Mark Turner, President, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce
Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training Information for Employers
Don’t wait… CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES ACTION BY JANUARY 1, 2020
S.B. 1343 requires that all employers of 5 or more employees provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years.
There is no requirement that the 5 employees or contractors work at the same location or that all work or reside in California.
Under the DFEH’s regulations, the definition of “employee” includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
By what date must employees be trained?
Both managerial and non-managerial employees must receive training by January 1, 2020. After January 1, 2020, employees must be retrained once every two years.
What if my employees were trained between January 1 and December 31, 2018?
The law requires that employees be trained during calendar year 2019. Employees who were trained in 2018 or before will need to be retrained prior by January 1, 2020.
How can I get training for my employees?
The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce in partnership with CalChamber provides online training courses in English and Spanish. Employees can take their self-paced training from desktops, tablets or cell phones. Members of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce receive a 20% discount on their training courses. To register or get more information, go to our HR Corner resource page.
What are the laws and regulations governing the sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention trainings?
The law requiring sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training is Gov. Code 12950.1. The regulations governing such trainings are 2 CCR 11024.
Who is required to pay for the training? The employer or employee?
California law specifies that, “An employer . . . shall provide” sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training. Gov. Code 12950.1(a)-(b). The Department is authorized to seek a court order that “the employer” has not complied with this requirement. Gov. Code 12950.1(f). This language makes clear that it is the employer’s—not the employee’s—responsibility to provide the required training, including any costs that may be incurred. This language also makes clear that employees may not be required to take such training during their personal time; the training must be “provided” by the employer as part of an individual’s employment.
Commentary written by Lee Edwards, The Heritage Foundation
Let us pause to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a mission once thought impossible: the landing of a man on the moon.
Let us proclaim, without embarrassment, that America, and only America, had the requisite leadership, scientific community, and resources to make it possible for Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong to take that giant leap for mankind.
Let us freely admit we needed a kick to get started. That happened when the Soviet Union put the first satellite known as Sputnik in orbit and pushed ahead of the United States in the space race. The Cold War was red hot, and everything was measured on how it affected that global conflict.
As one commentator wrote, “the United States could not afford [a] slight to its technical expertise and economic strength.”
In a dramatic address in May 1961, President John F. Kennedy tasked NASA with the goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” and to do so before the end of the decade. The following year, Kennedy raised the stakes of the Apollo program by calling space “a new frontier” and declaring: “We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because [it is] hard.”
It was far beyond hard, requiring the skill and dedication of 32 astronauts, including Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, who died in a tragic 1967 accident, $25 billion in federal funds—an estimated $115 billion in today’s dollars—and the everyday commitment of the 400,000 workers, military and civilian, of the space program.
Ironically, America got critical help from a German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, who designed the V-2 rockets that rained down on Britain during World War II.
Von Braun moved to the U.S. and became an American citizen. He and his American team built a U.S. rocket, the Saturn, capable of a lunar landing mission while the Soviets could not.
Russia’s Sputnik was a walk in the park compared to Apollo 11’s unprecedented lunar landing mission.
“I consider a trip to the moon and back,” said Michael Collins, the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, “to be a long and very fragile daisy chain of events.” Twenty-three critical things had to occur “perfectly,” recalled engineer JoAnn Morgan at the Kennedy Space Center.
From the beginning, the moon landing enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress although some members argued that the civilian space program might weaken support of the military budget.
When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, immediately made the Apollo mission a priority and transformed it into a Kennedy memorial that captured the imagination of Americans.
When Armstrong took his first step on the lunar surface on July 24, 1969—broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience of an estimated 500 million people—he described it, memorably, as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
He had barely finished speaking and welcoming fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin to the surface when President Richard Nixon reached them by telephone from the White House.
Nixon emphasized the universal pride in the astronauts’ accomplishment: “For one priceless moment in the whole history of man,” he said, “all the people of this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth.”
The American people greeted the historic flight with an extraordinary outpouring of pride and patriotism. The 1960s had been a tragic decade, marked by the assassination of Kennedy, the murders of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy, the quagmire known as the Vietnam War, racial riots, and mass anti-war demonstrations.
Now, at last, Americans had something to cheer about. Only an exceptional nation like America could have conceived, planned, and executed successfully the lunar landing and safe return of the three crew members of Apollo 11.
The post-landing celebration began at a California banquet hosted by Nixon and California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who recalled thinking that the men and women of NASA had changed forever “our concept of the universe.” Fifteen years later, President Reagan returned to that theme at a White House ceremony on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
“The Apollo program,” the president said, “was a noble achievement of the mind, the heart, and spirit—and the most ambitious and complex program ever undertaken in peacetime.”
Of the astronauts, he said, “How our astronauts with their quiet confidence, superb professionalism, and inner strength, lifted our feelings, our spirits, and our feeling of good will.”
He pointed out that the Apollo project had “spawned communications, weather, navigation, and Earth resource satellites, and many new industries like solid-state electronics, medical electronics, and computer sciences.”
Although Apollo was a project of peace, it had a profound effect on the Cold War. In 1970, a few months after the lunar landing, Soviet dissident and Nobel Laureate Andrei Sakharov wrote in an open letter to the Kremlin that America’s ability to put a man on the moon proved the superiority of a democracy.
That the Kremlin agreed with Sakharov can be seen by their ready acceptance of the Strategic Defense Initiative as something that the United States had the technical ability and economic wherewithal to launch.
In the words of the lunar geologist Paul Spudis, “Here is Apollo’s legacy. Any technological challenge American undertakes, it can accomplish.” That includes everyday things such as freeze-dried food, Velcro, scratch-resistant coatings on eye glasses, and the insoles that make sneakers comfortable.
The Apollo astronauts went where no one had gone before and did what no one had done before, changing forever, as Reagan said, our concept of the universe.
Is a man on Mars the next leap? Why not? After all, we are Americans.
H.R. Question Regarding CA Driver’s License
Written by Sunny Lee, HR Adviser at CalChamber
A new employee gave me a current California driver license. On the front of the license there is a notation “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY.” Can I accept this driver license as an identity document for purposes of the Form I-9?
Yes. A driver license with the “Federal Limits Apply” notation indicates that the license does not meet federal standards for the issuance and production of a compliant card under the REAL ID Act, but it does not prohibit the document from being used to establish identity for I-9 purposes.
The REAL ID Act of 2005 is a federal law pertaining to national security, which, among other things, requires that all states comply with federal standards in issuing driver licenses or identity cards and that those standards be in place by October 2020.
What this notation means is that an individual will not be able to use a noncompliant REAL ID driver license or identity card to fly within the United States or enter secure federal buildings and military bases that require identification after October 20, 2020.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is in compliance with this law and now issues two types of driver licenses or identity cards—one that complies with the REAL ID Act and one that does not. Either license is an acceptable identity document for purposes of I-9 requirements.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration and issues the Form I-9, posted a question and answer addressing this issue:
Is a state-issued driver’s license with the notation “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY,” “NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR OFFICIAL FEDERAL PURPOSES,” or other similar notation on the front or back of the license an acceptable List B document?
