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Good morning, California.
“And, by the way, he’s serious about the raking. He called me personally to double check on the raking. I thought it was a prank call.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, describing a call he received from President Donald Trump about forest management practices, including raking.
Housing bill fails again
Legislation to compel local government to allow denser housing near transit hubs failed on Wednesday, the third year running the measure has stalled, CalMatters Matt Levin reports.
Local officials and some affordable housing advocates argue it would strip local control over housing decisions and would not provide sufficient low-cost housing.
Developers, Realtors, and urbanist “YIMBY” groups argue it would increase housing supply and curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, while not endorsing Wiener’s legislation, told reporters on Wednesday:
“We are going to get something big done on production this year and we’ve been working very hard to make sure that we can get the requisite votes. And if this falls short, we are not giving up. We are going to continue to work aggressively to address production in this state.”
Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, plans to take the bill up again today, although it was not clear what would change the minds of opponents.
PG&E bankruptcy a ‘godsend’
Gov. Gavin Newsom does not intend to let the crisis of PG&E’s bankruptcy go to waste.
The governor called it a “tremendous opportunity” and a “godsend.”
Why: The company that emerges from bankruptcy will be far different than what exists now.
Speaking at a Public Policy Institute of California luncheon, the governor on Wednesday reiterated his pledge to take over the utility if it cannot transform itself.
“I have no interest in the existing management, existing board.”
Listing the exact numbers of homes burned and lives lost in 2017 and 2018 wildfires,Newsom said he wants executive pay tied to safety. He also at least half the board should be made up of Californians, and the utility must be reliable, and provide green energy.
The details aren’t new. But if anything, the governor seemed more resolved than ever.
“There’s going to be a new company or the state of California will take it over.”
Meanwhile: In Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali’s courtroom in San Francisco, PG&E attorney Stephen Karotkin said Wednesday the company is “well aware” of the concerns raised by Newsom, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Karotkin: “I believe that we will be able to resolve those concerns.”
Behavioral health care changes
Previewing his State of the State speech, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will be urging legislators to “radically” change the behavioral health care system.
Newsom’s comment came in response to a question about homelessness at a Public Policy Institute of California lunch on Wednesday.
Newsom: “We’re committed to radically reimagining our behavioral health system … It has been decades and decades in the making.”
Stay tuned: He did not provide details, except to say he intends to offer ways to better integrate care for people with mental illness, to deal with homelessness, and help people whose family and friends are struggling.
The date of the speech, but it will be in February.
An intriguing appointment
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon turned to an environmentalist to fill an opening on the California Transportation Commission, a body that allocates billions in highway construction funds and traditionally has been weighted toward business interests and the construction industry.
The appointee: Joseph Lyou is president of the Coalition for Clean Air, which is focused on air quality, not on road building.
Bill Magavern of the Coalition for Clean Air: “It’s important to have someone on the commission with an in-depth understanding of air quality … There is a growing understanding of the link between air quality and transportation.”
Timing: Rendon made the appointment after the Assembly approved a far-reaching bill by Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, of Torrance that would limit oil drilling in urban areas, particularly in Los Angeles County.
The oil industry and State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, which represents oil workers, is lobbying against that measure.
Separately, an oil industry-backed campaign committee spent an initial $65,000 to help elect Sylvia Rubio, the sister of Sen. Susan Rubio and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, to a Whittier area Assembly seat. Sylvia is running against Lisa Calderon, the stepmother of Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon.
20% of California’s net worth is concentrated in the 30 wealthiest zip codes, home to 2% of Californians.
Families with four-year degree holders earn $2.20 for every $1 that families without degree holders earn.
African Americans and Latinos make up 12% of families with incomes above the 90th percentile, but comprise 43% of all families in California.
Commentary at CalMatters
Eric Firpo, In Season Market and Nursery, Stockton: Cows belch. They overgraze. Grasslands die. Desertification spreads. Temperatures rise worldwide. Destruction of civilization inevitably follows. What’s much less understood is that exactly the opposite is true.
Dan Walters, CalMatters: Which troubled institutions are too big to fail. Pacific Gas & Electric? Los Angeles Unified School District? City College of San Francisco?
Erratum: In Wednesday’s WhatMatters, I mischaracterized the proposed initiative funded by Uber, Lyft, and others. It would declare that drivers for such companies are independent contractors.
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