Droughts and Not Enough Water: California’s Silent Crisis

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

California is known as earthquake country but nature poses more insidious threats which can go undetected until too late. Among them are the recurrent droughts and chronic lack of water. 

As I wrote in California and Its Water, Time to Re-think State’s Failing Water Policies, and Drought and Denial,

“……so far the proposals coming out of Sacramento and emulated by water districts across the state call for stricter conservation, including expanding water storage facilities, more effective groundwater management, digging wells, greater recycling and more efficient irrigation systems.”

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Californians Favor Stronger Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Rachel Ward
Research Associate at the Public Policy Institute of California

Last month, California officials reached a groundbreaking deal with four major auto manufacturers to toughen greenhouse gas emissions. According to PPIC’s latest survey, an overwhelming majority of Californians (75% adults, 76% likely voters) favor requiring all automakers to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from new cars. Californians express strong support for other efforts to reduce emissions as well.

The new emissions standards are more stringent than those proposed by the Trump administration and counter the administration’s efforts to restrict states’ ability to set emissions guidelines. Under the agreement, automakers will increase the fuel economy of their new vehicles by improving fuel efficiency and selling more electric vehicles and hybrids. While the stricter standards only apply to California, the automakers said the agreement is meant to show general support for a national emissions standard.

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America Is Number One: Too Bad The Politicians Don’t See It

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

The United States is a great country dominated by small minds. The two dominant political forces of our time — the progressive left and the Trumpian right — have a stake in pushing a declinist narrative, one to change the country in a more statist direction, the other to stir up resentment and nostalgia among the middle-class masses.

Both political forces overemphasize the country’s problems, obscuring the underlying reality.

Though the country has many faults, notably rising inequality, poverty and an economy under constant pressure of de-industrialization, the United States remains by far the most important, wealthy and powerful nation on the planet. This is what both the Trumpistas and their progressive opponents consistently get wrong. Both overemphasize our national weaknesses and miss our fundamental strengths.

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A Close LA City Council Race

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

There is an election in Los Angeles next week that feels a little old fashioned. It features a Democrat versus a Republican and all indications are the race will be close.

In a state dominated by the Democratic Party with statewide elections often seeing the Democratic candidate wining by 20 points or more, in the liberal city of Los Angeles a Republican-Democratic close election is something to take notice.

Los Angeles’ 12th council district in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley has been safely Republican for a long time. The only Republican sitting on the City Council comes from the 12th District.

That could change with next Tuesday’s election.

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Has California Finally Broken the New Hampshire Stranglehold?

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)

The Boston Globe recently reported an unmistakable absence—of presidential candidates in New Hampshire.

The late summer before a presidential year often leaves the Granite State full of contenders. But few were around, the Globe said. Why? Many were off fundraising—or visiting California.

Maybe California is finally breaking the New Hampshire stranglehold on the first presidential primary.

If so, it would be about time. The Golden State is not just bigger, it’s vastly more important to the country. And we offer a more diverse array of voters. And we offer more potential donors to hit up, which is vital under the new party rules that link participation in the debate to your number of donors.

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Australia’s is an Energy Cautionary Tale for California

Todd Royal
Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

In May the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed wind, solar, and hydroelectric generated approximately 68.5 million megawatt-hours of power, and coal generated 60 million. That’s roughly 23 percent of total electricity from renewables versus 20 percent from coal, but those numbers are deceptively misleading. 

Australia is the case study to show why renewable energy numbers are generally incorrect; and if California continues following Australia’s lead in renewables (solar and wind) our electricity prices will continue rising (California has some of the highest in the U.S.) leading to economic stagnation, and energy poverty for Californians. 

The U.S., and California similar to Australia have abundant amounts of coal, and nuclear energy, but America and California have more natural gas, oil, and petroleum for power generation and economic growth. But California voters and policymakers have chosen Australia’s path by embracing chaotically, intermittent solar and wind farms for electricity over abundant, reliable, affordable, scalable, and flexible natural gas, coal, and nuclear. 

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The Regression of America’s Big Progressive Cities

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

If there’s anything productive to come from his recent Twitter storm, President Trump’s recent crude attacks on Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings have succeeded in bring necessary attention to the increasingly tragic state of our cities. Baltimore’s continued woes, after numerous attempts to position itself as a “comeback city,” illustrates all too poignantly the deep-seated decay in many of our great urban areas.

Baltimore represents an extreme case, but sadly it is not alone. Last year our three largest urban centers — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — lost people while millennial migration accelerated both to the suburbs and smaller, generally less dense cities. These demographic trends, as well as growing blight, poor schools, decaying infrastructure and, worst of all, expanding homelessness are not merely the result of “racism” or Donald Trump, but have all been exacerbated by policy agendas that are turning many great cities into loony towns.

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Following Mass Shootings Will Major New Gun Laws Come to California?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The gun issue moved to the top of the policy agenda after more than 30 tragic deaths from mass shootings over the weekend. California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, so one wonders what lawmakers would do or could do in response to the latest shootings beyond rhetorical hits against President Trump and Congress for not setting tougher national gun laws.

There are a few laws pending in the legislature to restrict gun purchases but none have garnered much attention with the exception of a new tax on gun sales.

But no moves to prohibit and remove assault weapons and assault rifles have come forward.

Will an attempt be made through the initiative process, California’s historic method of bypassing the legislature to make new laws?

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The Possibilities of Zoning

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Webster defines zoning as “dividing into zones, tracts or areas according to existing characteristics or as distinguished for some purpose.”  

In today’s urban environments, it’s the last five words in the definition of zoning that really matter – for housing, at least.  Indeed, it’s those five words – as distinguished for some purpose – that give local governments the power to set aside the benefits of property rights for the many in deference for the few; to approve the construction of new housing in a neighborhood where residents of existing housing already live.

In that regard, zoning is a form of dispute resolution.  It pits the property rights of existing residents, determined not to have the character of their neighborhood changed by new development – especially high-density rental housing – against those who are backing the new construction.  Here in this state, residents typically sue, using the handy California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

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Lawsuits Multiply Against Law Requiring Tax Returns for Ballot Access

Scott Lay
Publisher of The Nooner

A lawsuit by Rocky De La Fuente was filed last week challenging the constitutionality of SB 27 (McGuire and Wiener), the bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to file tax returns to get on California primary ballots.  That federal suit was filed in the Southern District of California by De La Fuente (San Diego), a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate who is running in 2020 as a Republican, alleging that the bill infringes on the Qualifications Clause of the Constitution that prescribes criteria for President and First Amendment rights of association of him and his (now) fellow Republican Party members. Monday, suits were also filed in the Eastern District (Sacramento) and Central District (Los Angeles).

Yesterday, the Trump campaign and Republicans, well, followed suit, also in the Eastern District. This will be the highest profile case. I haven’t had time to review the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure yet on case consolidation across districts, but will look into it this afternoon.

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