Yes. The notation “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY, “NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR OFFICIAL FEDERAL PURPOSES” or a similar notation on the front or back of a state-issued driver’s license indicates it does not meet the standards for the issuance and production of a compliant card under the REAL ID Act.
A driver’s license with this type of notation is, however, an acceptable List B document if it contains a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, sex, height, color of eyes, and address. An employer must examine the document presented by its employee and determine whether it meets Form I-9 requirements. If the employer accepts any document, including a state-issued license with a limiting notation, as a List B document, the employer must also examine a List C document establishing employment authorization.
2 Types of Driver License
Individuals who are either renewing or obtaining a driver license in California are able to choose either a REAL ID or a noncompliant driver license.
According to the DMV website, in order to obtain a REAL ID driver license, an individual must go in person to a DMV office and present an original or certified document proving identity (examples of acceptable documents include a U.S. passport, a certified copy of a birth certificate, permanent resident card or unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa and approved I-94 form).
In addition, two documents that establish a physical address must be provided (examples of acceptable documents include car registration, home utility bills, phone bills, a mortgage statement or lease agreement, bank records and insurance documents).
Additional information and copies of what the two California licenses look like are available on the REAL ID page at the DMV website, www.dmv.ca.gov.
Article by CalMatters
Earthquakes that struck the Mojave Desert earlier this month provoke unsettling questions, not the least of which is what will happen to housing costs when the inevitable happens and a big quake hits a major city?
On the latest episode of Gimme Shelter, the California Housing Crisis Podcast, CALmatters’ Matt Levin and the L.A. Times’ Liam Dillon explore that question with Maiclaire Bolton Smith, seismologist with the real estate data firm CoreLogic.
- The wildfires that devastated Santa Rosa and Paradise show what could happen to housing demand after a major quake hits a major city, only more so.
- 400,000 people could be displaced by a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward fault, which runs from Oakland to San Jose.
- An 8.0 quake on the San Andreas fault could affect Northern and Southern California simultaneously, damaging up to 3.5 million homes.
That’s the exact number of homes Gavin Newsom said he wants to build to ease the state’s housing shortage.
P.S.: This would be an excellent time to check your personal earthquake disaster plan. For a guide, please click here.
CA Candidates Can Use Foreign Language Birth Names on Ballots Under New Law
Written by Sophia Bollag, The Sacramento Bee
Candidates with birth names in foreign languages will be able to use those names on California ballots under a law Gov. Gavin Newsom approved Friday.
It’s a change intended to help candidates with birth names in character-based languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean ensure they’re identifiable to people reading the ballot in those languages.
The ballots won’t be seen by ever voter. Only voters who request ballots in different languages will notice the change.
State Treasurer Fiona Ma, who has a Cantonese birth name, says she’s one of the candidates the law will help.
Prior to running for treasurer, she had run for local offices and interacted with Chinese constituents using her Cantonese name, which is pronounced “Ma Sigh Wan,” according to a letter Ma sent Newsom asking him to sign the bill. But when she ran for statewide office in 2018, a transliterated version of her English name appeared on Cantonese ballots: “Fei O Na Ma.”
“I have never used this transliterated name before,” she wrote. “This is a very critical issue for (Asian/Pacific Islander) candidates like myself, and especially for non-English voters, because they do not recognize who ‘Fei O Na Ma’ is when they see this name on the ballot.”
Moving forward, Ma will be able to use her birth name when she runs for office under the new law. She’s already established a fund to raise money for a 2022 reelection campaign and has said she will run for governor when Newsom is termed out in 2026.
The new law, AB 57 by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, will take effect next year. Under the new policy, candidate names will be translated phonetically into character-based languages unless a candidates prove they have a different birth names or are known by a different name in foreign language-speaking communities.
Under the federal Voting Rights Act, nine California counties provide ballots in character-based languages: Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Orange and San Diego.
Cops Won’t Issue Tickets to People Sleeping in Cars on LA Streets Anymore
By City News Service
A city ordinance barring people from sleeping in vehicles parked on residential Los Angeles streets quietly expired at the end of June, and LAPD officers have been instructed to no longer issue citations for the offense.
In a memo sent to officers last week, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said the vehicle-dwelling law that was extended by six months in December expired at the end of June.
“A proposed ordinance which would reinstate (the ordinance) and provide a new sunset date of Jan. 1, 2020, is currently pending in city council. However, this proposed ordinance has not been approved yet,” Moore wrote.
The City Council, which is in the midst of its annual summer recess, is not expected to meet again until the end of July, providing at least a temporary window of relief from citations for people sleeping in cars on residential streets.
2019 Southern California Images in the News
It was illegal for decades to live in a vehicle in the city until a 2014 federal court ruling struck down the ban. The council responded by drafting the law that made it illegal to live in a vehicle in residential neighborhoods or near sensitive locations such as parks and schools. The council extended the law by six months in June 2018, then voted again in December 2018 to extend it for another six months.
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said the expiration of the law could create dangerous situations for residents.
“This is very dangerous because the objective of this is to keep all kinds of vehicles off and away from schools and parks, where kids play, and off residents’ front curbs,” said Ryavec, who is also a community officer with the Venice Neighborhood Council. “That evaporated on July 1, and the police have no authority to cite or move anybody even though they may have status as a sex offender … or a felony conviction.”
Ryavec also said parking spots are limited in many neighborhoods, and allowing people to sleep in them creates an unfair situation for residents.
Homeless advocates have long criticized the law, saying it criminalizes homelessness.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the Venice area where many homeless people congregate, has been critical of law in the past, saying in December it can be difficult for police to prove a person is living in a vehicle. He also said living in a vehicle should be preferable to sleeping on a sidewalk.
Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce
Over the years, Solis Winery has won many prestigious wine awards—but the Gilroy-based winery surpassed its past achievements when it was awarded Best of Class, Best White Wine, and the very highest honor, overall Best in Show, at the 2019 Central Coast Wine Competition. Best of Show was awarded to Solis Winery’s 2018 Estate Fiano, which was grown and produced at the Vanni Estate Vineyard in the Santa Clara Valley. This honor came after judges awarded the Fiano a Double Gold Medal and deemed it both Best of Class (Other White Wines) and overall Best White Wine. This obscure varietal from southern Italy marks the first time an Italian white wine has won Best of Show. Solis Winery also won the Silver Award for its 2018 Vino Roseo de Sangiovese. This year’s 17th annual Central Coast Wine Competition, held June 19-20 at the Paso Robles Event Center, included 165 wineries and a record-breaking 803 wines entered. The competition features 68 classes based on grape varieties and vintages, where the “Best of” wines are selected for their varietal typicity, quality and character. Solis Winery’s award-winning wines are available locally and online. The tasting room at 3920 Hecker Pass Highway in Gilroy is open daily, 12:00-5:00 pm. To learn more, visit soliswinery.com.
Moya Art Gallery and Studio, located at 7516 Eigleberry St. #100, is hosting a Meet and Greet with UFC fighters on July 18 from 5:00-7:00 pm. This free event is an opportunity to meet and show your support for our local, talented UFC fighters. Appetizers and beverages will be provided. For more information call Nacho Moya at 669-327-5495.
