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May 3rd: Looking for long term solutions – not last minute fixes

May 3, 2024

What a week!

  • Our eye is on the state budget as Governor Newsom works to close the budget deficit
  • Why experts say this year’s water surplus is an unlikely event
  • News on housing permits

New Economics of Homeless Policy?

Just last month, the California State Auditor issued a shocking report about the efficacy of the state’s $24 billion in homelessness spending over the past five years. For all those on pins and needles waiting to find out whether we were getting commensurate bang for our prodigious bucks, the answer was a resounding, “Who knows!?” The report found that the nine state agencies administering more than 30 programs related to homelessness did such a poor job tracking their outcomes that it’s impossible to tell if they’ve been successful. OK then!

Meanwhile, a new policy brief released by four prominent Los Angeles academics argues that a monthly payment of $750 to $1,000 would be enough to pull thousands of Angelenos off of the streets and into informal housing, boarding homes, shared apartments and arrangements with family and friends. “If the idea is to reduce the number of people on the street, definitely the fastest way to do that is money and not this incredibly complex system that we have built up primarily to help people with serious disabilities,” said lead author Gary Blasi, a professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Law.

“The truth is, we cannot afford not to do better than the current system, which spends a huge amount of money to house a small fraction of those in need.”


🤫 Everything you should know

- Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely to face a budget deficit even bigger than the $38 billion he projected during his initial spending plan presentation in January. That’s because the state is bringing in less tax revenue than expected. The Governor and the legislature will have to find some last minute solution to manage the state deficit. But here at NCC, we believe that there are a few fundamental issues where California is digging its own grave. We must rethink how we approach our growth and how we tackle the fundamental crisis our state is facing — and we must do so without bending to the fringes of the political spectrum. That’s what NCC is working to achieve: long term solutions that will not only deal with our budget deficit, but also make it so our state never has to go through this again. Sacramento Bee

- Don’t get too attached to those brimming aqueducts and lakes. A new study claims the amount of snow we saw in March was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. The epic late-winter blizzard dropped more than 100 inches of snow in parts of California in just four days. And its timing couldn't have been better. Years of drought is the norm for California and the precipitation surplus was a fluke. We can’t expect the solutions to our water woes to fall from the sky. Instead, we must build infrastructure to capture, store, desalinate and transport water to guarantee California’s long-term water future. CBS News

- We often share data on housing affordability in California. Most of the time, it’s bad news. Today is no different. New data shows that construction plans for multifamily housing plunged to a 10-year low. California permits approved for multifamily housing in the first quarter fell 22% below 2023’s start to 8,972 units in this year’s first three months. That’s the slowest quarter for multifamily plans since the start of 2014. This is the wrong direction, given California’s current housing stock deficit. OC Registrar

🥇 LA is not winning the titles it wants

The Los Angeles smog leads to serious health concerns. That’s why the American Lung Association ranks the worst cities in the U.S. And Los Angeles was once again rated as the worst in the nation. This is a title that the city has now won in 24 of the past 25 years. While electric vehicles, green energy production and stricter clean air standards have made the city much healthier, it still experiences the worst air quality in the nation. Dr. Afif El-Hasan, a pediatric physician in Orange County, says he worries for the 3 million children who live in Southern California and are subjected to polluted air “I am constantly faced with the challenge of finding a balance between making sure that children are able to exercise and spend time outdoors while doing so in a manner that keeps their lungs and upper airways from being damaged in the process.” Los Angeles Times

👩‍🔬 When moving to Texas isn’t the solution

In the 2020 surge of tech companies moving to Texas many thought that moving would solve tech companies problems. But layoffs and more moves are showing that maybe leaving California was not the amazing solution once thought to be. A new article highlights how Oracle, a company that received tens of millions of dollars from Texas to move to Austin is now moving to Tennessee. And Tesla, the company that got tax abatements from struggling school districts is now firing tens of thousands of employees. So, maybe the problem was not California… Texas Monthly

🔌 Fast charging is taking over

There’s now one electric vehicle fast charging station for every five gas stations in California. The Governor’s office is highlighting their work to expand EV usage in California. They say that  105,000 EV chargers have been installed in the state and over 500,000 houses have at-home chargers. In addition 25% of all new cars sold in California last year were electric. Much of that growth is due to the grants and rebates available for low-income Californians. Gov. Newsom

🌲 More parks

The Big Basin Redwoods State Park is expected to gain nearly 200 acres of land. The land was purchased by local nonprofit Sempervirens Fund. The expansion comes as the Big Basin is recovering from the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fires, which burned over 85,000 acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains and devastated large swaths of ecosystems within the park. As part of the park’s recovery efforts the park will also get a new welcome center, new employee housing and a new park entrance in the newly acquired land. SF Gate

🐋 Whale of a week

Let this gorgeous pod of orcas distract you from the heavy news of the week. Spotted with the pod is a rare white killer whale named “Frosty.”