From California Business Roundtable <[email protected]>
Subject California Business Roundtable eNews February 26, 2021
Date February 26, 2021 11:30 PM
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Web Version [link removed] | Update Preferences [link removed] CBRT in the News Another View: Ballot Measures

In this post-election relative calm, it seems a good time to calmly consider a familiar election issue: how we California voters tackle those infamous ballot measures, usually a dozen or more every two years that turn us into unpaid state lawmakers.

Remember some from last November: stewing about labor issues for Uber and Lyft drivers; full-time physicians for private dialysis clinics; pay bail or sit for months in jail awaiting trial; or that other big issue, shall cities and counties decide how many affordable, rent-controlled apartments their residents need?

Did we really understand the “good or bad” effects of those votes? How about those we will surely see on a future ballot? Forty million Californians will live with new laws created by those measures that win, and about half of them do.


Opponents of Proposition 21, to permit local governments to increase their community’s rent-controlled residential housing raised about $83.5 million, a whopping $5.6 million alone from California Business Roundtable PAC, the remainder from various real estate interests. Supporters garnered a mere (!) $40.8 million.

Read More [[link removed]] Business Climate and Job Creation Boost To Household Income Primes U.S. Economy For Stronger Growth

Pandemic aid to households is pouring money into the U.S. economy, priming it for rapid growth this year.

Household income—the amount Americans received from wages, investments and government programs—rose 10% in January, the Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was the second largest on record, eclipsed only by last April’s gain when the federal government sent an initial round of pandemic-relief payments. Household income has risen 13% since February 2020, the month before the pandemic shut down large segments of the economy.

January’s increase in household income was almost entirely due to federal pandemic-relief aid included in a $900 billion stimulus program signed into law in late December.

There will likely be more government money flowing into the economy soon. The U.S. House on Friday was expected to narrowly pass a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid bill that would extend additional pandemic aid, including $1,400 per-person payments for many Americans.

Read More [[link removed]] New Aera CEO: Calls To Ban In-State Oil Production 'A Dangerous Idea' For California

The new head of Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC on Thursday condemned growing calls to end California petroleum production, charging in an exclusive interview that the industry's opponents are ignoring science and confusing people into supporting a "dangerous idea" that would cost jobs, tax revenue and energy independence without making needed progress against climate change.

Orange County native Erik Bartsch, who last year left a job in the Netherlands with Shell Oil Co. to become president and CEO of a company with 1,100 employees in Kern, said renewed efforts in Sacramento to ban fracking and certain other important oilfield techniques would effectively shut down in-state oil production.

"Make no mistake," he said. "This is a challenge and opposition that's not based on science or facts. This is based on politics and a misguided notion that puts hard-working Californians out of work and threatens our energy supplies."

He went on to say the industry's opponents are "trying to confuse people into thinking that stopping production in California is a smart move to help the climate issues and meet California's aggressive goals."

Read More [[link removed]] U.S. Unemployment Claims Fell Sharply Last Week

The jobs market appears to be returning to growth, with new applications for unemployment benefits falling to the lowest level since November amid other signs hiring is picking up.

Initial weekly unemployment claims decreased by 111,000 to a seasonally adjusted 730,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was also the biggest drop in new applications for regular state programs since last summer.

The latest figures came as storms disrupted business in parts of the country and at least one state is adjusting for attempted fraud filings, factors that could have affected the totals. Still, weekly claims have dropped significantly since an early January peak above 900,000 and the four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, dropped to 807,750.

“It was a big drop, but I think the trend is going to continue because people are going out and spending more,” said Michelle Holder, a Ph.D. labor economist at John Jay College in New York. The decrease in jobless applications is consistent with vaccination efforts giving Americans confidence the pandemic will end and signs that hiring is picking up, she said.

Read More [[link removed]] US Consumer Rebound To Boost Spending 2.4% As Income Jumps

Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America’s consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January, the sharpest increase in seven months and a sign that the economy may be poised to sustain a recovery from the pandemic recession.

Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, the biggest gain in nine months, boosted by cash payments that most Americans received from the government.

The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend. Last month’s sharp gain suggests that many people are growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults last month in a federal economic aid package.

