ObamaCare Goal: 21 Million Enrollments—Actual: 11 Million PAY

If a business only got 50% of the customers they expected, you would think they would re-do the program.  If the program was going up over 40% in Minnesota and over 10% in most other States, with deductibles going up to $5,000, few doctors want to participate and hospitals do not want to participate, you would think rational folks would find another line of work.  Instead, we continue to elect officials wanting to bankrupt families just to provide mediocre health care.

Success as Defined by ObamaCare Marketplace CEO

  • 2016 Goal: 21 million
  • 2016 Actual: 11.1 million
  • Success: 52.86% of target

Free Months

How many people signed up early January, then when they did not get sick by March, decided to take their chances for the rest of the year.”

Now that we have read the Act and seen it in action, will San Fran Nan (Pelosi) become rational and end it?  Of course not, she is from San Fran.

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Obamacare 12.7 Million Enrolled, 11.1 Million Paid Premiums; Poll: Is This a Success?

Mish Shedlock, Mishs Global Economic Trend Analysis,  6/30/16

Far more people like Obamacare than are willing to pay for it.

In January, 12.7 million people enrolled, but 1.6 million of them never paid any premiums.

Their policies were cancelled.

The Hill reports ObamaCare Enrollment Drops to 11.1M.

ObamaCare enrollment dropped to about 11.1 million people at the end of March, according to new figures released by the administration. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said enrollment fell to about 11.1 million, down from the 12.7 million who signed up for coverage before the Jan. 31 deadline.

A dropoff was expected, and has occurred in previous years as well, given that some people who sign up do not pay their premiums. The administration says it still projects that about 10 million people will remain signed up by the end of they year.

The Congressional Budget Office had at one point projected that 2016 enrollment would be as high as 21 million people.

Sign of Success

Kevin Counihan, the CEO of the ObamaCare marketplaces, said the fact that about a million more people are signed up than at a similar point last year (11.1 million compared to 10.2 million) is a sign of success.

“This increased level of enrollment demonstrates the strength of the Marketplace over time, as millions of Americans continue to have access to quality and affordable coverage when they need it,” Counihan said.

Success as Defined by ObamaCare Marketplace CEO

  • 2016 Goal: 21 million
  • 2016 Actual: 11.1 million
  • Success: 52.86% of target

Free Months

How many people signed up early January, then when they did not get sick by March, decided to take their chances for the rest of the year.

 

Bail bond businesses in a slump

Elections have consequences. Thanks to Prop. 47 crime is spiking in almost every city and county in the State.  Tens of thousands of new victims, with the criminals, if they steal under $950 worth of goods, get a ticket and have to promise never to sin again.  This has been part of the reason gun sales are up and the bail bonds industry is in a slump.  One way to assure a first time criminal doesn’t do it again is to make it too expensive—hire an attorney, lose work, pay for bail.  Now most of that has ended and it is just an inconvenienced to be stopped by a cop.

“It’s been more than a year since California voters passed the measure, which reduces minor drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors and requires misdemeanor sentencing for thefts worth less than is $950.

In that time, bail bond companies statewide say their industry has seen a 30 to 40 percent drop in bail bonds because of the state law.”

Just another way Prop. 47 has harmed the economy, made us less safe and is killing an industry.

San Jose Police Department

Bail bond businesses in a slump

By Jonah Owen Lamb, SF Examiner, 6/30/16

Every year, thousands of people booked into San Francisco’s jails are freed on bail provided to them by a handful of companies whose customers are nearly as sure a thing as frost in winter.

Their colorful signs can’t be ignored walking down the gray steps of the Hall of Justice. Just across Bryant Street’s five lanes of traffic, they dominate a two-block stretch — New Century, Aladdin, Al Graf, Ellis Jones and Ballestrase, to name a few.

It’s hard to imagine that business ever drops for companies sitting across from the The City’s busy criminal courts, which provide agents with daily customers.

But there actually is a slump of sorts in The City’s bail bond industry. The culprit: Proposition 47, the law that District Attorney George Gascon — whose office has a direct view of the bail bond companies along Bryant Street — helped write.

It’s been more than a year since California voters passed the measure, which reduces minor drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors and requires misdemeanor sentencing for thefts worth less than is $950.

In that time, bail bond companies statewide say their industry has seen a 30 to 40 percent drop in bail bonds because of the state law.

“It’s statewide,” said Maggie Kreins, a bail bond agent out of Long Beach and vice president of the California Bail Agents Association.

But not everyone is shedding tears for the industry.

“Prop. 47 may be a loss for the bail bonds industry, but it is a win for taxpayers and citizens,” said Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “Reducing the severity of nonviolent offenses like drug possession saves millions in jail costs. And it relieves people of having to go into debt to a bail bondsman or plead guilty just to be released.”

Still, for Krein’s 3,200 members, the change has meant agents are writing fewer bonds each month.

Misdemeanor bonds for drug and minor thefts used to be the “bread and butter” of their industry, but now agents who used to write 30 to 40 bonds a month are writing two.

They are staying afloat since the business that does remain is for more serious charges and much higher bail amounts, Kreins said.

That means far fewer bonds written for some charged with a simple marijuana possession, which in San Francisco has a bail of $5,000. That leaves the industry with suspects charged with crimes such as shooting from a moving car, which has a bail of $150,000.

For Tony Suggs, who owns Castle Bail Bonds in Richmond and works throughout the Bay Area, the drop in business is in part due to Prop. 47, but it also depends on jurisdiction. For instance, in Alameda County, those charged with crimes that fall under Prop. 47 still have bails set for them.

In San Francisco, there are far more cite-and-release cases.

“They were releasing more people anyways, but there was still a lot more bail being written in San Francisco before Prop 47,” Suggs said. “I think they are really implementing Prop. 47 more than other counties. The county of San Francisco is really pushing for releasing people or in some cases just dropping charges.”

