Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's daily news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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October 30, 2014
Judge Approves Stockton’s Bankruptcy (Stockton Record)
Federal Judge Christopher Klein said today he is confirming Stockton’s proposal for exiting Chapter 9 bankruptcy, a decision that comes 28 months after the financially desperate city first declared itself to be insolvent.
Our View: Decision Day for Stockton Bankruptcy (Stockton Record)
We can only assume — and yet assumptions have been inaccurate at times in Stockton’s bankruptcy case — that a final verdict will be rendered this morning.
Federal Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein has held multiple hearings and tossed in an unexpected delay earlier this month when most parties expected him to decide on Stockton’s plan of adjustment for emerging from bankruptcy.
Stockton Bankruptcy Ruling Will Decide Fate of Public Pensions (Los Angeles Times)
In a closely watched case, a federal judge on Thursday is expected to decide whether the bankrupt city of Stockton can continue to pay employees generous pensions that soon could consume one-fifth of municipal revenues.
The ruling has been much anticipated since U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher M. Klein recently said that California's rich and powerful public pension system should be treated like all other creditors — with no special protection.
Bankrupt San Bernardino to Vote on ‘Autopilot’ Raises for Police, Fire (Reuters)
Voters in bankrupt San Bernardino, California, will decide next week whether to scrap a budget rule that sets pay for police and firefighters based on salary levels in wealthier cities.
A hotly contested ballot initiative is asking voters to amend Section 186 of the city's century-old charter. It mandates that base pay for police and fire personnel must equal the average salary of such workers in 10 other similarly sized California cities.
California City Faces Key Ruling on Bankruptcy (Associated Press)
Residents in the California city of Stockton will likely learn Thursday if they can put more than two years of financial uncertainty behind them.
Marking a critical moment in the bankrupt city's financial recovery, Stockton will ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein to approve a plan for reorganizing more than $900 million in long-term debt over objections from a lone creditor who says it was treated unfairly.
PENSIONS / LABOR RELATIONS
L.A. Pension Agency Decision Deepens City’s Budget Hole (Los Angeles Times)
A Los Angeles city pension agency voted Tuesday to rein in its long-range earnings forecast, putting in place changes that could throw the city's budget $50 million deeper into the hole next year.
Sunnyvale Ups Its Medical Coverage Contribution for Retirees (San Jose Mercury)
In order to maintain balance between the city's medical contribution for active employees and retirees, the city's contribution to the California Public Employees' Retirement System for retiree medical coverage was recently increased per a CalPERS requirement.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Intergovernmental Challenges in Surface Transportation Funding (PEW Charitable Trusts)
The federal government and the states are partners in almost every major domestic policy area. Together, their dollars pay for health care, education, transportation, public safety, and many other programs important to the American public. According to data from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Census Bureau, federal grants to states in 2012 made up 15 percent of total federal spending and accounted for about a third of states’ revenue. In recognition of this involvement, Pew conducts original analyses to provide clear, data-driven explanations of the state-federal fiscal relationship and to inform federal and state decision-makers working to achieve financial stability at both levels of government.
How Will Departments of Transportation Evolve Over the Next 50 Years? (Next City)
Drivers fighting with pedestrians and bicyclists over road space has become a familiar battle over the last decade. But about 130 miles north of San Francisco, in the small city of Willits, there’s an infrastructure tangle of a different sort playing out.
California Orders Risk-Based Ebola Quarantine (The Desert Sun)
Just one day after the Riverside County Department of Public Health revealed that two people who recently returned from West Africa have are being monitored for Ebola as a precaution, California health officials announced Wednesday that the state is requiring a 21-day quarantine for people traveling from Ebola-stricken areas who have had contact with infected patients.
TRAFFIC & PARKING SERVICES
City of San Diego Installing ‘Smart’ Parking Meters (760 KFMB)
The city of San Diego is installing around 200 "smart" parking meters beginning this week that will accept credit card payments and track usage of spaces.
The devices, which cost a total of $3.8 million, are replacing traditional single-space meters that only accept coins, according to the office of City Council President Todd Gloria.
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Whittier Economy Rebounding from Hard Times, City Council Told (Whittier Daily News)
After seven years of toughing out recession-related economic setbacks, the City Council received several reports Tuesday indicating the city is well into an economic rebound.
Garcetti Says Housing Shortage, Minimum Wage Linked in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times)
The housing shortage in Los Angeles – possibly the most severe since the end of World War II – is linked to a low minimum wage and a host of other economic issues in the city, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.
LOCAL STREETS & ROADS
Valley Roads get ‘Poor’ Grades (Merced Sun-Star)
A number of Central Valley towns and unincorporated areas received low-to-poor rankings for their upkeep of roads, according to a report released Tuesday by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.
The cities of Merced and Dos Palos received poor grades, scoring fewer than 50 points out of 100, the equivalent of an “F” grade. The rest of Merced County’s roads were considered “lower risk,” or fair.
Morro Bay Business Owners Could Get Grace Period for License Violations (San Luis Obispo)
The Morro Bay City Council voted Tuesday to recommend amnesty in the form of an ordinance change that will save business owners in violation of business licensing policies from having to pay penalties.
Video: California Town Bans Medical Marijuana Growing (AOL)
The city of Lincoln, Calif., has finalized an earlier decision to ban the growing of medical marijuana in the city prompting a protest by medical pot users.
