Category: California

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Feb 17

Flu season’s end in sight, but hospital visits continue at ‘elevated’ levels, state health officials say​

While the number of flu-related deaths declined across California last week, state health officials on Friday could only repeat the same message that has defined what they’ve called the worst season in almost 10 years: Influenza is continuing to spread at elevated levels.

There were 22 people who died of flu-related illnesses across the state last week, bringing the total number of deaths to 185 in California among those age 64 and younger. While still high compared to an average flu season, the number of fatalities reported this week was a decrease compared to the week before, when 36 people were reported to have died, making it the deadliest week in the season so far.

The California Public Health Department doesn’t count flu-related deaths among those 65 and older because under a state mandate they are not required to do. State health officials have said flu-related deaths in those 64 and younger is used as an indicator of the severity of the season’s strain.

Most of those deaths reported by the state — or 61 of them — are being reported in the southern part of the state, including Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial counties.

In Orange County, there were almost 6,000 people who tested positive for the flu, and 12 deaths reported so far this season. Last year, there were 1,921 cases and 2 deaths, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

“Several more weeks of flu activity are expected,” according to state health officials, and many counties are noting that.

RELATED STORYFlu-related deaths in California surpass 150 as worst season in years continues its toll

In Los Angeles County, health officials noted there have been 158 flu-related deaths among all ages, though those figures don’t include the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, since each have a health department. Of the 158 deaths, one was a child. Last year, 53 adults died and there were no pediatric, flu-related fatalities.

fluchart2

L.A. County health officials also noted a new trend. Most of this seasons flu-related deaths were attributed to the Influenza A H3N2 strain. But there has been a shift.

“We have also seen a small uptick in ED visits related to influenza-like illness, which may be explained by the increasing predominance of flu B viruses,” according to the weekly report.

Federal health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study this week that noted that this year’s vaccine was 36 percent effective against influenza A and B virus infection.

“This means that the seasonal flu vaccine has reduced the risk of getting sick and having to go to the doctor from flu by about one third,” Los Angeles County health officials wrote in the department’s weekly flu surveillance report.

Influenza A (H3N2) viruses were responsible for most of the flu infections reported in the study.

“Thus, the seasonal flu vaccines are providing some protection against A(H3N2) viruses,” according to L.A. County health officials.

Both state and local health officials continue to press the public to get vaccinated.

“Based on these estimates, flu vaccination will still prevent a substantial amount of illness,” state health officials said.

Influenza symptoms include fever or feeling feverish, a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue. Most people with the flu are able to treat themselves at home, health officials say, but in some, the disease can lead to complications including pneumonia, seizures, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart or lung disease.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/16/flu-seasons-end-in-sight-but-hospital-visits-continue-at-elevated-levels-state-health-officials-say%E2%80%8B/

Feb 15

California rent rates have risen to some of the nation’s highest. Here’s how that impacts residents

California’s population is growing faster than builders can add housing, driving up rents. Incomes, meanwhile, aren’t keeping up. As a result, it takes three full-time, minimum-wage incomes to afford a two-bedroom California apartment. Here’s how rising rents are impacting the state and, in particular, Southern California.

Rising rent

Los Angeles County apartment rents increased almost $500 a month, or 34 percent, in the last seven years, Reis Inc. figures show. In Orange County, rents increased $355 a month, while in the Inland Empire they’re up $266 a month. More than half of Southern California’s tenants are “rent burdened,” meaning they spend at least a third of their income on rent, U.S. Census figures show.

rental risePercent of income going to rent

Rent percentage

 

Minimum wage and renting

A Californian working for minimum wage ($10.50/hour*) would need to work 92 hours to afford a 1 bedroom rental at Fair Market Rent without paying 30 percent of income. The state map shows the National Low Income Housing Coalition county by county calculations.

*Starting in January, minimum wage is $11/hour for businesses with more than 25 employees. Charts are calculated for $10.50/hour.

Only 12 counties spread across Washington, Oregon and Arizona had wages high enough and housing costs low enough for a minimum-wage worker to afford housing at 30 percent of their income and only work 40 hours.

California counties and rent

You can see the 2017 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition here.

There are an estimated 6 million renters in California which is about 46 percent of the households.

Rise and fall

Inflation-adjusted median rent and median renter income from 2000 to 2015.

Orange County: +28 percent rent, -9 percent income
Riverside County: +32 percent rent, -3 percent income
Los Angeles County, +32 percent rent, -3 percent income

California compared

California has the fourth-highest hourly total needed for a minimum wage worker to afford a one-bedroom rental without paying more than 30 percent of their income.

Nation map hours worked

1. Hawaii, 116 hours
2. Virginia, 109 hours
3. New York, 101 hours
4. California, 92 hours

California has second highest hourly wage needed for a householder working a 40-hour week to afford a two-bedroom rental.

California two bedroom wage

1. Hawaii, $35.20
2. California, $30.92
3. Maryland, $28.27
4. New York, $28.08

Southern California rentals

This map shows regional rental prices for apartments on Trulia.com, a real estate and rental listings site. The map is from Feb. 14.

Highest and lowest areas rentMedian gross rent, 2012-16

San Bernardino County: $1,144
Riverside County: $1,212
Los Angeles County: $1,264
Orange County: $1,608

Median two bedroom rent

Select Southern California cities in December 2017.

So Cal cities rentOwn or rent

Los Angeles County has more renters than homeowners.  Percentage of owners and renters by county:

Own or rent

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Trulia.com, Apartmentlist.com, Legislative Analyst’s Office , Reis Inc.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/15/california-rent-rates-have-risen-to-some-of-the-nations-highest-heres-how-that-impacts-residents/

Jan 20

DMV to offer REAL ID, special driver’s license making it easier to fly when regulations kick in

Want to make air travel easier in a few years?

The Department of Motor Vehicles can help.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 22, the California DMV is taking applications for special identification cards and driver’s licenses that can be used to comply with federal air-travel regulations that kick in 2020.

0120_nws_ocr-l-dmvid-011
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on January 22 will start taking applications for identification cards and driver’s licenses that can be used to comply with federal air travel regulations that will start in 2020. The new cards, such as the rendering shown here, will have some new features. (Courtesy of the Department of Motor Vehicles)
Called REAL ID, the special cards are to to safeguard air travel, in the post 9/11 world. To get a card takes more effort than obtaining or renewing the regular license or state-issued ID (DMV officials say the easiest time to get a REAL ID is when renewing a license or ID).

Unlike most times when renewing a license, you must go into a field office and also show proof of residency with a utility bill or a mortgage statement, proof of a Social Security number, and bring in a U.S. passport or a birth certificate.

An original or certified copy of any name-change document, such as a marriage certificate or a divorce document, may also be
required. A list of accepted documents is on the DMV’s website.

