Apple Housing Pledge Unlikely to Have an Impact in California

The news that Apple had pledged to give $2.5 billion to address housing needs in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley region and California in general – on top of $1 billion each previously promised by Google and Facebook – led to praise from politicians as well as from civic groups and housing nonprofits. Gov. Gavin Newsom called the announcement “proof that Apple is serious about solving this issue.”

But news analysis pieces prompted by the announcement were downbeat on the likelihood that it would bring any significant relief to a housing market that is so expensive that nearly half of Bay Area residents say they want to move – much less “solve” the crisis.

Leslye Corsiglia, executive director of the San Jose-based housing advocacy group SV@Home, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “It’s really great to get all this land and money, but in order to get units under construction and moving forward, we need to get project approvals. That does require policy and advocacy work to get the votes to move forward.”

Getting projects approved can take many years

The difficulty of getting projects approved in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley was cited in virtually all coverage of Apple’s pronouncement. Some cited the fate of the Vallco mall in Cupertino, less than a mile from where Apple opened its $3.6 billion headquarters in 2017.

Developer Sand Hill Property Co. acquired the mostly vacant 58-acre mall in 2014. But despite the region’s housing shortage, Sand Hill faced bitter opposition from the Cupertino City Council and local activists to its plans to build 2,400 residential units (half considered affordable), 400,000 square feet of retail space and 1.8 million square feet of office space on the site.

The $4 billion project was rejected first by local planners and then by voters in 2016. In early 2018, after state officials listed Cupertino as one of the hundreds of cities in California that had not built enough housing, Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul defiantly said his city would not be pressured to respond to a housing crisis that he suggested was exaggerated.

City officials finally gave approval to the project a year ago after an analysis concluded that under Senate Bill 35 – the measure by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that bars cities from rejecting certain projects that are properly zoned and include affordable housing – they had no choice. But because of further foot-dragging and legal threats, demolition of the main mall building was delayed until Oct. 2018 – four years after Signal Hall bought the property.

‘Affordable’ housing costs $700,000 in Bay Area

The second reason that Apple’s pledge was downplayed has to do with the extreme cost of building even what’s considered affordable housing in the Bay Area. While the average cost for a subsidized housing unit in California is about $420,000, housing officials say the cost is about $700,000 in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

If all $4.5 billion pledged by Apple, Google and Facebook were spent on such housing, that would add about 6,300 homes. Housing advocates say at least 54,000 such units are needed in the region – and far more if there is going to be enough supply to actually bring down rents that average more than $2,500 for small studio units.

Apple plans to provide a $1 billion line of credit for affordable housing projects. It also will set up a $1 billion fund to help first-time home buyers with down payments.

“We know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Nonetheless, the view that Apple was addressing a problem its explosive growth helped create was common – especially among progressives who see tech giants as a malign force. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination said Apple’s announcement  “is an effort to distract from the fact that it has helped create California’s housing crisis.”

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

The Seven Deadly Sins of California’s Political Establishment

To be fair, California’s politicians aren’t alone in their quest to destroy America’s rights, freedoms, prosperity, culture, traditions, and pride. They’re just more advanced in their quest. But since what happens in California often ends up happening later in the rest of America, it’s important to highlight just how bad it’s gotten in the Golden State.

Just as a theologian might argue there are more than seven deadly sins that are fatal to spiritual progress, there are more than seven policy areas where California’s political leadership have fatally undermined the aspirations of ordinary Californians. But in the interests of brevity and clarity, here are what might be the most damning seven deadly sins of California’s political establishment.

Law and Order – Californians have prided themselves on being trendsetters in human rights, but the pendulum has swung too far. Thanks to Prop. 47, the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative” approved by California’s voters in 2014, it is nearly impossible to arrest and hold anyone for possession of hard drugs, so long as they claim the drugs are for personal use. Prop. 47 also downgraded the punishment for property crimes if the value of the stolen goods are under $950 per offense.

The consequence of these laws are public drug use and rampant theft to support these drug habits. Other ridiculous laws include AB 953, the “Racial and Identity Profiling Act” (2015), that requires police to fill out an extensive questionnaire after every encounter with a member of the public, even if it doesn’t result in an arrest. The purpose of this is to prevent disproportionate encounters with members of disadvantaged groups, and the consequence of it is fewer stops, fewer arrests, and more crime.

