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Bear Essentials: Dig Into the Data

September 1, 2023

It’s PSL season (Pumpkin Spiced Latte for those who don't know). Let’s get into it:

  • Why are California’s public universities so good?
  • Without better water infrastructure, we couldn’t capitalize on Hurricane Hilary
  • Half a billion dollars in mortgage relief remains unclaimed


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a shocking report on commuting costs throughout the country. As giants like Amazon and Facebook bring employees back into the office fold, Californians are finding their commutes to be, well, golden in all the wrong ways. 🌴🚙

Leading the pack? San Francisco! Those cruising the city's streets are watching an eye-popping $12,650 fly out of their wallets annually, all while jamming to their favorite traffic tunes. Stop snickering, Fremont. You're not far behind, paying about $12,048 per year for the privilege of staring at the inscrutable bumper stickers on the car stopped in front of you. 🌉💸

Nationwide, commuters are shelling out an average of $5,748 annually (or $22.11 a pop daily). But in California, nine out of the top 10 cities see an average of $10,000 or more evaporate thanks to commuting.

As the debate between home office nooks and actual office spaces rages on, we at the NCC have a better idea: What if we tried building a lot more homes…near people’s work!?!?

Revolutionary, we know.


🤫 Everything you should know

- No surprises here: California has arguably the best range of public universities in the world. California’s public university system is thriving – especially when success is defined as enrolling “students from across the socioeconomic spectrum who then go on to graduate, earn high salaries and become leaders in their fields, without spending their young adult years drowning in student debt.” When looking at universities through this lens, California shines. Four UC campuses are among the top 25 in Forbes' 2023 America’s Top Colleges list. Even better, a lot of the funding from Sacramento is directed towards helping lower and middle income students fund their education. We are very happy to hear California is prioritizing these policies and making these world-renowned campuses much more equitable and diverse. Now to solve the student housing crisis! Forbes.

- Tropical Storm Hilary (no relation to the Clintons) brought a lot of much-needed water to a very, very dry state and helped mitigate drought conditions in a lot of the state, building on the downpours from this past winter. Here comes the bad news - unfortunately, California does not yet have enough the necessary infrastructure to capture this water and store it for later. A lot of the runoff just ends up back in the ocean. Luckily, state and local governments are working on solutions to capture more runoff in future rainy seasons. On the bright side, at least the fire season is forecasted to be delayed and hopefully less intense this year. LA Times.

- Here’s your notice: Nearly half a billion dollars in mortgage relief for Californians remains unclaimed. The program has been recently expanded to offer cash grants of up to $80,000 to homeowners facing pandemic-related financial hardships and can be used towards mortgage payments or unpaid property taxes. That’s great except a lot of these funds remain unclaimed due to lack of sufficient outreach and many have been denied due to a complicated application process. But help is available! If you know someone who would like to apply, have them contact a HUD-certified housing counselor to get those funds ASAP. SF Chronicle.

💪 Backbone of California’s Economy

Small businesses are the backbone of the California economy, but too often they're being sidelined by regulations, increased taxes, and a cost of living that makes it hard to find and keep employees.

Small businesses need a voice in Sacramento, and the New California Coalition is stepping up to the plate to support this vital part of our state's economy. We can build a new era of opportunity in California. Check out our video introducing you to some of the New California Coalitions members.

Meet the New California Coalition

🛣️ California Transportation Infrastructure Gets Upgraded

Good job, Caltrans! After California’s transportation infrastructure was deemed “high-risk” in 2007 by the California State Auditor,  the legislature passed Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act which unleashed a boon of work that’s upgraded the state’s transportation infrastructure. SB 1 is the first  “significant, stable and ongoing increase in state transportation funding in more than two decades.” The legislation provides $5 billion annually for transportation.

Alright, now let’s do housing.

🌿 First Beaver Pup in 160 Years!

Bill Leikam, nicknamed “The Fox Guy” for his research on foxes, caught footage of a beaver pup on his wildlife camera. It’s the first time in 160 years a young beaver has been documented in the Bay Area. Nature is healing itself. This comes after The Fox Guy’s sighting of a full grown beaver last year, which also hadn’t happened in 160 years. Seems like he needs a new nickname!

Brain Recordings

🏛 Throwing shade at the courts

This week, Governor Newsom is banding together with Elon Musk and calling out the courts for blocking San Francisco from clearing homeless encampments.

Cudgel that is CEQA