“It’s not mandatory,” Cristina Valdivia Aguilar, a DMV spokeswoman, said about the higher-end driver’s license and ID card. “Not everyone will need it or want it. The fees are exactly the same as what your card would cost to renew it ($30). We encourage people to get an appointment.”

After Oct. 1, 2020, U.S. passports, passport cards, military identification or other TSA-approved ID will still be accepted to board a domestic flight. But after that, a traditional driver’s license or state ID will no longer be enough.

Flashing the REAL ID will do the trick, though, for flights and to enter military bases or to get onto federal facilities. On domestic flights, minors still will not need ID if flying with an adult.

The new identification cards will have some different design features, such as images of a gold miner and California poppies in the background. With ultraviolet light, the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower will appear.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/20/dmv-to-offer-real-id-special-drivers-license-making-it-easier-to-fly-when-regulations-kick-in/

Jan 18

California may buck Congress with its own health insurance requirement

By Elizabeth Aguilera, CALmatters

With Congress ending the requirement that all Americans have health insurance, California leaders are preparing to counter that move by securing health care for as many residents as possible in a fortified state insurance exchange.

State lawmakers say they will present a package of health-related proposals in the coming weeks, before a Feb. 16 deadline for new bill introductions. Details are still developing, but officials and health care advocates say discussions focus on ways to maintain the exchange’s high enrollment and help still more Californians obtain insurance.

“Everything they are doing at the federal level, we are doing the opposite,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, an Azusa Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and plans to host a bill-pitching session next week.

The outcome may or may not include a state version of the mandate the federal government repealed, effective next year.

covered-california-enrollment“What drives individuals to purchase on the exchange is the marketing, but also the subsidies and the health care,” Hernandez said. “We are looking at every option.”

The mission, Hernandez said, is to retain California’s successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, further lower the number of uninsured people and control health care costs.

Across the country, states that created their own exchanges like California did are similarly engaged. Maryland lawmakers, for example, are trying to adopt a mandate that residents have health insurance or pay a penalty. Alternatively, the equivalent of the penalty could be used as a kind of downpayment on a health care plan.

The federal penalty for those without insurance goes away at the end of this year. It was imposed as part of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that most Americans signed up for health care, including the young and healthy who would give the exchanges a good balance of individuals and offset costs for those older and less healthy.

Republicans in Congress argued that removing the federal mandate allows families to choose for themselves whether to buy insurance and saves the federal government money because fewer subsidies will be required.

President Donald Trump, in tweets encouraging Congress to act, called the mandate “very unfair and unpopular.” The government’s savings, he said, could be used for “Tax Cuts for the Middle Class.”

Trump’s administration had already limited the latest enrollment period for the federal exchange and gutted the marketing budget that provided information about how to sign up.

California has been working to keep its exchange, called Covered California, strong. Its current marketing efforts include a television ad campaign emphasizing that anybody’s health can change in an instant. The ads show people in accidents—falling off a ladder while putting up holiday lights, slipping on toys left on a staircase.

Covered California is spending $111 million on marketing and outreach in hopes that the number of enrollees for 2018 will continue to climb as the sign-up period nears its Jan. 31 end. That expenditure is up from $99 million during last year’s enrollment period.

In the first month of the current sign-up period, enrollment was up 28 percent over the same period last year, according to Covered California, with more than 100,000 new enrollees and 1.2 million renewals.

California already has one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the nation, at 6.8 percent, down from 17 percent in 2013, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are actively marketing, we are supportive in the Legislature, we have a significant increase in enrollment,” said Hernandez. “We are doing things right, and I want to make sure we stay on that trajectory.”

An individual insurance requirement is an important way to keep Californians in the exchange, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, which advocates for consumers.

“What can we do … at the state level so they don’t leave people in the lurch or destabilize the overall market?” Wright said. “The individual requirement piece is part of that mix.”

The penalties collected could be used to lower the cost of Covered California insurance, Wright said. But “we’d prefer more people sign up than pay a penalty.”

Without the mandate, which Congress repealed as part of the recent tax overhaul, some worry that healthy people, the young or those who opt not to pay for insurance could drop out of the system.

And last month, Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, told the board of directors that the effect of a penalty reduces the cost of care for the uninsured in emergency rooms, in addition to other benefits like the bigger risk pool for insurers.

Wright and other health care advocates want more. They’re urging legislators to combat the Trump administration with a bigger arsenal, including the extension of subsidies to families that don’t currently qualify and further expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s health care system for the needy.

Hernandez agreed that more families deserve assistance but was doubtful that more subsidies would be made available in the near term, despite the state’s full coffers.

“I would love to do some kind of state subsidy,” he said. But with all the demands on the state budget, “I’m a realist as well.”

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/17/california-may-buck-congress-with-its-own-health-insurance-requirement/

Jan 17

51st state? California has another proposal to be split

On Monday, a group proposing to split California into two states read its Declaration of Independence.The group, called New California, has been behind splitting the state up for several years and has proposed several different versions. The most recent map and previous maps are shown below.

Previous efforts have so far failed to pass and even if a measure could get passed, it would not legally split California immediately. The California State Legislature and the U.S. Congress would have to give consent to admit the new states to the union per Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.

New California map2017 state split2013 six states

Efforts to split the state have been financed by billionaire Timothy C. Draper. In 2017 he submitted paperwork to put the plan to voters in 2018.

Draper was quoted by the New York Times saying, “No one can argue that California’s government is doing a good job governing or educating or building infrastructure for its people, and it doesn’t matter which party is in place.” The complaints are founded in beliefs the most populated state with the equivalent of the world’s sixth largest economy is too big.

State of many shapes

Carving up California is nothing new. There have been more than 20 significant proposals to carve up the state since 1850. Five years after the state was ratified by the U.S., a group of Southern Californians tried to carve the state into three parts unsuccessfully.

One notable effort was the ‘State of Jefferson’ proposal in 1941. Several counties in Northern California ceremonially seceded one day a week. The movement died down after World War II began.

State of Jefferson map

state of JeffersonAlta California, 1800s

Imagine if California had not changed since the Spanish colonized it in the 1700s.

alta Calfironia map

Sources: NewCaliforniaState.com, The New York Times, California State Library

State of Jefferson and Alta California maps from Wikimedia Commons

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/16/51st-state-california-has-another-proposal-to-be-split/

Jan 12

Chris Brown’s pet monkey could land him in trouble

Chris Brown at the Celebrity Basketball Game during the 2017 BET Experience, at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 24, 2017. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)
Chris Brown at the Celebrity Basketball Game during the 2017 BET Experience, at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 24, 2017. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

LOS ANGELES — Singer Chris Brown is the subject of a California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigation for allegedly never getting a permit to keep his pet monkey.

Authorities got a search warrant for Brown’s home after several people reported he had the monkey, likely after he posted a picture of his 3-year-old daughter Royalty holding the baby capuchin monkey on social media, the celebrity news website TMZ.com reported. But Brown voluntarily agreed to surrender the monkey he named Fiji, avoiding a raid.