Environment – It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to environmentalist extremism that tyrannizes ordinary Californians. Central to California’s central planning state is AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act” (2006), and follow on legislation. These laws aim to reduce California’s net “greenhouse gas” emissions to zero by 2045.

To accomplish this, it is becoming almost impossible to develop land outside of existing cities in California, which is driving the price of land and housing to unaffordable levels. Next on the “climate change” agenda is to charge Californians for “vehicle miles traveled,” wherein everywhere people go in their cars will be monitored and taxed.

Well before AB 32 came along, though, California’s gone overboard with environmentalism. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), passed by the state legislature in 1971, requires environmental impact reports to accompany any building permit. Since a separate report is required for every permit application, and since major building projects require approval from dozens of agencies, in California, the costs to file applications and pay fees often exceeds the cost of the actual construction itself.

Then there’s forestry management, taken over by environmentalist zealots who prohibited logging, suppressed controlled burns with byzantine application gauntlets and endless litigation, and turned California’s forests into tinderboxes.

Energy & Water – Californians pay among the highest prices for gasoline, electricity and natural gas in the United States, despite the fact that California has abundant reserves of oil and gas.

But instead of approving new refineries, more connecting pipelines, oil and gas drilling, and clean natural gas power plants, California’s policymakers are shutting down conventional energy in favor of “renewables.” Even clean, emissions free nuclear power is forbidden, as California’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, is scheduled to be shut down by 2025.

Not only does this leave Californians without affordable energy, as they’re herded to the nearest retailer to purchase “demand response” appliances that don’t work very well, but utilities investing in renewables don’t have money left over to upgrade their power lines to better manage wildfires.

As for water, instead of storing more storm runoff behind dams and within aquifers, and investing in reuse and desalination, California’s turned to rationing. Starting in 2020, Californians will be restricted to 55 gallons of indoor water use per person per day, with that amount being lowered in subsequent years.

Transportation – Freeways in California are among the most congested in the nation, but instead of widening roads and building new freeways, California’s policymakers have declared war on the car. Never mind that cars are the future of transportation, destined to be entirely clean, autonomous, capable safely driving at high speeds while their occupants work, sleep, or entertain themselves.

Instead California’s political leadership remains committed to a high speed train that will never pay for itself, light rail when light rail ridership is in decline, and zoning that will make it impossible for people to park their cars where they live. California’s transportation policy is misanthropic and misguided. Meanwhile, ordinary Californians cope with super commutes on neglected roads.

Housing – Despite the fact that most young married couples, given a choice, would prefer to raise their children in a single family home with a yard, California’s elite have decided that single family homes and suburbs are “unsustainable.” This despite California sprawling over 160,000 square miles, of which only around 5 percent is urbanized.

Californians instead are expected to construct all new housing via high density “infill,” where there is minimal open space, parking is unavailable, and prices are sky high thanks to the artificially created shortage.

As noted, the costs to prepare permit applications and pay fees often exceeds the construction costs, notwithstanding the fact that high rise and mid rise construction always costs far more per square foot than what it costs to construct one or two story wood frame homes.

Homeless – In a state where you can’t build anything without paying fees that cost more than the construction costs, and where utility bills and other hidden taxes make the cost-of-living the highest in the nation, it should be no surprise that California has a homeless crisis.

Add to that the best weather on earth, and laws that permit public consumption of hard drugs and prevent detention of petty thieves, and you have a recipe for a homeless population explosion. Moreover, court rulings make it impossible to remove homeless encampments unless you can offer them “permanent supportive housing,” and rampant (totally legal) public sector and nonprofit corruption have driven the costs for such housing to exceed on average $500,000 per unit.

To top it off, state laws make it, for all practical purposes, impossible to incarcerate the mentally ill. If these laws and court settlements were overturned, overnight, half of California’s homeless would find shelter with relatives and friends, and the rest would get cost-effective help. But it’s a meal ticket for the corrupt public sector.

Education – Save the worst for last. This is perhaps the most unforgivable sin of all in California. Instead of teaching children to read and write, they are being indoctrinated. Instead of being held accountable, incompetent teachers are protected by union labor laws, and disruptive students are kept in classes in order to fulfill quotas designed to prevent “discrimination.”

