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Tuesday
Jul292014

L.A. CITY HALL: Mayor Eric Garcetti, family vacation to?: "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's 'mystery' vacation" ....

* Daily News:  "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's 'mystery' vacation" - From the DN:

It’s Monday. Do you know where Mayor Eric Garcetti is? It was the big secret at City Hall on Monday when his office put out a weeklong schedule saying: “Please note that Mayor Garcetti will be traveling with his family out of the state from July 25 until August 4.” Later, it was confirmed — after a guessing game on Garcetti’s Instagram account — that he was in Charlevoix, Mich., a town with a total population of slightly more than 2,100 people.

Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said Monday it has been the practice of the office to not disclose when the mayor takes private time away from the city unless he is going out of the country.

The guessing game started when Garcetti began posting pictures and drawing speculation he was in Kansas, Wisconsin, Indiana or Michigan. The key evidence came in a picture showing the Pine River flowing to Lake Michigan in Charlevoix.

Millman said the mayor has taken other trips without giving public notice, such as recent trips to Washington, D.C., and Indiana, which the mayor has discussed openly when asked. Millman would not say if the mayor’s security detail was with him. LAPD spokesman Andrew Smith referred calls to the Mayor’s Office and said they do not discuss security details.

Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who became known for his travels, always released information about his trips, including vacations.

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The mayor is taking his vacation just as the City Council is returning from its nearly month-long recess. City Council President Herb Wesson has said the annual recess was moved up from August to accommodate members with children who will be returning to school next month.

Tuesday
Jul292014

POLITICS/WATER: Bay Delta Conservation Plan, funding, twin tunnels, editorial: "Legislature must not fund Delta water tunnels through back door" ....

***Following up on earlier item noted here (Delta tunnels, funding, use of property taxes, no public vote?)....

* San Francisco Chronicle (editorial):  "Legislature must not fund Delta water tunnels through back door" - From the Chronicle:

The state's plan to build twin tunnels to export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to places farther south is controversial, contested and very expensive. So may be the way that local water districts choose to pay for it.

Until recently, it had escaped everyone's notice that local water agencies can raise property taxes to pay for water infrastructure without getting voter approval. It turns out that there's a small quirk in the law that allows water agencies to do so - and at least a few of them are considering raising property taxes in order to pay for the delta plan.

"Legally, my understanding from our attorney is that we could," said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. But Kightlinger quickly emphasized that his water district had no plan to do so. "We haven't raised our property tax portion of revenue since 1960. It always felt like raising rates would be the fairest, most direct way to pay for things."

Kightlinger's hesitancy also reflects the fact that California voters are passionately attached to voting on any tax increases, particularly property tax increases. . . . . . . .

There might be a fight, but the antitax groups are unlikely to win it. State courts concluded decades ago that water agencies have the unique authority to raise property taxes without voter approval because voters approved the construction, operation and maintenance of the State Water Project in 1960 - nearly two decades before the passage of Prop. 13. The California Legislative Analyst's Office agrees with this assumption.

In fact, some water agencies have indeed raised property taxes over the years. . . . . . . .

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The problem is......................./

Tuesday
Jul292014

L.A. CITY HALL: Homelessness, residents living in cars, regulation: "Car-Dwelling in L.A. Has Become an Epidemic, to the Dismay of Many Homeowners" ....

* LA Weekly:  "Car-Dwelling in L.A. Has Become an Epidemic, to the Dismay of Many Homeowners" - From the Weekly:

Every year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the largest local organization addressing homelessness, tries to count the number of people without housing in Los Angeles County. The organization's more than 4,000 volunteers manually tally every person they can find on the streets.This year, for the first time, the agency specifically counted the number who live in their cars.

What it found was a major epidemic. According to LAHSA's spokesman, of the roughly 39,000 homeless people in L.A. County, 8,215 live in 4,878 cars. (That doesn't include Glendale, Pasadena or Burbank, because they conduct their own counts.) The city of L.A. alone has 4,958 people living in nearly 3,000 cars. For many in Los Angeles, car dwellers are not welcome.

While vehicular living has been around since, well, the car, the issue continues to spark many of the same complaints that "Ford Families" did during the Great Depression. In neighborhoods such as Venice, residents fault car dwellers for discarding waste on the streets (human and otherwise), drug dealing, crime and, perhaps worst of all: hoarding the city's precious few street parking spots. "It's really bad," says Mark Ryavec of the Venice Stakeholders Association. "It's gotten to the point where some residents don't leave for the weekend because they can't find street parking."

In Venice, homeowners complain that car dwellers use the sides of their homes as urinals and defecate in their yards. "That's how diseases get spread in developing countries," Ryavec says, adding that the resulting stench is unbearable. "It's like Lord of the Flies out here."

In 2010, similar complaints from Venice residents led the city to crack down on people living in cars. The Venice Homelessness Task Force comprised 21 LAPD officers, who were instructed to use a 27-year-old city ordinance to "cite and arrest homeless people using their automobiles as 'living quarters,' " as well as distribute information about finding shelter.

But four individuals who were cited by the task force filed a lawsuit challenging it, and last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the city's ordinance...............................

Tuesday
Jul292014

POLITICS/BUSINESS: New study, California cities, economic recovery, report/analsysis: "California cities among slowest to recover since recession, study says" ...., 

* Los Angeles Times:  "California cities among slowest to recover since recession, study says" - From the LAT:

The Inland Empire city of San Bernardino has been one of the slowest-recovering large U.S. cities since the recession, according to an economic ranking from the consumer financial website WalletHub.

Several cities in the Inland Empire and Central Valley -- including Stockton, Modesto and Riverside -- ranked among the lowest in economic growth, the study found. WalletHub looked at the 150 most populous U.S. cities and scored them on various economic indicators, including changes in unemployment rates, median income and home prices.

San Francisco had the most improvement of any California city since the recession, ranking No. 20 on WalletHub's list. Cities in California ranked significantly lower than those in other parts of the country, particularly Texas.

WalletHub evaluated economic growth across 18 metrics, and San Bernardino ranked among the lowest in several categories. . . . .The rankings also accounted for municipal bankruptcies, which helped to push both Stockton and San Bernardino to the bottom of the rankings. Both cities filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

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Six of the 10 fastest-recovering cities were in Texas, including Laredo, Irving and Dallas. Other top-10 cities included Denver, Minneapolis and Raleigh, N.C.

Not surprisingly, the rankings tended to mirror which areas were hardest hit by the housing crisis. Texas emerged relatively unscathed from the bubble, and cities such as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio all ranked in the top third of cities measured. Those at the bottom also included hard-hit areas such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and Cape Coral, Fla.

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Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and Sacramento all ranked in the bottom half of WalletHub's list. The highest-ranked California cities were San Francisco, Bakersfield and San Jose.......

Tuesday
Jul292014

POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): San Bruno, explosion investigation, California Public Utilities Commission: "Emails show PG&E and regulator have 'illegal, unethical relationship,' San Bruno official says"; also, "San Bruno mayor wants top official removed from blast probe"; "San Bruno alleges misconduct by regulator in PG&E explosion case" ....

***Following up on earlier item noted here (California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E, emails, "cozy ties")....

* Oakland Tribune:  "Emails show PG&E and regulator have 'illegal, unethical' relationship,' San Bruno official says"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "San Bruno mayor wants top official removed from blast probe"

* Los Angeles Times:  "San Bruno alleges misconduct by regulator in PG&E explosion case"