Almost Daily Briefing
Local News Roundup for #Lafayette, California
Three-Alarm Fire Consumes Office Building On Lafayette Circle Thursday
About 50 firefighters and officers battled a fast-moving 3-alarm structure fire at Lafayette Circle and Whitten Lane Thursday morning, an office cluster housing the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, La Finestra restaurant as well as nine other local businesses.
This Lafayette home at 21 Chapel Dr. is perched precariously on top of a landslide and appears to be on the verge of falling off a cliff.
Crews respond to fire in Moraga
A structure caught fire Friday morning in Moraga, a dispatcher with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said.
Group will visit Lennar-Five Point’s housing developments in San Francisco and San Ramon.
Oakland Strives to Rejuvenate Economically by Becoming California's Cannabis Capital," by Entrepreneur's Andre Bourque: "The birthplace of the Black Panther Party in 1966, today's Oakland is home to another disruptive movement: cannabis. Some call Oakland the cannabis capital of California. Can it sustain that designation against Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco? And, is it a designation the population enjoys? Well...the city and its relationship with weed goes way back and it looks like recent legislation may just cement it. Story.
California lawmakers delay climate change vote amid push for affordable housing (Los Angeles Times)
While conversations over climate change have dominated recent debate at the Capitol, California lawmakers are accelerating bills to address the state’s housing affordability crisis, and may vote on a series of measures before they break for summer recess next Friday. The move comes after progressive Democrats in the Assembly balked at approving an extension to cap and trade, the state’s landmark program to fight climate change, without also addressing housing problems. Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) announced a cap-and-trade deal Monday that would strengthen the state’s air quality rules and extend through 2030 the program that forces businesses to pay to pollute. The three had hoped for a vote late Thursday to comply with a new rule approved by voters requiring legislation to be publicly available for 72 hours before final action is taken. De León and Rendon said in a joint statement Wednesday that moving the vote to Monday will avoid a late-night floor debate and “will also allow our discussion on long-term housing affordability solutions in California to catch up to the climate effort.”
CA affordable housing bills benefiting in political dealing over cap and trade (Southern California Public Radio)
California's proponents of affordable housing say they've never been so bullish about making a dent in the housing crisis as in the current legislative session. Votes are planned Monday in Sacramento on a large package of housing bills expected to include millions of dollars in subsidies for low-income housing and policy changes to encourage the production of affordable housing. Gov. Jerry Brown has opposed housing subsidies in the past, preferring to push along development by easing regulations. But now Brown needs legislators' help to extend for another 10 years the state’s cap-and-trade program that collects money from polluting companies. "Cap and trade — because it’s urgent and needs to happen — provided us with an opportunity in our negotiations with the governor," said state Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica). A vote on the cap-and-trade program is also planned for Monday. California is in the midst of a growing and crippling housing crisis, with some of the highest home prices and rents in the country. Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco count among the cities with the least affordable housing in the state.
Want more affordable homes? Fix CEQA, state tax policies and NIMBY zoning (Modesto Bee)
California leads the world in technology, agriculture and entertainment. But we lack the political will to build the housing we need. A recent McKinsey report showed that from 2009 to 2014, California added 308 housing units for every 1,000 new residents – half the rate of New York. As a result, housing costs have increased at nearly 2.5 times the national average, and almost half of renters – including the poor and young Californians starting families – spend more than 35 percent of their incomes on housing. Average rents of $2,936 in San Jose and $3,809 in San Francisco are driving away the young workers and new families businesses need to thrive and cities need to stay vibrant. Though California is in desperate need of housing, more than two-thirds of coastal communities have adopted growth-limiting measures. This needs to change. There are three concrete steps we can take to provide the housing California needs. First, local governments should zone scarce land for housing rather than commercial developments. When Prop. 13 passed in 1978 it limited the amount of money cities can collect in property taxes. Since 90 percent of revenues had come from property taxes, mayors and city managers had to scramble to find new revenues sources. Most cities have become dependent on a 1 percent sales tax from retail businesses, hotel taxes and utility taxes. So every city in the state has an incentive to zone for Walmarts and new car dealerships rather than new houses.