Each of the four upcoming California Rodeo Salinas performances July 18 through 21 will have a different theme. Get into the spirit and participate by wearing a shirt or other clothing items that match the cause. Thursday, July 18 is Rabobank’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP) Night. Wrangler founded the TETWP campaign to help rodeos raise funds and support for breast cancer causes in their local communities. Friday, July 19 is Church Brothers Farms Fight Hunger Night. A produce mascot race on the track benefits Ag Against Hunger, a non-profit that harvests leftover produce from fields to donate to food banks. Saturday, July 20 is Salute to Military Day. Active Military and Veterans receive free admission with current identification. Sunday, July 23 is the Pendleton Whisky Day of Champions and Man Up Crusade Day. Learn more about all of the cause partnerships and events surrounding the California Rodeo Salinas by visiting www.CARODEO.com
Some seasoned veterans—and a few new contenders—will compete in the fourth annual Champions for Charity cooking challenge on Friday, July 26 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Four teams of local first responders and military heroes will face off in a three-round cooking competition hosted by MasterChef Season 9 winner Gerron Hurt on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage. Four teams will compete in three elimination rounds including Appetizer, Entrée, and Dessert. After each round, a panel of judges will evaluate taste, creativity, appearance and use of garlic to determine who will move on to the next round. Judges this year include Chef Eddie G (Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race), Adam Sanchez (Co-Owner of The Milias Restaurant), Mike Benson (Owner of The Claddagh Pub), and Mark Segovia (Chef at Segovia Catering). For more information, visit gilroygarlicfestival.com.
California Looks at Green Vehicle Incentives to Slash Emissions
Written by Matthew Renda, Courthouse News Service
A California Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday seeking to increase the number of electric vehicles on the Golden State’s roads.
Assembly Bill 1046 by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would empower the California Air Resources Board to conduct a comprehensive study with the aim of meeting California’s lofty goals of putting 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2025.
California has a long way to go to meet the goal: Currently, there are about 550,000 such cars and trucks on the road.
The executive order signed in 2018 by then-Governor Jerry Brown also calls for 5 million zero-emission vehicles by the year 2030.
Activists say that while California’s goals of reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change via installation of solar energy, wind energy and other forms of emissions are worthy endeavors, they are only a part of the overall carbon emission picture.
Emissions from vehicles account for approximately 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in California.
“Unfortunately, California’s overall transportation emissions are still on the rise and 80% of California’s transportation emissions come from passenger vehicles,” said Heidi Sickler, director of energy and environment for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Ting introduced the bill Tuesday, saying that setting goals are important but there must be incentives to actually achieve the benchmarks. Ting proposed a model similar to the one that gave steam to the solar power industry, with large rebates to electric car buyers at the outset of the program and then gradually diminishing those rebates as more and more zero-emission vehicles hit the road.
“There is no real incentive to buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle right now if consumers know the rebate level will be the same year after year – or even worse, run out during the year,” Ting said Monday after unveiling the bill. “But if consumers have certainty that the rebates will diminish as time goes on, they might act sooner rather than later.”
On Tuesday, the version of Ting’s bill that passed committee does not authorize the state to open its coffers for rebates and explicitly says there will be no fee on gas-powered car drivers to pay for any such program. Instead, the bill authorizes the California Air Resources Board to begin looking at how to structure such a program to meet goals to reduce emissions.
“We need the governor to work with us to reach these tangible goals,” said state Senator and committee chair Jim Beall, D-San Jose.
Representatives from the automobile industry expressed concern about the bill but said they would work with Ting and other lawmakers as the bill moves forward.
“We want to be sure the bill is tech-neutral,” said Leah Silverthorn of the California Chamber of Commerce. “We are also concerned about the lack of legislative control over the air resources board’s use of funds.”
Ting said the Legislature will have significant control over how much public money is spent on the program, pointing out the bill requires the state to identify a steady revenue stream rather than the year-to-year approach currently used.
The bill will head to the Senate Appropriations Committee. If it passes there, it goes to the floor for a full vote.
No, We Shouldn’t Dip into California’s Unemployment Funds to Help Striking Workers
Opinion written by the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board
The labor movement in the United States is enduring a deep and well-documented decline, buffeted by the rise of globalization, a steep drop in factory jobs and the spread of union-weakening policies to more than half the states, among other forces. Unions have fared somewhat better in California, where the falloff in union representation has been modest since 2000 — in part because labor-friendly Democrats have dominated state government. Yet even here, labor can struggle for leverage when going toe-to-toe with powerful corporate employers; witness, for example, the desultory results for grocery workers in Southern California after a bruising 20-week strike in 2003-04.
Hoping to improve the unions’ odds, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) has proposed to extend unemployment benefits to workers who go on strike and stay out for four weeks or more. According to Gonzalez, Assembly Bill 1066 would provide workers “with a basic safety net to ensure they are not starved back to work by their employer, that they have the means to stand up for fair treatment on the job and can have a basic level of income to provide for their families during a labor dispute.”
The benefits would be available to public employee union members too, although many of them are barred by law from striking. It’s not a novel idea — both New York and New Jersey allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits after a multi-week waiting period. Under Gonzalez’s bill, any strikers, regardless of the reason for the strike, would be eligible if they were out long enough.
It’s easy to sympathize with Gonzalez and the unions on this issue. The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and average wage-earners demonstrates that the fruits of U.S. economic growth aren’t being well shared. So does the income stagnation experienced by millions of Americans on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. The top 1% of income earners are capturing far too great a percentage of the gains, and that’s bad for everyone — it’s slowing the engine of the U.S. economy.
Those statistics are an argument for stronger unions, but not for the kind of support promised by AB 1066. The fundamental problem with the measure, which is sponsored by the California Federation of Labor, is that it would dip into a fund that was designed to help workers idled through no fault of their own to protect employees who still have jobs but want better terms.
Unemployment insurance is funded by a tax on employers that’s applied to the first $7,000 paid per employee per year. When layoffs surge statewide, as they do in recessions, the tax rate goes up to compensate for the increase in benefits paid and keep the insurance fund from running dry.
The point is to provide a small amount of help to laid-off workers — $450 a week or 50% of the individual’s previous salary, whichever is lower — that helps them stay afloat without sapping their incentive to find a new job. That’s a pathetically small amount, considering the state’s cost of living. And yet the state’s insurance fund couldn’t afford to pay even that much during the last recession, forcing the state to borrow billions of dollars from the federal government in order to satisfy the need. It paid off that debt last year, but employers are still being assessed the maximum tax rate plus a 15% surcharge because the fund is dangerously low on reserves.
To supporters of AB 1066, employers should bear the extra costs that the bill would impose because strikes are invariably the employers’ fault. But it goes too far in tipping the scales. Asking employers to subsidize their striking workers from funds that are already insufficient to help the unemployed is not a fair or appropriate way to help rebuild a robust labor movement.
Going out on strike is a risky sacrifice, and workers don’t take that step absent some powerful motivation in the workplace. But that’s why unions have strike funds — to support their members as they fight for better contracts. The state has an unemployment insurance system to assist the unemployed, who don’t get enough help as it is. The Legislature shouldn’t tap it for other purposes.
