Oakland City Council Passes ‘Abolish ICE’ Resolution

OaklandOakland’s city council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday evening calling on Congress to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made headlines months before Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) upset longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in a primary earlier this year when Schaaf alerted illegal immigrants in the Bay Area of impending ICE raids. Schaaf also signed a letter calling for ICE to be abolished.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who authored the resolution, told the East Bay Citizenthat “ICE’s actions have had ramifications in our own backyard.”

“ICE came into West Oakland and tore apart a family while falsely slandering them–claiming it was a criminal case–when they were filing a civil deportation action and no criminal charges,” she reportedly said. “We’ve now experienced enough of ICE telling lies, ripping apart families, and leaving guns loose where they get into the hands of murderers and spreading racism.” …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California

Berkeley Officials Reject Plan to Fast-Track New Housing

HousingAs CalWatchdog reported July 2, the city of Cupertino’s decision to stop fighting a massive mall makeover project enabled by a far-reaching 2017 state law meant to promote more housing construction could someday be seen as a milestone in state planning.

Senate Bill 35 by Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, requires cities that have not met their affordable housing requirements to approve projects that are properly zoned, pay union-scale wages to builders and have at least 10 percent of units in “affordable” ranges.

After months of objections from Cupertino elected officials and activists, in June, the city signed off on developer Sand Hill Property Company’s plan to convert the largely empty 58-acre Vallco Mall site to a huge multi-use project with 2,400 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 1.8 million square feet of office space

Given that 98 percent of cities have been found to have an inadequate supply of affordable housing, according to a state evaluation, the Cupertino precedent seemed potentially huge.

Two months later, new developments related to SB35 appear to point in the opposite direction.

Last week, Berkeley officials rejected a plan to use the law to fast-track approval of 260 apartments and 27,500 square feet of commercial space at 1900 4th Street just east of the Berkeley Marina despite evidence presented by developer Blake Griggs Properties that it was properly zoned and otherwise met SB35’s edicts.

City tactics in fighting project have familiar ring

The tactics that Berkeley is prepared to use mirrored the ways that construction projects have been fought in California for decades: raising a variety of legal objections that could cost developers millions of dollars because of delays, even if they have little or no validity or applicability.

Berkeley planning chief Timothy Burroughs said the project could not proceed because:

  • It would have been built on land designated as a historical landmark because of a Native American burial ground. As a city with its own charter government, it is given deference in protecting its history.
  •  It would have considerable low-income housing but not enough housing for those with very low incomes.
  •  It would have increased traffic in the area in ways not allowed by city laws.

The objections were of the sort that Weiner sought to bypass with SB35. This is why the developer warned of a lawsuit earlier in the summer after the city put up roadblocks to approval.

But in a surprising move reported last week by the San Jose Mercury-News, West Berkeley Investors – part of the group backing developer Blake Griggs Properties – has backed out of the project without explanation. The assumption of many is that it saw the hassles as outweighing the chances for success.

The Mercury-News also reported that a spokesman for Berkeley City Hall said officials would welcome it if developers chose to reactivate a previous application that had far fewer residential units – 135 – and slightly more commercial space – 33,000 square feet.

In his Sept. 4 letter rejecting the latest version of the project, the city planning chief emphasized the historical significance of the Native American burial ground. Why that significance would lose weight in planning decisions if a smaller project were being considered was not explained.

But Burroughs pushed back against the idea his city was hostile to adding housing stock. He said 910 housing units have been built since 2014, 525 are now being constructed and 1,070 are cleared and in the pipeline.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Bullet Train’s Benefits to Southern California Questioned at Hearing

High speed rail constructionSouthern California Democrats have said few, if any, critical words about the state rail authority’s decision in 2016 to drop Los Angeles as the starting point of the first segment of the statewide bullet train.

Rail officials announced at the time that they would instead invest the vast majority of available money to begin building from the Central Valley to the Bay Area.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) broached the topic at a House rail subcommittee hearing on Thursday, asking state rail officials and other witnesses how he can justify the project to his constituents.

“What do I tell people in Los Angeles,” said Lowenthal, the former chairman of the state Senate transportation committee. “We talk about the [rail’s benefits] to Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, but … when are we going to see things going on in Los Angeles? We are the population center.”

Under the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans, it is providing more than $700 million to install an electrical power system for the Bay Area’s Caltrain commuter system and another $400 million for a downtown San Francisco station, along with other much bigger investments that will flow through Santa Clara County. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Bay Area Has Become World’s 19th Largest Economy

sanfrancisco3The Economic Institute reported this month that the Bay Area would be the 19th-largest economy in the world, if it were a country, after growing at the fifth-fastest rate of any nation since 2014.

