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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November 20, 2014
Pensions Off Table in San Bernardino Bankruptcy (Associated Press)
The city of San Bernardino has agreed to pay CalPERS all that it owes it in bankruptcy proceedings and keep pensions intact.
Under the deal, the city would pay back $13.5 million in 24 installments over two years.
Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury also gave the city six months to incorporate the deal in a final exit plan.
San Francisco Sees Sharp Rise in Property and Violent Crimes (Los Angeles Times)
San Francisco's increase in reported crime was particularly notable as California as a whole saw drops, as did the Golden State's largest cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose. Oakland and Stockton, two large cities that have among California's worst crime rates, also saw improvements between 2012 and 2013, according to the recently released FBI Uniform Crime Report.
Action Plan to Aid San Diego’s Homeless (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Over the next three years, SDHC will award up to $30 million to create permanent supportive housing rental units for homeless individuals and families. These units will remain affordable for 55 years or more.
The first $10 million of these funds is available now and uses a combination of major federal funding and state local Housing Trust Funds and the city’s Affordable Housing Fund.
2 Investigates: SF City Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Local Tax Business (KTVU)
Just five months after 2 Investigates uncovered claims of tax fraud by a local tax preparer, city officials in San Francisco are taking legal action. 2 Investigates dug into customer complaints and a suspicious money trail. Instant Tax clients say the company pocketed large chunks of their tax returns and deducted fees they were never told about.
San Jose Passes Affordable Housing Impact Fee – Expect a Court Fight (Silicon Valley Business Journal)
Apartment developers in the booming housing market of San Jose will soon have to swallow a new fee to help the city pay for subsidized rental units — a policy move that almost certainly means San Jose will face a lawsuit from the Building Industry Association.
PENSIONS / LABOR RELATIONS
Editorial: New Online Pension Figures Show Need for Reform (Marin Independent Journal)
State Controller John Chiang has begun posting online the assets and obligations of public pension programs across the state. The figures are troubling, showing taxpayers that more of the tax dollars they pay will go to public workers' retirement checks and benefits.
Easy public access to these numbers is overdue. Those sums are the cost of promises made by state and local officials, on behalf of taxpayers, to their workers.
Trash Franchise Fee to Rise to Help Pay City Pension Costs (Huntington Beach Independent)
City Council members voted 6 to 0 on Monday, with Mayor Matthew Harper absent, to gradually increase the franchise fee the city charges trash collector Rainbow Environmental Services. The fee will rise from 5% of Rainbow's gross receipts from commercial services in Huntington Beach to 12% over the next 2 1/2 years.
Newport Beach Seeks to Fund Employee Pensions Quicker (Orange County Register)
The City Council’s Finance Committee met this week to look at ways to pay off obligations to their California Public Employees Retirement System plans sooner as a cost-saving measure. The city’s unfunded liability, the difference between how much the city will owe in retirement benefits and the money it has set aside, is projected to be $273 million at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to a city report.
REVENUE & TAXATION / MUNICIPAL FINANCE
Santa Fe Springs Gets Additional $6 Million (Whittier Daily News)
City officials will have an extra $6 million to spend and/or add to its reserves — thanks to getting some one-time money from the state and some good news on last year’s budget.
About $3.3 million is coming from one-time money from the state, including $2.4 million as a result of changes in the way sales tax is allocated to cities.
Dan Walters: Controller’s Eye-Popping Report on Pensions (Sacramento Bee)
State Controller John Chiang performed an admirable public service by publishing a detailed report on the finances of California's public employee pension systems.
The most eye-popping fact in the report is that the "unfunded liabilities" of those systems exploded from $6.3 billion in 2003 to $198.2 billion in 2013.
Why? It was a perfect storm of irresponsibility.
Communities Redevelopment Law Conflict-of-Interest Rules Apply to Successor Agencies (Best Best & Krieger)
The California Attorney General recently opined that the conflict-of-interest rules under the Community Redevelopment Law will continue to apply despite the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. The rules apply to members of any successor agency governing board and may apply to city officials and employees who are required to participate in the approval of plans and policies for redevelopment project areas. In particular, the Attorney General Kamala Harris took the position that Health & Safety Code section 33130 will continue to prohibit such officers and employees from acquiring property within a redevelopment project area.
FEDERAL ISSUE: TRANSPORTATION
Transportation Policy and Funding in the Post-Election Climate (Fox & Hounds)
The mid-term elections have put an end to any lingering hope of passing a long-term transportation bill during the congressional lame duck session. Such hope was recently expressed by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and two Democratic senators, Tom Carper (D-DE) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In an October 9 letter to Congressman David Camp, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Boxer wrote, “We cannot afford to wait for action until the deadline which falls at the beginning of the critical summer construction season, or to kick the can down the road any longer.” Secretary Foxx echoed in a radio interview on October 16, “I don’t think we are going to find ourselves in a better moment to do something than we will over the next few months.”
TELECOMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY
Video: Legislative and Regulatory Update on Telecommunications by Jonathan Kramer
FCC Report and Order in rulemaking addressing wireless facilities siting policies, including clarifying the implementation of (1) Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2012; and (2) the FCC’s 2009 Declaratory Ruling adopting a “shot clock” for wireless facility applications.