In some cases, Suggs said, police make arrests but then the suspects arrested are released from jail immediately, so they don’t need bail. That means less business for Suggs and his colleagues.

But not all is doom and gloom for the industry.

In fact, Kreins sees a turnaround on the horizon.

“I predict the pendulum is gonna swing back the other way,” she said.

All of the people who are now being cited and released are bound to start racking up warrants for failing to appear in court for the citations, Kreins said. That means, sooner or later, they are going to get arrested.

And that means they will need bail.

 

Another bag fee initiative qualifies for November ballot

Looks like the scamming grocery stores may lose $700 million a year they were planning to steal from their customers.  How were they doing this?  The major grocery stores in California have been key supporters of the plastic bag ban.  This forces customers to but bags that become dirty and virus infested, with the profits going to the stores—an estimated $700 million!

“What supporters have dubbed as the “Environmental Fee Protection Act” applies to carry-out bags sold by grocery and certain other retail stores whenever state law bans free distribution of a particular kind of carry-out bag and mandates the sale of any other kind of carry-out bag.

If the law banning the use of single-use plastic bags is not overturned, passage of the initiative would potentially result in the several tens of millions of dollars annually being transferred to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board for certain environmental and natural resources purposes, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.”

If the people of California vote to keep the ban on plastic bans, let them also vote to stop the crony capitalists from getting rich off the policy they promoted—not to save the environment, but to make money for themselves.

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Another bag fee initiative qualifies for November ballot

Posted by Debbie L. Sklar, MyNewsLA,  6/30/16

An initiative redirecting money collected by stores from the sale of carry-out bags to a fund supporting environmental projects qualified for the November ballot.

What supporters have dubbed as the “Environmental Fee Protection Act” applies to carry-out bags sold by grocery and certain other retail stores whenever state law bans free distribution of a particular kind of carry-out bag and mandates the sale of any other kind of carry-out bag.

The measure will be one of two on the November ballot related to carry-out bags. A referendum seeking to overturn the law banning the use of single- use plastic bags qualified for the ballot in February 2015.

If the law banning the use of single-use plastic bags is not overturned, passage of the initiative would potentially result in the several tens of millions of dollars annually being transferred to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board for certain environmental and natural resources purposes, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.

The initiative required valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters – – 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — to qualify for the ballot,  Secretary of State Alex Padilla said today in announcing it had qualified for the ballot.

Outer California: Sacramento Sends Jobs (and People) to Nashville

Even Fresno and bankrupt Stockton are now unaffordable cities in California.  There is no escaping the bad policies of Sacramento have killed off the middle class of this State.  Dr. Art Laffer, a long time resident of San Diego County moved his home and business to Tennessee.  Jacobs Engineering and Toyota have moved to Dallas.  U-Haul is doing very well with California customers leaving the State.

But the problem is by no means limited to the largest metropolitan areas. Stockton, now officially a part of the larger San Jose-San Francisco combined statistical area as a result of a housing cost driven exodus of commuters from the Bay Area has a severely unaffordable median multiple of 5.3. Things were much worse in the run-up to the bust, at 8.6. Even long depressed Fresno, far from either the Bay Area or Los Angeles, is nearing severe unaffordability, with a median multiple of 5.0 and reached 7.2 during the bubble. More remote Chico, one of the smallest US markets in the Demographia survey also has a median multiple of 5.0 (see Central Valley map at the top).”

There is no place to hide from high costs and bad government in California.  Those that can are fleeing the State—replaced with illegal aliens and the poor, wanting to take advantage of our great welfare State. Can you afford to stay in the former Golden State?

democrat supermajority sacramento california

Outer California: Sacramento Sends Jobs (and People) to Nashville

by Wendell Cox, New Geography,  06/30/2016

A reader comment on a feature by John Sanphillipo (“Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing! Caught my eye.”). The comment (“You shouldn’t have to go to Nashville“) expressed an understandable frustration about the sad reality that firms leaving coastal California often skip right over the Central Valley “where the housing costs are reasonable, there are some lovely old homes on tree lined streets, the humidity is less, the mountains are nearby, and you can drive there in 2-3 hours rather than fly.”

Would that it were true. In fact, as this article will show, housing costs are anything but reasonable, given the median income, in the Central Valley, which along with the rest of the non-coastal portion of the state, will be referred to as Outer California in this article.

California Housing Affordability: Into the Abyss

California’s severely unaffordable housing is legendary, having escalated from approximately the average national price to income ratio in 1970. This is most evident in the four largest coastal metropolitan areas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose. Out of the 87 major markets (over 1 million population) in nine nations, these markets ranked fourth, seventh and in a ninth place tie for the least affordable 8n the 12th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. Their median multiples (median house price divided by median household income) required from 8.1 to 9.8 years income to purchase the median priced house. This compares to the affordability of these and other California markets which had median multiples of approximately 3.0 or less in 1970 and in prior years (Figure 1).

The housing unaffordability of these markets, with an average median multiple of 8.8 is rivaled by the smaller coastal markets (such as Monterey County, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County), with their median multiple of 7.0. Both market categories are rated as severely unaffordable. But housing has become seriously unaffordable even in Outer California, where the average median multiple is 4.7(Figure 2). House prices have been escalating relative to incomes in Outer California since the housing bust, before which their housing affordability was even worse than now (below).

Housing Affordability in Outer California

A few examples will make the point. Riverside-San Bernardino, and exurban metropolitan area adjacent to Los Angeles had a severely unaffordable median multiple of 5.2 in 2015. Sacramento, had a seriously unaffordable median multiple of 4.7. Both of these major metropolitan areas reached far higher median multiples in the run-up to the housing bust, with Riverside San Bernardino reaching 7.6 and Sacramento reaching 6.6.