Article by Mike Luery, KCRA 3
A road rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday produced dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers. They gathered to drive home a point — they want to remain independent contractors behind the wheel.
“You can control your hours,” said Roy Hawke, an Uber and Lyft driver from Sacramento. “If you’re an employee, you don’t set those hours. And, if things change up, things might not work out for me and I might not have Uber and Lyft as my income.”
Under Assembly Bill 5, ride-share drivers would be reclassified as employees. The new rules would also affect Postmates and other on-demand delivery services.
Danile Rutka, of Los Angeles, who is a driver for Postmates, said he doesn’t want to become an employee.
“Not if it means losing the flexibility that the job gives us,” Rutka said. “As a Postmates driver, that’s very important to me. I’m an aspiring writer, I work in advertising in Hollywood and things come up very last minute when you’re a freelance writer.”
But, not everyone wants to be an independent contractor.
Annette Rivero has been a ride-share driver for nearly three years.
“For me, this is a full-time job,” Rivero said. “I was trying to go back to school full-time. Unfortunately, I’ve had to stop going to school because I’m not making enough money on the road.”
“Workers aren’t going to stop pushing for what it is they feel they deserve,” Rivero added.
Rivero supports AB 5, which would reclassify her as an employee and give her new protections, according to bill author, Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.
“Workers misclassified, they miss out on the right to minimum wage,” Gonzalez explained.
The bill also provides, “the right to join a union and collectively bargain, the right to paid leave, the right to worker’s comp unemployment insurance,” Gonzalez explained. “They miss out on employer’s contribution to Social Security and Medicare and they miss out on health care.”
The issue has divided ride-share drivers at a time when the gig economy has become a vital part of how we get around.
AB 5 has already passed the state Assembly and faces its next test Wednesday before the Senate Labor Committee.
Jane Howard, Director, Visit Gilroy
Visit Gilroy was represented in Anaheim from June 1 – 5 at IPW (once called the “International Pow Wow”) participating in one of the travel industry’s biggest trade shows held annually.
This event, put on by the U.S. Travel Association trade group, brings together destinations seeking tourists and international tour operators looking to book hotels and tourist attractions.
Held at the Anaheim Convention Center, 6,000 plus travel industry dealmakers from roughly 70 countries along with 500 or more journalists also attended. Staffing the Visit Gilroy booth were Jenny Arellano and Sandy Le.
This appointment driven trade show provides the opportunity for destinations to pitch their hotels and attractions to tour operators from across the world. The Visit Gilroy team met with 30+ appointments sharing with them new offerings including the “Gilroy Road to Garlic Trail Map” and the upcoming Gilroy Gardens 20th birthday celebration planned for 2020.
Visit Gilroy targeted tour operators from several countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Canada. As a follow-up to the trade show, Visit Gilroy will provide additional information/brochures as requested by the tour operators for their use in planning future visits to Gilroy.
Overregulation Driving High Cost of Housing… Who Would Have Thought?
Opinion written by James Broughel and Emily Hamilton
Shocking almost no one, nine of the 15 most expensive metropolitan areas in the United States are in California, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. But one major reason for this may surprise you: The state has an overregulation problem that’s contributing to the housing affordability crisis.
In response to this crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a plan to build 3.5 million new homes by 2025, and state legislators introduced several high-profile housing reform bills in the 2019 legislative session. SB 50, kicked to the 2020 session, would have preempted some local land use regulations that block new housing construction, and AB 1482 is an anti-rent-gouging bill that’s been watered down from its original form. These efforts have fallen short of housing activists’ hopes.
The sponsors of SB 50 seem to recognize that the state’s housing problems are at least partially man-made. Indeed, California is a leader in regulating just about everything — including insurance carriers, public utilities and housing construction. If California’s regulatory code underwent some serious spring cleaning, it could help the state at least make a dent in its housing affordability crisis.
The California Code of Regulations — the compilation of the state’s administrative rules — contains more than 21 million words. If reading it was a 40-hour-a-week job, it would take more than six months to get through it, and understanding all that legalese is another matter entirely.
Included in the code are more than 395,000 restrictive terms such as “shall,” “must” and “required,” a good gauge of how many actual requirements exist. This is by far the most regulation of any state in the country, according to a new database maintained by the Mercatus Center, a research institute at George Mason University. The average state has about 137,000 restrictive terms in its code, or roughly one-third as many as California. Alaska and Montana are among the states with as few as 60,000.
Local zoning codes justifiably receive a lot of blame for the state’s high housing costs. They restrict new home creation — particularly multifamily homes, from duplexes to large apartment buildings. There’s no doubt that zoning rules are a key driver of California’s sky-high housing costs, as economists have found extensive evidence that regions where land-use regulations stand in the way of new housing supply suffer from high house prices and rents.
But California’s state building code is also especially restrictive and deserves scrutiny from policymakers concerned about housing affordability. By itself, this section of the Code of Regulations contains more restrictive terms — more than 75,700 — than some states’ entire codes. The residential housing subsection alone has nearly 24,000 restrictions.
Some of these requirements make sense. The code includes internationally accepted safety requirements and seismic standards to improve earthquake safety. California is also well known for its aggressive environmental and energy standards. Homes built in 2019 are required to meet energy standards that are 50% more stringent than the 2016 standards.
These energy rules reflect an important priority for Californians, but they contribute to staggering construction costs and, in turn, higher house prices. Affordable housing builders spend $400,000 per unit, on average, for new housing in Los Angeles, more than any other city in the country. State energy standards contribute to this cost.
Permitting more housing — especially relatively economical and much in-demand multifamily housing — that keeps Californians in the Golden State would also promote energy efficiency. Exorbitant housing costs push Californians to less-expensive states such as Nevada, Arizona and Texas, where per capita emissions are much higher due in large part to those states’ less temperate climates.
Rather than ratcheting up energy standards that raise the cost of housing construction, California policymakers at the state and local levels should focus on reforming rules that block multifamily housing. Apartment-dwelling families on average use less than half the energy to heat and cool their residences than single-family home dwellers.
Cutting red tape is a bipartisan issue. Democrats and Republicans recognize that a periodic cleanup of rules is just good governance. Republican governors in Idaho, Missouri and Kentucky have prioritized decluttering regulatory codes in recent years. In California, Democrats in the Legislature have led efforts to reduce regulatory barriers to housing construction. In 2011, President Obama issued an executive order aimed at finding rules “that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome.”
The Democratic-dominated Rhode Island government recently eliminated more than 30% of its rule volume by setting an expiration date for its entire regulatory code, forcing state agencies to start fresh.
To effectively rein in California’s oversized housing costs, both local zoning rules and the state’s enormous regulatory code deserve a careful going-over. Justified rules should stay. Rules that are counterproductive for housing affordability and the environment deserve to be scrapped.
James Broughel is a senior research fellow and Emily Hamilton is a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
PG&E Could Pay Wildfire Victims – Needs Legislature’s OK
Written by Dale Kasler and Bryan Anderson
PG&E Corp. is floating a plan in the California Legislature to repay victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires by having the state issue billions of dollars in new bonds. The bankrupt utility’s shareholders would repay the bond out of future profits, a source familiar with PG&E’s plan said Tuesday.
