Californians See the Housing Affordability Crisis as a Threat to the California Dream

Carson Bruno
Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution

This is an abridged version of an article that appeared in the May/June 2015 Issue 1502 of the Hoover Institution’s Eureka – a bi-monthly publication on relevant California policy topics. To read the full Issue 1502, visit Eureka. To read more about the Golden State Poll, click here.

California’s housing prices are the 2nd highest in the country (second only to Hawaii); according to Zillow, Californian home values and rental prices are roughly 2½ times and 1½ times, respectively, the national averages. Homeownership is a signifier of upward economic mobility, but many Californians cannot afford these daunting prices threatening the California Dream.

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Dick Mountjoy and the “Bob’s Big Boy Poll”

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Former legislator Dick Mountjoy was a “Prop 13 baby,” a strong supporter of the measure when elected to the assembly for the first time the year when the Proposition 13 property tax reform was on the ballot.

During his campaign for his first office he heard all the official opposition to the measure from the governor on down but he insisted Proposition 13 would pass. He said he knew this because of the “Bob’s Big Boy Poll.”

Mountjoy explained that he would go into the Bob’s Big Boy restaurants and listen to the conversations of average citizens sitting around the tables and lunch counters. He heard the anger over property taxes that were threatening home ownership. Mountjoy knew from the reaction he heard in his restaurant visits that Prop 13 would pass and that he was right to support it.

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In LA, What They’re Not Telling You About Tax Increases

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, otherwise known as Metro, will most likely place on the November 2016 ballot a measure that would permanently increase our sales tax by a half cent to 9½%, one of the highest rates in the country.

If this measure is approved b y at least two-thirds of the voters, these new revenues, along with almost $3 billion in existing sales tax revenues, including those from Measure R that was approved in 2008, would help Metro fund over $100 billion in transportation related projects.  

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Why California Needs More Police

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

You wouldn’t know it by watching all the news about police-community conflict, or by going to protests against police racism and militarization, or by tracking all the Sacramento legislation on the use of force by law enforcement. But California’s biggest problem when it comes to policing remains the same: There isn’t enough of it.

Of course, issues of police misconduct are real and serious, as recent stories from the racist police texts in San Francisco to the shooting of an unarmed homeless man in L.A. make plain. But underlying—and contributing to—these issues is the fact that California lacks the manpower necessary for the smart, effective policing of our very diverse and complicated communities.

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Air Board Asks Courts to Create New Tax

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

In a landmark case before the Third District Court of Appeal, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently argued for creation of an unprecedented tax doctrine that could raise billions of dollars in new revenues. The ARB described the new revenue not as a tax or a fee (or any other recognized revenue-raising mechanism), but as a “byproduct” of a regulatory program.

The case, California Chamber of Commerce v. California Air Resources Board, challenges the legality of the cap-and-trade auction ARB set up as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet goals outlined in AB 32, the climate change law.

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California: A Textbook Example of the Perils of Short-Sighted Policy

Autumn Carter
Executive Director, California Common Sense

The opening words of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent California state budget should ring true. “Since the January Budget, the state’s economy has strengthened and revenues have surged upward, driven by increased capital gains and other income from high‑wage earners,” it begins. “Despite these stronger revenues, the budget remains precariously balanced and faces the prospect of deficits in succeeding years. The state has hundreds of billions of dollars in existing liabilities, such as deferred maintenance on its roads and other infrastructure and its unfunded liability for future retiree health care benefits for state employees and various pension benefits.”

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Rand Paul’s Silicon Rally

Reed Galen
Republican Strategist in Orange County

Senator Rand Paul addressed a crowd of about 150 people and press at the Startup House in San Francisco, California. He was in the city to announce his procurement of ‘work space’ in the heart of the tech community and rollout additional members of his technology advisory council.

galen_paul1Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the Startup House in San Francisco, California. Photo/Reed Galen

Most Republican presidential contenders come to California for one reason: Money. Despite the Golden State’s deep blue reflection, there is still more money (even for Republicans) than anywhere else in the country.

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City Attorney Has Better Case to Make

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

City attorneys are supposed to be lawyers to their cities. They advise city officials on legal matters, defend the city against lawsuits, write ordinances, prosecute city code violators. That kind of thing.

But that job’s not nearly big enough for L.A.’s city attorney, Mike Feuer. He wants to be a crusading consumer advocate, a local Ralph Nader.

He must. How else can you explain his lawsuit last week against Wells Fargo? Why else would he sue a business that’s not even headquartered in Los Angeles?

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Steve Glazer’s Moment – and California’s

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Whether by choice or not, Steve Glazer, candidate for the Senate District 7 seat in tomorrow’s special election, is a symbol of change. His election could alter the face of California politics from the expected — Democratic candidates following in lock step with the party’s strongest influencers and financial backers — to electing more independent candidates.

Let’s be clear that Glazer, the mayor of Orinda, is a long time loyal Democrat. His one vote in the Senate will not change the general direction that body takes on issues. However, his independent streak would be welcome under the capitol dome.

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Hiltzik Wrong to Criticize Aircraft Tax Reform Measure

George Runner and Fiona Ma
Members of the State Board of Equalization

In early May, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik  unfairly criticized a State Board of Equalization-supported proposal to simplify property tax assessment of airline property in California. As elected Board members and former legislators, we write to set the record straight.

Senate Bill 661, authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), would centralize property tax assessment of commercial airline property, ending a confusing and complicated county-by-county system that has spawned years of legal disputes. It would reduce costs and improve efficiency for state and local government, making California more friendly to a sector that helps support a million jobs and generates $154 billion in economic activity in our state.

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