But the problem is by no means limited to the largest metropolitan areas. Stockton, now officially a part of the larger San Jose-San Francisco combined statistical area as a result of a housing cost driven exodus of commuters from the Bay Area has a severely unaffordable median multiple of 5.3. Things were much worse in the run-up to the bust, at 8.6. Even long depressed Fresno, far from either the Bay Area or Los Angeles, is nearing severe unaffordability, with a median multiple of 5.0 and reached 7.2 during the bubble. More remote Chico, one of the smallest US markets in the Demographia survey also has a median multiple of 5.0 (see Central Valley map at the top).

Modesto, a 2020 candidate for addition to the San Jose – San Francisco combined statistical area due to the overspill of households seeking houses they can afford, also has a seriously unaffordable median multiple of 4.5. Modesto reached 7.6 during the bubble.

Among the 29 markets rated in California, the most affordable was Bakersfield, which in a few years is likely to follow Fresno into the over 1 million category. During the bubble, Bakersfield reached a median multiple of 6.6. Small town Visalia, nestled against the Sierra foothills, tied Bakersfield’s most affordable 4.3 median multiple, and reached an astounding 5.8 during the bubble. Hanford also tied for the most affordable.

The comparison to the bubble peaks is particularly important because it illustrates the volatility of housing markets. Even in small markets, house prices are prone to explode when demand exceeds supply, due in large part to land use regulatory and environmental law structure that restricts housing even in more remote areas,   driving prices up (See William A. Fischel, Regulatory Takings). Figure 3 shows that California house prices in each of the three geographic categories were even more unaffordable during the bubble than today.

Even at their current housing affordability levels, the housing markets of Outer California are considerably overpriced. This is indicated by Figure 2, which compares the median multiples in Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, Redding, Chico, Merced, Madera and the Imperial Valley’s El Centro with severely unaffordable and overregulated Portland, Seattle and Denver, as well as Nashville and other major markets that are more affordable than any in California (Figure 4).

Indeed, out of the 231 US markets in the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, the 27 California markets represent nearly half of the 58 most expensive.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Zumper indicated among the 50 largest municipalities in the nation, four of the most expensive seven are also in California, with the city of San Francisco ranked number one, followed   San Jose at third, the city of Oakland at fifth and the city of Los Angeles at seventh. Eight of the most expensive municipalities out of the 100 largest are also in California, such as Palo Alto in the Bay Area, Coronado in the San Diego area and Santa Monica in the Los Angeles area.

As if the regulatory and legal structure that combined with the artificially higher demand from loose lending policies were not enough, barely a decade later California is in the process of implementing one of the most radical land-use regulatory structure in a liberal democracy. It will be far more difficult in many areas to build the detached housing that is been the mainstay of the state, which already has the highest urban population density in the nation (see: “California declares war on suburbia“). This suggests that housing affordability is likely to worsen further.

There is good reason for a both companies and middle income households to stay away from or leave California.

More than Housing Affordability

But people and businesses are moving to places like Nashville for reasons other than housing affordability. The state could hardly make it more clear that most business is not welcome. For at least 10 years, CEO Magazine has rated California as having the least favorable business climate. With competition like Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey, to be ranked 50th with such regularity is a notable underachievement.

Data recently released by the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA) indicated that California ranked last among the states in per capita attraction of manufacturing investments in 2015. Corporate relocation specialist Joseph Vranich continues to add to a long but for California unfortunate list of companies and jobs that have recently left the state (see: “California companies had for greatness – out of California).

Of course, California is a beautiful place with one of the best climates in the world. But   millions of people and many companies have found greener pastures in Nashville, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Charlotte, Atlanta and elsewhere. People will continue to visit, but the exodus is likely to continue.

Wendell Cox is principal of Demographia, an international pubilc policy and demographics firm. He is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism (US), Senior Fellow for Housing Affordability and Municipal Policy for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (Canada), and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University (California). He is co-author of the “Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” and author of “Demographia World Urban Areas” and “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.” He was appointed to three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, where he served with the leading city and county leadership as the only non-elected member. He served as a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, a national university in Paris.

One More Threat to San Fran’s Homeless: San Fran Voters

If the people of San Fran have been to a drug party the night before the November election, they will vote for the removal of tents and encampments on public streets.  This will allow civil rights attorneys and advocates for the homeless to make enough money defending the “rights’ of the homeless, they will be able to move to Texas and live the good life.  Want to start a riot?  Try having a cop taking the tent of as homeless man.  The cop will be vilified and the public demand that the police officer take the homeless people to his house, for an indeterminate time, as punishment for the harm to the psyche and emotions of the homeless.

Think the above is silly?  The U.S. Attorney General has a secret meeting with the husband of a suspect being investigated for HUNDREDS of criminal acts.  To save the planet, Arnold and Jerry have killed California jobs—and the President of the United States promotes KKK style bigotry from the White House.  So, why not force the bad cop to taking a homeless person home?

“The ballot is a heinous way to decide the fate of San Francisco’s nearly 7,000 homeless residents. A referendum enables the city’s most callous voters to indulge in indifference, but that’s not even the worst of it. A referendum asks many more voters to accept a short-term solution to homelessness by pushing them out of sight and out of mind, which helps to foreclose on the possibility of a viable long-term structural solution. This ballot measure, like almost any ballot measure, shifts the risk of unintended consequences off of San Francisco’s elected representatives and onto its residents—specifically, those experiencing homelessness.

Seriously, aren’t there 7,000 people in San Fran willing to take a homeless person to live with them?  Let them handle the problem.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image526791

One More Threat to San Francisco’s Homeless: San Francisco Voters

A ballot measure is no way to try to solve a problem as complicated as homelessness.

Kriston Capps, City Lab,  6/29/16

If #Brexit has taught the world anything, it’s that ballot measures may carry unintended consequences. For both the United Kingdom and the European Union, the fallout from the “Leave” vote appears to be profound. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit predicts that the June 23 referendum will reverse the U.K.’s economic recovery. With leadership uncertain and hard-right politics rising across the continent, the fate of the European Union is in question.

