Beep-beep, California.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday exempting motorized scooter riders over 18 from the state helmet law. Pushed by Bird, the leading purveyor of motorized e-scooter rentals, AB 2989 also allows e-scooters to ride on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph. 

San Diego Union-Tribune: Meanwhile, local hospitals have reported a growing number of people showing up in emergency rooms with scooter-related injuries.” 

California's housing crisis, defined

Little boxes on the hillside in San Francisco.

Housing supply is significantly increasing, but still not enough to make up the shortfall driving California’s soaring housing costs, the California Department of Finance reports.

  • Numbers: California added 127,500 units (on a seasonally adjusted basis), up more than 10 percent from 2017, but way short of the state housing department goal of 180,000.

One reason? Building affordable housing is expensive here. A new U.S. Government Accountability Office survey finds it costs more to build subsidized housing here than in 11 other big states.  

  • The median cost per unit of new low-income construction: In Texas, $126,000. In California? $326,000. At the high end, a California unit costs as much as $700,000, because of the cost of labor and land, the GAO reports.

The crunch is resegregating the Bay Area, according to a UC Berkeley housing study. 

  • Between 2000 and 2015, thousands of low-income African-Americans left Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley and the Bayview district of San Francisco, relocating to less pricey Antioch, Pittsburg, Hayward, and unincorporated Alameda County.
  • Forty percent who left Alameda County in 2015 left the Bay Area entirely.

Then there’s #VanLife: The Mercury News reports on how East Palo Alto is coping with the growing ranks of those who have been priced out of the Silicon Valley market and are now living on the streets in RVs.

Meanwhile, at the offramp: Gov. Jerry Brown signed four bills this week authorizing CalTrans to lease for $1 its property under freeway underpasses and elsewhere for emergency shelters in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, Stockton and San Jose.


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Drug makers opposing rent control?

America’s major drug manufacturers are suddenly interested in California housing battles, donating $500,000 to defeat an initiative that could expand rent control.  

Or maybe it’s personal.

  • Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the proponent and main funder of Proposition 10, the rent control expansion measure on the November ballot. Apartment owners and real estate companies have raised $48.5 million so far to kill it.
  • Now comes $500,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry’s main trade association.

PhRMA’s statement: The industry’s investment in the state is threatened when our employees cannot find housing and Proposition 10 could make the situation much worse. That’s why we are opposing Proposition 10 and contributing to its defeat.”

History: In 2016, Weinstein pushed Proposition 61, which he claimed would regulate drug prices. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and other drug makers spent $110 million to kill that initiative, a sum that is not quickly forgotten.

Sacramento consultant Rand Martin, working on Proposition 10’s passage: “[The drug companies’ donation is] a further sign that they have more money than they know what to do with, all taken out of the wallets of low- and middle-income Californians.”

For a run-down on Proposition 10 and the rest of the measures on the November ballot, please check out CALmatters’ election guide here.


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California moves on cannabis industry equity

California has earmarked $10 million to diversify the weed industry.

California would spend $10 million to help diversify the cannabis business to include more minorities—including people convicted of past drug crimes—under legislation pending before Gov. Jerry Brown.

  • The money was earmarked in the 2018-19 budget signed by Brown at the end of June, but it was contingent on legislation specifying how it would be spent.
  • Virtually all Democratic legislators and a smattering of Republicans voted for the bill, carried by Democratic Sen. Steve Bradford of Gardena, on the final day of the legislative session.
  • He argued that minorities were most hurt by the War on Drugs, facing arrests for marijuana possession at disproportionately high numbers. Fairness would dictate that they be able to partake of the business now that it’s legal, he says.

Bradford: “It is about inclusion and diversity in an industry that has been legal for eight months and is 90 percent white. How do you corner a market that quickly?”

Bradford initially proposed $50 million for a statewide program but pared it back to win support.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento will get the money. All have programs to encourage diversity in the commercial weed business.
  • Major pro-cannabis lobby groups backed the measure. There was no organized opposition.

Only in California? Evidently: Bradford told me Colorado, the first state to legalize commercial marijuana sales, had a similar program. It doesn’t, a spokesman for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.

Spirits move Brown to sign cemetery legislation

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, now with boo-ze.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to liven (forgive me) things up at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the graveyard to stars of yesteryear.

  • Tyler Cassity, owner of the cemetery that shares a wall with Paramount Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard, tired of the hassle of getting day permits to sell alcohol at the landmark’s popular movie screenings, concerts and other events including an annual El Día de Los Muertos party.
  • And so he hired a lobbyist and got Los Angeles Assemblyman Miguel Santiago to carry Assembly Bill 1217 granting the cemetery a permit in perpetuity to sell wine, champagne, beer, and, appropriately, spirits.

Life is short, as any resident of Hollywood Forever would tell you.

Notes Cassity:  “A drink along the way can help.”

Pending: Brown has yet to sign or veto a bill that would expand the sorts of venues that can apply for temporary permits for public use of marijuana. Why not in a place literally built for people to push up weeds?

Hollywood Forever lobbyist Glen Ayers: “As the law stands now, cannabis and alcohol are not to be mixed.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Lil Clary: Our rural neighborhood has been overrun by marijuana growers. Too many of them seem to have little regard for our canyon’s beauty. They run heavy equipment, do unpermitted grading on steep slopes, and run heavy water tanker trucks on our narrow road.

Dan Walters: During his second governorship, Gov. Jerry Brown has displayed a penchant for appointing old friends and trusted aides to powerful and/or well-paying state positions.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.