Prop. 13 property tax reform could boost housing affordability, experts say (San Diego Union Tribune)
With housing inventories at a historic low, real estate leaders are proposing to amend Proposition 13 to give homeowners a tax break when they sell and thus generate more supply and reduce pressure on prices. The change would apply to the 1978 tax-reduction measure and appear on the November 2018 if the Legislature agrees or via a ballot initiative that the California Association of Realtors is considering. For long-time homeowners, the break could mean thousands of dollars of lower property taxes when they move up or downsize. State and local governments also could benefit if there is more turnover that boosts overall tax collection. The idea was one of many steps discussed at a Thursday news conference, called by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. The event was pegged to a new study by both organizations that shows San Diego County’s local governments are approving only half the homes needed to keep up with population and job growth.
Climate change talks provide ‘tension’ for housing deal, California lawmaker says (Sacramento Bee)
California lawmakers are hoping to reach a deal to address the state’s widening housing crisis next week, and negotiations could be tied to the cap-and-trade extension sought by Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic leaders of both houses hinted Wednesday. Postponing the climate bill vote until Monday will “allow our discussion on long-term housing affordability solutions in California to catch up to the climate effort,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement. Brown’s office declined to disclose details of housing discussions underway, only saying they are “productive and ongoing.” Lawmakers also remain tight-lipped about specific timing and policy details, but those entrenched in the housing debate are hoping that a legislative package could come together as soon as next week.
Family making $138,000 could qualify for 'middle income' housing if new S.F. rule passes (San Francisco Business Times)
A new measure being considered by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors would allow families of at least two people earning less than $138,400 to qualify for middle-income affordable housing when buying a home in the city. The rule would not apply to families looking to rent in S.F. Those looking for similar housing to rent would need to earn close to $105,000, which is 30 percent of the city's current median income. "Under the city's previous policy, last updated in 2002, only those who earned 55 percent of the typical San Francisco median household income or less were able to utilize the option to buy affordable housing, per ABC," the San Francisco Chronicle reports."With the new proposal, families of at least two who are together earning up to 150 percent of San Francisco's median income can take advantage of that amendment." The Board of Supervisors haven't yet passed the new guideline, which is based on the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development median salary data, but could approve them as soon as their next meeting.
California pension fund beats earnings target for first time in three years (Sacramento Bee)
California’s main public pension fund beat its official investment forecast over the past 12 months, ending a two-year stretch of disappointing earnings. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System rode a strong year in the stock market and private equity investments to earn a return rate of 11.2 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the pension fund announced Friday morning. That’s about double what CalPERS had expected to earn this year. It’s also a marked improvement over the previous year, when CalPERS’ investment return rate was .61 percent. In the budget year that ended in June 2015, CalPERS’ investment return rate was 2.4 percent. This year’s high returns were celebrated by lawmakers and labor groups who have been pressured to answer for CalPERS’ steep unfunded liability. CalPERS, which manages about $323 billion in assets, now has about 68 percent of the funds it would need if it had to pay all of the benefits it owes to retirees and public workers. “Stronger than anticipated returns from CalPERS show that smart investing and strong oversight are a successful approach. While the system is not fully funded, these returns will have a positive impact over the long-term status of the system,” said Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Chino, chairman of a committee that oversees CalPERS. The pension fund in December acknowledged that it had been earning lower-than-expected returns when it ratcheted down the so-called discount rate it charges to public agencies. Previously, CalPERS assumed it would average 7.5 percent annual returns over time; it voted to lower the projection to 7 percent. As a result, it’s beginning to charge the state and local governments that belong to it more money to fund the pensions of their retirees and employees.
Big student debt without a job? Trump blocks California's fight against predatory colleges," by SacBee's Alexei Koseff: "Students who rack up debt attending for-profit colleges were supposed to get some additional protections this month. If their school was found to have misled them into borrowing money to attend, a new rule would have simplified the process for seeking loan forgiveness ... But last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos abruptly announced that she would postpone the change and seek a 'regulatory reset.'" Story
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck tells Senate Democrats 'all of us are less safe' with more aggressive immigration enforcement," by LATimes' Sarah D. Wire: "Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told Democratic senators Thursday that increased random enforcement of immigration laws has caused fewer people to call 911, report crimes and come forward as witnesses." Story
California water bill passes House, but Democrats vow to fight it in the Senate," by LATimes' Sarah D. Wire: "Some of California's decisions about how to use its water would be relegated to the federal government under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday. Republicans say the bill will bring more water to the parched Central Valley. California's Democratic senators have promised to fight the bill in the Senate because it weakens California's ability to manage its own resources. Story.