Voters in San Francisco face nothing so cataclysmic on the ballot this fall (save for the vote for the U.S. presidency). But one referendum that voters will decide will have enormous consequences for the city’s most vulnerable population: people experiencing homelessness. In its own way, the San Francisco referendum suffers from the same hastiness as the vote that led to the crisis that is now tearing apart the U.K.

The ballot measure, which is supported by San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, would effectively ban homeless camps and tents from San Francisco streets. A “yes” vote on the referendum would enable the city to forcibly remove encampments 24 hours after providing notice and an offer of shelter. The measure is an answer to residents’ mounting frustration with encampments in the city and the hygiene problems that attend them.

Residents are right to be distressed. Many must be angry that the city isn’t doing more to help its most vulnerable residents, and refuse to accept homeless camps as an answer. Other voters may not care, of course; they may simply want to see the city remove public eyesores from the sidewalks, and in November, they’ll pull the lever for this measure to make it happen. Either way, voters will “get the chance to prove just how willing they are to see [encampments] forcibly cleared,” as The San Francisco Chronicle’s Emily Green puts it.

San Francisco deserves a better answer to homelessness than an up-or-down vote.

The ballot is a heinous way to decide the fate of San Francisco’s nearly 7,000 homeless residents. A referendum enables the city’s most callous voters to indulge in indifference, but that’s not even the worst of it. A referendum asks many more voters to accept a short-term solution to homelessness by pushing them out of sight and out of mind, which helps to foreclose on the possibility of a viable long-term structural solution. This ballot measure, like almost any ballot measure, shifts the risk of unintended consequences off of San Francisco’s elected representatives and onto its residents—specifically, those experiencing homelessness.

Consider this ballot measure specifically. The measure would require the city to identify short-term shelter for a person before she can be evicted from an encampment. But there currently aren’t enough shelter beds for the homeless population of the city. (This is one reason why so many resort to sidewalk campsites, though not the only reason.) So the measure may be doomed to fail—or rather, it may be doomed to fail homeless residents.

Farrell, the measure’s sponsor, tells the Chronicle that the city is adding to its number of beds and shelters. But if the shelters don’t add up—if the law as enacted is unworkable, meaning that the city either cannot evict the homeless from encampments because it cannot shelter them, or that the city will evict the homeless without providing them adequate shelter—no one winds up paying the price for the measure’s shortcomings. Except for the homeless.

If a law were to be passed by the Board of Supervisors, on the other hand, it would work differently—even if the law is identical to an ordinance passed by ballot referendum. The difference is accountability. Voters can hold representatives responsible for their votes on laws, which gives representatives an incentive to make sure the law works. Voters are less likely to hold themselves responsible for a failed ballot measure. Even if they did, what would that look like? And what would it matter to the homeless?

Come November, San Francisco voters may in fact face a second ballot measure regarding homelessness, one supported by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. This measure would call for stricter requirements for how much notice the city must give a person before eviction and for how long the city must provide shelter afterward. While this ballot measure does more to provide for the safety and well-being of residents experiencing homelessness, it does so through shelters that, again, do not appear to exist.

Ballot measures disguise political downsides. Tackling the homelessness crisis in a meaningful way involves a lot of political downsides. In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced a plan to build a network of homeless shelters around the city, short-circuiting the typical neighborhood objections to specific shelters by planning one in every city ward. Residents and D.C. Council members have called for some changes and won some concessions, but the mayor has blunted neighborhood-level objections by asking for sacrifice and compassion from everyone.

A more detailed plan for San Francisco would no doubt prompt the same criticisms that Mayor Bowser’s plan has drawn in D.C. A less-detailed plan, on the other hand, may win more votes at the ballot—even if it won’t work for removing encampments in a respectful way. A ballot measure that bans tents without providing for the welfare of their occupants is a less-detailed plan.

One complaint that critics have about #Brexit is that its motivations were more political than policy oriented. Another is that it forged common cause between voters motivated by hate and voters working with a lack of information. Still another complaint is that it was enacted without a plan for what the country would do if it succeeded. Too often, ballot measures are instruments that politicians use to accomplish goals that run contrary to the interests of the people affected most by them. San Francisco deserves a better answer to a complex infrastructure policy question like homelessness than an up-or-down vote.

 

Santa Barbara to Use Tax Code to Continue ILLEGAL Marijuana Sales

Potheads are not stupid—nor do they spend money just to flush it down the toilet.  It looks like the Santa Barbara City Council is in cahoots with the Mexican cartel and the “Drug Dealers Association” (doesn’t everybody have an association?).  We know the pot is going to be legalized in November.  So how do the drug dealings keep their customers?  Easy, have a cabal with government, you donate to their campaigns and they raise taxes on the legalized marijuana so high, that folks will continue to buy black-market pot instead.  In New York taxes on cigarettes are so high that more than high the cigarettes sold in the city are sold tax free—on the black market.

“At the same time California votes whether to legalize recreational marijuana — which, new polls show, is a distinct possibility — Santa Barbara residents will decide whether to slap a 20 percent tax on recreational and medical cannabis sold within the city. The City Council decided unanimously this Tuesday to include the Santa Barbara Marijuana Control Act on this November’s ballot that would require a simple majority to pass and annually generate an estimated $1.1 million-$2.2 million for the General Fund.

“The purpose of the tax is expressly to generate revenue,” City Attorney Ariel Calonne said. “This is not a regulatory measure.”

They won’t raise anything near that amount of taxes from marijuana.  The drug dealers will have a monopoly on pot.  And, if a cop pulls you over and checks your stash, will they be able to tell the difference between pot that is taxed and pot that is sold without a tax?  Government loves dumb ideas.