The plan is designed to augment the insurance plan proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which is meant to raise funds for victims of future wildfires caused by equipment owned by PG&E and the California’s other major utilities. Newsom’s plan, AB 1054, leaves it up to PG&E to find a way to pay for the billions of dollars it owes victims of the 2017 wine country fires and November’s Camp Fire.
Under the PG&E plan, the state would issue tax exempt notes called “equity contribution bonds,” according to the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Customer rates wouldn’t go up, and the plan “works for victims by getting them paid.
The source said PG&E still hasn’t determined how much money it would need to raise. When it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, PG&E estimated its wildfire liabilities at $30 billion. Bloomberg reported that PG&E is considering raising $14 billion to pay those claims — a figure that lobbyists for wildfire victims called inadequate.
“We’re opposing this plan until we see that they’re serious about making victims whole,” said Patrick McCallum, a Sacramento lobbyist who lost his home in the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa and leads an organization called Up from the Ashes. “We’re told PG&E that, and we’ve also briefed the governor’s office.”
Aides to Newsom weren’t immediately available for comment.
Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher, whose district includes the Camp Fire burn zone, said he’s focused on getting money for fire victims and needs to see details of PG&E’s proposal.
“I still would like to see a plan from PG&E as to how they intend to do this and address outstanding recovery and safety issues,” he said in a text message. Gallagher added that he’s still not committed to voting for the governor’s plan.
PG&E is circulating its plan in part to counter a rival proposal unveiled June 25 by PG&E’s major bondholders. Under that plan, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the bondholders would inject up to $30 billion in new money into PG&E to repay existing wildfire victims and other creditors. Victims of the 2017 and 2018 fires would get up to $18 billion.
A source familiar with the bondholders’ plan disputed PG&E’s contention that its plan wouldn’t lead to higher rates. This source, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly for bondholders, said the billions in new debt would weaken the company and ultimately lead to higher borrowing costs that would translate into rate increases.
It would also give these bondholders a significant ownership stake in the company – a development that PG&E opposes because it would reduce the value of stock owned by existing shareholders. PG&E’s own plan, according to the source familiar with the utility’s proposal, “protects existing equity holders like the state pension funds, the retirees.”
Shortly after PG&E filed for bankruptcy, CalPERS said it owned about 1.8 million shares of PG&E stock. CalSTRS, the teachers’ pension fund, said it owned about 960,000 shares.
PG&E shares closed Tuesday at $22.40, down 95 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Newsom has said he wants the Legislature to pass AB 1054 by July 12, when the main legislative session ends.
His plan focuses on the creation of a $21 billion insurance fund, largely financed by ratepayers and shareholders of PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, to pay future wildfire claims. Ratepayers would contribute through a $2.50-a-month bill they’ve been paying since the 2001 energy crisis – a bill that was scheduled to disappear next year.
Utilities could tap the fund to pay new claims quickly if their equipment caused a big fire. They’d only have to reimburse it if the Public Utilities Commission declares that they’d operated the equipment recklessly. Also, their reimbursement would be capped at 20 percent of their rate base, the value of all their equipment.
The legislation gives the utilities another big boost: greater certainty about the ability to charge ratepayers for wildfire liabilities. Currently, they have to prove that they acted “prudently” in order to bill customers. Under AB 1054, they’d be considered prudent unless proven otherwise.
Written by Frank Lopez, Business Journal
This year’s annual Job Killer list from the California Chamber of Commerce grew to 31 bills the organization believed would harm the state’s economic growth and job creation if passed.
Out of the 31 bills on this year’s list, only the following made it past a key deadline this month.
From AB 40, the gas-powered vehicle ban bill, to the targeted tax on sweetened beverages, there were a variety of issues the Legislature tried to address, some having more of chance than others.
“These bills represent some of the worst policy proposals affecting California employers and our economy currently being considered by Legislature,” said CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg. “Some of these bills have been rejected time and again by the Legislature or vetoed by the previous Governor. Legislators should, instead, focus on removing impediments to economic growth and creating upward mobility for all Californians.”
These are the bills still alive:
AB 1080 California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act
This bill establishes a policy goal for the state that would require manufacturers and retailers to achieve a 75% reduction of waste generated from single-use packaging and products sold in the state through source reduction, recycling or composting by 2030.
It would also require that the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery adopt regulations mandating those reductions to commence by 2023.
The CalChamber identified AB 1080 as a job killer bill for 2019, saying it would increases costs to manufacture and ship consumer products sold in California and lead to burdensome taxes on business and employers.
Senate Bill 54 is virtually identical to AB 1080, also mandating a sharp reduction in the use of plastic packaging by 2030.
AB 51 Employment Discrimination Enforcement
Assembly Bill 51 would prohibit an employer from requiring job applicants or employees to waive rights for filing labor and employment claims as a condition for employment. It would also prohibit an employer from threatening, retaliating or discriminating against, or terminating a job applicant or employee, because of their refusal to sign arbitration agreements.
The CalChamber identified AB 51 as its first job killer of 2019, saying that it will increase costs for employers as a result of more litigation and expenses of delayed dispute resolutions.
AB 1066 Unemployment Insurance
This bill would restore eligibility for unemployment benefits after the first four weeks of a trade dispute for an employee who left their job because of the dispute. It would also codify specified case laws that maintain that employees who left work because of a lockout by the employer, regardless if it was in anticipation of a trade dispute, would still be eligible for benefits.
AB 1066 was identified as a job killer by the CalChamber because it would increase costs on employers in a trade dispute by allowing employees to receive unemployment benefits if the strikes lasts more than four weeks, which could lead to incentivized strikes.
SB 1 Federal Clean Air Act
This bill would require certain agencies to take specified actions in regards to federal requirements and standards pertaining to air, water and protected species. With the imposition of new duties on local agencies, SB 1 would also impose a state-mandated local program.
It would also require specified agencies to take actions regarding certain requirements and standards pertaining to worker’s health and safety.
The CalChamber identified SB 1 as its second job killer of the year, saying that the bill would give broad discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations that are more stringent than federal rules and regulations adopted after January 2017.
According to the CalChamber, the bill is a job killer because of its vague language and lack of due process in the rulemaking process. Because of the costs and anticipated litigation associated with SB 1, companies doing business in the state might have difficulty hiring more workers or expanding their operations in the state.
3 Leadership Principles from the Revolutionary War That Still Apply Today
Mark Turner, President of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce
On Sunday, January 21, 1776, in a small New England church, Pastor Peter Muhlenberg delivered one of the most dramatic sermons of his career. Muhlenberg’s text for the day was Ecclesiastes 3 where it explains, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted”
Coming to the end of his sermon, Peter Muhlenberg turned to his congregation and said, “In the language of the holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away.” As his congregation looked on, Muhlenberg stepped from behind the pulpit and removed his black robe to reveal the uniform of a military officer. He declared, “There is a time to fight, and that time has now come!”