Sources told TMZ that Brown could be charged with having a restricted species without a permit, a misdemeanor, that carries a maximum of 6 months in jail. The case has been turned over to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

Brown’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, told TMZ, “As I leave my office in downtown L.A. and walk past people sleeping on the street on my way to defend people charged by the city attorney with selling medical marijuana … now spending taxpayer money on investigating monkey business, this completes the circle on his absurdity.”

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/12/chris-browns-pet-monkey-could-land-him-in-trouble/

Jan 11

6 candidates for governor to square off at USC forum

Six leading candidates for California governor will match wits for the first time Saturday in a “town hall” forum at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

Democrats Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang and Delaine Eastin and Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox were chosen to participate because they’re current or former office-holders or had raised at least $100,000 in campaign funds by June 30, 2017.

The event is hosted by the Empowerment Congress, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

Channel 7’s news anchor Marc Brown and KPCC political reporter Mary Plummer will moderate the 90-minute event, which starts at 9 a.m. and will be live-streamed on the ABC7 website and broadcast on KPCC-FM (89.3).

Public seating is limited. People wishing to attend must register at empowermentcongress.org and again at the site. Those arriving too late to get seats may view the event on monitors outside Bovard Auditorium.

The primary is June 5 and the general election Nov. 6 in the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who leaves office next January because of term limits. Polls have consistently shown Newsom, the lieutenant governor and former San Francisco mayor, and Villaraigosa, the former L.A. mayor and state Assembly speaker, running first and second. But polls also show about 30 percent of respondents undecided about whom to support.

Previous forums have matched the four leading Democrats or the top two Republicans, but this is the first to include candidates from both parties.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/11/6-candidates-for-governor-to-square-off-at-usc-forum/

Jan 03

How California’s population looks now – and could look 30 years from now

California has been the nation’s most populous state since 1964, when it reached 18 million people. Estimates show the population is likely to spike to 40 million people this year. We look at how the population differs — in terms of age, ethnicity and other categories — and how California is likely to evolve in the years to come.

California’s estimated population is 39.6 million, which is more than the combined total of these 13 states.

Cal and states for population

California’s racial and ethnic composition as of July 2017

Cal ethnicCounties compared

The racial and ethnic composition of California’s population varies widely by county. The racial and ethnic makeup of Yolo County, for example, is closer to Nevada’s than it is to California’s. Below we look at each of California’s 58 counties and show which U.S. state its population most closely matches.

Cal compared to other states

The counties that have the closest racial and ethnic makeup to California as a whole:

  • Solano
  • Alameda
  • San Joaquin
  • Santa Clara
  • San Mateo
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • San Bernardino
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • San Diego
  • Fresno

You can see the California Department of Finance reports here.

Age structure

In 1970, the percentage of California’s population that was 65 or older was 9 percent. In 2018, the projection is 15 percent, rising to 25 percent by 2048.

1970

Median age: 27.6
65+: 1.7 million or 9%
20-64: 10.9 million or 55%
Under 20: 7.3 million or 36%

1970 age2018 projection

Median age: 36.3
65+: 5.9 million or 15%
20-64: 23 million or 59%
Under 20: 10.4 million or 26%

2018 age structure2048 projection

Median age: 42.3
65+: 12.19 million or 25%
20-64: 26.29 million or 54%
Under 20: 10.25 million or 21%

2048 age structure

Sources: California Department of Finance, U..S. Census, The Associated Press

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/03/how-californias-population-looks-now-and-could-look-30-years-from-now/

Dec 21

See how your California representative voted on tax reform

All but two California Republicans voted for the tax-reform deal approved by the House on Tuesday, Dec. 19.  High-cost, high-tax states — including California — could see tax hikes for many because of a new limit to the deduction allowance for state and local taxes and a $750,000 cap deductions for new home mortgages, down from $1 million for existing mortgages.

California’s representatives

California has 53 congressional districts; 12 voted in favor of the Tax Reform Bill passed Wednesday.

Every Democrat and two Republicans, Dana Rohrbacher (District 48) and Darrell Issa (District 49) voted no.

State districts voteso cal voteAdding to the deficit

In the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis the tax bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit if the amount is not offset by economic growth.

deficit increase

 

You can see the complete analysis here.

Giving tax relief

tax reform benefits

 

tax track by income

 

Offering opinions

“Despite the misinformation being spread about this bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will protect property tax and mortgage interest deductions for the vast majority of my constituents. Twenty-five thousand additional families in my district will also become eligible for the child tax credit. Through these provisions, and most importantly, by doubling the standard deduction, Americans will be able to keep more of their money.” -Paul Cook (R, District 8) – Yes

“I didn’t come to Washington to raise taxes on my constituents and I do not plan to start today. It’s disappointing that the bill approved today will not provide the same tax relief to Californians as it does to the rest of the nation. ” -Darrell Issa (R, District 49) – One of two California Republicans to vote no.

“For many years now, Americans have been promised relief from our over-burdensome and complicated maze of a tax code. This is why I voted in support of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill significantly removes many of the special interest loopholes, lowers the federal income tax rates of low and middle-income families, and puts businesses on a level playing field to invest in American workers and create more opportunity.” -Steve Knight (R, District 25) – Yes

“[The bill] prioritizes tax breaks for wealthy corporations and leaves the middle class behind. Speaker Ryan needs to stop choosing billionaires over Inland Empire families.” -Pete Aguilar (D. District 31) – No

The president on Twitter:

trump tweetEach district

Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale, District 1) – Yes
Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael, District 2) – No
John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove, District 3) – No
Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove, District 4) – Yes
Mike Thompson (D-Napa, District 5) – No
Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento, District 6) – No
Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove, District 7) – No
Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley, District 8) – Yes
Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton, District 9) – No
Jeff Denham (R-Modesto, District 10) – Yes
Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord, District 11) – No
Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco, District 12) – No
Barbara Lee (D-Oakland, District 13) – No
Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo, District 14) – No
Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin, District 15) – No
Jim Costa (D-FresNo, District 16) – No
Ro Khanna (D-Fremont, District 17) – No
Anna Eshoo (D-Silicon Valley, District 18) – No
Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose, District 19) – No
Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley, District 20) – No
David Valadao (R-Hanford, District 21) – Yes
Devin Nunes (R-Tulare, District 22) – Yes
Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield, District 23) – Yes
Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara, District 24) – No
Steve Knight (R-Santa Clarita, District 25) – Yes
Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village, District 26) – No
Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park, District 27) – No
Adam Schiff (D-Burbank, District 28) – No
Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando Valley, District 29) – No
Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks, District 30)- No
Pete Aguilar (D-San BernadiNo, District 31) – No
Grace NapolitaNo (D-El Monte, District 32) – No
Ted Lieu (D-Torrance, District 33) – No
Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles, District 34) – No
Norma Torres (D-Pomona, District 35) – No
Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert, District 36) – No
Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles, District 37) – No
Linda Sanchez (D-Orange, District 38) – No
Ed Royce (R-Fullerton, District 39) – Yes
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles, District 40) – No
Mark TakaNo (D-Riverside, District 41) – No
Ken Calvert (R-Corona, District 42) – Yes
Maxine Waters (D-Inglewood, District 43) – No
Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro, District 44) – No
Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel, District 45) – Yes
Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana, District 46) – No
Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach, District 47) – No
Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa, District 48) – No
Darrell Issa (R-Vista, District 49) – No
Duncan D. Hunter (R-Lakeside, District 50) – Yes
Juan Vargas (D-San Diego, District 51) – No
Scott Peters (D-San Diego, District 52) – No
Susan Davis (D-San Diego, District 53) – No

