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Bear Essentials: "Dreaming about ways to keep out the newcomers behind them"

June 2, 2023

“And I’m proud to be a Californian…”

  • People are leaving San Francisco, and many of them are rich
  • Like a Good Neighbor State Farm is gone
  • The age of Climate Optimists 

Paradise, Parking Lots, and a Berkeley Backyard

In a captivating New York Times Magazine piece, Daniel Duane examines the historical and current socio-political divide unfolding across countless California cities through the lens of his childhood neighborhood adjacent the North Berkeley BART station, which now stands on the precipice of a housing crisis-driven paradigm shift that few saw coming.

"Ever since the Gold Rush, an endless stream of newcomers have been settling down in this beautiful place, falling in love with it and dreaming about ways to keep out the newcomers behind them," Duane writes. He leads readers on a poignant and moving journey through Berkeley's activist history, a twisting, multigenerational loop in which the YIMBY’s have seized the moral high ground amidst the state's grinding housing crisis.

Reflecting on his idyllic Berkeley childhood filled with charming homes, front-yard flowers and a thriving middle-class society, Duane artfully skewers the nostalgia with the sad reality of our current dynamic: “There's just something inescapably painful about an economy that makes this impossible for all but the superrich — a place where a vast majority of local children know they will have to leave as soon as they grow up.”


🤫 Everything you should know

- Not even the rich are sticking around in San Francisco. The Chronicle looked at IRS data of San Franciscans who relocated and found that those in the highest income brackets didn’t just leave the city, they fled the state. “Nearly 770 households with average annual incomes of $574,000 moved to Travis County, Texas, which includes the city of Austin. Another 439 households with average incomes of $368,000 changed to a Miami-Dade County, Florida, address.” If they could afford housing in SF (which is listed as the top reason for the California Exodus), why did they leave? We’re not sure but California gets the majority of its tax revenue from its richest residents. If those people are leaving the state, it hurts the state’s pocketbook and is all-around bad for the economy. - San Francisco Chronicle

- State Farm is not writing new California homeowners insurance policies, and this follows Allstate’s pause on taking new California customers. State Farm mentioned, first and foremost, “historic increases in construction costs” along with “rapidly growing catastrophe exposure and a challenging reinsurance market.” The cost of building in California is too high which gives homeowners fewer options and will likely drive up costs. The state could step in to insure more of these dwellings but it could also legislate to bring down the cost of building, like reducing fees related to CEQA, so insurance companies can meet the needs of customers without breaking the bank. - ABC10

- No bones about it, we had a wet winter. Your perception on the out-of-the-ordinary rainfall and its impact on the future of California is based on which political party you call home. A new poll from UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times asked Californians about the state’s weather and extreme climate events – which we’ve recently seen almost every year. Ninety-one percent of Democrats feared extreme weather would get worse in the coming years, compared to only 28 percent of Republicans. We’re all experiencing this rainfall and seeing the wildfires, but Democrats and Republicans differ in how they see it impacting the future of the state. This is important, since those most worried about California’s extreme weather events could move elsewhere. Beyond the fear or complacency, our state can take steps to mitigate extreme climate events – like maintaining forests and upgrading the electrical grid. The next phase of the response to the climate crisis should be Climate Optimists, those who understand the danger and feel empowered that the state has a solution. - LA Times

😎 Wow, that’s a lot of logos

We won’t stop talking about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to speed up infrastructure building in California. Check out this letter from 88 organizations who are dedicated to passing the legislative package to boost infrastructure building and get even more federal funding.

🐣 It’s a Baby Condor!

California condors are considered critically endangered, with only about 500 currently alive. Habitat loss, power lines, DDT and other manmade perils have reduced their population which once dipped to just 22 birds in the 80’s. Well, it’s time to celebrate with the birth of a California condor in Pinnacles National Park in Central California. Nature is healing. See a grainy but cute video of the new Californians here.

💦 Get Wet

SoCal reigns supreme when it comes to water parks and SFGate put together a definitive list of where you can cool off this summer. It’s fun and worth checking out.

Image of scientists climbing a Sequoia treet.

❓Three Questions with Matt Regan

This week we spoke with Matt Regan, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Bay Area Council, and lover of all things data and California.

What is one thing you love about California?

What’s not to love? Today, I walked my dog 3 miles in a local open space. It’s God’s country.

Are you optimistic about California’s future?

Yes, anybody who has made a long-term bet against California has lost. We are good at engineering our way out of problems we create for ourselves.

What’s your advice for young Californians who may not see a future for themselves in the state?

Get engaged. Complaining and sitting on the sidelines doesn’t do anybody any good. Get involved in local politics. Nobody cares what you say on Twitter.

🐦 "Ghost lake" nearly the size of Tahoe

“California’s ghost lake, Tulare Lake, is now nearly the size of Lake Tahoe as it reaches peak size.

At its widest point the lake is over 20 miles across.”

Image of scientists climbing a Sequoia treet.