“The economy weakened late last year as the fiscal support faded and the pandemic intensified, but now it seems to be coming back to life,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Read More [[link removed]] Yellen Removes Obstacle To Global Corporate-Tax Deal

The U.S. dropped a Trump administration demand in global corporate-tax negotiations, removing one obstacle to an agreement on adapting the tax system to the digital economy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday that the U.S. would no longer insist on a “safe harbor” under which some elements of the tax rules would be optional. The idea, proposed in late 2019 by her predecessor, Steven Mnuchin, drew objections from European counterparts, though talks on how it would work never advanced very far.

Ms. Yellen made her remarks to finance ministers of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging-market economies at a virtual meeting. According to a Treasury official, Ms. Yellen said the U.S. would continue to engage on both parts of the tax project being led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: a push to redefine where corporate income is taxed and a parallel effort to impose minimum taxes.

Ms. Yellen’s decision doesn’t guarantee that a deal will be reached. The global talks have moved in fits and starts for years, driven by European countries’ frustrations that U.S. technology companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have such a large presence in their economies but pay relatively little in corporate taxes.

Read More [[link removed]] The Long-Term Economic Costs Of Lost Schooling

Imagine for a moment two objects in your hands. One is a piece of paper and the other a rubber band. If you squeeze your hands together hard and let go, the paper will remain crumpled, but the rubber band will return to its original shape.

Economists tend to think of the economy as the rubber band. After a shock, they expect it to go back to normal. When it doesn’t, like the crumpled paper, they call the effect “hysteresis”—lasting changes caused by some large perturbation. The Covid-19 pandemic is a classic example. What permanent damage to the economy will it leave behind?

The first place to look is in classrooms, say Eric Hanushek and Margaret Raymond, economists and education researchers at Stanford University. Lost study time for children during the pandemic has the potential to do lasting harm not just to their own long-term prospects but to American prosperity in general, say the married couple.

Read More [[link removed]] Covid-19 Fraudsters Keep Targeting Jobless Claims. What Does It Mean For Workers And The Data?

Waves of attempted fraud during the pandemic have plagued state unemployment benefits programs. We answer questions on what unemployment fraud is, how it is affecting the national jobless claims report and what states are doing to combat it.

What is unemployment fraud?

There are different types of unemployment insurance fraud, including when someone knowingly continues to collect unemployment benefits after returning to work.

During the pandemic, states have grappled with a rise in unemployment insurance fraud tied to identity theft. In this form of fraud, criminals steal victims’ identities and then apply for unemployment benefits.

Victims of identity theft often discover they have been targeted when they try to file for jobless benefits, receive notification from the state unemployment office, receive an Internal Revenue Service form noting the payments or get a notification from their employer, a Federal Bureau of Investigation notice said.

Read More [[link removed]] California Unemployment Claims Drop By Big Amount

New California unemployment claims fell sharply last week and dropped below 100,000 for only the second time since government-ordered business shutdowns to combat the coronavirus began, the government reported Thursday.

Workers in California filed 89,500 initial claims for unemployment last week, a decrease of 50,100 from the prior week, the U.S. Labor Department reported.

In the United States, workers filed 730,000 initial claims for unemployment during the week that ended on Feb. 20, a decline of 111,000 from the 841,000 claims filed during the week ending Feb. 13, according to the labor agency.

The decline below 100,000 benchmark offers a possible bright spot in the forbidding landscape for the job markets in California and the Bay Area, which have been battered by business shutdowns that state and local government agencies have orchestrated in a quest to combat the spread of the deadly bug.

For 45 of the last 47 weeks, unemployment claims in California have been well above 100,000, this news organization’s analysis of the jobless claims shows.

Read More [[link removed]] California Lost 175,000 'Creative Economy' Jobs, Study Finds

Arts advocates and elected officials in California called Thursday for additional government spending to avert what one organization leader called a “pending cultural depression” brought on by the pandemic.

“There is no economic recovery in our area unless a working creative engine is driving it,” Karen Bass, a U.S. congresswoman representing part of Los Angeles, said in a video prerecorded for a panel discussion.

“Congress must provide additional assistance to the creative economy and its million of employees,” she continued, saying that her district could not fully recover unless the arts community there led the way.