Cannabis marijuana weed pot

City Considers 20 Percent Tax on Medical, Recreational Marijuana

Council Votes in Favor of Creating a November Ballot Item

By Tyler Hayden, Santa Barabra Independent,  6/30/16

At the same time California votes whether to legalize recreational marijuana — which, new polls show, is a distinct possibility — Santa Barbara residents will decide whether to slap a 20 percent tax on recreational and medical cannabis sold within the city. The City Council decided unanimously this Tuesday to include the Santa Barbara Marijuana Control Act on this November’s ballot that would require a simple majority to pass and annually generate an estimated $1.1 million-$2.2 million for the General Fund. “The purpose of the tax is expressly to generate revenue,” City Attorney Ariel Calonne said. “This is not a regulatory measure.”

City staff studied marijuana taxation systems in other California communities to come up with Santa Barbara’s model and determine how much money is likely to flow to the General Fund, which pays for basic services like police enforcement, road repair, and so on. The dollar amount may in reality be higher or lower, and the council may revisit the tax percentage down the road, Calonne said. “There is no magic to these numbers.” Looking around the rest of the state, 20 percent is on the high end — Sacramento taxes its dispensaries 4 percent; Oakland 5 percent; Santa Cruz 7 percent; and San Jose 10 percent. Santa Barbara’s would necessarily be steeper, councilmembers argued, in order to pay for the enforcement and monitoring costs it shoulders as the only city on the South Coast to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss worried the rate might be too high and drive sales underground. Calonne said the quality-control assurances that come with a legal, taxed product would likely counteract a bigger black market. Calonne also stated that increased costs would eat into sellers’ bottom lines, not be passed on to consumers in the form of higher purchase prices. Councilmember Randy Rowse successfully lobbied for a flat 20 percent figure, as opposed to city staff’s original recommendation of a lower 10 percent rate for medical marijuana. He said a staggered system would incentivize business owners to sell medical cannabis to avoid the more expensive rate. “We did stick our finger in the light socket,” Rowse said of allowing medical marijuana in Santa Barbara, whose treatment benefits, he claimed, were dubious at best.

If passed, California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act would allow residents 21 and older to possess, transport, and use up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes. The law would also impose cultivation taxes and a 15 percent excise tax. Last year, the state passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which set a March 1, 2016, deadline for local jurisdictions to create cultivation laws. Rushed by the clock, the City of Santa Barbara quickly approved an ordinance that permits qualified patients to grow 100 contiguous square feet of marijuana indoors or outdoors for personal medical use.

 

Glendale/Los Angeles Among Worst Drivers in NATION

California has much to be proud of—the nation’s highest taxes, highest water and energy costs, highest housing costs—and now we have the honor of having among the worst drivers in the whole nation.  Out of 200 cities, LA comes in 193 and nearby Glendale is at 195.  The lesson to be learned is do not drive in the Los Angeles area—unless you want a car accident, road rage and gridlock due to a car pileup.

“According to Allstate, Brownsville, Texas has the country’s best drivers and Boston has the worst.

But Los Angeles drivers aren’t the worst in the state: That honor falls to Glendale drivers, ranked No. 195 in the country.

Los Angeles voters will decide in November whether to approve a one-half cent sales tax increase to for transportation

So, government thinks that by taxing us more, we will be better drivers—what are they smoking, I thought we had to wait till November to legalize pot.

Drunk driving

L.A. drivers are really bad and getting worse

LA Business Journal,  6/30/16

Los Angeles drivers are among the worst in the country and they’re getting worse, according to a new study.

Out of the nation’s top 200 markets, Los Angles drivers now rank as 193rd-safest, down from No. 191 last year, according to Allstate’s “America’s Best Drivers Report 2016.”

To compile the list of America’s Best Drivers, Allstate said it used average years between collisions and relative collision likelihood compared with national average.

In Los Angeles, the average driver has 6.3 years between collisions compared with the national average of 10 years between collisions.

According to Allstate, Brownsville, Texas has the country’s best drivers and Boston has the worst.

But Los Angeles drivers aren’t the worst in the state: That honor falls to Glendale drivers, ranked No. 195 in the country.

Los Angeles voters will decide in November whether to approve a one-half cent sales tax increase to for transportation

 

If You Want To Spend A Bundle On Your Bundle Of Joy, Go To Northern California

California is expensive for housing, taxes, energy, water, regulations, health care and now let’s add another.  Having a baby.

“A vaginal delivery costs an average of $15,420 in the Sacramento area and $15,204 in San Francisco — nearly $4,000 more than the third-most expensive location, Minneapolis. In the least expensive metropolitan area, Kansas City, a vaginal delivery costs $6,075.

C-sections are even more expensive, costing an average of $27,067 in Sacramento — nearly four times as much as in Pittsburgh, the cheapest city. San Francisco had the second highest cost for C-sections, at $21,799. San Diego came in fifth at $16,810.

It is cheaper to have your baby in Texas than California—and even smarter if after the birth you stay.  California is not a decent place to bring up children—unless you want thieves (pretending to be government agents), intolerance and failed schools.

baby-voting

If You Want To Spend A Bundle On Your Bundle Of Joy, Go To Northern California

By Jenny Gold, California Healthline,  6/30/16

Everyone knows that real estate is no bargain in Northern California. It turns out that giving birth ain’t cheap either.

New research on the cost of childbirth in the nation’s 30 largest metropolitan areas ranks Sacramento and San Francisco as the two most expensive for both vaginal delivery and Cesarean sections.

Sacramento is No. 1, San Francisco No. 2.

The study, based on private health insurance claims from this year and other data, shows the totals actually paid for childbirth by employees and employers. It was conducted by Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based health care information company that analyzes medical costs to help consumers and purchasers compare prices.

A vaginal delivery costs an average of $15,420 in the Sacramento area and $15,204 in San Francisco — nearly $4,000 more than the third-most expensive location, Minneapolis. In the least expensive metropolitan area, Kansas City, a vaginal delivery costs $6,075.

C-sections are even more expensive, costing an average of $27,067 in Sacramento — nearly four times as much as in Pittsburgh, the cheapest city. San Francisco had the second highest cost for C-sections, at $21,799. San Diego came in fifth at $16,810.

