CalMatters is dedicated to explaining how state government impacts our lives. Your support helps us produce journalism that makes a difference. Donate now.
In California, it all comes back to housing — even Monday’s blockbuster news that Twitter accepted Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer to take the company private.
Musk, in a since-deleted April 9 tweet, asked his more than 84 million followers if Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters should be converted to a “homeless shelter since no one shows up anyway” due to the company’s permanent work-from-home policy.
- More than 90% of poll respondents answered yes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Although Musk wouldn’t be able to execute the plan himself because Twitter doesn’t own the building, he is considering cutting staff and closing the recently expanded San Francisco headquarters once his purchase of the company is finalized, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is ramping up his courtship of Musk, who last year moved Tesla’s headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin.
- Abbott tweeted Monday: “@elonmusk. Bring Twitter to Texas to join Tesla, SpaceX & the Boring company.”
- Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for Gov. Gavin Newsom, told me in a statement: “Even after Elon Musk announced Tesla’s move to Texas, they expanded in California. And Elon has started all of his businesses in California, presumably because he knows this is where innovation and talent lives. … Governor Abbott should focus on the people and business whose employees feel threatened, attacked and intimidated by his misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
Monday also brought a slew of other housing news:
- Attorney General Rob Bonta urged the Anaheim City Council to approve at its hastily called “special meeting” today a proposed deal to resolve allegations that the city failed to comply with state affordable housing laws when it agreed to sell the property surrounding Angel Stadium to Arte Moreno, owner of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. If the city council and a court sign off on the proposed deal with the state, Anaheim will be required to use $96 million to build about 1,000 affordable housing units throughout the city within five years and another $27 million for many as 466 low- and very low-income units at the stadium site — potentially fewer than could have been built onsite under the original sale terms. The new deal angered some state lawmakers, including Democratic state Sen. Tom Umberg of Garden Grove: “A government entity can’t agree with a private stakeholder to give them a sweetheart deal, to the detriment of taxpayers and to the detriment of those who need housing,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
- With Newsom facing a May 15 deadline to unveil his revised budget proposal, the mayors of California’s 13 largest cities asked him to commit $3 billion over the next three years in flexible homeless funding for cities. Without the money, the mayors warned, “dozens of homeless interventions would need to be demobilized and thousands of our most vulnerable residents would likely be forced back onto the streets.”
- Meanwhile, a group of state lawmakers and housing advocates called on Newsom to invest close to $1 billion of California’s massive budget surplus in “long-term solutions to the housing crisis.”
- And Heidi Marston, who leads the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, announced she is resigning May 27 due to a disagreement with the organization’s board over staff salaries. The news comes at a pivotal moment for the city and county, which are in the midst of resolving a long-running federal lawsuit over their homelessness response.
A message from our Sponsor
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,566,404 confirmed cases (+0.2% from previous day) and 89,255 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
California has administered 74,602,964 vaccine doses, and 75.2% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.
A message from our Sponsor
Other stories you should know
1. Nurses strike as other actions loom
First there was Striketober, then there was Striketober in March and now there’s Striketober in April. On Monday, about 5,000 nurses at Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital hit the picket line for the first day of an open-ended strike to protest what they say are insufficient wages, benefits and access to mental health care, as well as severe staffing shortages that have resulted in some employees working back-to-back 12-to-16-hour shifts. The nurses — represented by CRONA, or the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement — also criticized the hospitals for increasingly relying on highly paid traveling nurses.
- Brittaney West, an ICU nurse at Stanford Health Care, wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: “Rather than working to keep experienced nurses and recruit new ones by meaningfully improving working conditions, administrators’ approach has been to demand more of the core nursing staff and pay a premium for expensive contract ‘travel nurses’ to try to fill the gaps.”
- Stanford officials said the strike forced them to cancel or postpone some procedures. “We respect our nurses’ legal right to take part in a work stoppage but are deeply disappointed that they have chosen this path,” the two hospitals said in a joint statement.
- CRONA and hospital negotiators are scheduled to resume formal bargaining today.
Meanwhile, other labor actions are brewing:
- On Wednesday, registered nurses at UCLA and UCSF medical centers are slated to hold rallies and press conferences to “demand the University of California address critical, ongoing staffing and patient safety issues highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- And on Friday, Oakland Unified School District’s teacher union is scheduled to hold a one-day strike protesting planned campus closures — prompting the district to send the union a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action.
2. Report makes case for universal health care
From CalMatters health reporter Ana B. Ibarra: California could save between $32 billion and $535 billion in the next decade by implementing a “unified financing” health care system, which could include but isn’t limited to single payer, according to a long-awaited report from the Healthy California for All Commission, a group Newsom assembled to help chart the state’s path toward universal health care. The commission voted Monday to send the report to Newsom and lawmakers for their consideration — a move that comes several months after the latest single-payer proposal died in the supermajority-Democratic Legislature.