The University of California, which – under threat of lawsuits – is about to abandon using SAT scores entirely, has already engineered its admissions policies to circumvent federal prohibitions on affirmative action. From higher education down through the K-12 public schools, leftist propaganda and identity politics are the goal of California’s unionized public education system, instead of teaching children the skills they will need to become more productive graduates.

This is the future that awaits America. It is a future abetted by a complicit media, an activist entertainment industry, a unionized public bureaucracy and public education system, and nearly every significant corporate and financial player. The political model it embraces is often labeled as socialist, but might more accurately be described as economic fascism – a merging of public and private, a partnership of corporations, oligarchs, and the public sector.

While people typically cringe at use of the term “fascist,” the fascism we’re seeing in California is not the hardcore fascism of WWII era Germany, but rather a soft fascism as envisioned by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World. California’s citizens are being channeled into high-density apartments, forced to use mass transit, and increasingly made dependent on government subsidies, in exchange for the illusory freedoms of legal drugs and anything-goes gender exploration.

At the same time, Californians are deluged with fearmongering propaganda – a classic fascist tactic – concerning the rise of the oceans thanks to “climate change” and the rise of “white nationalism” thanks to President Trump. Both of these threats are preposterously overstated, but when that’s the only message you ever hear, it feels very real.

This 21st century fascism being pioneered in California touts itself as “anti-fascist” at every opportunity, but the system nonetheless fits the definition of fascism. It is corporate, collectivist, centralized, and autocratic. With an equally unhealthy and excessive fervor, it exalts the planet instead of the nation, and celebrates “diversity” instead of one culture. It punishes dissent, protects the oligarchy, and deludes the overtaxed, over-regulated, overpaying majority.

In a world where truth, justice, and the American Way still exist, an America that believes in God, or at least believes in good, evil, and some sort of ultimate accountability, what California’s elites are doing is literally sinful. Their path to salvation is simple:

Enforce common sense drug laws and punish thieves. Quit using environmentalism as a punitive religious faith and start logging the forests, building roads, drilling for oil and gas, and approving nuclear power plants instead of shutting them down. Stop extorting more money in permitting costs than it costs to construct homes, and start building them again on open land. Get vagrants off the streets, build cost-effective shelter for the truly needy, and put the mentally ill back into institutions. Fire incompetent teachers and hold our students to immutable, objective academic standards instead of filling their heads with divisive nonsense.

Americans would do well to look to California today, and whatever they’re doing, do the opposite. Before it’s too late.

This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.

Pete Buttigieg struggles in diverse California

Pete Buttigieg has risen to the top of the Democratic presidential polls in Iowa, where 90% of the population is white. But he’s lagging in California, in part because he’s having difficulty winning over Latinos and African Americans, who make up a large chunk of the Democratic electorate in the country’s biggest state.

Buttigieg is riding a mini-wave of momentum after a recent Des Moines Register/CNN poll showed him as the favorite of 25% of likely voters in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, nearly triple his showing from a September survey. In the RealClearPolitics aggregation of Iowa polls, Buttigieg now has a narrow lead on Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Eric Kingsley, a delegate at the California Democratic Party’s convention over the weekend in Long Beach who watched Buttigieg at an event there, said the South Bend, Ind., mayor “gives those speeches like an Aaron Sorkin character would.” It’s a common theme among Democrats who pine for a measured, moderate candidate out of Sorkin’s Clinton-era show “The West Wing” to take on President Trump. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Challenging the California High Speed Rail Leadership and Project Direction

The Assembly Transportation Committee High Speed Rail oversight hearing of Tuesday (11-12-2019) exposed a regional funding war. 

The project’s leadership, Brian Kelly (CEO) and Board Chair Lenny Mendonca, are pushing the present “spend all existing funds in the Central Valley (CV) agenda”.  Governor Newsom, who “flip/flops” with his position on HSR depending on the season of the year, right now does endorse Kelly’s leadership and the present plans.

However, HSR Board Director Danny Curtin and others and are also now supported by some Democrat Legislators, support an effort to divert some funding (around $5 billion) away from the present plans to spend all funding in the Central Valley. They would rather divert these funds to other projects and regions in Northern and Southern California. 

Kelly strongly defends his position by stating:

“The idea to divert money from what we’re doing now and spend it on regional services, to me, is not consistent with the mission of high-speed rail. That’s my opinion.”

But what is the mission of the High Speed Rail Authority?