Outside the church on that chilly New England Sunday morning, drums began to beat while inside 162 men followed Muhlenberg to the back of the church to enlist in the Continental Army. The following day, 300 men from Muhlenberg’s church followed him off to war. They eventually became the 8th Virginia Brigade fighting for liberty.
After the war, Muhlenberg continued to serve his country. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives not once, but three times. He was also elected to the Senate in 1801.
Peter Muhlenberg’s example helps us to understand 3 essential leadership principles that still apply today.
Good Leaders Inspire Others
At times, leaders use brute force in attempting to inspire their teams by declaring, “We must do this now, so let’s get moving.” This brute force approach does not tap into a team member’s intrinsic or extrinsic motivating stimuli which causes them to enthusiastically join the effort. They may do what the leaders says, not because they want to, but because they have to. Sales people also attempt to describe what their product is and how well it works without motivating a buyer. Sometimes a different message is needed in order to motivate others. Martin Luther King inspired a movement by describing a dream and President John F. Kennedy rallied the nation to put a man on the moon and return him home safely by casting an inspiring vision.
Peter Muhlenberg didn’t declare what needed to be done, he explained why it had to be done. 300 men in his congregation were so moved by why they should join the Revolutionary cause, they were willing to leave their families to fight the War of Independence.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Good Leaders Are Willing to Get Out of Their Comfort Zone
Frederick Muhlenberg, Peter’s brother, was against Peter’s level of involvement in the war. Peter responded to his brother, writing, “I am a Clergyman it is true, but I am a member of the society as well as the poorest layman, and my liberty is as dear to me as any man, shall I then sit still and enjoy myself at home when the best blood of the continent is spilling?”
80% of people live in their comfort zone afraid to step outside the imaginary walls that limit learning and leadership. In their 1908 study, psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson discovered that too little anxiety (comfort zone) results in poor performance. Interestingly enough, increased anxiety causes an increase in performance. There is, however, a balance between increased anxiety and extreme anxiety. Much like our comfort zones, extreme anxiety can reduce ones performance. The Yerkes-Dodson Law indicates performance is maximized when operating in a state of optimal anxiety. Comfort zone leadership stifles potential, limits growth, and nurtures regret.
Max Depree once said, “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
Good Leaders Lead by Example
Credibility is one of the most important traits a leader needs to have. People who say one thing and do another fail to earn the credibility necessary to lead others. As a leader, your team, associates, family and friends are watching all that you do. A leader’s values should align with their actions in every area of his or her life whether at home, at the office in the boardroom or on the field coaching Little League. A leader’s reputation is determined not by what they say, but by what they do.
Peter Muhlenberg was a great soldier. He became a Major General under Commander-in-chief George Washington. Baron Steuben, in general orders, requested “General Muhlenberg to accept his very particular thanks for his gallantry and good dispatches. Because of his actions, Muhlenberg was given command of one thousand light infantry. Muhlenberg finished the war strong and is portrayed in a painting displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda of the surrender of the British at Yorktown.
Peter Muhlenberg passed away in 1807 at the age of sixty-one. He was a great patriot as can be seen on his tombstone which reads, “He was Brave in the field, Faithful in the Cabinet, Honorable in all his transactions, a Sincere Friend and an Honest Man.”
Inspire others! Reach for great success by stepping out of your comfort zone and lead by example.
Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager
Walmart of Gilroy has grant money to give to local organizations. What organizations are eligible to apply for the Community Grant program? Organizations applying must meet the one of (the) following criteria: An organization holding a current tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3), or (19) of the Internal Revenue Code, listed on the IRS Master File and conduct activities within the United States; Excluding nationally sponsored organizations: American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Children’s Miracle Network and United Way. A recognized government entity: state, county, or city agency, including law enforcement or fire departments, that are requesting funds exclusively for public purposes; A K-12 public or private school, charter school, community/junior college, state/private college or university; or a church or other faith-based organization with a proposed project that benefits the community at large such as food pantries, soup kitchens, clothing closets, etc. Areas of Funding: There are eight (8) areas of funding for which an organization can apply. Please review the areas listed below to ensure your organization’s goals fall within one of these areas. Hunger relief and healthy eating, Health and human service, Quality of life, Education, Community and economic development, Diversity and Inclusion, Public Safety and Environmental sustainability. To apply, go to Walmart.org and apply through local community grants.
Solis Winery in Gilroy recently won a stunning total of four awards, including three gold medals, at the 2019 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition, held June 8-9 in San Diego, California. Solis Winery won Gold for its 2018 Fiano Estate, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, and 2015 Merlot Estate, as well as a Silver award for its 2015 Zinfandel Estate. All wines were grown and produced in the Santa Clara Valley, one of California’s oldest wine-producing regions. Vic Vanni, co-owner of Solis Winery with his brother Michael, said, “It is truly an honor to receive these awards, especially since the judges represent such a diverse group of sophisticated and worldly palates. We are proud to be making wine here in the Santa Clara Valley that rivals the best from throughout the world!”
Eight Amateur Chefs to Share the Stage with Tom Colicchio at the 41st Annual Great Garlic Cook-Off. James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio will host the 41st annual Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday, July 27, 2019. Eight amateur chefs from across the country have been selected as finalists to compete on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, preparing their own original recipes for the chance to win a $3,000 prize and the coveted garlic crown. Culinary superstar Tom Colicchio, who is head judge on Top Chef, will emcee the Cook-Off and also serve as a judge. The other judges include Jason Ryczek from Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco; Adam Sanchez, owner/chef of The Milias Restaurant and a previous Cook-Off winner; Maurizio Cutrignelli of Osteria al Mare in Monterey and Maurizio’s in Morgan Hill; Mark Segovia of Segovia Catering in Gilroy; and Diana Phipps from L’Aubergine Restaurant in Carmel.
Eight Aspiring Young Chefs to Battle in Garlic Chef Jr. Competition at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 26 . Last year’s inaugural Garlic Chef Jr. cooking competition was a huge success, so the youngsters will be back to do battle at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Friday, July 26. Eight aspiring chefs (ages 10-15) will be preparing their own original recipes on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage for a prize worth $500. Hosted by MasterChef Season 9 Winner Gerron Hurt, this exciting event will start at 2:00 pm on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage. Each contestant must create an original baked or grilled dish containing at least six cloves of garlic. A panel of expert judges will evaluate each dish for taste, appearance, creativity, and use of garlic. The winner will be announced at 4:00 pm and will receive a prize valued at $500.
Mark Turner, President Gilroy Chamber of Commerce
Sixteen months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the rhetoric and saber rattling was drawing to a close as the first shot of the Revolutionary War was about to be fired.
On March 23, 1775, the 2nd Virginia Convention was in session at St. John’s Church in Richmond. The little wooden church was crowded that day and buzzing with debate about whether or not Virginia should even enter the forthcoming war. Suddenly, a 39 year old Virginian took the floor and addressed a group of unsure and undetermined legislators as he gave an impassioned plea to take up arms and fight for freedom. Of course, we all know how Patrick Henry ended that speech with the immortal words, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.
