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A Snapshot of California Public Policy and Politics

California Policy and Politics Thursday

California in a jam after borrowing billions to pay unemployment benefits -- California’s massive budget deficit, coupled with the state’s relatively high level of joblessness, has become a major barrier to reducing the billions of dollars of debt it has incurred to pay unemployment benefits. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

California leaders take sides in monumental Supreme Court case on homelessness -- The U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear a case that will have major implications on homelessness policy in California. Find out where your leaders stand on the issue. Marisa Kendall CalMatters David G. Savage in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

Signatures roll in for tough-on-crime ballot measure to reform California’s Proposition 47 -- A coalition backing a tough-on-crime statewide ballot initiative to toughen penalties for retail theft and some drug offenses on Thursday submitted more than 900,000 voter signatures backing the measure, a strong indicator that it may come before California voters in November. Anabel Sosa in the Los Angeles Times$ Lindsey Holden in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/18/24

Newsom calls for increased oversight of local homelessness efforts -- The call to ramp up accountability is the latest example of Newsom pointing at local governments for the failure to lessen homelessness, which has only worsened in his tenure despite more than $20 billion in state funds spent on programs to help. Taryn Luna in the Los Angeles Times$ Jeremy B. White Politico -- 4/18/24

Lawmaker withdraws sweeping California bill to expand assisted dying -- The author of a California bill that aimed to create the most expansive assisted dying law in the country has pulled the proposal, meaning it won’t be considered this year. Rachel Bluth Politico -- 4/18/24

California won’t prosecute LAPD officer who shot teenage girl in store’s dressing room -- The California Justice Department announced today that it has found no cause to file charges against a Los Angeles police officer who, while aiming at a suspect, shot and killed a 14-year-old girl hiding in a department store fitting room. Nigel Duara CalMatters -- 4/18/24

California sets nation’s first water standard for cancer-causing contaminant -- Water suppliers say the costs will be massive, with rates increasing for many consumers. Known as the “Erin Brockovich” chemical, hexavalent chromium is found statewide. Rachel Becker CalMatters -- 4/18/24

Walters: Will Attorney General Rob Bonta jump into the 2026 race for California governor? -- A handful of Democratic politicians are already running for governor of California in 2026. Attorney General Rob Bonta is acting as if he might jump in. But so far there are no Latinos or Republicans in the mix. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 4/18/24

Arellano: What’s behind those ‘Shame on you’ billboards in the Coachella Valley -- The billboards have become such a part of the region’s life that Bea Gonzalez, a Desert Community College board trustee, recently told me she’s used to having strangers stare at her before asking if she’s that woman. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24


Insurers won't renew some homes, citing risk of earthquake-induced fires. This map shows where -- It’s been 118 years since the infamous 1906 earthquake and the fires that followed. Despite better technology and preparedness, insurers are still worried about post-quake fires. Megan Fan Munce in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

S.F. leaders hail city’s resiliency on anniversary of 1906 quake -- There was a contemporary note to Thursday’s remembrances of the city’s resiliency: Much like the recovery from the earthquake and fire, San Francisco has the gumption to rebound from its post-pandemic woes — homelessness, rampant drug sales, thefts, vacant stores, officials said. Michael Cabanatuan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

California insurance crisis: Thousands to lose coverage as two more insurers withdraw -- In filings with the California Department of Insurance, Tokio Marine America Insurance Company and Trans Pacific Insurance Company said they would both withdraw from the homeowners and personal umbrella insurance markets in California. Megan Fan Munce in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

California insurers must give discounts for wildfire mitigation. Have homeowners benefited? -- Discounts proposed by some of the largest insurers in the state have yet to go into effect. But based on what companies have put forward, the cost of qualifying for them will dwarf the savings for many homeowners. Stephen Hobbs in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/18/24