Actually one clear mission of the  HSR Authority, as stated in the 2008 Prop 1A bond measure, is to connect Northern and Southern California on a high speed train, taking no longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes between San Francisco (Trans Bay Terminal, not 4th and King), and Los Angeles, with a one-seat train trip.

The present plan, directs all existing funds to the CV, and certainly fails to accomplish that goal in the foreseeable future; not being mentioned is the over $50 billion short fall in existing funds as mentioned by the State Auditor, to fulfill that goal. 

The Federal Rail Administration (FRA) certainly no longer believes this will be accomplished and has cancelled $929 million in previously obligated funding for the project. The FRA has also announced its intention to attempt a “claw-back” of $2.5 billions in Federal ARRA funding, which has already been spent on the project. 

Kelly’s agenda, which would start operation on the segment from Merced to Bakersfield, by his own admission, requires an operating subsidy; this is a clear violation of Prop 1A which allows for no operating subsidy for the train, which was a prime selling point back in 2008, inducing the voters to pass the Prop 1A bond measure.

Kelly tries to make the case that future federal funding and private investment will appear as soon as the present plan is completed.

Elaine Chao, Federal Secretary of the Department of Transportation, has called Kelly’s plan, a “bait and switch”.  In addition the Federal Transportation Inspector General is conducting an audit of the Authority, which is due to be reported in this winter quarter.

Rarely has any dissention among HSR Board Members become public. The most notable was probably Director Lynn Schenk in March 2013, failing to endorse the “blended plan” for the project because she didn’t believe it was truly High Speed Rail. 

At the hearing, Director Curtin with back-up from Assembly Woman Laura Friedman (see Fresno Bee Article of 11/13/2019) stated powerful arguments that better and much sooner results would happen by diverting some funding to solving regional problems.

It should really be noted, that Kelly has “slow-rolled” the original dissent, which was initiated when the board approved, a Side-by-Side study which was to examine the possibilities of diverting funds at the May Board meeting. The study was to be completed within 60 days. Kelly pushed off the time line for the study and appointed the Early Train Operator (ETO) to perform the study. The ETO is hardly un-biased, since they are on a fast track to be awarded lucrative contracts for CV work. The study is now months over due, and released thus far is only a qualitative, biased study, with a full report delayed to be delivered sometime next year.

Where all of this will lead is, at this time, not known.  The Legislature will be asked to approve sometime, probably early next year, the appropriation of the remainder of the un-allocated Prop 1A funds (about $4 billion).  Will the Governor and CV advocates succeed in getting all of these funds directed to the CV or will other regional interests prevail and have these funds directed their way?

In either scenario, the voters of California have been defrauded! Kelly’s agenda, which would start operation on the segment from Merced to Bakersfield, would result in having spent over $20 billion and having constructed only an isolated High Speed Rail segment, which certainly does almost nothing to connect North California and Southern California.  

Back in 2008, the whole 800 mile project stretching from Sacramento to San Diego was estimated to cost $45 billion. (There is no current cost estimate for the full build)

Back in 2008 the SF to Los Angeles build was to cost $33 billion and would be completed in 2020. (The current estimate now is $80 to $100 billion)

Back in 2008 the promise was the train would run on grade separated, dedicated HSR tracks and not interfere with local auto traffic.

Back in 2008 the voters were promised that passing the Prop 1A almost $10 billion bond measure, would be all the funding from California voters ever required. Remaining funding was promised to come from private investment (none existent to this date) and Federal matching funds. 

It is no wonder the project has lost its appeal to so many California residents.

Morris Brown is founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail Project.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Homelessness Epidemic – New Poll Reveals Rising Public Anger of L.A. Residents

Sixty-three percent of Los Angeles County residents believe “homeless” people should not be allowed to degrade residential and business property and sleep in streets.

Sixty-five percent believe police should be more involved with “homeless” in cleaning up streets and addressing broader health crisis.

FINALLY a relevant poll from LA Times.

California’s “homeless” crisis will not be abated until we are able to use words like “vagrancy,” “panhandling,” and “trespasser” again to more realistically describe what is going on and the proper legal tool to address it. Truly homeless, especially women and children, should be sheltered immediately. But studies overwhelmingly reveal it is not as much a “homeless” crisis as an addiction epidemic, largely among working age men, many of whom also have petty crime rap sheets. Sexual offenders are among them.

