Bitcoin no bargain for the planet

Bitcoin’s price on our planet

EDITOR: A recent Index-Tribune article (“Cha-ching! Bitcoin Rolls Into Sonoma,” March 12) marvels over the fact that many Sonoma businesses are being asked more and more to accept the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Indeed, in the last 10 years the United States has experienced an explosive growth of Bitcoin along with dozens of other new cryptocurrency companies. Concerns about this revolutionary digital “money” have focused mainly on its lack of any government backing or regulations, and on its extreme volatility as an investment asset.

But, now, we are challenged by an accelerating climate crisis and a desperate race against destruction of the planet’s life support systems. It is critical, therefore, that the significant climate impacts of these cryptocurrencies be addressed with regulations.

According to Bill Gates, Bitcoin alone uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to humankind. Operating Bitcoin, with its huge block-chain computer networks, as well as the mining of precious metals for the Bitcoins, consumes more electricity than is generated by all the world’s solar panels combined! It also is estimated that Bitcoin produces as much CO2 each year as a million transatlantic flights.


That’s just for Bitcoin! Imagine what the climate impacts are from the dozens of new cryptocurrency companies now eagerly competing with Bitcoin. Naomi Klein’s book title, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” captures the challenge before us.

John Donnelly

Sonoma

Pacaso a ‘glorified timeshare’

EDITOR: Are we willing to sell out our neighborhoods to the highest bidder (“Sonoma Neighborhoods Fights Controversial New Homebuying Model,” May 21)? That’s indeed the question that Pacaso raises for the residents of Sonoma. Pacaso is a new real estate company backed by hundreds of millions of dollars of funding. They’re buying up properties in Sonoma, Napa and other wine country destinations. They offer “fractional” ownerships of 1/8 of a home, which is a glorified timeshare as your “ownership” in a Pacaso home is defined by the amount of time you’re allowed to stay: 1/8 ownership give you 44 days, but no more than two weeks at a time, which you can give to family and friends. They fancy themselves “disrupters,” but the only thing they’re disrupting are our local neighborhoods. The only thing innovative about this company is their legal strategy at avoiding timeshare regulations and taxes.

Pacaso is litigious and they’re bullies. They’re suing the city of St. Helena in Napa because St. Helena classifies Pacaso as a timeshare and won’t allow it. Pacaso won’t hesitate to sue local municipalities to get their way. Do the local communities have the money to challenge?

For those wondering, well how is this different from Airbnb? People who stay at Airbnb pay transient occupancy taxes into our local community. Pacaso users will not pay this tax. There are also regulations in place for where Airbnbs and other vacation rentals can operate. With Pacaso, they can buy into any neighborhood and flip it into a fractional ownership/timeshare. What’s the big deal? Well, if you think Sonoma has changed in the last few years, wait until this business model sinks in. Within a few years our local neighborhoods will be a revolving door of tourists staying in residential homes, using our facilities, and not paying taxes. Plus, this puts a bigger burden on an already crunched housing market.

Is this what we want for our community? I don’t think it is. That’s why I and the residents on my street are fighting this fight. It’s about the big picture, the long term. Sonoma is a special place and we have to work hard to keep it that way. “Community” means different things to different people, but once you lose it, it’s hard to get back. So how can you help? Put pressure on 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, the City Council of Sonoma, and sign our petition on Change.org at chng.it/txYxCMhxVL.

Brad Day

STOP: Sonomans Together Opposing Pacaso

Want news about the drought

EDITOR: We ‘ve now seen Gov. Newsom standing in the dry and cracking Mendocino lakebed, 40 feet (!) under the “normal” waterline, to pronounce the Sonoma and Mendocino Counties severe drought emergency status.

We’ve seen photos of West County dairy farmers with dry ponds and already trucking in water for their livestock!

Anyone over 50 with a pulse, can recall numerous horrible California droughts, with the ‘74 Sonoma Valley drought requiring everyone to let their lawns go unwatered.

And we all know it barely rained all winter.

Then why is the Sonoma Index-Tribune not featuring a front-page story on one of the most important issues of the day?

Local social media sites are currently filled with questions about conservation: “Why am I saving my shower warm up water, when newly opened restaurants are auto-filling water glasses?”

Residents need to be informed! With Valley and countywide conservation measures starting in place yesterday, I leave you to please get on board, fill in the blanks for our Valley’s citizenry, and get the word out about saving drinking water. Now please.

Joanie Bourg

Sonoma