One month later and about 550 miles to the north on a mild April night, two men by the name of Robert Newman and Captain Pulling quietly unlocked the heavy doors and slipped inside the building. They made their way to the stairwell and began to climb the stairs to the top. As they made their way to their destination, they carried the two items that had been set aside for them. Past the large silent bells they continued their ascent. When they finally reached their desired location inside the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church, they gently opened the sash and held out the two lanterns indicating the movement of the British troops. Paul Revere, William Dawes and others set off to sound the alarm of the advancing British soldiers.
April 19, 1775 brought us the Battles of Lexington and Concord. By the end of day June 17, the Battle of Bunker Hill would be in the history books. America’s struggle for independence was under way. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted and America’s War of Independence would not end until September 3, 1783. July 4 should be a reminder of the effort and sacrifice by our founders and their commitment to “pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” for the establishment of this great nation.
While reflecting on the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln said, “When future generations read these words they will realize that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration.”
John Adams, in writing to his wife Abigail about the Declaration of Independence, which was initially introduced on July 2nd, said, “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires, and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other…”
You can celebrate a South County 4th of July, as John Adams described, in several ways. First, attend the parade in downtown Morgan Hill which begins at 10:00 am. Morgan Hill’s 4th of July Parade is the largest privately organized parade in Northern California and the official 4th of July Parade of Santa Clara County. Second, bring your family and friends together and watch the City of Gilroy’s fireworks display at Gilroy High School at dark. If you choose, commemorate your unalienable rights which include, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by shooting-off your own safe and sane fireworks. Be sure to know the information, restrictions and enforcements which can be found on the City of Gilroy’s website.
Mass Homelessness Exposes California’s Political Dysfunction
Commentary written by Jarrett Stepman, The Daily Signal
California’s great wealth only masks its increasing dysfunction. Nothing highlights this quite like the explosion of homelessness in the Golden State.
By any measure, California’s homelessness crisis is reaching epic proportions.
There are now nearly 60,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles County, a 12% increase from the previous year, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Los Angeles is hardly an outlier.
“Other localities in California saw substantial increases compared with 2017, when they last conducted a count,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “In San Francisco, the number rose 17% while Alameda County, which includes Oakland, saw a 43% increase. Homelessness grew 42% in San Jose over the past two years and 31% in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley.”
San Francisco, for all of its radical politics, is a beautiful city by the bay. Yet it’s evolving into a dysfunctional, filthy mess.
“Even in the good old days there was a Skid Row. Now the beggars, drug addicts, and lost souls are all over the city,” wrote San Francisco columnist Carl Nolte.
How bad has it become? Nolte wrote:
The city is out of control. Traffic is a mess, but it’s rare to see a traffic control officer. Trucks are double-parked everywhere. The city is dirty—a friend just back from Mexico City was astounded to find the streets there far cleaner than the ones in her native city. There is so much human waste on the streets of San Francisco the city formed a ‘poop patrol’ where workers are paid $71,000 a year, about same as the average school teacher.
California maintains a generous welfare regime, and its temperate and generally pleasant weather make it a natural haven for homeless people.
These populations are growing at a quickening pace, even as cities like San Francisco grow in wealth and opulence. Even worse, diseases that are more associated with medieval times than modernity are quickly spreading.
Los Angeles is currently suffering from an outbreak of Typhus, a flea-borne disease spread by rats. This comes hand-in-hand with the growing homeless community: Filthy conditions and widespread homelessness have aided the spread of this deadly disease, which has affected police officers, city officials, and others around the city.
But as is typical for California, the state’s “remedies” never address the underlying issues and instead try to quell the homelessness problem with more direct welfare methods.
If anything, this has just created a larger incentive for homeless people to come to the state—but not as a means of escaping their situation or to receive the help they need.
California has thrown billions of dollars at the problem, and plans to throw billions more. But that won’t solve the underlying issues. The problem is a culture that has allowed homelessness, filthy streets, and increasingly unlivable conditions to persist.
There are productive measures that can be taken to at least alleviate the crisis.
One step would be to address the problem of mental illness.
The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill en masse has had serious consequences, and there’s no doubt it has contributed to the present surge in homelessness. This is a nationwide phenomenon.
There may be at least some hope in San Francisco, where the City Council recently took an overdue step making it easier to involuntarily commit the mentally ill to institutions. Simply taking these mentally ill individuals off the street helps reduce drugs, crime, and general lawlessness in society, which are all compounded by homelessness.
Some cities have taken other measures that seem to have made progress.
According to City Journal, in Houston “local leaders have reduced homelessness by 60% through a combination of providing services and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for street camping, panhandling, trespassing, and property crimes.”
Houston’s focus is on making the city a cleaner, more sanitary place for all residents.
These measures often prove more effective than simply reducing housing costs, as City Journal noted, because the high cost of housing, while a burden on the working poor, is rarely the cause of homelessness.
Even so, California could put a dent in its own housing costs by tackling housing regulations that have reduced the amount of housing available and pushed costs upward.
As I wrote last year, “no-growth policies combined with draconian environmental restrictions—such as the California Environmental Quality Act passed in the 1970s—made new building impossible or prohibitively expensive.”
So, three things California could do to start turning this crisis around are: reducing housing prices through deregulation, ensuring that the mentally ill receive necessary treatment and are taken off the street, and strictly upholding the rule of law.
Will the powers that be in California finally get smart?
Probably not, but if they don’t, the crisis—and the embarrassment—will only intensify as middle-class Americans continue leaving the state in droves for greener pastures.
Written by Felicia Mello, CALmatters
Matthew Polamalu was spending 1.5 hours each day commuting back and forth to community college along Southern California’s congested freeways when he decided he’d had enough.
He sat down at his computer and Googled “community colleges with dorms.”
“I was just looking for the full college experience,” said the psychology major. He found it in a residence hall at Sierra College, along a winding, tree-lined road in the Sacramento suburb of Rocklin. There, Polamalu can easily stroll to the classroom next door for math tutoring, and no longer worries about competing with other students for parking spaces.
“I’m right near all the resources I need,” he said.
Think of a community college, and you’ll likely picture a commuter school with low-slung buildings and massive parking lots. And you’d be right—out of California’s 114 community colleges, only 11 offer on-campus housing. But some of those parking lots could soon become dormitories as community colleges look to build their own solutions to the state’s affordable housing crisis.
An 800-bed student apartment complex is rising on the campus of Orange Coast College, the largest community college in Orange County. At Santa Rosa Junior College, administrators kicked their plans for dorms into high gear after the Tubbs Fire swept through the wine country town in 2017, exacerbating its housing crunch. And the Los Angeles Community College District, where one student in five is homeless, is one of several districts studying the feasibility of building on-campus housing.
Largely built in rural areas in the 1960s, existing community college dorms were small, meant to serve students from far-flung towns who couldn’t easily commute to class. But the skyrocketing cost of housing has put new pressure on students, adding to potential demand.
“Our thought was to have some housing on campus so our students can just concentrate on learning without worrying so much about, ‘Can I make rent?’ or ‘Where am I going to live?’ ” said Juan Gutierrez, public information officer for Orange Coast College.