Santa Cruz Voters Weigh Medical Marijuana Business Tax (KAZU)
Santa Cruz is known for being relatively friendly to taxes and to marijuana. On Tuesday, voters in the city and county of Santa Cruz weigh those two together as they consider a new tax on medical marijuana businesses.
What If States Just Sold Marijuana Themselves? (Governing)
For a growing number of states, the notion of marijuana legalization isn’t a question of if, but when. Since 1996, some 23 states have legalized medical marijuana. In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington went even further, passing ballot initiatives that made their states the first in the country to legalize the cultivation, sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Oregon and Washington, D.C., seem certain to follow suit this month. The Vermont Legislature is expected to take up the question of marijuana legalization next year; voters in California will almost certainly consider a legalization ballot measure in 2016. In short, the question of how states should regulate marijuana is already at hand.
Government Forced to Defend Pot Prohibition in Court (San Francisco Gate)
Government witness Bertha Madras, PhD — a former deputy drug czar under George W. Bush — took the stand in federal court in California Wednesday to defend the government’s estimated $41 billion annual war on marijuana.
The lightning rod federal trial in the Eastern District of California has called into question the constitutionality of marijuana’s status as a “schedule 1 narcotic” with ‘no medical use’ and ‘high potential for abuse’.
City Abandoning Public Safety Department Concept (The Ceres Courier)
The Ceres City Council took the first steps on Monday to scrap the Public Safety Department in favor of traditional separate police and fire departments.
ELECTIONS & REDISTRICTING
How Similar Cities Function with Voters’ Say in Growth (The Malibu Times)
The coastal Southern California cities of Del Mar, Encinitas and Escondido have enacted measures allowing citizens to have a voice in city planning, and on Nov. 4 Malibu voters will decide whether to allow a similar process on proposed commercial developments with Measure R.
REVENUE & TAXATION / MUNICIPAL FINANCE
In Berkeley and San Francisco Elections, Soda is One of the Biggest Issues (Governing)
Again and again in the United States, anti-obesity crusaders have been stymied wherever they’ve tried to impose new laws on soda sales: in New York, ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to limit soda size was tossed out by the state’s highest court, proposed taxes in the northern California cities of El Monte and Richmond were voted down and the Washington, D.C. city council failed to pass an excise tax on soda.
The Fight for Emeryville’s Future (East Bay Express)
Unlike neighboring East Bay cities, Emeryville is not a charter city, meaning its government is subject to state law and not a locally drafted charter approved by voters. For Emeryville — a city with a population of just over 10,000 — one of the biggest drawbacks of not being a charter city, like Oakland and Berkeley, is that it cannot impose a real estate transfer tax.
Sebastopol Tax Measure Spurs Debate about City Spending (Santa Rose Press Democrat)
Two years after they raised the local sales tax to what was then Sonoma County’s highest rate, Sebastopol voters are being asked to pay still more for city services, this time through an expanded utility tax on phone service, garbage and cable television.
Signature Gathering Approved for Immigration Enforcement Initiative (My News LA)
Backers of an initiative that would effectively bar city, county and state law enforcement agencies from apprehending suspected illegal immigrants received permission from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.
Rent Control Off the Table in Mountain View – For Now (San Jose Inside)
An influx of six-figure salaried tech workers has dramatically changed the socioeconomic landscape of Mountain View over the last 25 years. What used to be a sleepy middle-class town has now turned into a 74,000-person tech hub with the traffic congestion of a major city. As gridlock along Highway 101 forces more tech workers to relocate to Mountain View, bringing with them sizable disposable incomes, landlords have been able to benefit unchecked. The city has no rent control ordinance, leaving many long-time residents feeling helpless as rental prices have skyrocketed. The average cost for a 1-bedroom apartment in Mountain View is $2,356, according to myapartmentmap.com. And that amount is only expected to increase.
Los Angeles Advances Foreclosure Registry Program (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
The long-sought program to create an aggressive inspection program of foreclosed properties to prevent them from generating blight in neighborhoods received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Los Angeles City Council.
Anaheim to Pay $460,000 to Settle Honda Center Disability Access Lawsuits (Orange County Register)
The city will pay $460,000 to settle two federal lawsuits that accused the Honda Center of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act in addition to making a wide range of changes to parking, ticketing, concessions and employee training at the city-owned venue.
Court Rejects County Climate Plan (San Diego Union-Tribune)
An appellate court has ruled San Diego County’s climate action plan intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is insufficient.
The decision by a panel of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal upholds a San Diego County judge’s decision in a suit brought by the Sierra Club, which argues the plan lacks the necessary specifics and enforcement mechanism to achieve the goals.
PERSONNEL & EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
L.A. County Fire Chief Vows to overhaul Hiring Procedures (Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles County fire chief Wednesday said he will overhaul the agency's hiring procedures in response to a Times investigation that found that a large percentage of firefighters given jobs have family ties to the department.
IN OTHER CITY NEWS
Elephant Used in California Wedding Despite City Ban (ABC 11)
They are stars of the elephant world, known for roles in Hollywood films like 2011's "Water for Elephants." But now one of the pachyderms from the company Have Trunk Will Travel is the star of a brewing controversy in Huntington Beach, California.