Everyone’s favorite city — San Francisco — looks like it’s not everyone’s favorite place to live in. Lots of Bay Area residents, say, 20,000 a year, are saying “enough already” to the city and surrounding areas, and fleeing to the Sacramento region, where the summers are triple-digit scorchers, the pace of life slower and the housing prices helluva cheaper. (The Mercury News). And hey, you need to pull in $216,181 a year to buy a median-price house in the San Jose metro area (and $171,330 in San Francisco metro), so it’s no wonder that wannabe homeowners are heading inland (household income needed in Sacto? $71,345). (The Mercury News). For a visual aid to gentrification and displacement in Northern California, take a look at UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project‘s map, and its latest iteration has added four more counties to the mix, including (no surprise here) Sacramento. (Berkeley News). But what’s up with the folks who stay put in San Francisco and its environs? News on the rental front is still sketchy: Nasty landlords who engage in bellicose illegal evictions, or the tough choices facing a couple who break up and are forced to reassess their living situation, somehow, in a hellish real estate market, can be just the way things are. (San Francisco magazine; The Potrero View).
Even developers are singing the blues in a city where the ground floor retail space in their big, beautiful residential developments stays empty, a situation chalked up to an anemic retail sector, steep building costs and zoning restrictions. (San Francisco Chronicle). But barriers to affordable housing persist. Environmental boosters say that California is losing valuable environmental protections in its pursuit of “streamlined” land-use regulations that speed housing construction. (San Francisco Public Press). Furthermore, the Republican tax bill snaking its way through Congress may exacerbate the state’s housing crisis, specifically for lower-income residents because tax breaks that help fund affordable housing may end up being history. (New York Times). However, there are a few bright spots. A private pilot project that hopes to house homeless people in tiny dwellings in San Francisco is being tested. (San Francisco Public Press). Public Press readers offered their 2 cents on how to help the homeless, suggesting, for example, requiring developers to build more low-cost housing and reserving space for the homeless in nonresidential areas. (San Francisco Public Press).
Hey, Is It Safe to Breathe?
- The wildfires that devastated the North Bay could also stall the progress made against reducing greenhouse gases. “Huge Wildfires Can Wipe Out California’s Greenhouse Gas Gains” (San Francisco Chronicle).
- But despite potential setbacks, the anti-pollution fight goes on. The Bay Area air-quality board green-lighted some of the most aggressive toxic-emissions regulations in California. “Bay Area Air-Quality Board Approves Aggressive, ‘Unprecedented’ Toxic-Emissions Regulations” (Richmond Confidential).
- California did lower greenhouse gas emissions last year, but a nonprofit think tank found that cap-and-trade, a key strategy for reducing such emissions, has not lived up to its billing. “Study Shows Limits of Cap-and-Trade in California” (Capital Main).
In Politics, Follow the Money
- Some people are keeping score on how money affects votes and they are assigning an “alignment score” to a lawmaker, i.e., what percent of the time legislators vote in a way the interest group would want them to vote. “Explore the Relationship Between Votes, Money and Influence With This Tool” (CALmatters).
- It’s a rosy outlook for the state budget: It can survive a moderate recession, and lawmakers should be able to sock away more money in reserves next year, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. “California’s Lawmakers Should Have a Surplus Next Year. Will They Spend It or Save It?” (The State Worker/The Sacramento Bee).
Where There’s Smoke, There Are Rules and Regulations
- The state finally got around to issuing rules on soon-to-be-legal marijuana, and these include things like allowing big farms and small delivery services, but saying no to pot in strip clubs. “California Releases Long-Awaited Cannabis Regulations, Will Allow Huge Farms” (San Francisco Chronicle).
- Even though pot will be legal, pot ads on Muni won’t be. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency banned them, just like ads for alcohol and tobacco, insisted the agency’s board chairwoman. “Muni Bans Cannabis Ads on Its Buses” (San Francisco Examiner).
Let’s Talk Turkey
You may not have seen the last of the Thanksgiving turkey. Wild gobblers have invaded the streets of Concord, pooping, chewing up landscaping and being all-around ornery. “Turkeys Thriving, Causing Ruckus in San Francisco Suburbs” (The Concord Monitor).