Could San Jose’s New Apartment Fee Actually Lead to a Rush of Development? (Silicon Valley Business Journal)
Developers have called San Jose's newly adopted affordable-housing impact fee a project-killer for the added costs it will saddle onto future apartments. But several developers told me that they expect a flood of new development proposals following adoption of the fee last night, on a 7-3 vote — at least in the short term.
Berkeley: Residents Worry About Housing Affordability Amid Rapid Rise in Rents and Property Values (Contra Costa Times)
A public meeting to review the city's affordable housing efforts and hear from the community about its needs afforded a preview of what seems to be shaping up as a growing political issue: gentrification.
Dan Walters: Landlord-Tenant Rights Debate Rekindled (Sacramento Bee)
The Ellis Act has been California law for nearly 30 years, a major milestone in the recurrent political conflict over landlord-tenant relations — and changing it likely will be an issue when the Legislature reconvenes in December.
CITY ORDINANCES & RESOLUTIONS
City of West Hollywood Passes Death with Dignity Resolution (West Hollywood News Release)
The West Hollywood City Council, at its regular meeting last night on Monday, November 17, 2014, unanimously approved a Resolution that urges the Los Angeles County District Attorney to deprioritize prosecution of physicians and family members supporting death with dignity decisions of terminally ill, mentally competent individuals. This is the first Resolution of its kind to be passed in California. The decision comes just over two weeks after 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a former California resident, chose to end her life with the support of her family and assistance of her physicians.
SHARING ECONOMY: VACATION RENTALS
San Jose Council to Discuss Airbnb Ordinance (San Jose Mercury)
As more San Jose homes are opening doors for short-term rentals to travelers through websites like Airbnb, city officials are seeking to create an ordinance that would lay down some ground rules.
Election Law Clouds Marijuana Initiative (Costa Mesa Daily Pilot)
The Costa Mesa City Council unanimously approved a series of studies Tuesday night that will examine effects of medical marijuana dispensaries that could return to the city next year.
The move was in response to two citizen petitions recently certified by the county registrar that call for a special election to bring the question of permitting the dispensaries.
Costa Mesa has banned dispensaries since 2005, though some openly maintained their operations until federal shutdowns in 2012.
Fuel-Additive Contamination Surpasses Estimates (Orange County Register)
Saltwater intrusion in the San Juan Basin isn’t the only water quality issue facing San Juan Capistrano: Contamination in the basin also is increasing.
City Hall documents show increased levels of the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, MtBE, in water taken from wells throughout the basin.
California’s Drought gets Personal with Portable Showers, Rain Barrels, and Sewage Water (Think Progress)
While California’s ongoing drought may look like varying shades of red to those on the outside, as it settles into its fourth year the impacts are getting down and dirty. What once was experienced mostly in paltry precipitation numbers is now being felt in daily rituals and last month water and drought topped the list of Californian’s concerns for the first time since polling on the subject began in 1998.
San Juan Capistrano Still Owes $40 Million for Groundwater Plant (Orange County Register)
As the drought continues to challenge the state’s water supply, local officials have debated how the long-term problem might affect the city's multimillion dollar investment: the groundwater recovery plant.
ELECTIONS & REDISTRICTING
District Election to be Pondered in Ceres (The Ceres Courier)
Next month city officials plan to examine all of the issues surrounding a possible November 2015 ballot measure that would decide the fate of district elections for City Council seats.
Piedmont Council OKs Updated Conflict-of-Interest Code (Inside Bay Area)
The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has adopted a model code and regulations for local agencies. Public officials such as councilmembers, the city administrator, planning commissioners, the finance director, department chiefs and the city attorney are required to file statements of economic interest. These statements are to ensure those individuals do not have personal holdings or dealings that would influence their decision-making or create personal profit.
Added to the revised list of who must report are: building official, fire captain, maintenance supervisor, parks and project manager, planning director, police captain, police service manager, recreation supervisor and senior planner. The police and fire pension board are mandatory filers because they oversee the pension funds.
IN OTHER CITY NEWS
San Francisco Puts in Chips for 2024 Olympics (San Francisco Gate)
San Francisco is officially bidding on the 2024 Olympics, organizers have disclosed to The Chronicle, and their pitch for the Summer Games will focus on the Bay Area’s distinctions, ingenuity and character.
Rancho Palos Verdes Looks to Curb Surging Peafowl Population (Torrance Daily Breeze)
Census results shared at the City Council meeting Tuesday revealed that the number of peafowl in four neighborhoods more than doubled — from 125 to 285 — from June to October this year.
Public Officials of the Year (Governing)
These men and women implement innovative new approaches every day. They’re making the tough decisions necessary to put government on sounder fiscal footing. They’re creating resilient communities that are ready for the future. They’re breaking down political barriers to work with opponents across the aisle. They’re redefining the very nature of their jobs, reaching beyond the traditional scope of their positions to make streets safer for people to walk on, to cut crime by empowering former offenders, to fight for legal justice, to encourage different communities to share their best ideas.