Tag Archive: California

  1. Our Top Five for Affordable Housing

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    Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

    Image from Habitat for Humanity Portland: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44062891@N03/8641577674

    It’s no secret that California has a serious affordable housing problem. The state is home to the nation’s most expensive rental market and the nation’s least affordable housing market. Nine of the ten most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are located here. And, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office put it, California’s home prices and rents are higher than just about anywhere else. As local policymakers throughout the state grapple with the issue of providing affordable housing, we thought it’d be helpful to provide a “top five” list of interventions that the state’s big city mayors can champion to help address the affordability crisis. (more…)

  2. The Cap-and-Trade Spigot Opens

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    While the efficacy of California’s cap-and-trade program in reducing the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions continues to be a subject of debate, the program’s ability to generate revenue (almost $1 billion through 2014) has been impressive. And as the pot of cap-and-trade revenue grows, the state is seeing more competing proposals for funding. Over the past month or so, proceeds from the auction of emissions permits have been allocated to a host of new programs for some innovative projects. In addition, the state’s cap-and-trade program is focusing resources to serve more low-income and disadvantaged communities. Passed in 2012, SB 535 requires allocating a minimum of 25 percent of the state’s cap-and-trade revenues to projects that benefit disadvantaged communities; a minimum of ten percent of the proceeds must be used for projects located in disadvantaged communities. With this mandate in mind, we look at a few of the more innovative programs that were awarded funding to help improve our most vulnerable communities. (more…)

  3. Preparing for “The Big One”

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    After watching Hollywood’s latest take on the demise of California, we thought we’d check in on progress that cities throughout the state have made to seismically retrofit vulnerable structures. San Francisco’s most recent seismic retrofit program is well underway, and it’s been about six months since Los Angeles revealed plans to embark on a similarly ambitious effort to shore-up the city’s at-risk buildings. But as earthquake-prone cities look to finance expensive retrofits, what tools are available? And how do we finance these efforts without significantly increasing costs for tenants and building owners? A growing effort to expand mechanisms like the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program to help property owners cover seismic retrofit costs may be part of the answer.

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  4. The Drought is About More Than Just Water

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    While California’s record drought has led to statewide reductions and local executive directives in order to conserve water, there may be an even larger, less-discussed consequence. The drought causing the state to sink. The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that California has experienced its worst sinking in at least 50 years. The Center found that widespread subsidence has the potential to destroy infrastructure across the state, which could cost well over a billion dollars to fix. (more…)

  5. Making All Votes Count

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    These days, it seems that post-election coverage in the U.S. often comes with a hefty dose of consternation about the future of our electorate. With each election, our national voting rates seem to hit another historic low. During the 2014 midterm elections, just 37 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, registering the lowest turnout for a federal election since World War II. At the same time, voting in many parts of the country is becoming more difficult. A weakened Voting Rights Act coupled with attempts by some state legislatures to limit access to the polls has had the effect of making it more burdensome for citizens to exercise this fundamental right. Likewise, institutionalized gerrymandering and the outsized influence of wealthy political donors give many citizens the impression that their single vote is largely inconsequential. With these impediments in place, how do we move toward a voting system where our electorate is more engaged and more representative of our nation’s diversity? The most obvious answer may be to require every eligible voter to cast a ballot on Election Day. (more…)

  6. May Revise Brings Redevelopment Dissolution Tweaks

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    Last week Governor Brown released a revised 2015-2016 budget that accounted for greater-than-expected growth in the state’s tax rolls. The panoply of talking heads, advocates, and policy wonks have already dissected the potential effects the new budget may have on higher education, the state’s rainy day fund, and the state’s social safety net. So instead of rehashing those stories, we’re focusing our attention on updates to the redevelopment dissolution process. (more…)

  7. Ditch the Lawn

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    In the wake of mandatory statewide water restrictions and the growing consensus that Californians need to plan for a more arid future, municipalities and water districts are looking to curb urban water use. Rising water rates and dwindling supplies are making lush, expansive lawns an increasingly unsustainable luxury in the West. Popular rebate programs that encourage homeowners and businesses to remove their lawns are expanding. But is it time to put rules in place to limit or even eliminate turf in certain developments? (more…)

  8. A Portrait of California 2014-2015

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    California’s economic engines are roaring back to life, but not everyone benefits from living and working in the world’s eighth largest economy. Measure of America measured human development metrics to assess the economic and social well-being of Californians living in the Golden State’s diverse regions. (more…)

  9. Bills Roundup

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    February 27 was the deadline for state lawmakers to introduce bills for the 2015-2016 legislative session. This week, the legislature will finally get down to business and start considering the hundreds of bills introduced, which run the gamut from affordable housing to infrastructure, to climate change. Only a small fraction of these bills will make it out of both houses by September 11th, bound for the Governor’s desk. Here are some newly introduced bills that we’re following this legislative season: (more…)

  10. Investing in California’s Safety Net

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    Although the California economy continued its rebound in 2014, the Golden State’s economic upswing has been uneven. High unemployment still persists in significant portions of the state, and salaries for low- and mid-wage workers have not managed to keep pace with inflation [PDF]. While the Governor’s budget aims to address these inequities, in part, by increasing and reallocating investments in K-12 education and by bolstering the state’s community college system, it may also be time to reevaluate the state’s role in sustaining a strong social safety net. As we move toward environmental, public education, and higher education policies that aim to address issues of social inequity, anti-poverty advocates have argued that we should also look at how restoring funding for anti-poverty programs to pre-recession levels can help ensure that all California families can participate in our growing economy. (more…)