San Francisco residents use rocks to block homeless camping

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

Assembly Bill 133 can help keep seniors in their homes

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.

Big change in California’s Proposition 13 could be headed to ballot

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.

Read more at the SF Chronicle

Priced Out: The Crushing Cost of Living in California

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

San Francisco metro area has lost 31,000 home-owning families in 10 years

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

Drought or no drought: Jerry Brown sets permanent water conservation rules for Californians

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

Taxpayers lose again with new solar panel mandate

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.

There is no loophole in Proposition 13

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

This Man Wants to Build 2 Houses. California Regulations Have Stonewalled Him for 20 Years.

By John-Michael Seibler at The Daily Signal

March 16, 2018

Thomas Mahon never thought it would take 20 years to build two houses in California. But that’s exactly how long it’s taken—and his legal fight isn’t even over.

His fight shows how overregulation is driving the state’s current housing crisis. And some state politicians are promising to make things worse. The upshot is that other states can learn from California’s big-government failures and welcome ex-Californians with open housing markets.

State politicians know that building new homes is too costly, but they disagree over policy solutions. Some offer less regulation, while others promise more (including new housing quotas, more subsidized units, and reviving “redevelopment agencies” that the state eliminated in 2011 to save money). Less regulation would likely attract more investment for affordable housing, but a better bet would involve changing the state’s approach to property rights.

 

Read more on The Daily Signal

Rents rising faster in SLO County than anywhere else in California, data show

By Lindsey Holden and Phillip Reese at The Tribune

February 28, 2018

The cost to rent a two-bedroom home has risen more in San Luis Obispo County than anywhere else in the state over the last four years — up more than 50 percent since 2013, according to recent data.

As of December, residents here were now paying a median rent of $2,200 for a two-bedroom home, up from $1,429 in 2013, according to tracking firm Zillow.com.

Read more on The Tribune