and your rights in this country can be taken away a whim. If the majority thinks they need your stuff, they will take it.”

    Just understand this, if DUE PROCESS is followed and EMANATE DOMAIN is practiced, yes they can take away anything they want. That is in the U.S. Constitution you wrote:

    “The problem is the general public has no idea what to do with that police power and they generally resort to revenge instead of fully considering consequences. And this is how they get conned by rent-seekers.”

    RENT SEEKERS are CONNIG the people, really? That is like thinking an ant is an APEX PREDATOR. THe reality is tha the California Association of Realtors and the California Apartemnt Association are backed by MULTIBILLION doallr enterprises. WOW, you really have a fair understanding of who is conning who You write:

    “Abstaining from abusing police powers demarks left from right in my definition. Many people in the US completely believe and act in a way consistent with police powers being subordinate to inalienable rights. This is seen, among other things, with the mask, shut-down, zoning, development, capitalism, property rights, the sanctity of contracts, etc. From my perspective, it is essentially the cultural divide in the country. It is a principle to them that the government can not take away their freedom, and they resist attempts for it to do so, intentions be damned.”

    The UNALIENABLE rights are to LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, right? Well LIFE is not threatened. LLIBERTY is not defined as the freedom to abuse or exploit others, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS does not mean you are entitled to achieve it. Lets stop that myth right now. You wrote:

    “Believing and operating as if police powers are subordinate to inalienable rights is enough for me, but be there no doubt, once progressives move to these markets and tip it to 51% DNC, they pass laws based on these “police powers” that constrain supply / inflate demand. Those laws inevitably result in higher real estate prices.”

    The problem is equally damning on booth the GOP and the DNC because they are EQUALLY corrupt regarding this problem in my opinion. But trying to say that only one of them caused it is foolish. Costa Hawkins and Ellis Acts did nothing to provide more housing. It made it worse. You wrote:

    “These real estate price distortions are due neither to landlords nor believers in inalienable rights, these land-use laws are driven completely by progressive authoritarian majorities.”

    Actually again the responsibility is ALL OF THE ABOVE, the GOP and the DNC are equally corrupt, and have mismanaged things in their own ways. Because to actually solve the problem would kill their easiest sales position.

    In the end you remind me of the Eurdite (intellectual) class of the Divergent books, whose enemy was always Abnegation (selfless) and in fact in the first book the Eurdite was going to slaughter Abnegation. The Eurdite were extreme Intellectuals thought that the Abnegation extreme selfless were nothing but a burden on the city of Chicago. Of course this book series made these groups EXTREMES, meaning that once an Intellectual thought you were a threat, they wanted to destroy you. And in fact they did randomly kill anyone that stood in their way.

  27. smh… either you have serious reading comprehension issues or you just write stuff without knowing anything you are talking about.

    “Just understand this, if DUE PROCESS is followed and EMANATE DOMAIN is practiced, yes they can take away anything they want. That is in the U.S. Constitution you wrote:”

    Fifth Amendment

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Eminent Domain is not police power, it is an explicit clause in the fifth amendment.

    The Constitution does not say Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, it says life, liberty, or property.

    Police powers are not in the constitution, they are implied. Being generous and allowing for casting the Preamble as the home of police power is still an implication, not an explicit clause.

    All land-use ordinances are police powers, a local municipality can basically do what it wants with code and zoning. There is no due process, there is the ballot box. And much of the racism of the country’s history was hidden in these land-use police powers, by dumping value destroying assets (among other dirty tricks) in minority neighborhoods while building value adding assets in majority neighborhoods. Police power is majority rule, not right based, so whitey can racism without constraint. The problem in authoritarian progressive areas is they invariably engage in theoretic ordinance creep which leads to a negative impact on supply. UGB, CEQA, Inclusionary Fees, Park Fees, Licensure, etc are all examples of such abused police powers justified with theoretical evidence and no common sense.

    Other police powers are rent control which is an infringement on private property rights. It is expressly deemed a police power by the court – not due process. The claim is it is an temporary emergency remedy to some unfortunate set of events that local jurisdictions have the right to enact, as long as its neither physical nor permanent. The RC laws in NY explicitly sunset if vacancy rates stay above 5% for 6 months or so. Interestingly, that has happened during COVID and we will see if they sunset or not. I believe the MV had similar thresholds they also let slip.

    Article 1 Section 10

    “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.”

    Causa justa is a police power which impairs the obligation of a contract. Once they passed this law any 1-year lease or month-to-month lease, which had been mutually/contractually agreed upon between landlord and tenant, is nullified and the owner must grant a life estate to the tenant with price controls (not in the original contract) only to be terminated by very specific conditions again not set in the original contract. Not due process, and no one ever claimed it was.