The calls for more aid were aired during a video conference hosted by Otis College of Art and Design, which released a report it commissioned on the creative economy. Two economic impact surveys Thursday by the advocacy group Californians for the Arts were also discussed.

Read More [[link removed]] Hurt by Lockdowns, California’s Small Businesses Push To Recall Governor

Alexandra and Daniela Del Gaudio had never been to a political rally before, let alone one to protest a coronavirus lockdown and recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. But things had changed in the sisters’ lives since they opened the Wild Plum, a yoga and wellness space, in 2018.

The Wild Plum, in California’s San Fernando Valley, closed in March when Mr. Newsom issued pandemic stay-at-home orders for the state. By the time the Wild Plum reopened last month, when Mr. Newsom relaxed the latest lockdown restrictions, the sisters had amassed $70,000 in debt. So there they were at a recent anti-Newsom rally in a restaurant parking lot in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, along with dozens of other business owners.

“Everyone says to walk away, but we put everything we have into this,” Daniela Del Gaudio, 33, said. “We’re banging our heads trying to figure out what to do.”

Read More [[link removed]] Who Has The Power To Reopen California Classrooms?

Increasingly exasperated that most public schools remain closed even as coronavirus cases plummet nearly a year into the pandemic, California parents are taking to the streets. They’re protesting in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. They’re trying to recall school board members in San Francisco and San Ramon. They’re mounting billboards along freeways in Sonoma County and Sacramento demanding that the government #OpenSchoolsNow.

The campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has seized on the frustrations. Republicans hoping to replace him are staging campaign events outside shuttered schools and highlighting that California lags the rest of the nation when it comes to getting kids back in the classroom. Newsom’s political future may hinge, in part, on how much longer millions of children remain stuck on Zoom.

But the state’s education system is incredibly fragmented, with more than 1,000 school districts tasked with deciding — mostly through negotiations with their local labor unions — when and how to reopen. Those districts must follow laws crafted by a Legislature with close ties to organized labor, and signed by a governor who was elected with the support of the teachers’ union but now finds himself at odds with it over his objections to making vaccine access a requirement for reopening.

Read More [[link removed]] Federal Judge Says California Can Enforce Net Neutrality Law

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that California can for the first time enforce its tough net neutrality law, clearing the way for the state to ban internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to websites and applications that don’t pay for premium service.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in 2018, making California the first state to pass a net neutrality law. Open internet advocates hoped the law would spur Congress and other states to follow suit. The Trump administration quickly sued to block the law, which prevented it from taking effect for years while the case was tied up in court.

The Biden administration dropped that lawsuit earlier this month. But in a separate lawsuit, the telecom industry asked a federal judge to keep blocking the law. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez denied their request, allowing California to begin enforcing the law.

California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco and the author of the law, called the ruling “a huge victory for open access to the internet, our democracy and our economy.”

Read More [[link removed]] San Jose Mayor: Stop Blaming Tech Companies For Our Problems

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says it's time to stop blaming tech companies for the Bay Area's problems.

In a recent question-and-answer session with Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, Liccardo opined that Bay Area companies and workers are leaving because of mistakes made by local policy makers.

"(Tech companies) are a little frustrated folks discovered all these problems (with the Bay Area) and decided that tech should be to blame for all of them," Liccardo said. "It's natural for a lot of employers to say 'We want to go somewhere where people actually want us, and they're willing to engage with us before they decide to pass the newest regulation or taxes.'"

Wunderman said the Bay Area Council, an influential business association based in San Francisco, hears this complaint a lot.

The Bay Area Council invited Liccardo to speak on the Bay Area exodus after he published an opinion piece on the topic earlier this month in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Read More [[link removed]] Sayonara California: Corporate Relocation Experts Expect Best Year Ever!

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) best exemplifies the reason thousands of businesses are departing California.

Her attitude toward one of the state’s most successful companies, Tesla, was made clear with a childish vulgarity she aimed at the company’s CEO after learning that he was threatening to leave the Sunshine State. “F*ck Elon Musk,” she tweeted unapologetically in early 2020. This wasn’t the first time Gonzalez dropped the “f-bomb” in a public forum.