Google announces more layoffs, plans to relocate jobs overseas -- The layoffs will primarily affect Google’s finance and real estate departments. A spokesperson for the Mountain View company stated that these layoffs are part of a continuing restructuring initiative. Some impacted roles will be moved to developing hubs in India, Ireland and Mexico. Aidin Vaziri, Roland Li in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

Tech layoffs jolt Bay Area economy with hundreds of new job cuts -- A high-profile aerospace and defense contractor and a semiconductor company were among the latest tech firms to chop jobs in the Bay Area, cutbacks that will erase more than 200 positions. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/18/24

‘The fairy dust fades away’: Why the people who play Disneyland’s costumed characters are unionizing -- Character performers at Disneyland Resort have filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, per the Actors’ Equity Assn. Christi Carras in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

Google fires 28 employees over protests inside work offices -- Google fired 28 workers Wednesday in Sunnyvale and New York, calling their protests inside work offices “completely unacceptable behavior” that prevented some employees from accessing their facilities. Jordan Parker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Stephanie Lam in the San Jose Mercury$ Miles Kruppa in the Wall Street Journal$ Caroline O'Donovan, Gerrit De Vynck in the Washington Post$ Nico Grant in the New York Times$ -- 4/18/24

Office Market

Former S.F. ‘start-up village’ sells for huge discount. New owners believe office recovery has begun -- A San Francisco office building that once served as home to startups including Zendesk and Eventbrite has sold for less than one-third of its pre-pandemic value. Laura Waxmann in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

Power Bills

Battle intensifies over new monthly fee planned for Californians’ power bills -- A new fixed monthly fee is scheduled to be adopted by California Public Utilities Commission around whether the payment structure change will harm or help low-income residents and the state’s clean energy goals. Clara Harter in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 4/18/24


S.F.’s tiny cabins for the homeless with ‘insane’ price tag finally open in Mission District -- A much anticipated tiny cabin village for homeless people is finally open in San Francisco’s Mission District after years of planning, delays and intense controversy over the project’s steep price tag. Maggie Angst, Aldo Toledo in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24

San Diego directs more money to its first safe sleeping site, though few have found permanent housing -- Some residents have raised concerns about mold and food as officials scramble to create more spots for homeless people. Blake Nelson in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/18/24

‘No place like this.’ L.A. home helps young adults live beyond survival mode -- A home in the middle of Los Angeles has become an oasis for young adults brought together by one particular experience: homelessness. Betty Márquez Rosales EdSource -- 4/18/24


Tijuana River named among most endangered rivers in America due to sewage crisis -- The Tijuana River, with frequent flows of sewage and chemical-tainted waters, is among America’s top endangered rivers, according to a report released Tuesday that spotlights threats to clean water nationwide. Tammy Murga in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/18/24


Did USC set ‘very bad precedent’ by cancelling valedictorian speech over safety threats? -- Campus administrators nationwide struggle to uphold principles of free expression amid pressure from those who claim speech, or potential speech, can subject students to harm. Jenny Jarvie in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

‘Let her speak!’ USC campus reels after valedictorian’s speech is canceled -- On Wednesday, a smattering of protesters gathered by the landmark Tommy Trojan statue, some calling on USC President Carol Folt to reverse course as arguments broke out between those on opposing sides. Caroline Petrow-Cohen, Angie Orellana Hernandez, Jaweed Kaleem in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

Health Care

These ethnic groups in California do the best by far in getting quality health care -- New study from the Commonwealth Fund finds wide disparities around the U.S. in who gets care and how they fare. Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24


Homes at schools? San Diego Unified OKs its first affordable housing development on district property -- This is the second time the district has allowed a developer to build housing on surplus land no longer needed for school facilities. But it’s the first where all the units will be rent-restricted. David Garrick in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/18/24


L.A. sheriff’s deputy facing felony charges, allegedly stole money during traffic stop -- A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was arrested this week after prosecutors said she stole money during a traffic stop, then filed a false report to cover it up. Keri Blakinger in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/18/24

