California is at an inflection point and it’s time for a change. Despite a booming tech industry that is generating the biggest state budget surpluses in history, everyday Californians are finding it harder and harder to get by. Whether in the form of soaring housing and rent costs, or the exploding homelessness crisis, spiraling property crime, and devastating effects of out of control fire and drought; our beautiful and cherished state is becoming unlivable for the middle and working class.
Meanwhile, the boom fueling this state’s juggernaut economy balances on a knife’s edge, with more and more businesses headed for the exits.
Yet these are all solvable problems compared with the drain of our biggest resource: hope. From the first 49ers who came to California with dreams of gold, to burgeoning stars drawn to Hollywood in search of fame, the essence of California is the hope and opportunity it has represented for generations of dreamers. From farmers to scientists, mountaineers to entertainers and everyone in between – California is defined by its ability to turn hope into reality.
Building new housing, developing new sources of energy and water, and building a California for the 21st Century should be an exciting challenge that brings out the best in the state’s vibrant population. But instead, our politics are driving everyday Californians to despair.
Elected officials across the state, from cities to state government to national officials, are being held hostage by political extremes who monopolize their primaries, fundraising, and media audiences. Hope for common sense solutions has become lost in the noise of these groups shouting over each other.
And ultimately, nothing gets done.
This isn’t a problem for one part of the state or one group of people to solve. From Los Angeles to the Valley, from Redding to the Bay; common sense voters are losing hope, because they don’t have a voice, or power, or a place in our politics.
Until we restore our current political imbalance, and give actual power to common sense voters who value problem solving over ideological puritanism, the California Dream will continue to slip away.
Since 1980, housing construction has stalled in California but our population has exploded. Home buying is out of reach and rents are going up every year. We must ramp up home building to meet the needs of residents and bring down the cost of living.
California accounts for 28% of the country’s entire homeless population and more than 50% of the unsheltered homeless individuals. The homeless population in the Bay Area has grown four times faster than the overall regional population since 2010.
The homicide rate rate for some of California’s largest cities – Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco – increased by about 17% in 2021; and none of these even approach the overall per capita crime rates of places like Stockton, San Bernardino, Compton, and Richmond. Californians across the state report feeling unsafe as one of their biggest concerns and reasons why the Golden State is becoming increasingly unlivable.
Every year we see fires spread larger and watering restrictions become more severe, but the response to address climate change and resource consumption remains single minded and half hearted: consume less gas and use less water. California cannot survive without better water management and climate mitigation. From desalination to clean energy sources like solar, wind, green hydrogen, biomass, or geothermal – there are common sense solutions that already exist if our leaders invested in building rather than political jockeying and finger pointing.
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In a nutshell, the extremes of the far-right and far-left —who value ideological purity above all and do not tolerate dissent or differences in opinion — became the only audible political voices in the state. People who want to work together, who value pragmatism, who are results-driven and reject these extremes — have been shut out.
The extremes lead us to finger pointing, bad-faith dealing and inaction, they blind us to common sense solutions to the problems that are right in front of us. By embracing a bold non-partisanship, and fostering a movement based on celebrating common sense pragmatism, shared values and an optimism about the future instead of extremism and ideology, we can build a California that actually works for the people and delivers the real solutions we need now.