Sources: Government Finance Officers Association, KQED, House of Representatives

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2017/12/20/see-how-your-california-representative-voted-on-tax-reform/

Dec 12

These maps show which states are most and least religious

With Hanukkah and Christmas coming up, we look at religion in America.

Highly religious by state

California is ranked as the 35th most religious state in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center’s religious landscape study. Mississippi, Alabama and other Southern states are among the most highly religious states in the nation, while New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine in New England are among the least.

The Pew Research Center has a state by state breakdown here.

most and least religiousAmerican views

The Pew Research Center study shows that overall, 52 percent of Americans strongly agree that religious faith is very important in their life.

52 percent

21 percent of Americans somewhat agree that religious faith is very important in their life.

21 percent How Americans affiliate

Based on 2016 statistics

U.S. denomination percentage

Figures in percentage by denomination chart are rounded up.

Religion by county

Christianity by county

 

Non-Christian congregations

Here are the second-most popular faiths in counties in America after Christianity.

You can learn more about these maps at the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

non-christian countiesCalifornia’s religious landscape

California is ranked the 35th most religious state and tied with Nevada and Minnesota. Here’s a look at the state’s profile.

California statsCalifornia changes

California has more religious diversity than most states, according to a metric created by the Public Religion Research Institute. The 2016 index is calculated to measure variations in the concentration of global religious populations in states.

The least diverse states were in the South. Mississippi is the least diverse. The states to the right are in order of the most diverse.

You can read more about American’s changing religious landscape in the PRRI study of religious affiliation in America here.

Diverse statesPercent of population that is religiously unaffiliated, 1976-2016

Those who identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular have increased from about 8 percent of the population in 1976 to 24 percent of Americans in 2016.

uaffiliated over timeUnaffilated by percentagePercent unaffiliated by age

Uaffilated by age

Source: Pew Research Center, Public Religion Research Institute, Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/12/12/these-maps-show-which-states-are-most-and-least-religious/

Dec 09

California lawmaker resigns after bathroom sex assault claim

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  — California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh is resigning after a lobbyist alleged he sexually assaulted her in a bathroom.

The Los Angeles Democrat says in his resignation letter Friday that the allegation is not true but he no longer believes he can effectively serve his district. He says he’ll cooperate with investigators and believes he’ll be vindicated.

His resignation is effective Jan. 1.

Dababneh is the second lawmaker to step down following allegations of sexual misconduct. Democratic Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned last month.

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez alleged at a news conference Monday that Dababneh pushed her into a single-stall bathroom during a Las Vegas social event and masturbated in front of her while asking her to touch him.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/12/08/california-lawmaker-resigns-after-bathroom-sex-assault-claim/

Nov 24

Why you’ll need a passport or DMV issued REAL ID to fly inside the US starting in 2020

California residents who typically use their state driver’s licenses or identification cards to board domestic flights will soon have to either present their U.S. passports or obtain new federally approved identification in order to travel within the country by plane.

By Oct.1, 2020, all states must meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order for driver’s licenses and IDs to be accepted for federal purposes, like boarding a domestic flight or visiting a military base.

This is due to the U.S. REAL ID Act, which was enacted in 2005 to make IDs more secure in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The original deadline was 2008, but it repeatedly was extended because states had trouble complying.

The Department of Motor Vehicles will begin accepting applications for the new federal identification cards January 22, 2018.

The new identification cards, which carry special markings, are known as REAL IDs.

These new identification requirements are not mandatory. They’re not needed to drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits.

“But, if you use your driver license or ID card as identification to pass through TSA for domestic flights, or if you enter military bases or certain federal facilities, you may consider applying,” said Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokesperson.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, a REAL ID driver’s license, ID card, or other federally approved document will be required for those purposes, Gonzalez added.

“If you don’t do those things, you don’t need a REAL ID,” she said.

To prepare to receive these applications, Gonzalez said the Department of Motor Vehicles expects to have 332 new staff members in field offices across the state by Jan. 22, 2018.

Additionally, 60 DMV field offices will offer Saturday hours from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Gonzalez said.

To apply, California residents are advised to make an appointment at their nearest DMV office. They mush show proof of identity and a social security number, a California residency document, and if required, a name change document.

Outside the DMV office in Riverside, some people on Wednesday, Nov. 22, were unaware of these upcoming changes.

Henry Larchot, 62, of Riverside said he doesn’t mind the new requirements. Although, he may not be affected much because he usually uses his passport to travel.

He said when considering security measures, he finds these requirements to be “very good.”

However, Larchot doesn’t agree with having to pay for this new identification card. The fees for a REAL ID card are the same as those currently charged for a driver license or ID card.

Renda Rollins, 57, of Riverside also doesn’t mind. It won’t affect her much since she doesn’t do a lot of traveling outside of driving to Las Vegas to see family.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/24/why-youll-need-a-passport-or-dmv-issued-real-id-to-fly-inside-the-us-starting-in-2020/

Nov 15

In a first, scientists try changing a gene inside a human body to alter DNA

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

OAKLAND — Scientists for the first time have tried editing a gene inside the body in a bold attempt to permanently change a person’s DNA to try to cure a disease.

The experiment was done Monday in California on 44-year-old Brian Madeux. Through an IV, he received billions of copies of a corrective gene and a genetic tool to cut his DNA in a precise spot.

“It’s kind of humbling” to be the first to test this, said Madeux, who has a metabolic disease called Hunter syndrome. “I’m willing to take that risk. Hopefully it will help me and other people.”

Signs of whether it’s working may come in a month; tests will show for sure in three months.
If it’s successful, it could give a major boost to the fledgling field of gene therapy. Scientists have edited people’s genes before, altering cells in the lab that are then returned to patients. There also are gene therapies that don’t involve editing DNA.

But these methods can only be used for a few types of diseases. Some give results that may not last. Some others supply a new gene like a spare part, but can’t control where it inserts in the DNA, possibly causing a new problem like cancer.