S.F. DA Jenkins has a message for anyone delayed during Golden Gate Bridge protest -- San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins urged anyone delayed by protests that shut down the Golden Gate Bridge on Monday to file a report to authorities because they may be victims of false imprisonment and entitled to restitution. Nora Mishanec in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/18/24


California Policy and Politics Wednesday

California retains standing as the world's 5th largest economy -- Despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread layoffs, the state’s economic prospects remain robust, according to the International Monetary Fund’s annual World Economic Outlook report. Aidin Vaziri in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24

Tax debt shadows Steve Garvey as he runs for Senate -- Garvey, the Republican Senate hopeful and former baseball star, has amassed dozens of tax liens totaling millions of dollars since he left the diamond in 1987. Christopher Cadelago Politico -- 4/17/24

Gov. Gavin Newsom: Gaza protesters should be ‘held to account’ for blocking Bay Area highways -- His remarks came as district attorneys in San Francisco and Alameda County weigh charging decisions for dozens of participants, many of whom used a “sleeping dragon” tactic to chain themselves across roadways, making it difficult for police to remove them. Nora Mishanec, Sophia Bollag in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24

How did Gaza protesters stay on Bay Area freeways for so long, and how did CHP remove them? -- The I-880 protesters chained themselves to barrels; it took jackhammers, saws, drills to free them. Rick Hurd in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/17/24

Google employees stage sit-ins to protest company’s contract with Israel -- Dozens of Google employees held sit-ins Tuesday at the tech giant’s New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif., offices to protest the company’s work with Israel. Wendy Lee in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24

News publishers’ alliance calls on feds to investigate Google for limiting California links -- The alliance, which represents publishers in the news and magazine industry, said Google’s actions appear “to either be coercive or retaliatory, driven by Google’s opposition to a pending legislative measure in Sacramento.” Wendy Lee, Taryn Luna in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24

Walters: If Newsom truly follows the science, why not adopt the ‘science of reading’ in California schools? -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom contends that he followed science when battling COVID-19. But when it comes to the “science of reading” in schools, California has continued to oppose a proven method for improving comprehension. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 4/17/24

San Diego mayor to pay $10,500 fine for not disclosing donations he solicited, including to his nonprofit -- One of the lesser-known privileges of being an elected official in California is the right to ask corporations and wealthy individuals to make donations to one’s favorite charities. Jeff McDonald in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/17/24

The EV market is in trouble: The latest sign is Tesla’s layoffs -- The drive to electrify personal cars in California has, at best, hit a rough patch. The big question is whether current conditions will turn out to be growing pains. Russ Mitchell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24

Arellano: L.A.’s ultimate heartbreak industry isn’t Hollywood. It’s local journalism -- Southern California has always been an ossuary of failed publications done in by apathetic readership, clueless owners or a combination of both. But a new generation of journalists is forging ahead. Gustavo Arellano in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24


California acts to halt Kings County’s groundwater overpumping -- State officials, for the first time, put a local groundwater basin on probation under a 10-year-old law to stop overuse. Probation triggers hefty fees and mandatory reporting of well use. Rachel Becker CalMatters -- 4/17/24

California farming area placed on probation over declining groundwater and sinking land -- California water regulators took the unprecedented step of cracking down on one of the state’s major farming regions for failing to take steps to curb growers’ excessive pumping of groundwater, which has sent water levels into rapid decline and is causing the land to sink. Ian James, Jessica Garrison in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24


California spent $3.7 billion reducing wildfire fuel. Bill would make insurers factor that into coverage -- Homeowners have been stung with massive increases in premiums — if not stripped of coverage altogether. John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/17/24


Massive Disneyland expansion to add new rides, restaurants and hotels wins OK -- Anaheim City Council approves a plan to amend zoning rules to allow Disneyland to build new rides, hotels and stores within its existing footprint. Salvador Hernandez, Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times$ Michael Slaten in the Orange County Register -- 4/17/24


