Good morning, California.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild. It goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after meeting with President Donald Trump over the proposed wall at the Mexican border, during which Trump repeatedly shouted her down in public and threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t give him the funding he wants.

 

After 20 years, Tejon Ranch is approved

Los Angeles County's Tejon Ranch.

After two decades of lobbying, planning and litigation from L.A. to Sacramento, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve what will be 19,000 homes at Tejon Ranch 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The 4-1 vote clears the way for a master-planned community of desperately needed housing in what now is a private wilderness—where the wildfire risk ranges from “high” to “very high.”

Opponents warned the project will endanger its homeowners, worsen greenhouse gas emissions, despoil  270,000 acres of desert and mountains, and threaten Joshua trees, California condors, mountain lions, black bears and elk.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger to The Los Angeles Times: “This is not just another sprawl project.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl cast the no-vote: “I think it is not a good idea to build a brand-new city so far away from everything else—because of the fire concern, because I don’t quite understand and believe the affordable housing promises.”

County resident Charles Brown, in public comment“Are you seriously considering a development on substantial wildlife acreage, in the middle of a mountain range with a substantial drive from any job centers, in an area with no local water supply in the midst of expectations of water shortages across the western U.S., in an historic burn area in the new abnormal of multiple catastrophic wildfires across the rural urban interface?”

Big picture: Welcome to the new flashpoint of planning and zoning in California, in which climate change meets the urgent need for housing.

Meanwhile in policymaking: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott, who retires Friday, told The Associated Press that government should consider banning home construction in vulnerable areas.

Pimlott: “The reality of it is, California has a fire-prone climate and it will continue to burn.”


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Becerra challenges Trump on immigration

The Mexican border fence in Imperial Beach.

In a 51-page filing, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday denounced a Trump administration effort to cut medical, food and housing assistance to legal immigrants. It’s a step toward what certainly will be a another suit by Becerra against the Trump administration, CALmatters Elizabeth Aguilera reports.

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency wants to withhold green cards from immigrants who seek Medi-Cal, food or housing assistance for themselves or their children.

Francis Cissna, the agency’s director: “Since the 1800s, federal laws have required foreign nationals to be able to care for themselves without being a public charge.”

The Trump administration estimates about 380,000 applicants nationwide may face additional scrutiny under the new rule.

  • California forecasts a larger chilling effect because of the fear a rule change is likely to instill among the nearly 30 percent of the state’s population who are immigrants.

Five million Californians are living in mixed-immigration status households, said Becerra. Nearly 3 million are children, most of whom are citizens with immigrant parents.

Becerra: “Discouraging eligible immigrants from accessing Medi-Cal, (food stamps) and housing benefits will ultimately transfer costs to state and local governments and community organizations, as those families rely on emergency services and public safety net programs, such as local shelters, homeless services and food pantries.”

CA gets backup on Trump lawsuits

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Last month’s election results have brought reinforcements for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in his legal battles against the Trump administration.

  • Democrats defeated Republicans in four races for attorney general and now have a 27-23 edge.
  • Those attorneys general have frequently banded together to challenge Trump policies, just as Republican state attorneys general regularly challenged the Obama administration.

Becerra has sued Trump 42 times by CALmatters’ Ben Christopher’s count, sometimes as the lead, sometimes joining suits filed by other states.

  • That’s not quite the number of times Texas attorneys generals sued Obama—48 over eight years, according to the Wall Street Journal—but Trump has not yet been in office two years.

State attorneys general increasingly are focusing on national issues, and becoming more partisan, says Marquette University political science professor Paul Nolette, who has studied the phenomenon.

Nolette: “Overall, the big picture is that it’s two sides of the same coin.”

Email solicitations for money also are increasingly common among Republican and Democratic associations of attorneys generals, who cite efforts to defend or thwart Trump administration efforts or, in the past, Obama administration policies.

  • One noteworthy difference: Republicans tend to join corporate litigants. Nolette cited GOP attorneys general coming to the defense of Exxon-Mobile Oil in the New York attorney general’s suit alleging that the corporation deceived shareholders about oil’s role in climate change. Becerra has not joined that suit.

Great power brings great spotlight

Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula.

Democrats control Sacramento. That means whatever they do matters, and therefore is subject to extra scrutiny.

  • This week, the California Democratic Party’s interim chair, Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, sacked seven staffers associated with Eric Bauman, who stepped down as chairman last month amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Democratic spokesman Roger Salazar: “It’s a desire from the acting chair to start fresh and keep the party moving in the right direction.”

Meanwhile in Fresno, Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, an emergency room physician, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of child abuse, police reported Tuesday.

  • The Fresno Bee quotes Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer as saying police got a call from Dailey Elementary Charter School on Monday from a child protective services officer.

The father of three daughters under the age of 7, Arambula was booked at the police station and released on a charge of willful cruelty to a child. The child was not identified.

Dyer: “We are working with the District Attorney’s Office with the intention of pursuing prosecution in the case regardless of who the suspect is.”

Arambula’s office: “Joaquin is a committed father who wants what is best for his children. He is fully supportive of the process, which will show he is a loving and nurturing father.”

Arambula was reelected with nearly 65 percent of the vote last month, and will be one of 60 Democrats in the 80-seat Assembly.

  • He chairs the Assembly budget subcommittee that deals with healthcare, and has carried several healthcare-related bills. Some focus on childhood trauma.

Commentary at CALmatters

Reygan Cunningham and Mike McLively, California Partnerships for Safe Communities, and Giffords Law Center: Oakland, long synonymous with gun violence, is suddenly emerging as a national leader in the field of violence prevention. Since 2012, shootings are down more than 50 percent and are on pace to reach their lowest levels in decades. California leaders have much to learn from how people in Oakland came together to rewrite the violence reduction playbook.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: One of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ top aides resigned after the Sacramento Bee reported the secret settlement on a harassment suit against him, but Harris professes ignorance about the suit or the settlement. It seems incredible that Harris would have been kept in the dark about an harassment allegation against one of her closest aides, and the secret payoff that made it go away. That’s especially true since Harris has made sexual harassment a touchstone in preparing for a presidential run.

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

See you tomorrow.