This time, the gene tinkering is happening in a precise way inside the body. It’s like sending a mini surgeon along to place the new gene in exactly the right location.

“We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending,” said Dr. Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, the California company testing this for two metabolic diseases and hemophilia. “It becomes part of your DNA and is there for the rest of your life.”

That also means there’s no going back, no way to erase any mistakes the editing might cause.

“You’re really toying with Mother Nature” and the risks can’t be fully known, but the studies should move forward because these are incurable diseases, said one independent expert, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego.

Protections are in place to help ensure safety, and animal tests were very encouraging, said Dr. Howard Kaufman, a Boston scientist on the National Institutes of Health panel that approved the studies.

He said gene editing’s promise is too great to ignore. “So far there’s been no evidence that this is going to be dangerous,” he said. “Now is not the time to get scared.”

WOE FROM HEAD TO TOE

Fewer than 10,000 people worldwide have these metabolic diseases, partly because many die very young. Those with Madeux’s condition, Hunter syndrome , lack a gene that makes an enzyme that breaks down certain carbohydrates. These build up in cells and cause havoc throughout the body.

Patients may have frequent colds and ear infections, distorted facial features, hearing loss, heart problems, breathing trouble, skin and eye problems, bone and joint flaws, bowel issues and brain and thinking problems.

“Many are in wheelchairs … dependent on their parents until they die,” said Dr. Chester Whitley, a University of Minnesota genetics expert who plans to enroll patients in the studies.

Weekly IV doses of the missing enzyme can ease some symptoms, but cost $100,000 to $400,000 a year and don’t prevent brain damage.

Madeux, who now lives near Phoenix, is engaged to a nurse, Marcie Humphrey, who he met 15 years ago in a study that tested this enzyme therapy at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where the gene editing experiment took place.

He has had 26 operations for hernias, bunions, bones pinching his spinal column, and ear, eye and gall bladder problems.

“It seems like I had a surgery every other year of my life” and many procedures in between, he said. Last year he nearly died from a bronchitis and pneumonia attack. The disease had warped his airway, and “I was drowning in my secretions, I couldn’t cough it out.”

Madeux has a chef’s degree and was part owner of two restaurants in Utah, cooking for US ski teams and celebrities, but now can’t work in a kitchen or ride horses as he used to.

Gene editing won’t fix damage he’s already suffered, but he hopes it will stop the need for weekly enzyme treatments.

Initial studies will involve up to 30 adults to test safety, but the ultimate goal is to treat children very young, before much damage occurs.

HOW IT WORKS

A gene-editing tool called CRISPR has gotten a lot of recent attention, but this study used a different one called zinc finger nucleases. They’re like molecular scissors that seek and cut a specific piece of DNA.

The therapy has three parts: The new gene and two zinc finger proteins. DNA instructions for each part are placed in a virus that’s been altered to not cause infection but to ferry them into cells. Billions of copies of these are given through a vein.

They travel to the liver, where cells use the instructions to make the zinc fingers and prepare the corrective gene. The fingers cut the DNA, allowing the new gene to slip in. The new gene then directs the cell to make the enzyme the patient lacked.

Only 1 percent of liver cells would have to be corrected to successfully treat the disease, said Madeux’s physician and study leader, Dr. Paul Harmatz at the Oakland hospital.

“How bulletproof is the technology? We’re just learning,” but safety tests have been very good, said Dr. Carl June, a University of Pennsylvania scientist who has done other gene therapy work but was not involved in this study.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG

Safety issues plagued some earlier gene therapies. One worry is that the virus might provoke an immune system attack. In 1999, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died in a gene therapy study from that problem, but the new studies use a different virus that’s proved much safer in other experiments.

Another worry is that inserting a new gene might have unforeseen effects on other genes. That happened years ago, when researchers used gene therapy to cure some cases of the immune system disorder called “bubble boy” disease. Several patients later developed leukemia because the new gene inserted into a place in the native DNA where it unintentionally activated a cancer gene.

“When you stick a chunk of DNA in randomly, sometimes it works well, sometimes it does nothing and sometimes it causes harm,” said Hank Greely, a Stanford University bioethicist. “The advantage with gene editing is you can put the gene in where you want it.”

Finally, some fear that the virus could get into other places like the heart, or eggs and sperm where it could affect future generations. Doctors say built-in genetic safeguards prevent the therapy from working anywhere but the liver, like a seed that only germinates in certain conditions.

This experiment is not connected to other, more controversial work being debated to try to edit genes in human embryos to prevent diseases before birth — changes that would be passed down from generation to generation.

MAKING HISTORY

Madeux’s treatment was to have happened a week earlier, but a small glitch prevented it.
He and his fiancee returned to Arizona, but nearly didn’t make it back to Oakland in time for the second attempt because their Sunday flight was canceled and no others were available until Monday, after the treatment was to take place.

Scrambling, they finally got a flight to Monterey, California, and a car service took them just over 100 miles north to Oakland.

On Monday he had the three-hour infusion, surrounded by half a dozen doctors, nurses and others wearing head-to-toe protective garb to lower the risk of giving him any germs. His doctor, Harmatz, spent the night at the hospital to help ensure his patient stayed well.

“I’m nervous and excited,” Madeux said as he prepared to leave the hospital. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, something that can potentially cure me.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/11/14/in-a-first-scientists-try-editing-a-gene-inside-a-human-body-to-alter-dna/

Oct 27

Congress might eliminate California state and local tax deductions. Here’s a look at the numbers

Congress is debating whether to eliminate the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes on their federal returns. If these deductions are repealed, almost 30 percent of taxpayers would be affected. Here’s a look at the deduction that 34 percent of Californians claim.

Distribution of deductions

According to the Tax Foundation, the state and local tax deductions, known as SALT, are the most popular itemized deductions. In 2013, approximately 43 million households deducted what they paid in state and local tax.

Deduction breakdownDifference by income

People who itemize tend to be on the higher end of the income scale — about 10 percent of filers who make under $50,000 claimed the deductions, while 42 percent of households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 itemized deductions in 2013, and 93.5 percent of households that made over $200,000 did.

By incomeTax and the number of states that collect

  • Income tax: 41
  • Local income tax: 12
  • State sales tax: 45
  • Local sales tax: 38
  • Property tax: 50

Average deductions

Average amount for state and local tax deductions per return

Average amount of deductions

California has the fifth highest average behind:

  • Connecticut: $7,774
  • New York: $7,182
  • New Jersey: $7,045
  • Washington, D.C.: $6,056

Percentage of filers using state and local tax deductions

Percentage of those with deduction

California has the 11th highest percentage of people using the deductions. Maryland has the highest with 45 percent.

Deductions by congressional district

The darker the color on the map, the higher the average amount of deductions claimed per congressional district.

Congressional distric

California has 53 congressional districts.

