One of the most contentious propositions on California’s November ballot promises to hike property taxes on faceless corporations and wealthy landlords. But some warn the measure contains a glaring hole — and that many mom-and-pop shops are going to fall in. Read more from CalMatters’ Ben Christopher.
Never in modern history has so much of California been ablaze — including parts of the state long thought to be immune from wildfires. CalMatters’ Julie Cart explores why the ancient, fog-shrouded rainforests that line the North Coast are now under siege from massive wildfires.
Crystal Kolden, a UC Merced wildlife researcher: “This idea that there are places that we can live in California that are safe from fire is a pipe dream.”
2.California NAACP president facing questions
The president of the California NAACP has been paid more than $1.2 million for her work as a political consultant on the campaigns of five November ballot measures — campaigns the state NAACP has also formally endorsed, leading critics to argue that the renowned civil rights organization’s endorsement appears to be for sale, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports. First, it isn’t clear how the state NAACP arrives at endorsement decisions. Second, president Alice Huffman is working on and being paid by campaigns that critics say run counter to the NAACP’s mission of advancing racial equity in education, housing and criminal justice. Huffman has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the campaigns opposing Prop. 15, which would raise commercial property taxes to funnel billions of dollars into schools, and Prop. 25, which would eliminate cash bail. The California NAACP also opposes both propositions.
Carroll Fife of the NAACP’s Oakland chapter: “I feel like it’s a conflict of interest and I think it’s misleading to the public. It’s unfortunate. Politics is gross.”
Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute: “Anything that could be interpreted toward casting aspersions on someone because of their religion could be a real misstep because it could be construed as religious bigotry. … And that could be used to political advantage for Trump.”
4. Progress report: Housing the homeless
California’s $150 million effort to temporarily house homeless people in hotel rooms during the pandemic is drawing to a close amid uncertain federal funding — and many seem likely to return to the streets. Statewide, more than 16,400 hotel rooms were acquired through Project Roomkey and around 11,700 were occupied, CalMatters’ tracker shows. But in Los Angeles County, more than a third of the roughly 6,600 people who moved into hotel rooms have left. Of those, more than 50% are unaccounted for, 20% have returned to the street, 10% went to permanent housing and 3% went to another shelter, the Los Angeles Times reports. And in San Francisco, next steps remain unclear for many of the 2,340 homeless people living in hotels. But amid a dearth of permanent supportive housing, they may be forced to return to shelters or encampments, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.