Key takeaways from the report:
- Unified financing would create universal coverage. All Californians — regardless of employment status, immigration status, age or income — would have access to a standard benefits package, saving 4,000 or more lives annually.
- Such a system would be expensive to implement — a recent analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that it would cost California between $494 billion and $552 billion annually to operate single payer — but less expensive than the status quo. The Golden State is on track to spend $517 billion on health care this year — a figure that could increase by $158 billion by 2031 if no action is taken.
- The dream of single-payer isn’t dead: “The reports of the demise of single payer in California are greatly exaggerated because this report counters them and indicates that there is in fact a path forward for what they call unified financing,” said Michael Lighty, president of Healthy California Now coalition, a group advocating for universal health care.
- But some advocates were disappointed: “I think this report falls short of presenting clear, concrete, formal actions to get us to single payer,” said commissioner Carmen Comsti of the California Nurses Association, an ardent supporter of single payer.
3. Report urges denial of desalination plant
Speaking of long-awaited reports, staff for an influential coastal panel recommended Monday that the California Coastal Commission reject at its May 12 meeting Poseidon Water’s proposal to build a $1.4 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach. That could prime the commission for conflict with Newsom, who supports the project to draw water from the Pacific Ocean and convert it into 50 million gallons of drinking water per day. While supporters say the desalination plant would help insulate California from devastating drought, opponents argue it would quintuple water rates, harm marine life and cause environmental damage to nearby neighborhoods, which are predominantly working-class and Latino.
- Coastal commission staff wrote in the report: “This project raises significant and complex coastal protection policy issues, including conformity with policies that require protection of marine life, water quality, environmentally sensitive habitat areas, and policies meant to avoid or minimize hazards associated with sea level rise, floods, tsunamis, and geologic hazards.”
- Poseidon Water said in a statement: “No water infrastructure project in the state of California has ever undergone this level of study and scrutiny. If this recommendation stands, it will effectively be the death knell for desalination in California.”
A message from our Sponsor
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: While Marion Joseph, a fierce advocate for phonics in reading instruction, has died, one California school district’s sharp boost in literacy test scores shows her approach is the right one.
Ranked choice voting would end recall election clown shows: With dozens of candidates likely to run in gubernatorial recalls, electing the consensus candidate is a valuable reform for these contentious times, argues Dan Howle, chairperson of the Independent Voter Project.
Other things worth your time
Editorial: Gavin Newsom’s Disney double talk. // Wall Street Journal
Connecticut billionaire’s influence in Shasta County curbed with new state law. // Jefferson Public Radio
Tech titans want the richest Californians to pay for pandemic preparedness. // California Healthline
Editorial: California’s schools don’t need a vaccine mandate — at least, not right now. // Los Angeles Times
As enrollment drops, 40% of S.D. school districts project deficits three years in a row. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Head Start California asks state lawmakers for $50M in funding for first time. // FOX40
A new chapter for California charter schools as enrollment drops for first time in three decades. // EdSource
Texas HBCU Paul Quinn College eyes move to Oakland. // Oaklandside
Did L.A.’s experiment with free buses work? // Crosstown
Could higher interest rates, inflation slow Bay Area housing market? // Mercury News
The Inland Empire and the warehouse next door. // The Verge
This California high school is contaminated with lead. It blames the recycling plant next door. // The Guardian
California, Arizona and Nevada face major water cutbacks from the Colorado River. // NPR
Surge of desert surf parks stirs questions in dry California. // Associated Press
California drought plan could exclude cannabis as growers prepare for dry summer. // MJ Biz Daily
Northern California woman stuck for 6 days in backwoods snow, survives on yogurt. // San Francisco Chronicle
Former DWP general manager gets 6 years in prison. // Los Angeles Times
What we know about California’s discrimination case against Activision. // Politico
S.F. voters to decide on D.A. recall, and recall process itself. // San Francisco Standard
After encrypting radio channels, Sheriff’s Dept. rolls out page showing what calls deputies are handling. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Santa Ana officers who blasted Disney songs under investigation. // Los Angeles Times
Beverly Hills has thousands of surveillance cameras — and it’s not done adding them. // Los Angeles Times
The first “Meta Store” is opening in California in May. // Ars Technica
See you tomorrow.
Tips, insight or feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven
Subscribe to CalMatters newsletters here.
Follow CalMatters on Facebook and Twitter.
CalMatters is now available in Spanish on Twitter, Facebook and RSS.