Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's twice-weekly news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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June 28, 2016
Gov. Jerry Brown signs $171-billion state budget (Los Angeles Times)
The $171-billion spending plan increases funding for state-subsidized child care and removes a limit on welfare payments for families who have additional children while receiving benefits. It also boosts the state's reserves, depositing an extra $2 billion into a rainy-day fund intended as a cushion against any future economic downturns.
HOMELESSNESS / POVERTY
California to spend billions to tackle homelessness (KQED)
California has more than 115,000 homeless people, many suffering from some kind of mental illness. This week the state Legislature is acting on a $2 billion bond that would help get many of them off the streets. The state Senate approved the bond yesterday, the Assembly is expected to take it up later this week.
Special report: Beyond Homelessness (San Francisco Chronicle)
The Chronicle joins more than 70 other news organizations to focus attention on the problem of homelessness in the city: “The SF Homeless Project will explore possible solutions that might ease, if not end, the suffering of so many thousands of people living on our streets, and improve the quality of life for all residents.” The project’s primary day of coverage is June 29. Stories and more will be posted on this special page.
Editorial: City’s RV ban a sign of bigger problem (Marin Independent-Journal)
RVs parked around town is the latest byproduct of Marin’s affordable housing crisis. They are homes for those who can’t keep up with Marin’s rising rental and real estate prices. They are a place to live that’s a step better than camping out in the hills or sleeping under an overpass.
10 years after housing peaked, US is more of a renter nation (AP)
For many longtime owners, times are good. They’re enjoying the benefits of growing equity and reduced mortgage payments from ultra-low rates. But for America’s growing class of renters, surging costs, stagnant pay and rising home values have made it next to impossible to save enough to buy. The possible consequences are bleak for a nation already grappling with economic inequality.
Renters feeling brunt of Southern California housing crunch (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
A database of housing affordability statistics created by The Associated Press shows the Los Angeles/Orange counties region consistently ranks among the U.S. markets that most stretch the household budgets of homeowners and renters. Data came from census figures through 2014, the latest available.
SLO County is sixth most unaffordable place to live in the U.S. (The San Luis Obispo Tribune)
RealtyTrac report shows that 90.4 percent of average weekly wages is needed to buy a median-priced home
Availability, affordability big challenges for Inland Empire homeowners, renters (Redlands Daily Facts)
You might think Inland-area renters and homebuyers would have a little easier time of it than people closer to the coast. But, as elsewhere, among the top concerns for Inland residents are availability and affordability.
Palo Alto council backs plan to preserve Buena Vista (Palo Alto Weekly)
An effort to save Palo Alto's only mobile-home park from redevelopment took a critical step forward Monday night, when the City Council unanimously agreed to join a partnership that would make the purchase and preservation of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park possible.
Opinion: ‘By-right approvals’ will have no real effect on housing supply in SF (San Francisco Examiner)
Developers and their lobbying organizations are currently working hard to spread a false, but profitable argument: that the way to get more housing faster is by further deregulating development approvals. The assertion underlies the governor’s latest “by-right” approvals bill, which gives the automatic stamp of approval to any private development providing the minimum amount of affordable housing.
Opinion: Most Americans think the housing crisis never ended (Citylab)
Asked about the difference between the start of the housing crisis in 2008 and where things stand today, the largest share of respondents said that we’re still in the thick of the housing crisis (44 percent). A whopping 81 percent of respondents said that housing affordability is a problem. And more than one-third of respondents (37 percent) said that housing affordability is a “very serious problem.”
Airbnb sues San Francisco — its hometown — to block new rental law (Los Angeles Times)
Airbnb Inc. filed a lawsuit against its home city of San Francisco on Monday in an attempt to block new regulation that it said would violate federal protections for Internet companies. The short-term property rental company slammed the city’s new ordinance, which would require Airbnb and similar firms such as VRBO and HomeAway to make sure that hosts register with the city or face a fine.
Encinitas reaches density bonus lawsuit settlement (Encinitas Seaside Courier)
Under terms of the settlement, the city will continue to send the housing element to the November ballot, begin rounding up part of the density bonus calculation, and pay DCM Properties $125,000 in legal fees. The settlement also continues the requirement that developers demonstrate how a concession the city should make in its development standards will reduce the cost of the housing.
Reforms advance for utilities commission (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Gov. Jerry Brown has agreed to significant reforms at the California Public Utilities Commission, which has been under criminal investigation over the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant and finds itself in the middle of several other controversies. The deal was announced Monday by Brown and lawmakers after a series of utility failures resulted in an explosion that killed eight people in the Bay area, a massive gas leak in Los Angeles and the premature shutdown of the nuclear power plant in San Diego.
ELECTIONS / DEDISTRICTING
California voters will be asked this November to change the rules for passing bills in the Legislature (Los Angeles Times)
An initiative requiring any legislation be in print for three days before final passage at the Capitol earned a spot on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot on Monday, an effort supporters claim will end the long tradition of 11th hour political deals quickly turned into California law.
WATER / DROUGHT
How much water are top California suppliers committing to save this year? Zilch (The Orange County Register)
A year after California attacked the drought with an unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not exactly setting a high bar.
State, county grapple with historic tree die-off (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
As wildfires burn in Southern California, a debate is smoldering about what to do with millions of dead and dying trees — which have been ravaged by drought and beetle species up and down the state. Facing the biggest die-off since recordkeeping on the topic started about four decades ago, state officials have already started to cut down hundreds of thousands of dead trees near houses, roads, power lines and other sensitive areas.