    Eviction Moratoriums are another police power which impairs the obligation of a contract. Because your contract says you have to pay rent or quit. There is no due process at all.

    The due process is after the fact, the liability the state could be under on any of these “powers” are loses the owner could prove where the fault of these ordinances. But since RC/CJ plus the misuse of land-use police powers invariably leads to supply constraints, the owner of a RC/CJ property generally sees their market valuations go up. Unless there are external economic factors which the city could point to as the real cause of the loss, in that case the city would be off the hook. I am not aware of any land-use or other police powers to ever be given due diligence, even red-lining and other covenants, so there may not be any due diligence at all.

    The city could be liable for damages on the eviction moratorium if an owner can prove they are forced to take the 80% concession. The state played a nice trick here, as taking the 80% essentially waives the state of their culpability in the loss, because the owner was not forced to do so. That is why they continuously say, “this is not an excuse to not pay rent” and they were quick to shut Peralez up when he came out and said the moratorium was a trap, which it is, and they should just cancel rent. What they should have done was let the tenants choose to pay 100% back and not gotten so cute. Now there will be pain from this, as some very poor people will not get the 80% paid off and they will owe 75% of $10000+ and no the eviction court has to be very careful not to punish the landlord for not taking it, no matter what propaganda is spread. Eviction courts are not a kind place, people must be understand this.

    Other police powers could be if the fancy of the progressives gives rise:

    Evicting you from your unit to make room for a single mother of three or a “status” immigrant due to greater vulnerability or lack of access to equitable educational resources.

    Allowing a childless couple to keep ownership but not possession of their home to make room for a single mother of three or a “status” immigrant due to greater vulnerability or lack of access to equitable educational resources.

    Both seem plausible to me and are what home owners are asking for when they watch the state run roughshod over landlords.

    “RENT SEEKERS are CONNIG the people, really?”

    Do you even know what rent-seeking is? Of course home-owner lobby groups who push for open space, anti-sprawl legislation, inclusionary fees are rent-seekers. These “welfare for the rich” tricks are all rent-seeking. It’s called regulatory capture. All of the inflated prices in California are a result of the abuse of land-use police powers, frequently with large players manipulating things behind the scenes. California is mostly empty space and could easily build homes and infrastructure to make housing affordable, it just won’t because “sprawl.” But it will never be Paris, it will be Houston.

    And I have written many screeds on these sites attempting to educate mom-and-pop landlords that the CAA lobbying arm is far more interested in maintaining a favorable environment for their large corporate investors with their new, high density properties while dumping all the “equity” ordinances on small, old ones that independent landlords can afford to own.

    The CAA is not the friend of a small, independent landlords and neither is Costa Hawkins. Its a gift to large corporate landlords. Frankly repealing it would help small landlords. Single homes would have their tenants evicted before the ink was dry and those homes sold to owner-occupied for $1M+, likely duplexes too. Demand for ARUs would skyrocket and very few if any “welcomed” tenants would be able to live in SFH residential neighborhoods that have good schools and clean streets.

    You have no idea what Costa Hawkins is or you wouldn’t say it was supposed to build more units, because there is no way to say how many units would have been built in its absence. Plenty of units have been built since it passed, and almost none would be built if is got rescinded. No way does anyone with a brain build a new multi $100Ms property that is rent controlled day one without massive tax credits from the US government. They call them LIHTCs and they wouldn’t get built otherwise.

    Ellis Act is a niche play that has nothing to do with San Jose, last I checked there has been one Ellis Act project. It’s a condo conversion scheme mostly for San Francisco and other boutique markets and requires decades of RC/CPI to make the spreads in rental valuation to owner valuation worth the squeeze.

    You talk a lot of BS, but you don’t what much about this subject…

    As far as claiming you know what fictional character or group I am or not, you have no idea what you are talking about there either.

  28. Mr Galt,

    I saw the Fountainhead with Cooper, it was pretty good. I am not really enamored with the Roark types I have met and I have known many. They are usually burdened by their intellectual pride and have massive blind spots. I have always consider Roger Enright as someone more admirable. Independent, successful but very aware that he has no real talent but could recognize, appreciate, and help talent manifest into product.

    https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/f/the-fountainhead/character-list

    btw I also always thought Willy Lowman’s neighbor, Charley, carried the real message in Travelling Salesman, that is, its better to model your life on him, Willy and those like him are fools.

    Both always stuck in my mind as worthy, what would Roger do or What would Charley do?