The data show that prices vary widely even within the most expensive regions. In San Francisco, for example, the cost for a Cesarean delivery ranged from $8,399 to $41,191 — a five-fold price difference. Patients, however, rarely know how much a procedure will cost until they receive the bill.

“It’s a black box when it comes to pricing in health care,” said Kristin Torres Mowat, a Castlight senior vice president. “There is not a rational explanation for this kind of variation for similar procedures in the same geography. It highlights how inefficient the health care market is.”

Mowat said the high costs in Northern California might have to do with the consolidation of providers in the market. Most obstetricians, for example, work for relatively few major medical systems, including Sutter Health and Dignity Health, which have been singled out recently for high prices. “The less choice and competition there is, the higher the pricing,” she said.

The data in the study did not reflect the quality of care relative to the cost, making it difficult to assess value. “As consumers, we assume that the highest cost is going to be the best quality, but that is not true in health care,” said Mowat.

Comparison shopping is key to making sure consumers get a good deal, but it can be challenging. Even when patients try to call around to their local hospitals to compare prices, the hospitals are rarely forthcoming, said Katy Kozhimannil, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.

Getting information about health care costs is “next to impossible,” said Kozhimannil. And that makes it easier for players in the industry to make money, she said.

Kozhimannil noted that families and individuals are paying for a growing share of their medical care. “Increasingly, with high-deductible plans, women and families are on the hook for a greater part of the cost of childbirth,” she said.

 

Breaking down the status of affirmative action at UC Berkeley

Cal Berkeley does not discriminate in admissions—because it is against the law in California to enroll students based on race.  That said, you can use zip codes to create diversity.  You can use poverty, as you define it, to create diversity.  But is diversity the problem—or the failed schools like LAUSD?

“The admission rates to UC Berkeley for Black and Latino applicants dropped precipitously from 50 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in 1997 to 20 percent and 21 percent in 1998. The rate for white applicants increased from 31 percent to 33 percent in the same period. In 2015, the admission rate for Black students was 13 percent, while the rate for Asian American applicants was 23 percent.

1997 1998 2013
Black students as a percentage of CA graduating seniors 7.7% 7.5% 6.4%
Black students as a percentage of UC Berkeley enrollees 7.8% 3.7% 3.8%

 

Instead of keeping data based on race, why not keep data just based on enrollees and graduation rates?  To do otherwise is still soft-core racism.  Stop uses race as a discussion point—only quality counts, not the color of your skin.

UC Berkeley

Breaking down the status of affirmative action at UC Berkeley

By Sahil Chino, Daily Californian  6/29/16

What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action is a policy of favoring those who have historically suffered from discrimination. In the case of college admissions, it usually refers to giving extra consideration in the admissions process to underrepresented minorities — Black, Latino and American Indian students, among others.

What did the Supreme Court say?

Thursday’s decision reaffirmed that race-conscious admissions policies can be legal. It rejected a challenge to the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policies brought by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant who in 2008 claimed the university had denied her admission on the grounds of race.

At the time of Fisher’s application, the University of Texas at Austin automatically admitted the top 10 percent of each Texas high school’s graduating class. Applicants who didn’t make this cut, such as Fisher, could still be awarded admission under a holistic review process, which, among factors such as leadership qualities and family circumstances, also considered the applicant’s race.

The court ruled 4-3 that because the university has an interest in promoting the racial diversity of its student body, and because race-blind policies had failed to accomplish that goal, the university’s policy was indeed permissible. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion:

“A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness.’ … Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.” Justice Anthony Kennedy

What is the legal precedent?

1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

Upheld affirmative action at the UC Davis medical school but ruled that specific racial quotas are not permissible.

2003 Grutter v. Bollinger

Upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions policy and elaborated the conditions under which affirmative action programs are lawful. If a university can explain why diversity is important, show that considering an applicant’s race is necessary to achieve diversity and prove that it isn’t using racial quotas, then it can use race as a factor in its admissions process.

2013 Fisher v. University of Texas

Fisher’s case was first heard in 2012, after which the Supreme Court sent the case back down to a lower court to examine whether the admissions policy was too far-reaching in attempting to achieve diversity. The lower court upheld UT’s policy, but the decision was again challenged and brought to the Supreme Court.

Does the UC system use affirmative action?

No. California schools are bound by Proposition 209, which in 1996 disallowed state public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity. That means the UC system can’t use an individual’s race as a factor when considering his or her application.

How is UC Berkeley similar to the University of Texas at Austin?

Both schools are the flagship campuses of large public universities in majority non-white states. Furthermore, both have evidence of campus climates that some students from historically underrepresented groups find hostile.

Does this mean UC Berkeley might begin an affirmative action policy?

No — the Proposition 209 ban will remain effective despite the Supreme Court decision. In California, an affirmative action program cannot be implemented unless state law is changed. Seven other states have passed similar affirmative action bans.

How did Proposition 209 impact minority admissions at UC Berkeley?

The admission rates to UC Berkeley for Black and Latino applicants dropped precipitously from 50 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in 1997 to 20 percent and 21 percent in 1998. The rate for white applicants increased from 31 percent to 33 percent in the same period. In 2015, the admission rate for Black students was 13 percent, while the rate for Asian American applicants was 23 percent.

 

Why is diversity important?

According to the state Master Plan for Higher Education, the university is obligated to create a student body reflective of California’s diverse population. Since 1996, however, UC Berkeley has struggled to meet that goal.

While Black students represented 6.4 percent of California high school seniors who graduated in 2013, they made up less than 4 percent of new UC Berkeley enrollees — just 117 students. That year alone, 2,559 Black students applied for admission to UC Berkeley.

1997 1998 2013
Black students as a percentage of CA graduating seniors 7.7% 7.5% 6.4%
Black students as a percentage of UC Berkeley enrollees 7.8% 3.7% 3.8%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, University of California

The story is even more dramatic with Latino students, who have constituted an increasing fraction of the state’s graduating seniors. While Latino students represented 47 percent of California high school graduates in 2013, they made up 17 percent of UC Berkeley enrollees. That number, however, has increased from just 8 percent in 1998.