California still faces big cuts under revised Senate health bill," by SFChronicle's Catherine Ho: "The revised Senate health care bill released by Republicans on Thursday largely maintains the same dramatic cuts in federal Medicaid spending and premium subsidies as the previous version of the proposal - changes that experts say would lead to millions of poor Californians losing some benefits or paying more for insurance. Story.
Trump has effectively made Mattis commander-in-chief. Don't complain." by SacBee's by Robin Umberg and Thomas J. Umberg: "Civilian control over the military has largely been relegated to one individual, the president. We have relied upon him to make rational choices in our nation's interest. Sadly, we are reminded on a near-daily basis that we cannot rely on our current commander-in-chief to make rational choices. Story.
Guns, bathroom bills, deportation: Is Texas safe for my California kid?" by SacBee's Shawn Hubler: "Not long after California officially banned state-funded travel to Texas this summer, we awoke in a hotel there, behind enemy lines." Story
L.A. took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back," by LATimes' Louis Sahagun: "A century ago, agents from Los Angeles converged on the Owens Valley on a secret mission. They figured out who owned water rights in the lush valley and began quietly purchasing land, posing as ranchers and farmers... But now, the Owens Valley is trying to rectify this dark moment in its history. Officials have launched eminent domain proceedings in an effort to take property acquired by Los Angeles in the early 1900s. Story.
Tax cuts for power companies offered in Jerry Brown's climate plan," by SacBee's Jim Miller: "Until this week, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has resisted proposals to extend an existing sales and use tax break for manufacturers... The administration has also gone to great lengths to preserve a fire prevention charge on thousands of residents in the state's rural areas. State lawyers have battled fee opponents in court for several years. That was then. Story.
Why two California lawmakers aren't giving up on universal health care," by SacBee's Taryn Luna: "Toni Atkins grew up without health insurance in a "crossroads out in the middle of nowhere." ... Atkins, now a Democratic state senator from San Diego, firmly believes health care coverage should be a right for everyone. She and Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, tried to make that a reality in California this year and failed. Story.
Is the top of the California ticket finally out of reach for Republicans?" by Garry South in SacBee: "In the 2018 election for governor of California, surprised voters might well find only two Democrats to choose from in the general election - which would be a historical first in a governor's race. Why? Because the sorely depleted California Republican Party may not be able to come up with a candidate who can make the runoff in the state's top-two primary process. Story.
California's voter turnout gap grows, and could hurt Democrats," by CALmatters' Dan Walters: "The last three California election cycles demonstrated that at the political margins, voter turnout can have a major impact... The ups and downs largely stemmed from the fact that Democrats did well in presidential election years, when voter turnout is high, and relatively poorly in non-presidential "off years," when turnout is markedly lower. Story.
It's Not True that Marijuana Dispensaries Increase Crime, Say Researchers," via Insurance Journal: "A new study published in the July issue of the Journal of Urban Economics finds that contrary to popular belief, medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) reduce crime in their immediate areas. Story.
Scenes of 'zombie apocalypse' left in the path of California wildfires," by LATimes' Meg Bernhard: Story.
Officials: Air Canada plane flew for a quarter-mile over taxiway before anyone noticed," by BANG's Matthias Gafni. Story.
Price to take a hike: Seniors race to buy National Parks passesm" by SFGate's Steve Rubenstein. Story.
Draft audit: Taxpayers owed for Levi's Stadium games, event," by Mercury News' Ramona Giwargis: Story.
Our current bail system is indefensible, but the bill that aims to fix it needs work," by LATimes' George Skelton. Story.
Oakland sex scandal: Judge says city must respond to report within two months or face sanction," by East Bay Times' David Debolt. Story.
Report: Orange County DA investigation couldn't corroborate key allegations against Supervisor Todd Spitzer," by OCRegister's Tony Saavedra and Jordan Graham. Story.
Without water lifeline, tiny town on Santa Cruz coast is running dry," by SFChronicle's Lizzie Johnson. Story.
THAT OTHER LAFAYETTE
Activist groups in Lafayette are making a push for unity and equality in the community.
AND FINALLY. . .
The Almost Daily Briefing is an aggregation of links to news articles from local and regional newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and other internet sources. Its purpose is to alert readers to current issues and affairs that may impact Lafayette. The Almost Daily Briefing does not promote, favor, disfavor, support, reject, or endorse any position, candidate, campaign, or proposition, and nothing about the Daily Briefing, including the selection, presentation, arrangement, or content of the links presented should be construed as an advocacy position.
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