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Bear Essentials: Celebrating Infrastructure Legislation Wins

August 3, 2023

After our plentiful snowpack, the largest wildfire of the season is now consuming the Mojave Desert, and Californians everywhere are looking to stay cool and keep their state affordable.

  • First time homeowners find opportunity elsewhere
  • More millionaires and fewer middle-income people illustrate California’s core problem
  • Rural California is desperate for teachers 


An eye-opening op-ed by the Independent Institute’s Christopher Calton in the San Francisco Chronicle draws clear lines between the City’s Kafkaesque permitting process and the profusion of both high and low-level graft in the City by the Bay. After a perfunctory nod to the much ballyhooed scammer Mohammed Nuru (the city’s erstwhile public works director), Calton trains his focus on the less-salacious, workaday crimes of Bernard Curran, a former building inspector who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from real estate developers seeking construction permits.

The City’s Byzantine regulatory framework, he argues, is a veritable petri dish for corruption, encapsulated in one truly damning paragraph:

Construction permits do not inherently invite graft. Cities with inexpensive, expeditious and transparent procedures for acquiring permits create little inducement for risky, under-the-table dealings. It is difficult to imagine a developer greasing Curran’s palms to hasten a permit application had he worked in Houston, where approval takes only 10 days. But the process of obtaining a building permit in San Francisco is among the most onerous in the nation — builders wait a whopping 627 days on average to receive a multifamily housing permit.

Calton proceeds to detail the bloated, pulsating beast the San Francisco building code has become, a tome so large that even its enforcers can’t track all of the rules contained therein. It would be comical if it weren’t so infuriating.


🤫 Everything you should know

- Modern day Oregon Trail… in reverse? In a recent article featured in USA Today, the California exodus raised its ugly head again revealing the fact that “leaving California for Texas was the most popular interstate move in the country, with 111,000 people – or 300 people a day – making the change.” Now, we’ve discussed before how this trend is often over-simplified and magnified by national media, but across our state, it is undeniable that a lack of affordability is hurting the ability of people to live here. Particularly for first-time homeowners, the fact that housing prices in California are 2.7 times higher than comparable homes in Texas, really hurts our ability to retain working families. USA Today.

- Losing the California dream for those who can’t afford it. Despite so many headlines focusing on the big names who have left California over the past years - the Elon Musks and Joe Rogans of the state - a revealing article in Bloomberg pulls back the curtain on the state of the wealthy in California only to show that the millionaire population in our state has actually grown. The top tier of California taxpayers has grown by 158% since 2019, with more billionaires here than in any country except China. At the same time, “wages stagnated at the bottom end of the income spectrum. The state lost population for the first time in its history for the past three years — amounting to more than 500,000 people — fueled mostly by lower and middle-income residents.” The story of the affordability crisis in California is not about wealthy elites who don’t like high taxes, the story is again about working families who are being priced out of their homes and the California dream itself. Bloomberg

- Don’t let the coastal cities capture all the attention in our state. A compelling story in the Los Angeles Times, shines light on the unique effect of teacher shortages in a continuing tight labor market across rural California. While schools being understaffed is, regrettably, an all-too common problem across our state and country, in small school districts it can be absolutely crippling. Schools and students without the resources of larger districts overall are now seeing entire grades and years of schooling folded classes together, and potentially completely cut out its ability to offer vital pre-kindergarten schooling. A new state law mandating universal pre-k offerings seemed laudable, but without any qualified applicants for the position and insufficient current personnel to staff such a program, districts like Modoc County in northeastern California are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Yet again, in the face of an economic crunch, everyday and working class Californians are the ones left stranded and in need of answers now. LA Times.

🏃 Recess in Sacramento but we aren’t resting!

Legislators may have left the Capitol but we are not stopping beating the drumbeat on the impact of the recently passed package of bills that will create 400,000 good-paying jobs, streamline government, and build clean energy all at the fastest pace possible. Take a look at our breakdown of funding by district (it’s really interesting!)

Infrastructure Projects

🛣️ E-40 Gets a Street

To mark the 30th anniversary of E-40’s first album, the Vallejo City Council voted to rename a stretch of the street after the rap artist. It’s only fair. E-40 named his 2015 album “Magazine Street” after the stretch of road where he grew up. It’s great to see the city celebrating their hometown legend.

E-40 Gets a Street

🐻 Beary Good Swim

Why do people love living in California? Some say diversity, while others mention access to the mountains and the beach. Others love the university system. Here’s another reason to love the Golden State: Bears taking a dip in your backyard swimming pool. The Burbank PD were dispatched to a home where a bear broke in for a muscle-relaxing jacuzzi soak. The video is hilarious as the bear realizes the jig is up.

👩🏽‍⚕️ Reddit FTW

Move over X, formerly known as Twitter. Reddit has the stories we want to see, including a feature on California’s shortage of nurses. This, like many of our challenges, can be partially linked to the state’s housing crisis. Middle-income jobs, like nursing, often don’t make enough to own a home in California which makes other states more attractive. We build more housing, and we can solve a lot of problems.

CA needs more nurses