The Politician Behind California High Speed Rail Now Says It’s ‘Almost a Crime’: New at Reason

Quentin Kopp convinced voters to approve the bullet train. Now he’s suing to kill it.

High-speed rail lines began popping up in Europe and Asia in the early 1980s. Passengers were exhilarated by the futuristic trains rocketing between cities on glass-smooth rails at upwards of 200 miles per hour.

With high-profile roll-outs in France and Japan, bullet train mania was underway. And then reality set in.

“The costs of building such projects usually vastly outweigh the benefits,” says Baruch Feigenbaum, assistant director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) that publishes this website. “Rail is more of a nineteenth century technology [and] we don’t have to go through these headaches and cost overruns to build a future transportation system.”


Want to improve housing affordability? Increase the homeowners exemption

By Jon Coupal and Phillip Chen at The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

August 13, 2017

California is in a housing crisis. The cost of housing — both for purchase and rental housing — is too expensive. Ineffective public housing policies and anti-growth policies that impede even reasonable development projects have choked supply in a high-demand market. California needs to start building homes and apartments as soon as possible. Recent estimates show that California must build 180,000 units of housing a year over the next 10 years simply to keep pace with demand. Currently, only about half of that amount is being constructed.

But in the meantime, a quick and effective way to provide financial relief to everyone in California with a roof over their head is to increase the homeowners exemption which has been stuck at $7,000 since 1972. A lot has changed since then. Mark Spitz won a then-record seven gold medals in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Atari released the PONG computer game and a gallon of gas sold for 36 cents. California’s population has nearly doubled from 21 million residents to 39 million residents today. And according to the California Association of Realtors, the median price of homes in California is well over $500,000 compared to $28,000 in 1972.

Read more at The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

San Jose, S.F. among the least affordable places for single parents

By Nick Selbe in The Mercury News

July 15, 2016

Any parent knows that raising a child is the biggest financial strain one can undertake. Many advocate for increased government welfare for low-income parents, as more than 5 million babies aged 3 or younger are living in households struggling to pay for basic needs, including providing the necessary supply of diapers.

With this in mind, CareerTrends – an employment and career research site powered by theGraphiq network – found the least affordable places for single parents. The data comes from the Economic Policy Institute’s 2015 Family Budget Calculator, which provides an estimate of community-specific costs of childcare, food, healthcare, housing, taxes, transportation and other necessities for different family sizes across 618 locations. The list ranks locations by the monthly dollar amount required for a single adult with two children to meet a secure yet modest living standard. The EPI assumes the ages of the two children to be 4- and 8-years-old.

Read more at The Mercury News


Kevin Faulconer to help lead opposition to Brown’s parole measure

By Christopher Cadelago in The Sacramento Bee

July 12, 2016

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will announce Wednesday that he plans to help lead the opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s statewide fall ballot initiative to make some felons eligible for early parole.

Faulconer, among the state’s most prominent Republicans, is scheduled to appear with a trio of county prosecutors and victims’ rights advocate Marc Klaas at an 11 a.m. event in San Diego.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee


California’s property tax revenues to increase by $3-plus billion

By Dan Walters in The Sacramento Bee

July 11, 2016

A strong surge in real estate transactions, new commercial and residential construction and rising housing prices should generate a $3-plus billion increase in property tax revenues for schools and local governments during the current fiscal year.

Local property tax assessors closed their books on June 30 and are reporting valuation gains ranging as high as 9 percent in San Francisco, which has the state’s hottest property market.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee


Feel Safer? Easier to Get Parole, Harder to Buy Bullets

By Debra J. Saunders at SFGate

July 8, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic Legislature have a unique plan to enhance public safety in California. They have reduced the state prison population from close to 150,000 in 2010 to 113,000 now by downgrading what crimes put an offender in prison. Now they are pushing a ballot measure that would enable repeat serious and violent offenders to qualify for early release — to further reduce the state prison population. No worries, though, because they also are passing laws that make it harder or costlier for everyone to buy guns and ammunition.

This month, Brown actually vetoed a bipartisan measure to make stealing a gun a felony. In his veto message, Brown wrote that Assembly Bill 1176 was “nearly identical” to a provision in a gun-control ballot measure championed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “While I appreciate the authors’ intent in striving to enhance public safety, I feel that the objective is better attained by having the measure appear before the voters only once.” Imagine the outcry if a Republican had vetoed that bill for such bald partisan reasons.

Read more at SFGate

Bay Area property tax assessments on a roll

By Kathleen Pender in San Francisco Chronicle

July 9, 2016

Thanks mainly to rising property values and new construction, county assessment rolls — and therefore property tax revenue — have risen 6 to 9 percent in most Bay Area counties this year.

County assessors have until July 1 to complete their assessment roll each year, unless they request an extension. Most local counties have completed their rolls for 2016-17.

Read more at San Francisco Chronicle

Farmer to challenge Clean Water Act tillage ruling

By Mateusz Perkowski at Capital Press

June 21, 2016

A California farmer plans to challenge a recent court ruling that he violated the Clean Water Act by tilling through wetlands in his field.

A federal judge has ruled John Duarte of Tehama County, Calif., should have obtained a Clean Water Act permit to run shanks through the wetlands at a depth of four to six inches, creating furrows prior to planting wheat in a 450-acre pasture.

Read more at Capital Press

Property rights case could have major implications for land owners

By Dawn Geske at Northern California Record

July 8, 2016

ST CROIX COUNTY – California, along with eight other states, has filed an amicus brief in the property rights case of Murr v. Wisconsin, currently being heard by the Supreme Court.

The case focuses on whether property owners are entitled to compensation for their property under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The property owners in this case, the Murr family, are fighting for the right to sell one parcel of land of the two lots it owns in a subdivision on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin.

Read more at Northern California Record