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Metro puts half-cent sales tax increase for transportation projects on November ballot - LA Times
Los Angeles County transportation officials said Thursday they will seek voter approval in November for a half-cent sales tax increase to fund a major expansion of Southern California’s rail and highway network. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors voted 11-2 to place a tax increase proposal on the November ballot that would generate at least $860 million per year for street repairs, highway improvements and new rail construction, including lines in the Sepulveda Pass and Van Nuys and extensions to Claremont and West Hollywood. Metro’s proposal, one of the most ambitious in modern U.S. history, could transform a traffic-choked region that began building a modern rail system decades after other major cities. The expenditure plan calls for several north-south links in a rail network that runs largely east to west. [Article]
by LAURA J. NELSON, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
Los Angeles County supervisor invites Gov. Jerry Brown to come see the homeless problem for himself
A leading voice on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the rising tide of homelessness says Gov. Jerry Brown should see what's going on for himself. "I'd like to invite him down to Los Angeles," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in an interview while visiting Sacramento on Wednesday. County leaders have been pushing for help from the state government for some 47,000 people living on Los Angeles streets . Their main effort, a request for Brown and lawmakers to allow Los Angeles County voters to impose a local income tax on the most wealthy taxpayers, has largely fallen flat in recent weeks . [Article]
by JOHN MYERS, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
What’s Behind California’s Sudden Urge to Help the Homeless? It’s the Rich!
CONNECTING CALIFORNIA--How did homelessness suddenly become such a hot issue across California? There are many reasons, and few of them have anything to do with people who are homeless. Those reasons—economic anxiety, budget surpluses, tax schemes, housing prices, prison reform, health care expansion, urban wealth, and political opportunism have combined to create today’s “homeless moment” in California. For decades, combating homelessness has been a civic obsession in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its long tradition of progressive politics and generous homeless services. Now that homeless hubbub has spread statewide. To the surprise of many at the State Capitol, a $2 billion bond to pay for housing for the mentally ill homeless—previously a backburner issue in tax-and-education-obsessed Sacramento—became a central focus of this month’s budget negotiations. And around the state, local law enforcement officials have stirred the pot by claiming that recent measures to reduce the California prison population have exacerbated the homeless problem. [Article]
by JOE MATHEWS / OPINION, CityWatchLA.com. 2016-06-24
 
A new LA County transportation half-cent sales tax just cleared a big hurdle
LOS ANGELES >> A ballot measure that would raise the sales tax in Los Angeles County by a half cent and fund $120 billion in rail and freeway improvements over the next 50 years moved a step closer Thursday to being considered by the voters. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board — by an 11-2 vote — approved the measure for placement on the Nov. 8 ballot. Though considered a formality, the county Board of Supervisors, whose members also sit on the 13-member Metro board, have until Aug. 12 to place the initiative on the ballot. [Article]
by STEVE SCAUZILLO , San Gabriel Valley Tribune. 2016-06-24
 
The Bullet Train has the Valley in a Tizzy … Here’s Why They’re So Pissed Off
MY TURN-Stakeholders keep the heat up on the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) so we will probably be looking at the status of the California Bullet train for the next two decades. Who knows if anything will anything even be completed by that time? The issue has managed to bring out passions on both sides and that is a good thing. This is definitely the year for activism in politics.  David De Pinto, President of the Shadow Hills Home Owners Association and Board member of SAFE coalition are continually trying to have communication with the CHSRA and any other government officials who will listen to them.  [Article]
by DENYSE SELESNICK, CityWatchLA.com. 2016-06-24
 
Cost of going green must not be hidden from homeowners: Guest commentary
Help fight climate change, lower utility bills and increase home value. This is a pitch homeowners are hearing across our state. Californians are going green and taking advantage of programs to help make energy-efficient updates to their homes. One program that has caught the attention of the Federal Housing Finance Agency is the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, established by the legislature in 2008. [Article]
by MATT DABABNEH / OPINION, Los Angeles Daily News. 2016-06-24
 