With doomsday in mind, California officials are ceding water to Arizona, Nevada (Voice of San Diego)
California representatives have offered to forgo up to 8 percent of the state’s Colorado River water, if things get bad enough. The worry is cuts would be worse later if California doesn’t play ball with Arizona now.
‘Water windfall' discovered beneath California's Central Valley (Science Daily)
New research indicates that California's Central Valley harbors three times more groundwater than previously estimated, but challenges to using it include pumping costs, ground subsidence and possible contamination from fracking and other oil and gas activities.
Los Angeles dispenses free recycled water to its residents (Citylab)
Amid the statewide drought, a new pilot program hopes to promote the local water supply.
Editorial: California’s water districts are loath to save resources (San Francisco Chronicle)
Nine out of 10 of the biggest urban water suppliers in California reported last week that their savings plan for the rest of 2016 is a big fat zero.
Redondo Beach ends partnership with McCormick Ambulance, will set up in-house service (Torrance Daily Breeze)
The city of Redondo Beach has decided to establish its own ambulance service, replacing McCormick Ambulance Service after a 10-year run at year’s end. Start-up costs for creating a Redondo Beach ambulance service are hefty — $764,000, including buying vehicles and technology for the project.
Editorial: California can’t hide police misconduct any more (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
In Los Angeles, police officials have ordered officers to treat homeless people with “compassion and empathy.” In San Francisco, officials have ordered police to with “compassion and empathy.” These actions suggest the U.S. is in a new era in which expectations for officer conduct are much, much higher. Unfortunately, in California, the barriers to finding out about police misconduct are so high that details are rarely ever released.
Oakland council votes to block coal-shipping plan (San Francisco Chronicle)
The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Monday to block the handling and storage of coal in Oakland, effectively halting a developer’s controversial plan to ship coal from the port.
CAP & TRADE
Opinion: Low auction result helps legal case for cap-and-trade (Capitol Weekly)
When the California Air Resources Board released the results of its May auction of carbon allowances, audible gasps from around the state could be heard from the space station.
OPEN GOVERNMENT / TRANSPARENCY
Have Azusa officials violated records laws by routinely deleting emails? (The Whittier Daily News)
Some City Council members said they are routinely deleting emails on their city-owned accounts, including documents and conversations related to pending city projects, which appears to be in violation of the city’s own records retention policy and California law.
REVENUE & TAXATION / MUNICIPLE FINANCE
Where does your city’s property tax rate rank? (Next City)
For the past five years, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence have co-produced a report ranking effective property tax rates for residential, commercial and industrial properties in over 100 U.S. cities in all 50 states. This year’s report
looks to the underlying causes of those differences for the first time, identifying four key factors that help explain the variance.
Paper trail shows in Beaumont probe questionable spending (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)
Bond funds are supposed to go for public works projects. But in Beaumont they appeared to have been tapped repeatedly for operational or noncapital expenses, city records show.
Proposed bond would raise $205M for 18 fire stations (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The San Diego City Council is scheduled to debate on Tuesday a proposed $205 million bond measure that would pay for construction of 18 fire stations. If approved by two-thirds of city voters in November, the measure would increase annual property taxes an estimated $5 per $100,000 in assessed valuation for 30 years.
Opinion: Jerry Brown’s bucket list doesn’t include vital reform of taxes (The Sacramento Bee)
Were he truly committed to protecting the budget from the kind of disaster that hit California nine years ago, Brown would elevate tax reform to the top of his agenda.
CITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Dense One Paseo project approved (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The City Council on Monday approved the unusually dense One Paseo project in Carmel Valley, which could become a model for future development in San Diego as the city runs short of land but continues to need more housing, retail and offices.
Facebook's campus expansion heightens traffic and housing fears (Bay Area News Group)
Facebook's social media empire is rising, and as the tech firm pushes for more office space and a hotel, fears that the growth will drive up housing prices and clog the roads with traffic are climbing too.
Uber, Lyft leave fingerprints on Sacramento ride-hailing bills (San Francisco Chronicle)
The two San Francisco companies are inside Sacramento’s halls of power, lobbying for several bills that fit their business models — and that largely appear poised for passage. At the same time, they’ve succeeded in squashing bills they deem detrimental, such as one that would have banned price increases during busy times and another that would have allowed gig workers like Uber and Lyft drivers to collectively bargain.
JOBS / ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Monterey Park has become a hub for Chinese tourists, and with it hotel development (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
Every year Chinese travelers spend on average $3,000 on trips to California, more than any other country’s visitors, according to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.
LABOR / PENSIONS
Coachella mayor condemns high city executive salaries (The Palm Springs Desert Sun)
Department directors in Coachella have some of the highest salaries of their peers across the Coachella Valley, a distinction Mayor Steven Hernandez criticized this month, saying the blue-collar city shouldn't pay employees more than wealthier cities such as Indian Wells and Palm Springs.
Drones are a big problem for firefighters battling massive blazes (TIME)
Over the weekend, airborne firefighters in California had to stall their operations when they spotted drones in the area while fighting the San Gabriel Complex fire. The U.S. Forest Service issued a warning in response, saying that flight restrictions were in effect and reminding the public that drone operators interfering with fire crews could be fined or jailed.
TRANSPORTATION / INFRASTRUCTURE
Secretive Alphabet division aims to fix public transit in U.S. by shifting control to Google (The Guardian)
Using public records laws, the Guardian obtained dozens of emails and documents submitted to Challenge cities by Sidewalk Labs, detailing many technologies and proposals that have not previously been made public. Some will be controversial, including spending transport subsidies for low-income residents on ride-sharing services such as Uber, requiring cities to upgrade to Sidewalk’s mobile payments system, and modernizing public parking to boost city revenues.