  29. DEFINITELY NOT SJ KULAK you wrote:

    “Just understand this, if DUE PROCESS is followed and EMANATE DOMAIN is practiced, yes they can take away anything they want. That is in the U.S. Constitution you wrote:”

    Fifth Amendment

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Eminent Domain is not police power, it is an explicit clause in the fifth amendment.”

    I did not claim Emanate Domain was a POLICE POWER, that is contained in the U.S. Constitution PREAMBLE You wrote:

    “The Constitution does not say Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, it says life, liberty, or property.”

    I was addressing the UNALIENABLE rights topic, YES, it is in the Declaration of Independence, which is true it is NON-binding now. You wrote:

    “Police powers are not in the constitution, they are implied. Being generous and allowing for casting the Preamble as the home of police power is still an implication, not an explicit clause.”

    I pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court MADE it so it started in 1790 but was completed in 1905 in previous postings, do you want to see it again? You wrote:

    “All land-use ordinances are police powers, a local municipality can basically do what it wants with code and zoning. There is no due process, there is the ballot box.”

    I skipped the rest, but you may be correct about the fact that BOTH the GOP and the DNC practice this “POLICE POWER”. You wrote:

    “Other police powers are rent control which is an infringement on private property rights.”

    There are no PROPERTY RIGHTS violated because the only rights you have are in the realm of EMANATE DOMIAN, there is no PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS to an UNREGULATED market, or ANYTHING ELSE for that matter. You are just misleading the readers here. And when the voters in Mountain View set up CSFRA it did not SET IN STONE when the RHC will have enough vacancies to disable CSFRA, it was never sold that way either. You said:

    “Article 1 Section 10

    “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.”

    That is right, but that article only applies to the GOVERNMENT and NOT A PRIVATE CONTRACT. PRIVATE CONTRACTS are COMPLETELY AT THE DISCRETION OF FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY or CITY law. You wrote:

    “The city could be liable for damages on the eviction moratorium if an owner can prove they are forced to take the 80% concession.”

    WRONG it is STATE laws and the City or Charter City must be in compliance with the laws. Thus, they are NOT liable for the economic impact of the landlord. You wrote:

    “The state played a nice trick here, as taking the 80% essentially waives the state of their culpability in the loss, because the owner was not forced to do so.”

    Granted the owner is not FORCED to do so, but by not taking it, the STATE law says the tenants is not FISCALLY responsible for that CHOICE, and if the landlord tries to go to court for civil damages, the COURTS WILL not enforce the Tenants to make up for what the landlord was offered by both the FEDERAL and STATE funds they were given the chance to collect for free. You wrote:

    “Now there will be pain from this, as some very poor people will not get the 80% paid off and they will owe 75% of $10000+ and no the eviction court has to be very careful not to punish the landlord for not taking it, no matter what propaganda is spread. Eviction courts are not a kind place, people must be understand this.”

    BUT the court of unlawful detainer cannot get involved until 2025 if I read the law correctly, the ONLY court a landlord can approach regarding this case will be CIVIL court. In effect the EVICTION courts are CUT OFF. You wrote:

    “You have no idea what Costa Hawkins is or you wouldn’t say it was supposed to build more units, because there is no way to say how many units would have been built in its absence. Plenty of units have been built since it passed, and almost none would be built if is got rescinded. No way does anyone with a brain build a new multi $100Ms property that is rent controlled day one without massive tax credits from the US government. They call them LIHTCs and they wouldn’t get built otherwise.”

    Costa Hawkins was sold by the politicians to say that unregulated housing would promote more affordable housing, or at least more supply to meet the demand. But that was a false promise, and you cannot prove otherwise. And for a short while all owners with more than 10 units now have some rent control already, and if the market doesn’t clean up its act, there will be more. Unless of course the people and businesses leaving CA gets so strong it becomes unnecessary, because the population drop will force price drops too.

  30. I hope the Mountain View Tenant Activists win all the revenge legislation they dream of, for the sake of the MV home owners. You will just be adding a zero to their home valuation as you cheer on your “victories”. All their victories up to now have really helped make Mountain View affordable, right? I sincerely hope they repeal Costa Hawkins, wow, that will be something to behold.

    Its like you can type words but not understand what you are typing. You wonder aloud why your unit is worth $600,000 and not $100,000 when you call for regulations that will only artificially increase its value further. Then argue when the constitution was “finished”, when all I have ever said is there is no Constitution anymore, just pockets of populations that believe in an idealize formation of it and those that don’t, the Court being the one that believes in it least.