LA County funding boost would let more kids enjoy local parks: Guest commentary
When I was growing up in Hawthorne, there was a spot along the 105 Freeway we called “the dirt field.” The freeway cut off access to the few parks we had in our neighborhood, so my friends and I just hung out in the dirt field — nothing more than a tiny dirt vacant lot. It was our ballfield, our playground and our place to just be kids. I cherish the memories of this “pretend park.” In the years since, I have formed a non-profit, From Lot to Spot, to help create access for the thousands of residents cut off from green, leafy parks, community gardens, bike paths and all types of greenspaces. Yosemite and Kings Canyon are beautiful national landmarks, and I recognize their grandeur. However, our best parks, the ones we remember when we get older, are the ones we frequented next to our homes, in our neighborhoods — the ones that were part of our daily lives. [Article]
by VIVIANA FRANCO / OPINION, Daily Breeze. 2016-06-24
 
Lack of preparation for massive earthquake could bring catastrophe, report says - LA Times
Southern California’s smaller cities and large businesses must take the threat of a crippling earthquake far more seriously than they have been, a committee of business, public policy and utility leaders said Thursday, saying action is needed to “prevent the inevitable disaster from becoming a catastrophe.” Despite strides made by the city of Los Angeles to focus on earthquake safety, Southern California still faces significant threats that haven’t been resolved. One of the most ominous is the looming threat on the edge of Southern California’s sprawling metropolis — the Cajon Pass. It’s a narrow mountain pass where the San Andreas fault — California’s longest and one of its most dangerous — intersects with combustible natural gas and petroleum pipelines, electrical transmission lines, train tracks and Interstate 15 north of San Bernardino. A huge earthquake on the San Andreas could move one side of the fault as much as 30 feet from the other. Such an earthquake would rupture flammable pipelines and lead to a catastrophic explosion so powerful it leaves behind a crater. [Article]
by RONG GONG LIN II, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
Supreme Court decision deals blow to health coverage efforts in California - LA Times
The Supreme Court decision Thursday effectively blocking President Obama’s immigration programs also comes as a blow to California legislators who have been fighting to offer health insurance to people living in the country illegally. Immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization can’t enroll in Obamacare and make up a large portion of those who remain uninsured in California. But an unusual state policy allows those granted temporary relief from deportation to sign up for Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health program. If the court had upheld the deferred action programs, more than half a million unauthorized immigrants in California could have become eligible for state-funded health insurance, according to UC Berkeley and UCLA researchers. Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of the nonprofit California Endowment, said he was disappointed that thousands would not be gaining health insurance, but said he was hopeful that the decision “will ultimately result in health justice for all." [Article]
by SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
These students vowed to change immigration laws a decade ago. Where are they now? - LA Times
Ten years ago, more than 40,000 Southern California teenagers walked out of class to support rights for all immigrants, taking part in the biggest protests the state has ever seen. The rallying cry? “Hoy marchamos, mañana votamos,” or “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.” The students promised to use their voting power to change immigration laws. Read their stories: Military veterans, NYC mayoral aide and more » On Wednesday, a deadlocked Supreme Court dealt a blow to President Obama’s push to provide relief on deportations and allow millions of people working in the country illegally to get work permits. In advance of the court’s decision, The Times sought out students who had walked out of more 50 schools across Southern California in March 2006. Here’s what they had to say about how that moment changed their lives: [Article]
by DANIELA GERSON, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
Balboa Island celebrates 100 years of 'pure charm' - Daily Pilot
For residents and loyal visitors who know Balboa Island best, pinpointing the root of its charm is nearly impossible. When people leave Balboa Island, they want to come back, and those who have stayed can't imagine living anywhere else. "There's something about it that when you go over the bridge, you're here, you're satisfied," said Romona Merle, who has owned property on the island since 1956 and moved there full-time in 1985. The island, which was incorporated into the city of Newport Beach in 1916, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with a series of projects and parties. [Article]
by HANNAH FRY, Los Angeles Times. 2016-06-24
 
Alice Waters: Farm-to-fork chef wants Orange County schools to eat locally
Before a crowd of slow-food evangelists from Orange County, the legendary Alice Waters is introduced as the Berkeley activist who founded the farm-to-fork movement at Chez Panisse 45 years ago. Small in stature, but larger than life as she speaks, the 72-year-old Waters – one of the most honored chefs in America – graciously modifies the moniker often bestowed upon her. Serving market-fresh ingredients is not a food revolution she created. The Chez Panisse ethos is only a reminder of how enriching, joyful and simple eating is meant to be, she told a spellbound crowd Saturday at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. “These are ideas that have been around since the beginning of civilization,” she said. “Growing your own food. Celebrating the harvest. Thinking of food as precious.” [Article]
by NANCY LUNA, Orange County Register. 2016-06-24
 