The assemblywoman wasn’t “too concerned” about the innovative billionaire packing up his manufacturing plants because she believed the CEO needed the state more than taxpayers needed him. Tesla receives numerous green grants from Southland taxpayers.

Apparently, she misjudged the balance in the relationship. Musk’s response to the assemblywoman signaled his next move at the time: “Message received.” Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly held the same ill-advised view and wasn’t too concerned about Musk moving his billions in revenue and more than 40,000 employees to a friendlier business environment

Read More [[link removed]] Energy and Climate Change Audit Slams State Air Board For 'Overstating' Greenhouse Gas Cuts

An audit of California’s climate change program released today criticizes state officials for overestimating the benefits of its efforts to encourage Californians to drive cleaner vehicles.

The state auditor warned that California may not meet its goal to cut greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030 if it doesn’t pick up the pace. Emissions from transportation have increased since 2013, which the report calls “a problematic trend.”

“Given the ambitious nature of the State’s climate change goals and the short time frame to meet them, California is in need of more reliable tools with which to make funding decisions,” California State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislators.

According to the audit, the California Air Resources Board “has generally not determined the effects its incentive programs have on consumers’ behavior and thus, has overstated (greenhouse gas) emissions reductions its incentive programs achieve.”

Read More [[link removed]] Experts Tell California Public Utilities Commission To Brace For Higher Electricity Rates

California’s push for green energy could be undermined and poorer households could shoulder a disproportionate share of growing electricity costs if the state fails to adapt to the changing energy landscape, according to experts testifying before the California Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

In a daylong virtual hearing on future electricity costs, energy professionals explained that the rates charged by private electric companies are expected rise faster than inflation over the next decade, as wildfire prevention measures and new infrastructure jack up expenses.

Currently, the typical electric bill in California is well below the national average for those charged by private utilities. But that’s largely because the state has the fourth lowest per capita use of utility-generated energy, thanks to energy efficiency and conservation, and because of the rising number of consumers who generate their own electricity with solar panels.

The rates themselves are well above average and projected to increase steadily. That could discourage residents from embracing electric cars and appliances, and leave low-income residents paying more than their share of fixed electricity costs.

Read More [[link removed]] Who Should Pay To Fix The Electric Grid?

A record-setting winter storm left many Texas households without power for days last week—and left those who did manage to get power stuck dividing a $50 billion electric bill, the product of a wild upward swing in wholesale power prices.

This is the gamble at the heart of a deregulated electricity market, in which companies compete to produce and sell electricity, as opposed to a monopoly system with rates fixed by regulators. In this kind of system, which covers about 60% of the US, consumers accept some price volatility in exchange for, in theory, lower rates and better service most of the time. Some types of retail contracts offer more insulation from wholesale price swings than others. But ultimately, all customers have to trust that the companies and officials running the grid will invest and plan in a way that will produce the greatest reliability at lowest cost.

The Texas example shows how ratepayers can be left holding the bag when that calculus doesn’t, or can’t, account for increasingly erratic extreme weather events. There are steps companies, policymakers, and homeowners can take to make the grid more reliable. They all cost money, and, one way or another, electricity consumers will end up with the tab. But a cleaner, more resilient grid could ultimately lower energy costs for everyone, many economists believe—if companies wise up about climate change and invest accordingly.

Read More [[link removed]] Will California's Desert Be Transformed Into Lithium Valley?

California’s desert is littered with remnants of broken dreams — hidden ghost towns, abandoned mines and rusty remains of someone’s Big Idea. But nothing looms larger on an abandoned landscape than the Salton Sea, which languishes in an overlooked corner of the state.

The water shimmers and broils in the desert like a rebuke: born of human error, made worse by 100 years of neglect and pollution. California’s largest lake is also one of its worst environmental blights, presenting a problem so inverted that its toxic legacy intensifies as its foul water disappears.

For generations, Imperial Valley residents have been breathing in a Periodic Table of minerals and metals, as well as agricultural chemicals. But for all the misery that these receding waters have unleashed — asthma and other respiratory ailments triggered by dust clouds — the Salton Sea now offers a potential way out: A bounty of lithium, called “white gold,” one of the planet’s most prized elements, used to manufacture batteries that power electric cars and drive a fossil-fuel-free future.