The Bay Area’s nine counties — including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Solano and Santa Clara — consistently grew faster than the U.S. over the last 20 years. With a GDP of $748 billion at the end of 2017, the Bay Area’s economy now exceeds that of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

The Bay Area’s rate of growth, at 4.3 percent compounded from 2014 through 2017, was also about two and a half times faster than the 1.7 percent growth of the United States. Due to that persistent growth advantage, the Bay Area’s GDP per capita is almost $80,000, versus less than $55,000 in GDP per capita for the nation as a whole.

Bay Area employment grew slower than the U.S. economy from 2008 to 2011, but has recently ramped up. The fastest Bay Area job growth sectors in the Bay Area were healthcare. up 26 percent; professional and scientific professions, up 25 percent; accommodation and food industries, up 17 percent; and information technologies, up 14 percent.

Bay Area median wages in 2017 were the highest in the nation at $52,100, versus $50,300 for Boston and $39,800 for Los Angeles.

The Economic Institute credits the Bay Area’s highly educated population as a key competitive advantage. With a metropolitan area national high of 46 percent of resident adults over the age of 25 with a college bachelor’s degree, the Bay Area’s average educational achievement towers over the 31 percent average for the U.S.

Although the Bay Area is often referred to as Silicon Valley, the economy is broadly diversified, compared to New York, which is heavily concentrated in financial services and consumer goods. In addition to tech companies, the Bay Area is home to leading companies in financial services, consumer goods, and other sectors.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Poll: 46 percent of Bay Area residents likely to leave the region

San Francisco, CA, USABetween 1850 and 1860, California’s population grew by 410 percent – a rapid expansion fueled by the Gold Rush.

The rush today, though, is more outbound than inbound.

From 2007 to 2016, 6 million people left the state while only 5 million moved in. One could argue that with a population of nearly 40 million, a deficit of 1 million over a decade isn’t terribly consequential. One could also argue that losing 1 million is just a start. A recent poll found that 46 percent of Bay Area residents said they are likely to leave the region within the next few years. Only 24 percent of those who want to leave wish to stay in California.

Clearly there is something rotten in San Francisco. Only 25 percent told EMC Research, which polled for the Bay Area Council, that the metro region was headed in the right direction. Fifty-five percent said it is on the “wrong track.”

As recently as 2015, the numbers were almost exactly the reverse: 55 percent said the Bay Area was headed in the right direction, and 28 percent said it was on the wrong track.

So, what has changed?

Several things, it seems. Today, 42 percent said “housing/housing costs/housing availability” is “the most important problem facing the Bay Area today.” In 2015, only 18 percent felt that way.

Other significant trouble spots according to the respondents include “traffic/congestion,” “poverty/homelessness,” and “cost of living.”

This impulse to escape California’s housing crisis is not unique to Bay Area residents. A University of California-Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll taken late last summer found that due to the rising costs of housing, 56 percent across the state have considered moving, “with one in four saying that if they did decide to move, they would most likely relocate out of state.”

In a more recent poll, 700 local business leaders told the Los Angeles County Business Federation the housing crisis and homelessness are “a growing concern” throughout Los Angeles County.

While taxes and fees are still at the top of the list of their biggest headaches, housing and the homeless problem have “moved from low-level concerns in 2017 to among highest priorities of the business community in this year’s poll.”

“The housing crisis affects all sectors and all people in Los Angeles County,” said Greg McWilliams, chief policy officer of FivePoint Communities, a member of the Los Angeles County Business Federation.

“What’s important to note is that taxes and fees halt development, resulting in less housing, business stagnation, higher rents, and higher rates of poverty.”

One wonders if those who cite housing and other cost-of-living hardships as reasons to flee are making the connection between those conditions and California’s one-party rule.

In the four decades Democrats have ruled Sacramento, we’ve seen the development of a housing crisis perpetuated by lousy public policy and a reluctance to enact helpful changes; a regulatory regime and tax structure that is venomous toward business; a political and cultural division that threatens to tear the state into multiple parts; and a widespread sense that the state is heading in the wrong direction.

How can this Blue State stranglehold be broken? It won’t be torn loose by a Republican wave. GOP candidate John Cox might make the governor’s race competitive this fall, but the party is either presumed “dead” or an “afterthought” in California.

California needs candidates who will run pro-growth, pro-freedom, solution-oriented campaigns, regardless of party. Registered voters who have no party preference are now the second-largest electorate group in the state, trailing only registered Democrats.  These voters will make a difference in November whether or not those who are focused on making changes in Sacramento – the new breed of office-seekers that we need to cultivate – are elected.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Families earning $117,000 now qualify as “low income” in California’s Bay Area

A report out this week from the Department of Housing and Urban Development finds the median price for a single-family home in the Bay Area is now $935,000. A family earning $117,000 now qualifies as “low income” in the region.

CBS News went to see California’s red-hot housing market with realtor Larry Gallegos. He showed us a house you would think he couldn’t give away. But Gallegos says the home, complete with leaks in the roof, sold for $1.23 million. The buyer beat out six competing offers, all above the asking price.