When the general population starts getting “woke” to this reality, government can start using the proper tools to fix it. It will take much effort given court rulings that have denigrated property rights and anti-vagrancy laws that once kept the streets more sanitary. But the health crisis, such as the medieval plague surging in downtown LA and potentially residential communities, has started to change attitudes on tolerating “the homeless” and given more focus to exactly who and what we are talking about.

Break-Ins, High Costs Cause Nobody to Want to Open a Restaurant in San Francisco

It felt like deja vu for Dave Martin as he watched silent security footage of an individual breaking into his San Francisco bar in June.

Within the first 16 months after it opened, Pine Tar Grill, Martin’s San Francisco Giants-themed business on Folsom Street filled with sports memorabilia, was burglarized three times. The final incident was caught on camera, showing a person breaking the glass of the front door at around 4 a.m. to steal cash, sports-related bobblehead toys and computers, Martin said.

Repairs cost thousands of dollars and were a big factor in his decision to close the bar last month.

“To balance everything out when it comes to the costs, I would have had to charge like $85 for a cheeseburger,” said Martin. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Legislative Report Card Promotes Truth to Protect Taxpayers

In football, defensive coaches tell their players that the best way to avoid missing a tackle is to keep their eye on the ball carrier’s belly button.

The runner may duck, weave, or spin but the belly button is always at the center.

This is a fitting metaphor for the annual Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association legislative scorecard.

Politicians will try all the dance moves they know in an effort to get to the tax-and-spend end zone, but report cards like ours hold them accountable to the people who matter most: the taxpayers who elected them.

In 2019, many taxes were stopped short of the goal line.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 would have lowered the two-thirds vote for bonds and parcel taxes to 55 percent and thus fundamentally altered Proposition 13 in the process.

Had it been approved, it would have resulted in billions of dollars of additional property tax increases, above and beyond the one percent cap established by Proposition 13.

Thankfully, it fell ten votes short of passage and was therefore defeated.

Other taxes that were tackled in the 2019 session included taxes on handguns and ammunition, water, soda, a sales tax on services, and a severance tax on oil, taxing it as it comes out of the ground.

However, victories in the Capitol are always short-lived.

To read the entire column, please click here.

FBI: Hate crimes rose 58% in San Francisco

Hate crimes jumped 58% in San Francisco last year even as they appeared to level off across California and the nation, new FBI figures show.

The city’s surge in hate crimes, which local leaders called troubling, was driven by an increase in incidents in which people were accused of targeting victims due to their race or ethnicity. The number of racially motivated crimes more than doubled last year, from 19 in 2017 to 41 in 2018, making up the majority of San Francisco’s 68 reported hate crimes.

The FBI’s annual report on hate crime in the U.S. doesn’t seek to explain trends.

But leaders in San Francisco’s effort to reduce crime pointed to two factors that may explain the rise: better reporting of hate crimes because of increased trust between victims and law enforcement, and a political climate in which President Trump’s vilification of immigrants and people of color may be empowering offenders. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Newsom Pressured to Fix Education Funding for English Learners

scathing audit on school funding that found the state did not meet promises made six years ago to help English language learners, foster children and students from poor families sets up a 2020 test of the clout of the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers – and of the willingness of Gov. Gavin Newsom to take on the unions who were early backers of his successful 2018 candidacy. 

State Auditor Elaine Howle’s review focused on how school districts in San Diego, Oakland and Clovis had implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which was adopted by the Legislature in 2013 at the behest of then-Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor and then-Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, were among several leaders who said the LCFF would be a game changer by getting additional assets to struggling students.

But Howle found instead that billions in extra funds the formula directed to districts with high percentages of English learners, foster kids and poor families had been used for general needs – including raises for teachers. She concluded there was little or no evidence that the LCFF had boosted these students’ performance.

“In general, we determined that the state’s approach [to Local Control] has not ensured that funding is benefiting students as intended,” Howle wrote.

Howle’s finding confirmed all the major criticisms of the formula that have been raised by education reformers and by civil rights lawyers who have repeatedly sued Los Angeles Unified over its treatment of poor minority students. 

Bill to track school funding couldn’t even get a hearing

But these groups have never gotten far with Local Control changes. Last spring, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who pushed for the audit, couldn’t even get Assembly Education Committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, to hold a hearing on her bill to require disclosure of how LCFF dollars are being used.

