Golden Gate Bridge Train Service? It’s Time to Get On Board

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)

If California is as serious about public transit as its urban leaders claim, why isn’t there a commuter rail service running over the Golden Gate Bridge?

There’s no good reason why our state’s iconic span must devote all six of its lanes to cars. For more than 50 years, engineering studies have shown that the bridge could accommodate trains.

And now would be the perfect time to establish a rail line across the Golden Gate. On the level of symbol, train service would send a powerful message to the whole state and to the world that California offers more than just car culture. And, practically, the dense and traffic-plagued Bay Area would benefit immensely from a rail connection between San Francisco and the North Bay counties of Marin and Sonoma.

As our major regions plot new transit investments, there is no more glaring hole in California public transportation than the one across the Golden Gate Bridge.

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For CA, The End of the Asian Era

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

For the past 40 years, the Pacific Rim has been, if you will, California’s trump card. But now, in the age of President Donald Trump and decelerating globalization, the Asian ascendency may be changing in ways that could be beneficial to our state.

Rather than President Barack Obama’s famous “pivot to Asia,” it now might be more accurate to speak of Asians’ pivot to America. Once feared as a fierce competitor, East Asia is facing an end to its period of relentless growth, and now many interests appear to find that the United States offers a more secure, and potentially lucrative, alternative.

This era reflects profound changes in East Asia’s prospects. They increasingly are coping with many of the demographic, social and economic challenges that have bedeviled the West since the 1970s — competition from cheaper countries, technological obsolescence, a demoralized workforce and diminishing upward mobility. The verve of the late 20th century is being supplanted by the anxieties of the early 21st.

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Howard Jarvis’s Ghost

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

Gov. Jerry Brown told Republican legislators at a hearing on his gas tax and vehicle fee increase proposal that their opposition occurred because they were “haunted by the ghost of Howard Jarvis.” It is the other way around. Howard Jarvis haunts Jerry Brown.

Jarvis, lead author and advocate for Proposition 13, the 1978 tax cutting initiative, has been a thorn in Brown’s side for 40 years—with a couple exceptions, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Most Californians who read the history know that Brown, in his first term as governor, opposed Proposition 13. Once it passed Brown declared himself a born-again tax cutter and spent time trying to implement the measure as best he could. He said he was listening to the voters’ wishes.

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A Transportation Deal That’s Not Worth Debating

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)

Oh, the drama. Will Gov. Brown and the Democrats get enough votes to push forward taxes to pay for $5.2 billion annually in transportation?

Reaction: who cares?

$5.2 billion may sound like a lot of money. But it’s a tiny fraction of what California needs to maintain its faltering transportation infrastructure. (For context, it cost $1.6 billion just to widen and improve a section of just one Los Angeles freeway, the 405, in recent years). And it’s an even tinier fraction of what will be needed to transform our transportation so that a denser state has the transit and autonomous-vehicle-confirming roads it will need in the very near future.

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You can have infill housing or an unreformed CEQA , but not both

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

If the question is housing affordability or greenhouse gas reductions, livable cities or infrastructure investment, then the answer often involves “infill housing.”

Dense housing in communities with existing infrastructure is the holy grail for planners, environmentalists and many elected officials.

“Encouraging new housing development in infill areas would spur economic growth, reduce monthly household costs, and cut greenhouse gas emissions, keeping the state on track to achieving its climate goals.” – Next 10

“We identified physical capacity to add more than five million units in (California) “housing hot spots.” – McKinsey Global Institute

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Can Jerry Brown Rally Dems In Legislature For  $54 Billion In New Taxes?

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

California Governor Jerry Brown is on the eve of a self-appointed April 6 deadline to push what he has titled the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, which seeks to impose new gasoline taxes and car registration fees to bring in an estimated $52.4 billion in increased tax revenues over the next decade alone.

Even with the strong support of State Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), Brown is finding it a tall order to rally all of the Democrats in the legislature to support his controversial plan.

In the last election, Democrats picked off enough GOP legislators to gain supermajorities in both legislative chambers. But it will require the votes of essentially every Democrat to pass the taxes in the plan, which under the California Constitution require a two-thirds vote.

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California: The Republic of Climate

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

Gov. Jerry Brown, center, flanked by Senate President pro tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, right, and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, left, speaks during a news conference prior to signing legislation in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. AP Photo/Richard Vogel

To some progressives, California’s huge endorsement for the losing side for president reflects our state’s moral superiority. Some even embrace the notion that California should secede so that we don’t have to associate with the “deplorables” who tilted less enlightened places to President-elect Donald Trump. One can imagine our political leaders even inviting President Barack Obama, who reportedly now plans to move to our state, to serve as the California Republic’s first chief executive.

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The Democratic Folly In Filibustering Gorsuch

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Democratic US Senators have now launched the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history in an attempt to defeat Judge Neil Gorsuch. They seem to be doing so because their Democratic base demands it, but the upshot will be to end any influence Senate Democrats will have over Supreme Court nominees for years to come.

By week’s end, their filibuster will result in the “nuclear option” as Senate Republicans vote to allow confirmation of all Supreme Court justices by a simple majority rather than the 60 votes required by the filibuster, and then confirm Gorsuch before leaving for their Easter break.

Democrats, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, are cutting off their noses in spite of their faces; this filibuster makes no sense and they will pay a huge price for it.

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The CalTrans Record of Shame

John Cox
John Cox is a San Diego area businessman and a Republican candidate for Governor. He can be reached at John@JohnCoxforGovernor.com.

Why is Jerry Brown insisting that legislators quickly rubber stamp his $52 Billion gas tax increase?

The reason is simple.  He knows that if legislators go back to their districts over the upcoming Spring break recess, they will get an earful from outraged constituents.

Voting for a regressive, 43% gas tax increase in a state that already has the nation’s highest poverty rate means Democrats in swing districts are facing certain blowback at the polls.  Add to that the outrageous and shameful record of mismanagement at CalTrans, and it is virtually certain that voters will fire many of those who foolishly vote for this tax. The tax proposal would raise gas taxes by 43% and diesel taxes by a whopping 125%.

The proposal contains a window dressing amendment that would ostensibly keep the politicians from spending the money on other projects which is fine as far as it goes, but that is not the main objection.

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It’s Time to Fix Our Roads

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Last week during ACCESS Sacramento, the Chamber was proud to stand with other business leaders, Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon at a press conference unveiling the outline of a long-sought transportation funding agreement. Last year’s special session on transportation was a bust and ended with no action. Finally, it appears that Sacramento has now made funding for our deteriorating roads and highways a priority.

The $52 billion package over 10 years will increase the State’s gas tax for the first time in 23 years and create a separate vehicle fee, which will go towards the $130 billion backlog of fixes to state and local roads. Our crumbling infrastructure is a threat to our economy and the mobility of our residents while costing frustrated motorists hundreds of extra dollars a year in car repairs. According to the Governor’s office, the average driver will pay about $13 per month in what are essentially user-fees, half of which will go to state roads, bridges and transportation projects. The other half will go directly back to municipalities for local roads.

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