“It’s a little mind blowing, but it is the norm around here,” Gallegos said.

That norm is fueled by thousands of well-paid tech workers who have driven up the median price of a San Francisco house to $1.6 million dollars, the highest in the country. While housing prices are rising faster than incomes nationwide, nowhere is it more evident than in the Bay Area, where home values have soared a staggering 64 percent over the last five years. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS News

The Median Home Price In California Now Exceeds $600,000

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image14115451The median price for a home in California has topped the $600,000 mark for the first time ever, according to the latest report from the California Association of Realtors.

You can blame the Bay Area and other red hot high-cost areas for the increase. There are now five counties out of the nine-county Bay Area where the median price is above a million dollars. And that could go higher looking at demand, which has led to many bidding contests.

California Association of Realtors President Steve White says that in May, homes in San Francisco sold on average 18 percent over list price. “That’s pretty common in those high cost Bay Area counties,” he says.

In Sacramento County, the median price for a home last month was $375,000 – that’s up 1.6 percent from April, and up 9.6 percent from May 2017.

White says there’s still a housing shortage at the lower end of the price scale.

The number of homes priced under $200,000 declined by more than 28 percent on an annual basis. And the number of homes priced between $200,000 and $300,000 dropped 13 percent.

A full county-by-county list of median home prices and how much they’ve gone up or down can be found here.

This article was originally published by California Public Radio

‘Three Californias’ Referendum to Appear on November 2018 Ballot

Cal-3 (1)“Cal 3,” a proposal to split California into three states will likely appear on the November 2018 ballot after gathering far more than the minimum number of signatures required, organizers announced Tuesday.

“Thanks to Californians from every corner of the state, the Cal 3 initiative will be on the statewide ballot this November for the first time ever,” read a statement on the initiative’s website.

As Los Angeles ABC News affiliate KABC-7 reported Tuesday evening, the campaign, led by Silicon Valley billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, turned in 600,000 signatures, nearly twice the 365,000 that were required.

The three new states would consist of Northern California, extending from the San Francisco Bay Area north to the Oregon border and east to the Nevada border; California, including Los Angeles County and extending northwest along the Central Coast; and Southern California, including San Diego and the rest of the southern part of the state.

This is not Draper’s first attempt to break up the Golden State. In 2016, he produced an even more ambitious plan called “Six Californias.” However, it failed to gain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot that year.

Draper believes that California has become virtually ungovernable, with a state government that is too remote from its citizens.

Similar sentiments have fueled the “State of Jefferson” movement in the conservative northeast portion of California. However, some conservatives fear that the state has become so liberal that breaking it up into new states would simply elect more Democrats to the U.S. Senate.

Regardless, the “Three Californias” referendum could boost turnout — especially among Republicans — in November, making the state more competitive.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Bay Area home prices: Three counties set new records

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image14115451Not one, but three Bay Area counties set new jaw-dropping records as home prices continued to climb to vertigo-inducing heights.

In February, median prices for resale, single-family homes in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties were the highest they’ve ever been — no small feat in a housing market where prices already are among the most expensive in the nation.

The records, unveiled Thursday in a report by housing data company CoreLogic, suggest no cooling in the red-hot market that’s padding sellers’ pockets while squeezing wannabe buyers and forcing many to leave in search of better deals.

Kevin Cole, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, called February’s price increases “amazing.”

“It just reflects the ratcheting up of what buyers are able to afford,” he said, “with large down payments, with possibly all cash, with low interest rates.”

In Santa Clara County, the median price for a resale, single family home hit $1.29 million last month — up 34 percent from the same time last year, according to the CoreLogic report. In San Mateo County, the median price reached $1.45 million — up 24 percent, — and in San Francisco it was $1.5 million, up 30 percent. …

Click here to read the full article from The Mercury News

Bay Area leaders pledge millions to protect undocumented immigrants in court

San Francisco interim Mayor Mark Farrell announced Thursday that the city plans to pay for legal representation of any immigrant that the Trump administration tries to deport.

On Thursday, ICE announced 232 arrests in Northern California in a four-day period.

Farrell spoke at Carecen, an immigrant rights organization in the Mission District, where he made the announcement alongside Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and Supervisor Hillary Ronen. He said his goal is to make sure every single immigrant that the Trump administration tries to deport has legal representation in immigration court.

“We are in unprecedented territory here,” Farrell said. “He is targeting our immigrant community, here in San Francisco. We’re not going to stand for that.”

Farrell and Assemblyman Phil Ting are partnering together to advocate for $7 million in state funding. The city will spend an additional $3.5 million annually on legal defense services, bringing the total annual amount to $11.1 million. That represents a 236-percent increase from spending levels two year prior.  …

Click here to read the full article from KTVU