Howle’s audit gives Weber new evidence to push for tracking such spending, and she has said fixing Local Control is her top priority in 2020. But O’Donnell, a former teacher who is close to the CTA and CFT, is unlikely to drop his opposition to tracking the funding.

A key question is likely to be what the governor does. While Newsom won the early endorsements of the two teacher unions, he spent the 2018 campaign telling editorial boards and the Los Angeles and Silicon Valley billionaires who back education reform that he too wanted to fix Local Control to ensure it helped struggling students and had proper accountability protections.

But any attempt to get school districts to stop spending LCFF dollars on teacher compensation – and on rapidly growing teacher pension costs – will go directly against the CTA and the CFT. They already see available school funding as inadequate and are both pushing for billions of dollars in tax hikes in two measures expected to be on the ballot in November 2020. They also won changes that will make it more difficult for charter schools to be approved or renewed using the argument that charters were diverting funding from regular public schools at a time when those schools are desperately underfunded. They are unlikely to accept the notion that the audit must be acted on.

Meanwhile, Newsom has so far used his political capital to advance an education reform that teachers unions also may question. But the reform – using metrics to track the performance of students throughout their K-12 journey – isn’t nearly as contentious as the state forcing many school districts to reorient their Local Control spending and stop using it for raises and pension bills.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

The High Cost of California Environmentalism

With Thanksgiving in two weeks, I have to start by giving thanks that my family and home have been safe from the fires we have seen recently. I have many friends who were evacuated or lost power. And seeing the homes that burned was sobering for everyone living in California.

The smoke, power outages, and freeway closures impacted life in the San Fernando Valley – forcing at least one local nonprofit to cancel its major fundraiser, losing desperately-needed money which could have been spent on services; closing schools, and endangering people in poor health for whom the smoke and lack of electricity was not an inconvenience but a real danger.

I hope that the stories we’ve heard will illustrate something I’ve been talking about for years now – the importance of energy reliability and affordability. Over the last few years, certain environmentalist groups have coalesced around a single energy policy – remove all trace of fossil fuels from our city and state. And they have the right to campaign on their one issue as much as they want.

But I remain concerned that Los Angeles and California elected officials have embraced this as a purity test for energy policy without fully understanding the nuance or context of the world. They seem to think of energy as a dichotomy – electricity fueled by wind and solar is good; all other forms of energy are bad.

As we’ve seen in the last few weeks, electricity is not free from environmental costs. The smoke from the fires, the blanket of fire retardant over the hills, the infrastructure that will need to be rebuilt – those all have an environmental cost. And they have a human cost: families who can’t afford to miss work but struggle to get around closed roads, small businesses which lose customers when people hunker down at home, parents who need to find child care when schools close.

The planned power outages which have affected millions of Californians have a cost, too, causing people to turn to inefficient back-up generators, losing fresh food and wages, causing traffic accidents and medical emergencies, and bringing entire regions to a grinding halt.

I think that anyone who continues to beat the drum that electricity is a magic, emission-free energy source is deluded. The proposals to bury cables underground or create micro-grids are willfully ignorant of the economics. Someone has to pay, and ratepayers already are struggling with the cost of living in California – which survey after survey shows is the majority of Californians – aren’t going to be able to cope with these costs being passed onto them.

All energy, including wind and solar, has environmental costs, human costs, and opportunity costs. The minerals and metals required for these technologies have huge environmental costs, not to mention raise serious human rights issues. Batteries have a limited life cycle and are expensive to recycle. Wind turbines have been shown to change local weather patterns and kill birds and bats.

And we need to consider the opportunity costs, as well. Last year, Metro chose to replace many of its natural-gas powered buses with electric buses: I continue to wonder whether the resources put into the conversion would have been better spent on increasing services, bringing more people onto transit and reducing the number of cars on the road.

And for California to consider itself an environmental leader on the global stage, the technologies we produce have to be competitive – because the biggest growth in emissions is coming from China, which is still relying on the cheapest fuel, coal. I would say that developing imperfect but affordable energy solutions will benefit the globe many times more than “perfect” technology, which only the richest communities in the world can afford.

So when certain environmentalists tell you that all fossil fuels are bad, and renewable electricity is good, bear these things in mind. The fires we’ve experienced have illustrated the message: we need to consider the nuance and complexity of energy issues in California thoughtfully and without falling into the trap of vilifying any single technology.

Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association.