One of S.F.’s biggest apartment complexes at risk of defaulting on $1.8 billion mortgage -- Owner Maximus Real Estate Partners has requested the transfer of the mortgage to special servicing, a move that can lead to foreclosure, according to a report by Morningstar, a financial services firm. Roland Li in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24

Renters across L.A. are under strain and many fear becoming homeless, survey finds -- An annual survey from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs found renters under strain from the steep cost of housing and inflation, and many fearing homelessness. Paloma Esquivel in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24


Democrats kill California homeless camp ban, again -- A bill to ban homeless encampments statewide near parks, schools and transit hubs failed to get out of the same legislative committee as last year. Marisa Kendall CalMatters Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 4/17/24

Homelessness in San Diego County has now risen every month for 2 straight years -- March was the 24th consecutive month the number of homeless residents connected to housing was eclipsed by the number of people who lost a place to stay for the first time, according to a new report from the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. There were 1,226 people housed, while 1,337 became newly homeless. Blake Nelson in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 4/17/24

Tenderloin groups are fighting the development of a homeless center — here's their plan to stop it -- A proposal to transform three vacant storefronts in the Tenderloin into a community center and shelter serving homeless people has prompted calls for a ban on retail conversions in the struggling neighborhood. Maggie Angst in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24


California hospitals keep closing their labor wards. Can lawmakers do anything about it? -- Two California lawmakers introduced bills intended to slow maternity ward closures after a CalMatters investigation found nearly 50 hospitals had ended labor and delivery services between 2012 and 2023. Kristen Hwang CalMatters -- 4/17/24

LA 2028

L.A. 2028 Olympic committee parts ways with Salesforce, one of its top sponsors -- L.A.’s 2028 Olympics committee suffers a blow in its efforts to raise $2.5 billion in sponsorships by losing Salesforce, one of its top corporate sponsors. David Wharton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24


California’s fastest-growing city has built a $400 million school. Here’s a look inside -- The school boasts a performing arts center, sprawling library, pool, ceramics studio and more. It stands in contrast to aging schools across the region desperate for upgrades. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24

Some colleges are charging nearly $100,000. Here’s how California schools compare -- California colleges are not far off, costing just as much or more for students who are required to pay top dollar. Danielle Echeverria in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24


Women at California prison dubbed the ‘rape club’ now worry where they’ll be transferred -- After years of controversy, lawsuits and sexual abuse scandals, on Monday the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced plans to close the facility. But instead of bringing relief, for many prisoners the news sparked fear and confusion as the women worried about being moved far away from their families. Keri Blakinger, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24


Pacific Coast Highway could get speed cameras following deaths of 4 Pepperdine students -- After an allegedly speeding driver killed four Pepperdine students last fall on the Pacific Coast Highway, a pending bill could add Malibu to a list of six California cities testing out automated cameras to ticket speeders. Ryan Sabalow CalMatters -- 4/17/24

Big Sur

Highway 1 road fix could save Big Sur summer travel season -- Just in time for summer travel, Caltrans will spend nearly $27 million to fix a section of Highway 1 in Big Sur after part of the road crumbled and fell into the ocean last month, agency officials said. Kristin J. Bender in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 4/17/24


Yosemite’s famous High Sierra camps, closed for 5 years, will reopen this summer -- Established a century ago and supplied by pack mules, the five rustic camps are set about 8 miles apart and form a large hiking loop through the granite wilderness east of Yosemite Valley and into Tuolumne Meadows. Gregory Thomas in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 4/17/24


Red state coal towns still power the West Coast. We can’t just let them die -- Los Angeles, Portland and other progressive cities are still powered by faraway coal plants. We went to Montana to find out why. Sammy Roth in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24

Participant, maker of ‘Green Book’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ is shutting down -- After 20 years, 21 Academy Awards and 18 Emmys, socially conscious film production company Participant is shutting down. The Culver City company told its employees Tuesday morning that it would be winding down operations. Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 4/17/24