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Bear Essentials: Dead rats and angry TV dads

April 28, 2023

What a week! There’s a lot of optimism on housing and elation at the demise of a job-killing bill, AB 1000. It’s been a colorful week in California, so let’s get to it 👇

  • Newsom sends the calvary to San Francisco to combat fentanyl crisis
  • How California compares to other states when it comes to housing permits
  • Billions from Bosch to create semiconductors in Roseville


Housing for me but not for thee: the ballad of La Cañada Flintridge

Blessed are those who attempt to build multifamily or affordable housing in affluent California communities, for they may receive rodent corpses in the mail, or provoke the ire of Michael J. Fox’s former TV dad. And while an unexpected dead rat on your doorstep is certainly unwelcome, the latter is uniquely ironic. One would think that the man who played erstwhile Berkeley radical Steven Keaton would be a little more welcoming to newcomers. Alas…

So goes the story of the wealthy community of La Cañada Flintridge, nestled north of Los Angeles between the Verdugo and San Gabriel mountains.

“For decades the city developed a reputation as being fiercely anti-development in a conflict that came down on clear ideological lines: quality of life versus free market capitalism,” writes the LA Times’ Jack Flemming. “To the slow-growthers, the foes were developers trying to get rich at the town's expense.

“But the current fight — over the future of a 1.29-acre lot holding an aging Christian Science church building at 600 Foothill Blvd. — has pitted them against a harder group to demonize, those trying to get people into desperately needed affordable housing.”

Flemming’s story takes readers on a winding NIMBY joyride replete with lawsuits, protests, recriminations, and the aforementioned expired rodent. With Gross returning in his best starring role since Family Ties ended its run in 1989, it’s well worth a read, especially set to the right background music.

Read the story

🤫 Everything you should know

- Governor Newsom’s impressive team of California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, San Francisco PD and the city’s district attorney are banning together to stop fentanyl trafficking in San Francisco. Around 450 people died from fentanyl overdose in San Francisco in 2022, and the city had the the “second-highest overdose rate in the nation along with the second-highest death rate from fentanyl overdose in 2020.” The Tenderloin district is ground zero for fentanyl dealing and deaths, and this new multi-agency collaboration is looking to rehabilitate the area by stopping traffickers. SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins thanked the Governor for his work to “address open-air drug dealing and improve public safety.” Fentanyls scourge has transformed SF and this response is appropriate albeit a little late. - & NPR

- If you want to dip your toe into becoming an expert on permitting and CEQA, we recommend this piece written by the San Francisco Chronicle this week. It compares housing permits issued by California to other states and finds we are behind most states. But why? Experts clearly ID’d the culprit of lagging housing permits. “California’s environmental law is often misused to delay housing projects by forcing a lengthy review process, deterring home production in the state.” If we can identify the problem (CEQA delays suppressing home building), we can find a solution and actually get housing built in California which will bring down the cost of living. - San Francisco Chronicle

- The EV revolution will be built in California…well, partially. German conglomerate, Bosch, purchased Roseville’s TSI Semiconductors and will “retool” the facility to make silicon carbide chips. This is big news for the region which will get a piece of the pie as California and the world works to transition to EVs. Bosch will invest $1.5 billion into converting the factory so it suits their needs, and the company projects it will be up and running at the Roseville plant in 2026. Vice President Harris even commented on the purchase and investment saying, “This $1.5 billion investment will bring down costs, strengthen our electric vehicle supply chain, help rebuild American manufacturing and create economic opportunity for the working families of California.” Cool, more of this. - The Sacramento Bee

🌊 Only in California

A very special visitor graced the coast of Los Angeles: A white orca named Frosty! White-ish in pigmentation, scientists suspect the orca has a rare autoimmune disorder that gives it a special hue. Watch this enchanting video on Instagram of the entire pod, captured by @jayxlamar.

❓Three questions

This week we’re talking to Pat Fong Kushida, President and CEO of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce and the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the board of the NCC. Pat is an entrepreneur who is set on helping businesses succeed in California.

1. What’s one thing you love about California?

What I love about California is our ability to innovate and create. We’re the 4th largest economy in the world. What we have here is a lot of very talented people who are creating and innovating. The work of the NCC is so important because a lot of firsts happen here in California, which reverberates and creates domestic and global opportunities but we run the risk of not setting the right policy framework and that’s going to start inhibiting that sort of innovation- thinking.

2. What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a business in California but they’re worried about being able to succeed?

I hear over and over again how difficult our regulatory environment is for business. I believe the role that we can all play is holding our policymakers and elected officials accountable for the kind of policies that impact those trying to start, to retain and grow their businesses. I think policymakers have taken our business community for granted because we have created so many new businesses and new technologies. Just under 90% of our economy is run on the backs of small businesses. If we truly believe that these businesses are important and essential to the fabric of our economy,  we must develop policies to help these businesses retain and grow.

3. Are you optimistic about California’s future and why?

We have some very talented people who are creating and innovating in our state. What happens here reverberates and creates domestic and global opportunities for everyone. I'm optimistic that California will continue to be the benchmark for the world. But we need to think about how to do that even better and be more intentional with a policy framework that doesn’t inhibit growth and innovation.

💡 Speaking out for CEQA modernization

We are planting our flag and calling for CEQA modernization – this year. “Future of California at risk the longer landmark CEQA environmental law remains unchanged” is the latest piece from NCC co-leaders, Tracy Hernandez and Jim Wunderman. If we want to reach our goals of building 2.5 million homes and updating our water infrastructure, California must reform and modernize CEQA.

🦃 Post for thought

Sierra Club using CEQA to stop a solar farm. After three rounds of lawsuits, the final project is less than a third of the planned size. How is cutting renewable energy good for the environment? It’s not. That’s the hypocrisy of CEQA.