District 18 had the highest average amount, $18,239. The district covers areas of Palo Alto and Santa Clara.

California congressional district, party of representative, percentage using the deductions and average amount

 

California congressional districts

 

 

 

Sources: Government Finance Officers Association, Tax Foundation, Tax Policy Center, IRS, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/10/27/congress-might-eliminate-california-state-and-local-tax-deductions-heres-a-look-at-the-numbers/

Oct 21

A look at the California GOP by the numbers

Republicans control the White House and Congress, but it’s an uphill battle for them in California. The California Republican Party Convention is this weekend in Anaheim. Here’s a look at the party’s numbers.

Voters in California

The chart below shows the percentage of registered voters in California by political party. Since 1991, California’s population has increased by nearly 10 million. In the same time the percentage of voters registering as no party preference has increased by more than 10 percent while the percentages of Democrats and Republicans have declined.

Percentage of california voters

 

Millions of voters

California’s estimated population has increased by 3 million people from 2007 to 2017.
In millions

Registered voters in CaliforniaLargest county increases in registration for all parties
From Feb. 2015 to Feb. 2017
Los Angeles 349,185
Riverside 141,842
San Diego 127,654
Orange 126,493
Sacramento 97,850

2016 Presidential election

In 2016, 4.48 million Republicans voted for President Donald Trump. It was the smallest number of Republican votes since the 1996 presidential election where Reform Party candidate Ross Perot siphoned off votes.
The map below shows what counties went to President Trump.

GOP counties in the 2016 electionState landscape

The GOP has a lot of geographical area, but less members in the Senate and Assembly.

state districts GOPBig turnout

In the 2004 presidential election more than 5.5 million Californians voted Republican, with 36 counties going to incumbent George W. Bush.
6.7 million votes went to Democratic candidate John Kerry, who carried the state with 54 percent of the vote.

turnout for GOP in 20041988 red state

The last presidential election that the Republicans carried the state was in 1988. George H.W. Bush received 5 million votes and 51.1 percent to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’ 4.7 million votes and 47.6% of the vote.

1988 presidential election

Sources: California Secretary of State, Politico, California State Legislature

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/10/21/a-look-at-the-california-gop-by-the-numbers/

Oct 13

Gov. Brown declares state of emergency amid hepatitis A outbreak

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation Friday to allow the state to increase its supply of  vaccines amid a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed more than a dozen people.

The current outbreak involves hundreds of cases in multiple counties, most notably in San Diego County, where 18 people have died from the liver disease. In Los Angeles County, eight people have fallen ill as of Oct. 6, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The potentially fatal liver disease has mostly affected homeless people and those who use illicit drugs, according to the department.

Brown’s proclamation gives state health officials the authority to immediately purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers and distribute them to impacted communities.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease with symptoms that include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and a yellowing of the skin or eyes or jaundice.

The virus is spread from person-to-person through close contact or through contact with environments contaminated with feces.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/10/13/gov-brown-declares-state-of-emergency-amid-hepatitis-a-outbreak/

Sep 29

Gov. Brown signs bills to spur more affordable housing, curb costs

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks before signing a number of bills to help address housing needs Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks before signing a number of bills to help address housing needs Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Gov. Jerry Brown signs a package of bills putting a $4 billion housing bond on the November 2018 ballot and adding teeth to state housing laws Friday, Sept. 29 in San Francisco. Fifteen bills make up the package. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    Gov. Jerry Brown signs a package of bills putting a $4 billion housing bond on the November 2018 ballot and adding teeth to state housing laws Friday, Sept. 29 in San Francisco. Fifteen bills make up the package. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Gov. Jerry Brown gestures while speaking before a bill signing to help address housing needs Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    Gov. Jerry Brown gestures while speaking before a bill signing to help address housing needs Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a number of bills he signed to help address housing needs as a group of elected officials and housing advocates applaud Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    California Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a number of bills he signed to help address housing needs as a group of elected officials and housing advocates applaud Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a number of bills he signed to help address housing needs as a group of elected officials and housing advocates look on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    California Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a number of bills he signed to help address housing needs as a group of elected officials and housing advocates look on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in San Francisco. With one of the nation’s most expensive cities as his backdrop, Gov. Brown signed legislation Friday aimed at tackling California’s growing affordable housing crisis. More than a dozen bills make up the package Brown will sign outside a San Francisco affordable housing complex. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

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SAN FRANCISCO — A package of long-awaited bills aimed at addressing California’s affordable-housing crisis was signed into law Friday, Sept. 29, as Gov. Jerry Brown, big-city mayors and lawmakers celebrated the hard-fought victory — but acknowledged it was just a beginning and vowed to continue chipping away at the problem gripping the state.

“Today we are here to tell those who are suffering that we hear you and are committed to make housing affordable again,” said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.

In the final hours of the legislative session, lawmakers approved 15 bills that would fund more affordable housing construction, streamline local approval of homebuilding projects and punish local communities failing to meet state-mandated housing goals.

“This is probably the biggest bill signing that I’ve ever seen because this deals with something so basic as shelter and how we live,” Brown told a group of state and local leaders gathered at a San Francisco affordable housing project. “It is a big challenge. We have risen to it this year.”

About 100 people gathered on a chilly, blustery San Francisco morning outside Hunters View, a public housing project with panoramic views of the city.

A key component of the package will increase state dollars for affordable housing programs, including construction, down payment assistance for low-income home buyers and home loans for veterans. Voters will have the final say on the biggest measure, Senate Bill 3, a $4 billion housing bond aimed at the November 2018 ballot. If approved, that measure would finance construction of 92,000 new housing units, according to the measure’s author, Jim Beall, D-San Jose.

“The campaign starts now to get SB 3 adopted by the voters,” Beall said. He has said the bond would lead to roughly $20 million in affordable-housing construction when tax credits and matching funds are included.

Senate Bill 2, meanwhile, is expected to raise $200 million to $300 million a year for affordable housing programs by tacking a fee of up to $225 per transaction onto the recording of deeds and other real estate documents at county offices. Property sales are exempted from the fee.

Other measures seek to streamline the approval process for new developments, with fines and other sanctions for local cities and counties that fail to comply with the state’s oft-ignored “housing element” law.

The most publicized of those bills, SB 35, will allow developments to bypass city councils in cities that fail to meet state-mandated housing goals.

“Today, California begins a pivot — a pivot from California’s housing-last policy to our future housing-first policy where housing matters,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. “We have spent 50 years in this state digging ourselves into a deep hole by making it harder and harder to build housing, by coming up with every conceivable excuse in the book why we don’t need housing (and) by putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of new housing.”

Because of the housing shortage, Wiener said, families are being forced to leave the state, people are being pushed onto the streets, businesses can’t expand, workers can’t find housing near jobs, and climate goals are undermined “by pushing people into crushingly long commutes.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added “the California dream is in danger” because families are struggling with high rent and monthly mortgage payments.

