PG&E Corp. PCG +0.92% has begun to shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people in California as it seeks to prevent its electric lines from sparking more deadly wildfires, in what is believed to be the largest such pre-emptive blackout ever.
The outages are poised to hit areas across the northern and central parts of the state, including the famous wine country region, the rural Sierra Nevada foothills and portions of Oakland and San Jose. The utility is implementing the shut-offs as strong, dry winds are expected to hit the region, increasing the risk that its equipment could start fires.
PG&E said early Wednesday the shut-offs will occur in three phases, the first of which began affecting about 513,000 customers from around midnight local time. These outages will be spread across 22 counties, the utility said, including Napa, Mendocino and Sonoma in the wine country region.
Read more at WSJ.
‘We need our neighborhood back. We need public safety reforms and more police presence in our community, and higher numbers of law enforcement overall.’
In our last article we featured the issues affecting the historic Sacramento neighborhood of Land Park, which has been considered the safest community in Sacramento for decades. But residents and business owners say that is no longer the case, citing the transient population as the cause for rampant drug activity, serial theft and violence.
Jennifer Mann, who lives in Land Park and works in downtown Sacramento in the hospitality industry, says she hears from her clients about cities they will no longer take their business to for fear of their attendees’ safety. “There are comments that Sacramento is looking like one of those cities, which is sad, as we have really moved in an exciting direction with development and energy in the downtown core. But even more disturbing to me, and what impacts my daily life and the lives of my children, are the transients that in recent years have been pushed out of downtown to live under the freeways, and into these beautiful, historic neighborhoods. It saddens me that I no longer feel safe to let my children walk to school or go to the park. I have neighbors who have found needles near the play structures, have found people sleeping or sneaking into their backyards, and a few that have had dangerous interactions with these individuals.”
Read more at The California Globe
by Olga R. Rodriguez October 1, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A group of San Francisco neighbors said they had to do something to make their street safe. Their answer? Some giant rocks.
Fed up with what they see as the city’s failure to combat homelessness and rampant drug use, the neighbors had boulders delivered to their sidewalk to block people from pitching tents on their street.
That started a fight that shows the frustration with an unprecedented homelessness crisis in California. Cities are struggling to address the lack of affordable housing and a growing number of homeless encampments that are popping up on city streets, sometimes in neighborhoods.
Read more at the Associated Press
Prior to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, it was not uncommon for seniors on fixed incomes who had already paid off their mortgages to nonetheless lose their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay their property taxes.
While Proposition 13 continues to protect millions of older Californians by providing reasonable and predictable property tax liability, for low-income seniors it may not be enough.
Voter approved local bonds and parcel taxes that are added to property tax bills above and beyond Proposition 13’s one percent cap have typically added hundreds of dollars a year to individual property tax bills across the state.
One of the state programs meant to help seniors over age 65, the blind, and the disabled stay in their homes is the Property Tax Postponement program or PTP.
The concept behind the Tax Postponement program is simple. A lien is placed against the home of an eligible individual and all property taxes are deferred.
Later, when the homeowner moves, the taxes are paid out of the sale of the home plus simple interest.
The program worked perfectly for 40 years. Beyond paying for itself, 6,000 homeowners from across California benefit from the Property Tax Postponement program.
Read more at the Los Angeles Daily News.
California’s largest companies could find themselves paying an additional $11 billion a year in property taxes under a ballot measure that would dramatically revise the state’s tax-cutting Proposition 13.
Schools and Communities First, a wide-ranging group of community organizations, education advocates, unions and foundations, turned in 860,000 signatures Tuesday that could put that initiative on the November 2020 state ballot.
Under Prop. 13, all California property, residential and commercial, is reassessed only when it is sold. Houses and condominiums, however, can turn over every few years, while many large businesses occupy their land for decades — meaning some have not had property reassessed since Prop. 13 passed 40 years ago.
The proposed ballot measure calls for a split tax roll that would require commercial and industrial property — but not homes and small businesses — to be regularly reassessed and taxed at their full value.
There’s an insidious force chipping away at a historic pillar of modern America.
This force is all around us: in the car repairs we put off; the medical visits we delay; the vacations we can’t afford to take; the healthier food we don’t buy; the homes we can’t afford and in the rest of our financial shpilkes, or anxiety. It is the increasing economic fragility of middle-income America.
How else can we explain a housing market that is vacuuming up savings that many of us used to put away for retirement? Today companies frequently distribute profits to shareholders that traditionally funded employee pensions. Beyond that, in the increasingly gig-driven economy, we have less and less access to good and affordable health care, paid vacations, workers comp, job stability or even true career trajectories.
Read more at Capital and Main
It’s no secret the San Francisco Bay Area can be a tough place to raise kids, and now a new report sheds light on those families sticking out.
Looking at data from the U.S. Census Bureau, RentCafe found the number of families with children who own their homes in the San Francisco metro area has dropped dramatically, while an increasing number are renting.
(Note: The metro area is defined as per the U.S. Census Bureau’s as San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward.)
Researchers at the apartment search site found a 10 percent decrease in homeowner families, meaning 31,000 fewer households with children within the metro area. On the flip side, there was a 33 percent jump across the 10-year period in families renting, with an increase of 57,000 renter households.
Read more at the SFGate
Although he declared an end to California’s historic five-year drought last year, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed two new laws that will require cities and water districts across the state to set permanent water conservation rules, even in non-drought years.
“In preparation for the next drought and our changing environment, we must use our precious resources wisely,” Brown said in a statement. “We have efficiency goals for energy and cars – and now we have them for water.”
Brown signed two bills, SB 606 by Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and AB 1668 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), that require cities, water districts and large agricultural water districts to set strict annual water budgets, potentially facing fines of $1,000 per day if they don’t meet them, and $10,000 a day during drought emergencies.
Read more at The Mercury News
The California Energy Commission has announced new regulations to require rooftop solar panels on all new homes constructed in California beginning in 2020. This forced mandate represents an extraordinary regulatory overreach.
However, don’t expect too much political push-back against these new rules. Why? Because the “winners” who support the regulations have a lot more political juice than the “losers.”
Tops on the list of winners is, of course, the solar industry. When your business is the manufacturing and installation of solar panels, and you can get government to mandate the purchase of your product, you have a guaranteed customer base as well as a guaranteed revenue stream. For solar companies, spending a few million dollars on political influence results in a great (return on investment).
Read more at Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association.
For decades, California progressives have complained about a “loophole” in Proposition 13 that unfairly benefits the owners of commercial real estate to the detriment of homeowners. This characterization has been widely accepted by the mainstream media with little critical analysis.
There is no loophole in Prop. 13.
There is, however, an ambiguity in the statute implementing the measure that relates to the “change of ownership” rules. That ambiguity can be easily addressed by a statutory amendment without doing violence to Prop. 13. Both the business community and the state’s preeminent taxpayer organization, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, agree that this change is necessary.
Senate Bill 1237, by state Sen. Patricia Bates, would address this technical tax issue involving fictitious entities such as limited liability corporations and complex partnerships in a way that is wholly consistent with Prop. 13.
Read more at the Orange County Register