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April 26th Bear Essentials: Yes, we are getting high-speed rail to Vegas

April 26, 2024

Must-read report shows Fresno County’s Latinos aren’t seeing prosperity and we’re challenging our readers to think about solutions. Let’s start with building housing and creating jobs… We’re also celebrating the groundbreaking of the Brightline West from SoCal to Vegas and a new land-use program aimed at combating climate change.

But first…


Nearly half of Riverside, California households are struggling with basic expenses, with about 33% facing difficulties in paying energy bills over the past year, a Census Bureau survey reveals. Riverside, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, tops the financial stress chart among the 15 largest U.S. metro areas. Notably, one in seven Riverside residents reported inadequate food availability at home within a week. This financial strain coincides with a slowing warehousing industry, a local unemployment rate of 5.5% — above the national average — and inflation rates higher than the rest of the country. Among Riverside respondents to the survey, 44% reported difficulty paying for normal household expenses, a rate nearly 10% higher than in nearby Los Angeles. It’s a troubling economic story to be sure, but it’s also another example of how we are failing our Latino residents, who make up more than 55% of Riverside’s population.


🤫 Everything you should know

- The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute Latino Data Hub released a data brief about employment, homeownership and poverty rates among Fresno County’s Latino population and the data is a gut-punch: nearly 1 in 4 Latinos in Fresno County live in poverty. Senior research analyst at UCLA LPPI and report co-author Misael Galdámez wrote: “The data speaks resolutely: growth and struggle coexist within Fresno County’s Latino community. We encourage Fresno County representatives to use these findings to make needed policy changes that empower the Latino community and unlock Fresno County’s full potential.” The report clearly shows the California dream is out of reach for too many Latinos — the fastest growing demographic in the state. How can we turn these trends around? The NCC is focused on making California more affordable by building housing, creating jobs, and unlocking the state’s potential for millions who are struggling in the middle and lower socioeconomic classes. UCLA

- Gov. Newsom is pushing for a dramatic rethink of California's land use with his "Nature-Based Solutions" initiative. The ambitious strategy aims to reshape millions of acres to combat climate change, curb wildfires, and safeguard water resources, aligning with the state's carbon neutrality goals by 2045. The plan, divided into 81 specific targets, encompasses controlled burns, new biodiversity reserves, and the creation of Dos Rios State Park in Stanislaus County. Although costs remain undefined, Newsom's team is collaborating with state legislators to secure funding through upcoming spending bills. Los Angeles Times

- Last week’s Bear Essentials delved into our electric grid, noting moments when renewables fully power it and new plans for energy storage. Today, two reports highlight the obstacles without transitioning to a sustainable grid. One study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates California needs to invest up to $20 million to upgrade the grid for a surge in EV demand, targeting 25 gigawatts of capacity. Another issue is energy loss from rapid solar panel installations without adequate storage, leading to 2.4 million megawatt-hours wasted in 2022 alone. Speeding toward a zero-carbon future will require Herculean upgrades to our grid and storage systems that we’re all still waiting on. Washington Post

🧑‍💼 Cities Can’t Ignore The Homelessness Crisis Any Longer

Governor Newsom is pledging to go after cities that are lagging behind on addressing the homelessness crisis. “I’m not interested in funding failure any longer, was Newsom’s terse message. His administration is giving cities more resources but that will come with accountability. A state audit released last week found that $24 billion was set aside to tackle homelessness over the past five years, but we have no clear data on the results from this massive spending. Newsom said the cities and counties that receive the money must produce more data. NBC Bay Area

🏗️ Brightline West Broke Ground

Thanks to an injection of cash from the federal government and action from state legislators who finally sped up the process, the Brightline West rail from Rancho Cucamonga to Las Vegas broke ground this week, with plans to be ready in time for the LA Summer Olympics in 2028. Next up, high-speed rail through the Central Valley! ABC 7

💞 Fish Don’t Need Bumble

When you are swiping on your dating apps you might have noticed a suspicious lack of fish looking for love, that’s because the grunion has a designated mating spot along the shore in San Pedro. The grunion beach themselves on purpose in one of the oddest mating rituals we’ve heard of. ABC 10

❌ Coastal Commission Disappoints Once Again

The Coastal Commission continues to amaze California with its absurd rulings on infrastructure, like requiring additional parking in order to maintain outdoor dining that was likely set up during the pandemic. It would be wonderful to have a development agency with the environment and humans’ best interests in mind.


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