“We saw it on our way here,” Garcetti told the gathering. “You get off the freeway and you see the (homeless) encampments. You drive by the streets and you see the trailers.”

Two other bills signed Friday seek to hold local communities accountable for compliance with state housing laws. One strengthens the state’s so-called “anti-NIMBY (Not In My Backyard)” act, mandating fines of $10,000 per housing unit when projects are wrongfully denied or have their density reduced. The other requires approval of developments that meet local zoning and planning guidelines.

“We all know homelessness, displacement, continuously rising costs hurts Californians. What’s the cause? The housing shortage,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, the bills’ author.

The bill signing comes 2 1/2 years after the state Legislative Analyst’s Office warned California needs to boost homebuilding to control galloping housing costs. The analyst’s March 2015 report found that California needs to boost homebuilding by 100,000 units a year to bring housing costs in line with national growth rates, while addressing longstanding neighborhood opposition and environmental reviews as an obstacle to homebuilding.

Several measures seek to streamline the approval process for new developments, with fines and other sanctions for local cities and counties that fail to comply with the state’s oft-ignored “housing element” law.

The most publicized of those bills, SB 35, will allow developments to bypass city councils in cities that fail to meet state-mandated housing goals.

“Today, California begins a pivot — a pivot from California’s housing-last policy to our future housing-first policy where housing matters,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. “We have spent 50 years in this state digging ourselves into a deep hole by making it harder and harder to build housing, by coming up with every conceivable excuse in the book why we don’t need housing (and) by putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of new housing.”

Because of the housing shortage, Wiener said, families are being forced to leave the state, people are being pushed onto the streets, businesses can’t expand, workers can’t find housing near jobs, and climate goals are undermined “by pushing people into crushingly long commutes.”

Two other bills signed Friday seek to hold local communities accountable for compliance with state housing laws. One strengthens the state’s so-called “anti-NIMBY (Not In M Backyard)” act, mandating fines of $10,000 per housing unit when projects are wrongfully denied or have their density reduced. The other requires approval of developments that meet local zoning and planning guidelines.

“We all know homelessness, displacement, continuously rising costs hurts Californians. What’s the cause? The housing shortage,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, the bills’ author. Later, Skinner said in an interview that “getting a permit to build housing should not be a shell game.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added “the California dream is in danger” because families are struggling with high rent and monthly mortgage payments.

“We saw it on our way here,” Garcetti told the gathering. “You get off the freeway and you see the (homeless) encampments. You drive by the streets and you see the trailers.”

STATE HOUSING DEAL: HIGHLIGHTS
Senate Bill 2, by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will create a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, imposing fees of up to $225 on certain real-estate transactions, such as mortgage refinancing. (Home and commercial real estate purchases would not be subject to the fee.) It will collect $1.2 billion over the next five years — and would raise a total of $5.8 billion during that time, including federal, local and private matching funds, according to committee estimates.

Senate Bill 3, by Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, will place a $4 billion statewide housing bond on the November 2018 ballot. Like SB 2, it would pay for existing affordable-housing programs in California that used to be supported by funds from the state’s redevelopment agencies, a giant source of money that was slashed in the wake of the Great Recession and never replaced. If the bond measure passes and is approved by voters, $1 billion of the total would go to extend the CalVet Home Loan Program, which is scheduled to expire in 2018.

Senate Bill 35, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, will try to tackle the state’s housing-supply shortage. Currently, cities are told every eight years how many units they need to build to meet their share of regional demand — but they are not required to build them. This bill aims to make it harder to ignore those goals. It targets cities that fall short, requiring them to approve more housing developments that fit the bill’s criteria until they are back on track.

Senate Bill 167, by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, strengthens the state’s 35-year-old Housing Accountability Act, known colloquially as the “anti-NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) Act.” Cities that don’t comply with a court order to allow development would be hit with automatic fines of $10,000 per housing unit.

Senate Bill 540, by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, allows cities to determine where housing needs to be built and to create a specific plan for development in that zone, including public hearings and environmental reviews. This is intended to speed up the approval and construction process.

Assembly Bill 73, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, will give local governments cash incentives to create high-density “Housing Sustainability Districts” near transit with some affordable housing.

Assembly Bill 1505, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, restores the ability of local governments to impose “inclusionary zoning” rules on new developments, requiring developers to include affordable rental units in their projects. A 2009 appellate court decision cut off that tool, which cities and counties had used for decades. The governor had vetoed similar legislation by Atkins in 2013, arguing that it could make it harder for a city to attract development, but while negotiating the package of bills with lawmakers, Brown agreed to sign it.

MORE ON CALIFORNIA HOUSING SHORTAGE: 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/29/brown-signs-bills-seeking-to-address-california-housing-crisis/

Sep 28

California seeks more sway by moving up presidential primary

By Kathleen Ronayne

SACRAMENTO >> Super Tuesday, the jam-packed day of presidential primary voting every four years, may get supercharged in 2020 with California joining the pack, bringing along its prize of the most delegates.

Gov. Jerry Brown gave his stamp of approval Wednesday to a measure jumping California’s primary up to the beginning of March, three months earlier than its contest in 2016, when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had already captured the major parties’ nominations.

“The Golden State will no longer be relegated to last place in the presidential nominating process,” Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country’s highest office.”

Bumping the primary up is designed to give the nation’s most populous state more sway in choosing the Republican and Democratic nominees.

And it could seriously shake up the nominating contest.

California, home to 11 media markets, is an expensive state to campaign in, potentially giving well-funded candidates an edge.

Democratic leaders said the bill gives California the spotlight it deserves given its record of pushing the national conversation around immigration and other issues.

“With all due respect to our brothers and sisters in Iowa and New Hampshire, California is the beating heart of the national resistance to Trump,” Eric Bauman, chairman of the California Democratic Party, said in a statement. “When it comes to deciding the Democratic nominee, our voices need to be heard early in the process.”

Iowa and New Hampshire will still have their early say.

The measure puts the state’s primary on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, often known as “Super Tuesday,” when as many as a dozen states hold nominating contests. It will still fall after the earliest caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

In 2016, California held its primary in June when Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump were already the major party nominees. California typically awards the most delegates.

The state moved its presidential primary to February in 2008, but the shift did not exert influence on the Democratic side. Clinton won the state’s primary, but Barack Obama went on to capture the party’s nomination.

The change also pushes California’s primary for state offices to March.

The Democratic and Republican national committees have not set rules for the 2020 contest yet. The parties set a calendar as well as how many delegates each state is awarded.

California received extra delegates for holding a late primary in 2016 and likewise could be punished in 2020 for moving up the election.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/27/california-seeks-more-sway-by-moving-up-presidential-primary-2/

Sep 24

FivePoint CEO on Amazon bidding as HQ2 forces everyone to play nice

Maybe Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is simply looking for a commercial real estate bargain.