1997 1998 2013
Latino students as a percentage of CA graduating seniors 30.5% 31.1% 47.1%
Latino students as a percentage of UC Berkeley enrollees 14.6% 8.0% 17.0%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, University of California

Asian students — some 13.7 percent of the state’s high school graduates — accounted for 47 percent of UC Berkeley’s fall 2013 enrollees.

Many argue for affirmative action on the basis that student body diversity has documented benefits, some of which are listed in an amicus curiae brief filed in the Supreme Court case on behalf of social and organizational psychologists.

“Social science research demonstrates these benefits, including reducing anxiety that may result from interracial interactions, promoting better problem solving and academic performance, reducing prejudice and bias, reducing the racial isolation of underrepresented students, and reducing stereotype threat. Racially diverse educational environments also better prepare students to navigate an increasingly diverse professional society, workforce and civic life.” Brief of social and organizational psychologists

What are the arguments against affirmative action?

The advocates of Proposition 209 argue that any preference granted based on an individual’s race or gender is discriminatory and illegal. The original campaign for the proposition was led by Ward Connerly, a former UC regent, who on June 23 commented in a statement:

“The (Supreme Court) has, once again, betrayed the United States Constitution and a central tenet of American society and law that the color of a person’s skin should not be a factor in the public domain.” Ward Connerly

Some opponents of affirmative action also argue that racial consideration can lead to ill-prepared applicants being admitted, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the “mismatch effect.” They cite the improved six-year graduation rate of Black students from UC Berkeley — which has increased from 72 percent for freshmen entering in 1990 to 79 percent in 2009 — as evidence that banning affirmative action has led to better student outcomes. The Black graduation rate still lags behind that of Asian and white students, who have 95 percent and 92 percent six-year graduation rates for freshmen who entered in 2009, respectively.

The late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia sparked controversy when he cited this position during the oral argument for the case:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower track school where they do well.” Antonin Scalia

What is the university doing to try to achieve racial diversity?

Unable to consider an applicant’s race in the admissions process, the university has expanded its admissions criteria to include an applicant’s life experience and his or her performance relative to the opportunities available in high school. It has also moved toward holistic application review instead of fixed weights for particular criteria. In addition, it has sought to reduce its reliance on standardized test scores, given evidence that family background can affect an applicant’s performance on such tests.

Still, these measures have not been enough, according to a UC brief filed with the Supreme Court:

“While this effort produced some benefits, the bottom line is that today — more than seventeen years after passage of Proposition 209 — the enrollment rates for underrepresented minorities still have not rebounded at UC’s most selective campuses, and the overall enrollment figures at UC have not kept pace with the demographic changes in California.” UC amicus curiae brief

In September, UC Berkeley announced the African American Initiative, aimed at correcting a culture unwelcoming to Black students. Among other measures, it provides for a $20 million scholarship fund for Black undergraduates.

Have there been any attempts to overturn Proposition 209?

In 2012, Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 — an initiative that would overturn the provisions of Proposition 209 that restrict affirmative action at California public universities — was introduced in the California State Senate. The amendment was passed by the state Senate in 2014, but after the state Assembly referred it back to the state Senate, it was withdrawn from further consideration.

 

Mass Eviction—San Jose’s Largest—to Displace 670 People

Thanks to government policy, hundreds of people were allowed to live in housing that they either did not pay for, were subsidized to live in or were allowed to rent apartments under market price, so that the owners would lose money and cause market priced housing to be higher—to finance the “affordable” housing.  Now, some in San Jose are being harmed because of the previous government action—they are being evicted, so that folks that pay market price can live.

“Lockett recently moved out of his two-bedroom flat at The Reserve, a 216-unit west San Jose complex slated for the wrecking ball to make way for a market-rate replacement with 640 units and 8,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. It’s the kind of dense, urban architecture the city needs to fix the housing shortage and drive down living costs.

But there’s a hitch. Satisfying demand by supplanting low-density real estate with taller, more populated mixed-use developments casts existing tenants into a brutal market.

This “problem” was because of artificial government policies in the beginning.  Now that rational policies are in place, once again government has harmed the poor and middle class.  It is hard turning a dishonest government policy into an honest one—in the long run, government needs to help the people they harmed and stop hurting society.

affordable housing

Mass Eviction—San Jose’s Largest—to Displace 670 People

By Jennifer Wadsworth, SanJose Inside,  6/29/16

Growing up in New Orleans, where roof-stripping squalls are a matter of course, Tyrone Lockett learned how the force of nature could render anyone a nomad. When Hurricane Katrina tore through frail levees in 2005, he watched the devastation from afar as his family lost everything to the floodwater fury.

“Mother Nature comes calling and takes what she will,” says Lockett, who settled in San Jose a year before the Loma Prieta earthquake shattered the cityscape.

But it was another force entirely that prompted the 49-year-old private school chef and his stroke-stricken wife to leave their longtime home: Silicon Valley’s ascendant economy, which turned his rent-controlled apartment into a goldmine.

Lockett recently moved out of his two-bedroom flat at The Reserve, a 216-unit west San Jose complex slated for the wrecking ball to make way for a market-rate replacement with 640 units and 8,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. It’s the kind of dense, urban architecture the city needs to fix the housing shortage and drive down living costs.

But there’s a hitch. Satisfying demand by supplanting low-density real estate with taller, more populated mixed-use developments casts existing tenants into a brutal market.

Nowhere is that problem more pronounced right now than at The Reserve, where some 670 residents have less than a year to get out. By the city’s count, it appears to be the largest eviction in Silicon Valley history—possibly the state’s—and it caught San Jose completely off guard.