    I really think trying to educate you is not helping you and its no wonder you’re broke and stealing rent. You simply can’t think straight without getting defensive about your prior contradictions and misunderstandings and can’t see how you contribute to your own and others demise and poverty.

    Sad really.

  31. DEFINITELY NOT SJ KULAK you wrote:

    “I hope the Mountain View Tenant Activists win all the revenge legislation they dream of, for the sake of the MV home owners.”

    The HOME OWNERS were the key in getting CSFRA passed. In fact, a big group of them help vote it in. The HOME OWNERS figured out their neighbors were being ABUSED, and helped them.

    What I understand is this, there is the big DELUSION of PRIVATE PROERTY RIGHTS, that in fact can CON people into thinking once the have ownership of something, it is absolute. It has NEVER been that way. And when confronted with that truth, many like yourself will attack the truth. This reminds me of Donald Trumps victory in the 2020 election. EVERY time you are presented with the reality, you want to beat me up for it. You wrote:

    “I really think trying to educate you is not helping you and its no wonder YOU’RE BROKE and STEALING RENT. You simply can’t think straight without getting defensive about your prior contradictions and misunderstandings and can’t see how you contribute to your own and others demise and poverty.”

    First, I am not broke, but yes, I took a big hit. Second, I am not STEALING rent, I am in full compliance with the laws regarding both my rent rates, and the COVIDE RELIEF ACT of 2021.

    That is why you resort to NAME CALLING and try to CHARACTER ASSASSINATE anyone that will present the reality. Maybe because it will result in yes, a great deal of loss.

    Especially now we have 4 new variants of COVID in Santa Clara County and at least 2 of them are known to be not affected by the current vaccines. 2 of the variants were born RIGHT HERE in CA.

  32. The HOME OWNERS were the key in getting CSFRA passed. In fact, a big group of them help vote it in.

    exactly

    and its not that they care two cents about you, actually owners hate renters and they hate landlords more, so intelligent owners poison pill rentals to cap and erode them.

    rentals in the neighborhood lower valuations, tenants lower school rankings, they want tenants in San Jose, or maybe taking bart home somewhere else

    first you carry on how evil home owners are then you claim theyre your allies

    loss aversion is the psyche’s governing dynamic, owners are bent on valuations going up, everything else is rationalization and virtue signalling

    baaahahaha

    you are blind in a way I really have no words for

  33. SJ Kulak you wrote:

    “exactly

    and its not that they care two cents about you, actually owners hate renters and they hate landlords more, so intelligent owners poison pill rentals to cap and erode them.”

    Not by the majority of HOME OWNERS I know, they NEVER hated RENTERS. That is simply not true. You wrote:

    “rentals in the neighborhood lower valuations, tenants lower school rankings, they want tenants in San Jose, or maybe taking bart home somewhere else”

    What proof do you have of this? School rankings are based on performance of the TEACHERS and the ADMINISTRATION right? Case Closed You wrote:

    “first you carry on how evil home owners are then you claim theyre your allies”

    I NEVER said home owners are evil. I thing they are just as victimized as renters because they got shafted by the Real Estate market overpaying for their home. You wrote

    “loss aversion is the psyche’s governing dynamic, owners are bent on valuations going up, everything else is rationalization and virtue signalling”

    But given that we are having a permanent population shift regarding the population and earnings they make moving forward, that claim doesn’t even matter.

  34. Mitch McConnel said it is stupid that businesses will play “economic blackmail” on voting rights say in Georgia.

    Business is ALWAYS playing “economic blackmail” it is an AMERICAN tradition. Look at landlords, they will pull out of markets they THINK are not FAIR to them all the time.. Or worse, they withhold units from the market just to force an artificial shortage of housing.

    About time some “BIG” corporations started doing things that are objectively the right thing to do. I love the fact that the MLB is not holding the All Star game in Georgia.

  35. By the way, these TECH corps should do this.

    Use their power to force the existing landlords to sell out at 50% of the market values of their properties. Thus getting the landlords that claim they did everything for the valley to leave.

    Next, only build Workforce Housing Opportunity Zones in their places so that 50 % of the units are price controlled for 45 years minimum.

    And with their power, BUILD BUILD BUILD, so that there are so many new housing inventory that the prices of housing drops permanently by at least 25%.

    OR, the CHEAP FREE way.

    TELL THE CURRENT LANDLORDS THEY BETTER PERMANANTLY REDUCE PRICES BY 30% OR THEY WILL LEAVE CA FOR GOOD. Taking away all benefits of the silicon valley tech industry, leaving a ghost town.

    They have the resources to build new communities cheaper elsewhere, they don’t NEED to be here anymore, PROVEN by COVID

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