Surveys showed the overwhelming majority of Orange Coast students was interested in living on campus, Gutierrez said. Half of the student body comes from outside Orange County, he said, with many avoiding the area’s steep cost of living by commuting from as far as San Diego or the Inland Empire. The project is set to open in the autumn of 2020.
At Sierra College, just over 100 students live in the no-frills residence hall with about twice as many on a waiting list to get in. Slots are set aside for athletes—most of whom come from outside the district—international students, and former foster care youth.
Students pay $925 per month to share a double or quad room, which includes a meal plan that they can use in the cafeteria and nearby off-campus restaurants.
The price was right for Polamalu’s friend Moe Irwin, a natural science major who is visually impaired and uses his disability benefits to pay rent. Cluttered with the typical college-student piles of clothes and books, the space he shares with a roommate is just big enough to fit the basics, plus a few sparkly dresses Irwin wears for drag performances.
“It’s mainly that we want independence from our parents,” Irwin said of himself and his dorm mates. “We love them, but we recognize it’s time to go out on our own.”
With rents in the Sacramento area rising, Irwin said, he would likely need to share a one-bedroom apartment with at least two other people if he wanted to live off-campus.
Finding affordable solutions
Community college students facing similar dilemmas without the option of on-campus housing are increasingly resorting to couch-surfing or living in their cars. As state lawmakers debate measures that would allow homeless students to park overnight on campus and provide them with housing vouchers, building dorms offers an alternate path, one that colleges can pursue on their own.
But it also means transforming the character of community college campuses and confronting thorny questions, such as how to make the units actually affordable to students.
While Sierra College built, owns and manages its own residence hall, both Orange Coast College and Santa Rosa Junior College have opted for public-private partnerships with the Texas-based developer Servitas and Scion, a management and consulting company.
Rents for the Santa Rosa project will be under $800 per bed including utilities, or about six percent below market rate, said Pedro Avila, the school’s vice president of student services. He said the contract prohibits any rent increases without the college’s consent. Working with an experienced developer helped the college respond quickly after enrollment dropped in the wake of the wildfires, he said, as students unable to find housing began moving away.
“We were at the point where it didn’t matter that we were able to provide support or vouchers, people were getting pushed out of the area,” said Avila. “We’re trying to do our part and increase the number of units available to our students.”
Avila said he also hoped to find donors willing to subsidize rents for low-income students.
Colleges can sometimes underestimate the extra expenses that come with building housing, said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University researcher who studies homelessness and food insecurity among students.
“With housing comes the need to build a whole bunch of other services. If you have students living on or around campus, they want campus dining to be open at different hours and they want libraries open at different hours,” she said. “It becomes a financial expense that is difficult for them to handle and ends up raising their prices even when they thought wouldn’t be doing that.”
Even a building with hundreds of beds might make only a small dent in the housing market on a campus with tens of thousands of students. Traditional dorm-style living doesn’t work for students with families of their own, and community colleges will need to decide which students get priority in applying for the rooms.
“That’s probably going to be the most difficult conversation we haven’t had yet,” said Avila.
Community opposition can also derail a project. Last month, Ohlone College in the San Francisco Bay Area scrapped plans for a mixed-use housing development after neighbors complained that it would worsen traffic.
Colleges as social service agencies
Despite the challenges, some advocates say providing housing is simply part of community colleges’ expanding mission. With rampant income inequality darkening the prospects for many young Californians, they say, colleges must play the role of social service agency if they want to remove the obstacles that can prevent students from graduating.
That’s the approach taken by Compton College president Keith Curry. The college recently updated its master plan to include 500 beds of student housing. It already provides free breakfast and lunch to students during finals week, and Curry is lobbying to create a free lunch program for community college students statewide.
“Our students are struggling; they need housing,” said Curry. “If we don’t do it, who’s going to do it for us? Who’s going to help the underserved? That’s our job.”
Early evidence from a project in Washington State indicates that solving community college students’ housing woes can help them graduate. Tacoma Community College partnered with the local housing authority to subsidize housing for students at risk of homelessness. After the first year, 95 percent of the students who got the assistance remained enrolled in college, according to the housing authority, compared with 24 percent of applicants on the waitlist.
Community colleges have advantages that other affordable housing developers don’t, said Dana Cuff, a professor of architecture and director of UCLA’s CityLab who is studying opportunities to build housing on Los Angeles Community College District campuses.
“Every community college has land, either on their existing surface parking lots or in the air above their temporary classrooms,” she said. “And secondly, the zoning restrictions that apply elsewhere don’t apply.”
The student housing of the future, she said, could include a range of options for different types of students—inexpensive hostels for super-commuters who only need to stay at school a few nights a week, supportive housing for homeless students, and cooperatives where residents reduce their housing costs by pitching in with cleaning and maintenance. Colleges can keep units affordable by developing their own expertise over time or working with non-profit developers, she said.
“Affordable housing isn’t an area where optimism reigns—it’s more like a battle,” she said. “But I feel positive that community colleges will make demonstration cases that others will learn from, and we’ll see a tipping point where community colleges will really see the advantages of providing housing for their students.”
Commentary written by Karen Baker, California’s Chief Service Officer
Millions of Californians face an unprecedented increase in natural disasters brought about climate change with an accompanying increase in risk. Unless.
Imagine if everyone is prepared in advance of an emergency, and we all know what to do and where to go to keep safe. Imagine if every Californian in every neighborhood is armed with vital information to help themselves and their neighbors before disaster strikes.
California’s emergency planning in the traditional sense is held up as a model. California is known for integrated disaster management, incident command systems, and having plans and programs for fire, earthquake and other crises.
But we face many barriers, given our size and diversity. We must change our approach by investing in people power to complement traditional emergency services which is why a new grassroots strategy has been adopted to connect people to each other and build inclusive resiliency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California For All Emergency Preparedness Campaign dedicates $50 million to ready the state’s diverse and vulnerable communities for the next emergency. There are multiple elements with our approach.
First, we are focusing on local organizing. Through grant awards, the state is investing in community-based organizations bringing together residents across lines of poverty, overcoming language barriers and conquering other demographic challenges.
This work will identify gaps in local emergency plans and foster conversations with area leaders on how to address the needs and priorities of different people so neighbors can help each other.
We also seek to empower volunteer groups such as Listos, AmeriCorps, Fire Safe Councils, and CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams). In the 13 years since I’ve been involved in the disaster preparedness arena, I’ve seen the power of training and its impact at the local level.
Community Emergency Response Teams already are connecting neighbors to resources. Our new campaign replenishes California-based chapters and enables them to expand to all corners of the state.
To reach non-English speakers, the Spanish-language eight-hour training by Listos brings cultural and linguistic relevance to emergency preparedness content to empower families and communities. Training in other languages is in development, as well.
At a recent California For All conference in San Diego, we officially launched the Community Emergency Response Teams and Listos teams as part of the campaign to expand their work this summer in local communities.
Our aim is for all these campaign components to work side-by-side in times of blue sky so that perhaps when the sky turns gray, we will all know what to do, where to go and how to help each other.
Karen Baker is California’s Chief Service Officer and a key architect of the California For All Emergency Preparedness Campaign, Karen.Baker@californiavolunteers.ca.gov. She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.