Read More [[link removed]] How Far Will Biden Go To Fix The Climate Crisis? Pay Attention To This Gas Project

A few days after Joe Biden claimed victory in the presidential election, a San Diego company quietly asked federal officials for permission to send 5 million tons of natural gas each year across the U.S.-Mexico border to an export terminal the company hopes to build along the Gulf of California.

The facility would be Sempra Energy’s second fossil fuel export plant in Mexico. The Biden administration’s decision could offer an early preview of how aggressively it will confront the climate crisis.

Biden campaigned on a promise to transition the electric grid to 100% clean power by 2035 and to put the entire economy on a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Some of his first executive actions were a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and a commitment to minimize pollution in communities of color.

But Biden has rejected calls to endorse a ban on fracking, the drilling technique that spurred extraction booms from New Mexico to Pennsylvania and helped make the United States the world’s largest producer of natural gas. And there are early indications his administration might look kindly on American companies eager to ship the abundant fuel overseas.

Read More [[link removed]] Will San Diego Step On The Gas With Its Green Growth Plan?

San Diego leaders are eying a massive “green growth” initiative that includes bustling new train stations and high-speed rail to usher in a boom in dense housing construction from Chula Vista to downtown San Diego and beyond.

This urban strategy is being sold as a win for the economy as well as the environment — in theory, encouraging hundreds of thousands of residents in coming decades to swap fossil-fuel-burning car trips for walking, biking and riding transit.

“This is an opportunity for job creation,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria told the Union-Tribune editorial board in January. “It’s an opportunity for meeting our climate goals.”

However, environmental groups say San Diego’s vision for growth isn’t as green as local politicians would have folks believe.

Activists argue it sidesteps one of the hottest battlefronts in the war against climate change: whether to hook up new buildings to natural gas or operate them exclusively with electricity.

Read More [[link removed]] This California City Banned The Construction Of Any New Gas Stations

In the California city of Petaluma, which covers less than 15 square miles, there are currently 16 gas stations. But there will never be another one, even if one of the existing stations goes out of business. The ones that are left also can’t ever expand the number of fuel pumps, either, though they can add electric charging stations and hydrocarbon pumps. City officials recently approved a permanent ban on new gas stations in a move that climate activists say is national first, and a crucial step towards curbing our reliance on fossil fuels.

“It’s a really important sign of things to come where, because we haven’t seen sufficient action at a state or federal level, cities have an opportunity to do the right thing and make sure we are planning a transition from a carbon economy to a clean energy economy,” says Matt Krogh, an oil and gas campaign manager with the environmental nonprofit “There’s no need to build new fossil fuel infrastructure of any sort. We have all the tools we need for a clean energy economy, and these wasted investments are things that are going to become polluting liabilities, and communities get left holding the bag.”

Across the country the number of gas stations has been steadily declining, as big businesses like Costo, Sam’s Club, and Safeway have been adding gas stations to their existing stores. This can run smaller gas stations out of business—but also creates large environmental repercussions. “If they go out of business, there’s no one to pay for the cleanup or to offer new services like transitioning to electric charging or hydrogen,” Krogh says.

Read More [[link removed]] Workforce Development Tens Of Thousands Of Community College Students Still Taking Unnecessary Remedial Classes

When Veronica Garcia entered community college in 2008 at City College of San Francisco, she had to start her math and English classes three tiers below the level students need to ultimately transfer into the University of California and California State University.

Once she cleared her remedial obligations, which took three years, Garcia passed both transfer-level math and English on her first attempts. She needed four years to finish her studies at the community college, eventually transferring to San Francisco State and earning her bachelor’s in two years.

“I never had a counselor or a mentor or anyone else tell me, no you’re capable of so much more,” she said of her time in community college, a trying period when she was raising two kids, caring for her sick mother, and juggling a full course load. The years in remedial classes pulled her from quality time with her loved ones. “There were just a lot of things that I missed out on.“

Garcia’s experience was one of countless tales that, coupled with lots of data showing the lack of efficacy of remedial classes, spurred the passage of a 2017 law that required community colleges to phase out remedial classes unless they could improve the classes or prove they were effective.