Orange County workers at hub of innovation
Vilifying public employees has been a hobby of some for more than a decade. Yet most of us recognize that public employees often deliver critical services that the private sector cannot or will not provide, or will only perform if exorbitant profits are virtually guaranteed and performance expectations are set inordinately low. One area of outsourcing that in recent decades has resulted in more than its share of disasters for public agencies is information technology. As governments have attempted to keep up with ever-changing technology requirements, they have often turned to the private sector. An entire segment of the industry is populated by vendors specializing in contracting. [Article]
by JENNIFER MUIR / Contributing Writer, Orange County Register. 2016-06-24
 
Immigration vote spreads anxiety among Southern California residents living in U.S. illegally
Hundreds of thousands of people living illegally in Southern California were facing a sobering new reality Thursday: The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t coming to their rescue, and their fate may be tied more precariously than ever to the outcome of this year’s presidential election. News that the high court deadlocked, blocking President Obama’s immigration plan from moving forward, quickly spread anxiety across a region with one of the nation’s largest concentrations of unauthorized immigrants. [Article]
by ROXANA KOPETMAN and STEPHEN WALL, Orange County Register. 2016-06-24
 
EDITORIAL: Local decisions can worsen housing crisis - Press Enterprise
Anyone not living under a rock knows that housing is too expensive in California. Builders and elected officials grappled with the affordability crisis last week in Ontario at a policy conference put on annually by the Building Industry Association’s Baldy View Chapter. Urban planner and consultant Wendell Cox, co-author of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, was there to put the problem into numeric terms. Mr. Cox, a former Los Angeles County transportation commissioner, holds that before states, counties and cities put so many restrictions on home building – what he calls “urban containment” politics – most places had “median multiples” less than three, meaning that a median house cost three times the area’s median household income. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2016-06-24
 
SAN BERNARDINO: Two-county pipeline vote delayed again - Press Enterprise
The California Public Utilities Commission has again postponed a vote on a proposal to build a 65-mile natural gas pipeline through San Bernardino County to Moreno Valley. No reason was given for the postponement at the commission's meeting Thursday. June 23, the third delay since May. It has been scheduled to return at its July 14 meeting. [Article]
by IMRAN GHORI, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2016-06-24
 
RIVERSIDE COUNTY: How crime-linked money is being used to fight crime - Press Enterprise
Ballistics vests for police and boxing lessons for at-risk youth are some of the ways Riverside County authorities are using millions of dollars seized during criminal investigation. $445,226 was awarded Thursday to 36 Riverside County nonprofits to fund programs that combat drug abuse and gang activity. The money came from the civil asset forfeiture program, through which authorities seize money and property used in the commission of crimes. Just over $4.8 million was distributed in 2015 in Riverside County cases. The largest percentage goes to police, who use the money to buy things like weapons, vehicles and body armor, and to attend training. [Article]
by ALI TADAYON, Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2016-06-24
 
How $100K of drug money will help Coachella Valley kids
Nearly $100,000 of seized drug money has been distributed to Coachella Valley youth organizations that focus on steering children away from drugs and gangs, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. The funds are the largest-ever payout in a longstanding program that uses seized money to support youth groups and charity organizations throughout the county. More than $445,000 has been awarded to 36 organizations. [Article]
by BRETT KELMAN, Desert Sun. 2016-06-24
 
California's drought isn't over. Why are so many water agencies ending mandatory conservation?
Coachella Valley residents have slashed their water use nearly 25 percent over the past year in response to California's historic drought. Now they face a new conservation mandate: zero percent. No, the drought isn't over: The entire state is abnormally dry and 43 percent of it suffers from "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But with California's reservoirs and snowpack in better shape than last year after a moderately wet winter, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the state water board to relax the strict conservation targets it imposed last June. [Article]
by SAMMY ROTH, Desert Sun. 2016-06-24
 
Insider: Riverside County opposes health district bill
Riverside County officials have gone on the record in their opposition to a plan that would expand the Desert Healthcare District into eastern Coachella Valley. Jim Gross, a lobbyist for the county, told a panel of state senators on Wednesday that a proposed bill for the expansion places unfunded expenses on the county and goes against the typical local process for expanding the influence of a government agency. State Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, is spearheading the legislation, which passed the Assembly in May. The bill sets a November 2018 public vote on the expansion plus a still-unidentified funding plan. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Desert Sun. 2016-06-24
 
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