Maybe Amazon’s very public search for a second company headquarters is a bit of corporate grandstanding.

Maybe the man who helped change the way we shop is actually seeking new ways for corporations and their workers to do business.

But let’s give Bezos credit for one thing he’s already accomplished in his quest for a home for “HQ2,” which would mirror the company’s Seattle corporate hub.

Folks are now playing nice, talking up their hometown communities.

This very public bidding process has forced civic leaders and corporate bosses across the nation to turn on the sales charm. For the time being, many of these luminaries are selling what’s good about their respective regions compared with what has become too frequently a chorus of what’s wrong.

The change in tone was not lost on developer on Emile Haddad, chief executive of Irvine-based FivePoint Communities. He thinks, win or lose, there’s a bright side for everybody in the competition for Amazon: Reasoned discussion about economic opportunity.

“It’s nice to see the focus on the positive rather than the usual noise,” he says.

Haddad is keenly watching how the Amazon bidding pays out. And not just as boss of a major California landowner.

He thinks Amazon could be a force in rethinking how companies work with its second campus.

Amazon’s request for location bids isn’t just about the cost of facilities, doing business and staff. The proposal also speaks to a region’s quality of life and willingness to think differently. Why else request data on walkability and bike lanes, for instance?

Haddad doesn’t see Amazon creating “just buildings hosting warm bodies; this space will be disruptive.”

And if the retailing giant from Seattle is willing to consider a second West Coast home, and is serious about considering more than expenses, Haddad thinks California is a winner.

Look, the veteran developer knows the state’s strengths — and weaknesses — but he consistently applauds California’s lifestyle and business opportunities, warts and all.

“Where else would a company go if they want to attract the 50,000 best people in the world?” he says.

Now, the typically high-profile Haddad has taken a relatively low profile amid the nationwide scramble to win HQ2. Meeting Amazon’s wishlist puts Haddad in a tough spot, sort of like asking a parent which is his or her favorite child.

He applauds the in-state wooing of Amazon, heaping praise of the bid work done by his company’s rival, the Irvine Co. and owner Donald Bren. One wonders if Irvine Co. and FivePoint could end up partners in an Orange County bid. FivePoint is also supporting efforts in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area.

You see, Haddad’s FivePoint controls California land that could help satisfy Amazon’s need to eventually house — to work and to live — as many as 50,000 workers in 8 million square feet of offices … in three different places in California.

At the Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine, FivePoint has the rights to build roughly 6,000 more homes and roughly 4 million square feet of commercial space.

Then there’s Newhall Ranch in northern Los Angeles County with 21,500 homesites and 11.5 million square feet of commercial space to be built out that could satisfy Amazon’s walk-to-work mantra.

In the Bay Area, FivePoint controls the development of the old San Francisco Shipyard and Candlestick Point with 12,000 homesites and a potential for 4.1 million square feet of commercial buildings.

But unlike other development wars where FivePoint was a key actor, so far Haddad seems to be willing to accept a supporting role in the battle for Amazon.

“Of course we’re interested,” Haddad says. “We stand ready to do whatever it takes.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/24/fivepoint-ceo-weighs-in-on-amazon-hq2-battle-notes-new-campus-is-forcing-everyone-to-play-nice/

Sep 23

How California might look if it was 100 percent carbon neutral

This week, Gov. Jerry Brown joined several other governors at the U.S. Climate Alliance in New York, saying: “We’re all in and we’ll keep going and eventually Washington will join with us because you can’t deny science forever. You can’t deny reality. And that reality is climate change is occurring.”

Last week, California’s Senate Bill 100 didn’t make it to the governor’s desk but those who support making California carbon neutral by 2045 aren’t giving up. The bill would have accelerated the state’s existing goals to decarbonize the state’s power grid, with the requirement that California reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

It’s an ambitious goal.

As of 2015, about 28 percent of energy from the state’s three largest utility companies came from renewable sources, according to the California Public Utility Commission. Ambition might outpace existing technology because it would require breakthroughs in energy storage to meet the goal.

Southern California Edison opposed the bill, arguing customers could be burdened with high costs.

solar farm

The bill’s proponents disagreed, saying the new milestones are within reach and affordable, and the legislation itself serves as a driver of innovation in the clean energy sector.

“I think it’s really obtainable,” said Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, the California senate president pro tem who introduced the bill. “Three decades into the future gives us plenty of time to really figure this out.” Legislative efforts such as SB 100, “send a clear message to Washington that with or without them we’re going to move forward with clean energy because it’s the right thing to do and it can be done.”

SB 100 may have been derailed but several bills regarding California’s air quality sailed through. Two bills, AB 109 and AB 134, are on the governor’s desk and they have ambitious standards of using the state’s cap and trade money to replace diesel engines in heavy trucks and buses to make them electric vehicles.

PIE IN THE CLEAN SKY?

A look at how a carbon-neutral state might look:

electric hookupsJOBS

California already has the most solar jobs and industry experts said the state could continue to outpace the rest of the U.S.

According to the most recent California Green Innovation Index, job growth outpaced the rest of the country by 27 percent after the state passed its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006. The index also found that in California for every fossil fuel job, there are 8.5 in renewable energy.

HOME IS WHERE THE HYDROGEN IS

UC Irvine researcher Jack Brouwer, a professor of mechanical engineering, said SB 100 didn’t go far enough.

Under a bill focused on decarbonizing the electric grid, homes could move more toward electrifying appliances which could be a lifestyle shift for some Californians, Brouwer said. One area of research he focuses on is the power-to-gas model, which uses solar energy and pure water to store energy as hydrogen for longer periods of time.

hydrogen tower in city
“There are some scenarios in which the homes are going to electrify everything, and if they electrify everything in those homes you won’t have the gas grill, you won’t have the gas cook top, you won’t have the cheaper gas dryer, and most importantly you won’t have gas heating. And that’s going to feel very different,” said Brouwer, who is also the associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center.

Brouwer believes Californians would be better served by decarbonizing both the electric grid and natural gas. In that scenario, the state could begin replacing natural gas with hydrogen with minimal changes to the existing infrastructure. If the state were to move to hydrogen, it would encourage long haul trucks to move to fuel cells among other changes.

THE LANDSCAPE

clean california landscape

Wind turbines, like those found on the San Gorgonio Pass, and solar farms will likely be increasingly common. Rooftop solar installations in suburban settings will also increase, but be outpaced by large operations in open spaces in the state’s deserts and mountain regions.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

Progress with renewable energy

2015 renewables in California

Total generation of in-state electricity by fuel type in megawatts.

cal energy by yearLEADING THE WAY

California lead the way in active solar plants and wind-power plants.

solar map

Sources: California Solar Statics, Center for Sustainable Energy, Southern California Edison, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, California Senate

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/23/how-california-might-look-if-it-was-100-percent-carbon-neutral/