Read More [[link removed]] California Veteran Teachers Say They're Working Harder and Longer, Often With Little District Help

To those parents who perceive that teachers have had it easy during distance learning and put in a short day, veteran teachers surveyed have a reply: far from it. They told researchers last month that teaching remotely during the pandemic has presented an extremely difficult challenge, and most have never worked harder — an average of eight hours a week longer.

Nearly all agree, though, that the public doesn’t understand what teachers have been through and how hard it’s been to instruct and engage with students through a computer screen during a pandemic that has stressed them and their families.

“I am trying really hard to take it one day at a time,” reported an elementary teacher at a San Jose-Monterey area school with 61% low-income students. “I have gotten better at this mentality, but at the start of all this, there were many nights of crying, and many sleepless nights.”

The responses from 121 teachers statewide, asking them to evaluate their own teaching experiences and their ability to deliver remote instruction, are part of the latest installment of a survey project created by the California nonprofit Inverness Institute and education consultant Daniel Humphrey. EdSource is partnering to present the findings.

Read More [[link removed]] Most California Parents Worry About Their Young Children's Education Amid Pandemic

Almost three out of four California parents with children 5 and under are worried their education and development will suffer because of the pandemic, according to a survey released Thursday.

Adding to the stress and strain, more than half of parents from low-income communities and 40% of parents of color also said they are worried about money. In fact, more than a third of parents surveyed said they have skipped meals or had to cut back on food for the children as a result of the pandemic.

The survey of 600 California parents and caregivers for the nonprofit research and advocacy organization Education Trust-West found that the Covid-19 crisis continues to disrupt the well-being of families, from education and mental health to financial stability, leaving a lasting negative impact on parents and children.

“No one should have to skip a meal so that their children can eat,” said Mayra Alvarez, president of the Children’s Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy organization that collaborated on the survey. “The overall reaction (to the report) is sadness, recognizing how difficult it continues to be for California families across the board, particularly those with young children, particularly those in communities of color and those with low-income jobs. Low-income jobs that frankly are often on the front line of keeping our economy running.”

Read More [[link removed]] California Sets Priorities For Vaccination Of Teachers And School Employees

On Thursday, California health officials released a detailed roadmap with priorities for how and which school employees can get vaccines first, starting with those already back in-person and those with plans to return back to campus in about three weeks.

The number of vaccines that each school district or childcare organization receives will be determined by a formula that prioritizes districts with a high portion of low-income students, as well as those that have been hit hard by Covid-19.

The plan released by the California Department of Public Health this week was in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement that 10 percent of vaccines, or approximately 75,000 vaccines a week, would be reserved for teachers and other school staff beginning March 1. Until now, it was unclear how Newsom’s proposed allocation plan would be implemented.

Read More [[link removed]] Infrastructure and Housing Another Chance To Act On Housing

When he was running for governor three years ago, Gavin Newsom promised, rather absurdly, that he would spearhead a drive to build 3.5 million new housing units by 2025.

It was absurd because it would require California to escalate new construction from about 100,000 units a year to 500,000, which would be financially and physically impossible.

Once elected, Newsom backed away from that pledge, calling it “aspirational,” but he did attempt, a year ago, to once again focus attention on the state’s housing crisis by devoting nearly all of his State of the State address to it and the closely related homelessness issue.

Within weeks, however, his attention shifted to the Covid-19 pandemic and housing went on the Capitol’s back burner.

Meanwhile, California’s housing shortage has gotten significantly worse. This month, Newsom’s Department of Finance revealed that just 102,800 residential building permits were issued in 2020, down 8.8% from 2019’s total, which itself was a 3.8% drop from 2018.

Read More [[link removed]] Why It’s Good For San Francisco That Rents Dropped 29% to Multiyear Low. But They Haven’t Dropped Nearly Enough Yet

San Francisco has long lamented its “Housing Crisis,” a phenomenon where housing – whether rented or owned – is so ludicrously expensive that middle-class workers, even if there are two in the household, can no longer afford to live in San Francisco, or have to spend so much of their income on housing that they’re effectively poor in every other aspect, and cannot spend money on other things.

So now the market is responding to this phenomenon: More people are leaving, fewer people are coming in, vacancies are surging, and rents are sagging, amid a massive churn by tenants who move to similar apartments for a lot less and get “three months free,” or who chase after the “free upgrade” to nicer apartments.