For context, consider that San Francisco called a drawn-out eviction of 100 tenants from 86 rent-controlled units the largest in the city’s history. At The Reserve, nearly seven times as many people got the boot with far less notice.

To make matters worse, the South Bay city of a million has no policy on the books to help tenants pay for the forced move. This was never supposed to happen, says Randi Kinman, who chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s policy advisory subcommittee, a regional planning body. Evicting 600-plus people from rent-controlled units conflicts with state-set goals to maintain housing stock for all income levels.

“We kind of brush off displacement from four units here or five units there,” Kinman says. “But at no point has there been any idea that we would see this scale of displacement or that it would remove this many rent-controlled units. When I brought this up at our meeting two months ago, people wanted to know how could this possibly be happening? Everybody just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Holy smokes.’”

The project’s developer, Greystar Real Estate Partners, won city approval months ago and gave residents until next spring to clear out of the 45-year-old complex. Tenants challenged the permit, arguing that the environmental review wrongfully deemed the displacement a “less than significant impact” and that scores of them could become homeless. They lost the appeal in a 7-3 City Council vote last week, despite support from council members Ash Kalra, Tam Nguyen and Magdalena Carrasco.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what we’ll do now,” says Tanisha Orozco, 24, a five-year tenant who’s seven months pregnant and lives in a two-bedroom unit with her husband, their toddler and her mom and dad. “We’ll probably have to move to Sacramento.”

Because no city law requires the landlord to compensate tenants for forced relocation, Greystar drummed up its own offer. According to the latest version, only households making less than 80 percent of the region’s median income qualify. The 40 or so units that meet the threshold stand to gain three months’ rent, a refunded security deposit and help from a “relocation specialist” to scout out a new place.

Tenants who are older than 62, disabled or have at least one child who lives with and depends on them get another $3,000. Greystar also urged people to apply at some of the 8,000 apartment units it owns across San Jose.

“This was voluntary on our part,” says Greystar lobbyist Erik Schoennauer. “We wanted to help people who needed it even though there’s no policy requiring us to do so.”

Tenants say they don’t necessarily oppose redevelopment—The Reserve is apparently teeming with cockroaches and silverfish, and rife with code enforcement and health violations. Several tenants say they lived with overflowing sewage, black mold and holes in the dry wall for days before Greystar sent someone to help.

But the relocation benefits, tenants argue, leave most of them out and doesn’t come close to covering the cost of uprooting hundreds of people, many of whom live on fixed incomes and can’t afford market-rate housing in San Jose. They say the bulk of Greystar’s other apartments fall outside their price range. A 386-square-foot studio at The Reserve goes for up to $1,745 a month. Tenants implored the city and Greystar to offer more money to people to no avail.

“I really don’t characterize this as a negotiation,” Schoennauer says. “I would characterize it as a dialogue. We’re volunteering to do this.”

Councilman Chappie Jones, whose district encompasses the South Winchester Boulevard apartment complex, says he can’t do much to help The Reserve tenants. But he says their plight will inform future policy.

“One of the things that we learned from this is that we don’t have any rules to go by for these situation,” Jones says. “I was surprised to learn that. I expected something. That’s why I proposed a displacement ordinance. We’re in the eye of the storm here when it comes to issues of development and displacement.”

San Jose’s housing staff expects to bring a relocation compensation policy proposal back to the council this fall. That’s too late for tenants at The Reserve, who will all enter a rental market with a dearth of affordable housing and a 3-percent vacancy rate.

“Our life revolves around our son, who starts high school this year,” says Angel Milano, a 56-year-old electrical engineer who pays $2,200 a month for a two-bedroom apartment at The Reserve. “It’s going to be hard finding a place by his school. We’ll do what we can.”

Some of Milano’s neighbors expect to move to the Central Valley, pulling their kids out of school and away from family. A nursing student says she’ll have to drop out to move. A single dad says he’ll have to dip into his daughter’s college fund for what will be his sixth move in five years.

“There goes the down payment we were saving for,” says Brandie Locke, 30, who moved into her first-story unit at The Reserve five years ago in the hope that the rent-control cap would help her and her husband save to buy a home. “You have to put your life on hold.”

Sandy Perry, head of Santa Clara County’s Affordable Housing Network, says the city made a mistake in arguing that simply replacing The Reserve’s 216 units with 650 new ones will offset displacement by creating more homes.

“They deny that any real displacement will take place,” Perry says. “Nothing could be further from the truth. When people can’t find a comparable apartment to rent, they don’t disappear into thin air. They relocate to outlying areas and commute for hours. Or they become homeless.”

Perry criticized San Jose’s mayor and council for not doing more to help. When more than 400 people faced eviction at Buena Vista mobile home park in Palo Alto, he says, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian led a charge with other agencies that raised $45 million to buy the property and stave off redevelopment. When 100 people lost their home to a fire that torched Twin Pines Manor Apartments in Sunnyvale, the county, the city and a host of nonprofits raised money to find them shelter.

“Why is nobody championing people at The Reserve?” Perry wonders.

Jennifer Loving, executive director of Destination: Home, says the city needs to think about how to prevent displacement if it’s serious about ending homelessness.

“Prevention should be a huge part of the discussion,” she says. “When decisions are made at the policy level, there’s a human cost we have to consider.”

San Jose has provisions for tree displacement but nothing about displaced people, Kinman says. It’s a glaring oversight that’s made a tough situation disastrous, she says, predicting that the crisis at The Reserve will reverberate across the entire region.

“We want more housing and we want this development,” she says. “We just can’t ignore the impacts of the people who already live there. You can’t just count the numbers and say, ‘Well there’s a net gain here.’ If that were the case, we could tear down all the low-income housing and all the rent-controlled housing to make way for more units. But it doesn’t work that way. That destroys people’s lives.”

Lockett likens the lack of policy to account for mass eviction to the defective flood walls that turned Hurricane Katrina into the biggest manmade disaster in the nation’s history.

“This is our broken levee,” he says.