Bear Essentials: Stay safe from Sacramento turkeys
April 21, 2023
Spring has sprung and we’re celebrating Friday. We hope you get to duck out a little early and enjoy the sunshine. Here’s the knews you need to know 👇
- Should part of LA’s Verdugo Hills be developed into 221 more homes or left untouched?
- Governor Gavin Newsom puts some money behind three desalination projects
- The pendulum is swinging as legislators fight for harsher shoplifting penalties
California Isn’t Special
No one wants “California-style” housing prices. But the state’s policies are not unique.
The housing crisis in California has become a cautionary tale for the rest of the nation, with states like Montana seeking to avoid a similar fate by proposing reforms to legalize duplexes and triplexes. This narrative of "California-style" zoning as the root of housing woes is gaining traction, but it masks a critical truth: the problem isn't at all unique to California.
As The Atlantic’s Jerusalem Desmas writes this week, exclusionary zoning is a pervasive issue in America, driven by fear and a resistance to change. Both blue and red localities have a penchant for single-family homes and a hostility towards density. It’s not just the Golden State.
“Population growth spurred California’s economic growth,” Desmas writes. “But as people flocked to the state, cities and suburbs refused to change the built environment to accommodate these newcomers. From 2010 to 2020, the state permitted (not built—just permitted) one home for every 2.54 jobs it added. In this, it did lead the country. Utah had the next-worst ratio: It permitted one home for every 1.57 jobs.”
Although the thrust of Desmas’ story is an indictment of American zoning laws at large — and a cautionary tale for upstart cities failing to accommodate demand — it’s worth noting that the future generally happens in California first, and we’re working to forge a new era of smarter land use and permitting reforms.
Given a choice, California is preferable to many (most?) American states. That’s a big reason why we’re the fourth largest economy in the world. We simply need to make sure we can accommodate everyone who wants to live, work and thrive here.
🤫 Because every Californian should know this
- We’ve seen this story before: Developer waits 18 years to build and faces a small, angry group of NIMBYs who are hell-bent on stopping it. The details this time involve the City of Los Angeles’ Verdugo Hills where 221 homes are set to be built, unless the 165,000 petition-signing objectioners win. Even though the project was approved by the City Council in 2005, the opposition is saying fire risk has increased and wildlife should be considered once again – and a new environmental impact report should be produced. That would certainly put the project over its 20-year time cap and ultimately squash it for good. Why such a big fight over 221 homes? People love their nature and it’s all worth fighting to the death over, even if it means adding fuel to the state’s housing crisis. - LA Times
- Desal funding FTW. As we are still wrapping our heads around the prospect of the federal government cutting California’s access to the Colorado River, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $5 million in funding for desalination projects in Torrance, Fresno County and near the City of Fort Bragg. Some back of the napkin math makes clear that $5M is a drop in the bucket considering what construction of a desalination plant requires (upwards of $140 million). This is a very small part of Proposition 1 grants which authorizes the California Department of Water Resources to award $372.5 million to “that help meet the long-term water needs of the state.” That’s an impressive chunk of change, and now we need regulators to invest it fast to greenlight projects that protect California’s water future. - CA.gov
- We’ve all seen the shocking videos of dozens of people rushing a retailer and running out the door like it’s Supermarket Sweep. Legislators are trying to address this theft epidemic by rejiggering the legal code and making repeat shoplifting offenses a felony. Bipartisan AB 1708 “would allow either a felony or misdemeanor charge for any person who has two or more convictions for theft-related offenses and who is subsequently convicted of petty theft.” This legislation would reverse part of Proposition 47, which classified property theft of $1,000 or less as a misdemeanor. Will harsher penalties stop rampant shoplifting that’s plaguing California? - ABC 7
👩💻 An early adopter of the web
The state of California, the government more precisely, launched their first website in 1996. Here’s a screenshot of the homepage with that snazzy custom license plate header. Frankly, we like the slimmed down style and clear “How May We Help You?” approach to the ca.gov of yesteryear.
Hear from Luis Portillo, President and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and an NCC Board Member.
What’s one thing you love about California?
The diversity of places in our state. We have pretty much everything: beaches, mountains, forests, suburban, urban. I have always liked the variety California has to offer.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to stay in California but feels like they’re being priced out of the housing market?
I would say start early. There’s a temptation to wait until you find the perfect home. If you rent but can afford a condo, make that leap and buy one. Sell it in a couple years. You’ll pay down the loan, it will likely appreciate in value, and you can sell it in a couple of years. Don’t necessarily feel like you have to have your dream house as your first house.
Are you optimistic about California’s future and why?
I’m hopeful. It’s a beautiful state. There are always people flocking to California who can afford to come here. I’m hopeful if we address these fundamental issues like homeownership and cost of living, we can make it affordable for a wider range of people. Friends are moving away, people’s kids are moving out of state because they can’t afford it. As more people see that we need to solve these issues to make it more affordable, I know our state will become a more equitable place.
💡 The More You Know...
According to a 2022 report by the Center for Jobs & the Economy, CEQA lawsuits challenged the development of around 50% of all housing units built in California in 2020 — around 47,999 total. With our goal of building over 2 million units, we can’t delay and potentially stop half of all projects because of an outdated and harmful set of rules that keep California from meeting the needs of its residents.
🦃 Post for thought
Sacramento turkeys are prolific and possibly vicious. If you’re in the capital, stay safe by following these steps.