The breath-taking downward spiral of the median asking rent of one-bedroom apartments continued in February, dropping to $2,650 a month, the lowest in years, down 24% from a year ago and down 29% from June 2019:

Read More [[link removed]] I'm Retiring As Head Of The Building Industry Association Of San Diego. Here's What I've Seen

When I leave my job as a housing advocate this summer, San Diegans’ access to housing they can afford will remain unresolved. A housing supply-based compromise is urgently required to unite those who fight over housing. Otherwise, our affordability crisis will simply worsen.

New home construction never recovered from the recession that ended in 2009. Our region issued 3,000 building permits that year for a population of 3 million. For the past six years, we averaged less than 10,000 new home permits a year. However, the San Diego Association of Governments says 21,500 new homes are needed annually over the next eight years to house the people already here.

The public’s attitude toward new housing represents an enigma for solving a housing supply crisis. Polling evidences opposite sentiments. On the one hand, most people oppose new housing, because it causes too much traffic and change is not welcome. On the other hand, everyone wants to pay less for housing, have options and be able to move to a better location.

Read More [[link removed]] Editorial and Opinion Cal/OSHA Needs To Require Employers To Promote And Provide Access To Vaccine

On Nov. 30, more than six months into the pandemic, California approved new standards to protect employees from COVID-19. Those standards include the implementation of a site-specific COVID-19 Prevention Program and the provision of face coverings.

The standards also require the provision of testing to exposed individuals and public notification of worksite-related outbreaks. Furthermore, employers are required to maintain records and report serious illnesses and deaths.

On Jan. 19, 2021, six weeks later, the Department of Industrial Relations posted a letter to California employers notifying them of those requirements. As a small-business owner, I received a letter more recently dated Feb. 16.

Currently the COVID-19 pandemic in California is on the decline likely due to a combination of increasing core population immunity due to the recent massive surge in December and January and the introduction of vaccinations.

Read More [[link removed]] Frivolous Lawsuits Prolong California’s Economic Recovery

Like the rest of the nation, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has ravaged California’s economy.

In 2020, millions of hardworking Californians went from having a steady income to collecting unemployment. The coronavirus lockdowns resulted in some local businesses being shut down permanently, taking the jobs and services they provided with them. With fewer jobs and fewer businesses in existence, California’s economy is suffering tremendously.

Over time, the lockdowns are ending. Businesses that can afford to reopen are doing so, and Californians have slowly gone back to work. The newly developed vaccines bring further hope that perhaps the pandemic-led suffering is coming closer to an end. And while this is a tremendous step toward recovery, a lot more must be done before our economy gets back on its feet.

In order for this to happen, California businesses must succeed.

Read More [[link removed]] What Policymakers And The Public Don't Understand About Reopening Schools

Teachers unions are under attack, as our well-founded concern for our students, their families, and yes, ourselves, is being portrayed as a political powerplay, or worse. Yet there are many problems with reopening which government officials, media commentators and the public don’t understand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends diagnostic testing and contact tracing, physical distancing, proper ventilation (generally requiring retrofitting) and compulsory masking, handwashing, cleaning – measures the American Federation of Teachers has called for since April.

I’ve taught for 20 years, in schools public and private, union and non-union, and anyone who thinks large urban schools can implement these rapidly and effectively is naïve. By the time they’re implemented and running smoothly, the school year will be ending.

Read More [[link removed]] Public Universities And Colleges Can Serve As Economic Engines To Drive Economy Out Of Pandemic Slump

Guadalupe Morales was a teenager when she became pregnant with her first child. She couldn’t afford a doctor and didn’t know what to do – until a friend recommended Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center where she could receive her prenatal care at no charge.

Today, as general manager of UCLA’s Bruin Plate, Morales is giving back to the place that cared for her. She is helping prepare some 13,000 ready-to-eat meals each week that the Venice Family Clinic then distributes for free to its patients in need.

This novel partnership is keeping UCLA dining staff working in their areas of expertise as demand for their services dropped because most students were no longer on campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges, California’s public colleges and universities have launched new initiatives, like the UCLA-Venice Family Clinic Emergency Food Partnership, to keep their staffs employed and tried innovative approaches to keep students educated.

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