Index
Wednesday
May132015

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): San Francisco. Board of Supervisors election, Aaron Peskin candidacy, commentary (Matier & Ross), union support, "rebuff to Mayor Ed Lee"? ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross): 

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Labor bucks Lee: In a rebuff to Mayor Ed Lee, Unite Here Local 2, the union that represents 9,000 hotel and restaurant workers in San Francisco, is backing Aaron Peskin’s bid return to the Board of Supervisors.

“He has the working folks of this city very much at the heart of his agenda,” Unite Here leader Mike Casey said when asked why the union was backing Peskin over Supervisor Julie Christensen, Lee’s appointee, in the November race in District Three.

Just a month ago, Lee told a closed-door meeting of supporters that he would be “paying attention” to the Peskin-Christensen showdown. The race is rapidly becoming a referendum on the mayor’s tech-friendly policies, which critics such as Peskin say are making the city unaffordable.

Casey also noted that back when Peskin was on the board, he led the fight to keep hotels from converting rooms to condominiums, something that would have put hundreds of union members out of work. Casey, who serves as president of the San Francisco Labor Council, said he expects the majority of the city’s other unions to endorse Peskin as well.

As for the mayor’s message that he would be “paying attention”? “I guess I’m just old-fashioned,” Casey said. “I thought the public servant was here to serve the people — not the other way around.”

Wednesday
May132015

SACRAMENTO: Proposed legislation, California earned-income tax credit, commentary (Dan Walters): "Tax breaks for California's poor?" .... 

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "Tax break for California's poor?" - From the Bee:

The Legislature’s majority Democrats have claimed poverty as this year’s spotlight issue – with good reason. By the Census Bureau’s alternative poverty measure, California has by far the nation’s highest rate with nearly a quarter of its 39 million residents impoverished.

The high poverty rate is the product of two powerful economic trends – stagnation, or even decline, in the incomes of those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder and high costs for necessities, especially housing. UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education reported recently that a third of California’s workers are “low-wage” – i.e., earning $13.63 an hour or less.

The state’s steep and rising housing costs are largely caused by demand exceeding supply, but housing is not California’s only high living cost. Our gasoline prices are very high – thanks largely to state taxes, fees and unique regulations – and our electric utility rates are among the nation’s highest.

Those are the simple, if harsh, facts of life in what used to be the Golden State. It’s a great place to live if you can afford it, but it’s a daily struggle if you can’t – and too many can’t. Some, including recent college graduates and retirees, simply pack up and move to more affordable venues, which explains why California loses more people to other states each year than it gains.

As Democrats focus on poverty, they tout approaches ranging from raising welfare grants to boosting the minimum wage – all of which would impose new costs on employers or the state treasury. The newest, and potentially costliest, is an earned-income tax credit ..................

Wednesday
May132015

POLITICS (State, Local/Bay Area): Golden State Warriors, proposed new arena, AB 900, commentary (Matier & Ross): "Gov. Brown fast-tracks Warriors arena deal" ....  

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):  "Gov. Brown fast-tracks Warriors arena deal" - From the Chronicle:

Political consultant Jack Davis has threatened a court fight to tie up the proposed Warriors arena deal at Mission Bay “until the cows come home.” Those cows, however, may be moving faster than anyone thought.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s office just quietly certified that the Warriors arena has met the environmental benchmarks it needs to be exempted from open-ended legal challenges. Instead, the courts would have just 290 days to rule on any lawsuit contesting the arena’s environmental impact report, including whether it includes adequate steps to deal with parking and traffic. “This does not diminish the environmental review,” Warriors spokesman P.J. Johnston said of the sign-off from Sacramento. “All it does is cap the number of days the courts have to rule one way or another.”

Sam Singer, spokesman for the Mission Bay Alliance group fighting the arena, said opponents welcomed the governor’s action as well. “It’s less expensive for the alliance, and we will have a decision sooner,” Singer said.

The arena is one of just five projects in the state to be granted a fast-track review under AB900, a 2011 state law aimed at streamlining environmental evaluations of key construction projects ...........

Wednesday
May132015

L.A. CITY HALL: Proposed increase, city minimum wage, editorial: "What minimum wage would be best for L.A.?" ....  

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "What minimum wage would be best for L.A.?" - From the LAT:

It's been eight months since Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed setting Los Angeles' first-ever citywide minimum wage, and the debate is no longer about whether to raise the base pay but rather how high it should go and how fast it should get there. City Council members are also considering whether certain employers should be exempt from paying the new minimum and whether they should be allowed to phase in the increase more slowly. The council will attempt to hash out these issues Wednesday in a committee hearing, with a vote expected on the final wage proposal later this month.

In setting its own minimum wage, Los Angeles is following the lead of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Seattle and Santa Fe, N.M. — all high-cost cities where the federal and state minimums don't have the same buying power as in more affordable parts of the country, and where the lowest-paid workers struggle to make ends meet. The problem is especially acute in Southern California because housing is so expensive and so many low-wage workers live here — an estimated 37% of the city's total workforce. And half of the households in the metropolitan area spend more than a third of their income on housing, which leaves less money for food, healthcare, transportation and other necessities.

Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do because it will help lift people out of poverty. But at what level should it be set? . . . . . . . .

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Virtually every city that has adopted a minimum wage has also created a local enforcement and monitoring unit to handle complaints and crack down on employers who cheat workers. Los Angeles has to do the same. It won't be cheap — . . . . . . . .

The city should also create a panel of experts that can collect data and evaluate the impact of the minimum wage on employment, job creation and business development. The panel could spot trends, for example . . . . . . . .

It is extremely important to keep in mind that raising the minimum wage will not end the struggle of low-income workers or address the lack of economic mobility that hinders so many Angelenos. Garcetti and the City Council must treat the minimum wage hike as one piece of a larger, more ambitious economic development strategy ..............

Wednesday
May132015

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Santa Monica): Santa Monica City Council, unanimous approval, strict regulation, short-term rental industry: "Santa Monica comes down hard on Airbnb, will crackdown spread?" ....  

* Los Angeles Times:  "Santa Monica comes down hard on Airbnb, will crackdown spread?" - From the LAT:

Santa Monica's City Council voted quickly and unanimously Tuesday night to enact some of the nation's strictest regulations on the booming short-term rental industry. The measure, targeting Airbnb and other tourist rental websites, explicitly bars renting units for fewer than 30 days. The measure legalizes home-sharing – the rental of a couch or spare bedroom, for instance – as long as the host registers with the city and pays taxes.

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Other Southland cities, including Malibu and West Hollywood, have also recently tightened rules on short-term rentals in reaction to the rapid growth of online sites such as Airbnb, which connects hosts with renters.

Los Angeles officials are considering new regulations as well, and short-term rental advocates fear that Santa Monica's action may lead to a broader crackdown. “That is one of our tremendous fears,” said Robert St. Genis, spokesman for the Los Angeles Short-Term Rental Alliance, a network of vacation-rental property managers. “We don’t want to see this end up in Pasadena, Manhattan Beach, you name it.”

Airbnb has also been monitoring the bill closely ...............