Collective Bargaining Fails Students, Competent Teachers and Taxpayers

Ashs-teacher-and-studentsA new study reveals that collective bargaining for teachers has a negative effect on future earnings, occupational skill levels and hours worked. Writing in Education Next, researchers Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willen dissect the long-term ramifications of states that mandate collective bargaining for teachers. While they find no clear effects of collective bargaining laws on how much schooling students ultimately complete, their results do show that laws requiring school districts to engage in the process with teachers unions lead students to be less successful in later life. “Students who spent all 12 years of grade school in a state with a duty-to-bargain law earned an average of $795 less per year and worked half an hour less per week as adults than students who were not exposed to collective-bargaining laws. They are 0.9 percentage points less likely to be employed and 0.8 percentage points less likely to be in the labor force. And those with jobs tend to work in lower-skilled occupations.”

The researchers did a meticulous job adjusting, when necessary, for ethnicity and gender. They also took into account school finance reforms and changes in the generosity of state earned-income tax credits. But taking all the variables into account made little difference in the results, and indeed strengthened their confidence that collective bargaining is responsible for the effects they document.

This is not the first study that found collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) to be detrimental to students. In 2007, Stanford professor Terry Moe reported that collective bargaining “appears to have a strongly negative impact in the larger districts, but it appears to have no effect in smaller districts (except possibly for African American students—which is important indeed if true).”

Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, and Martin West from the Brookings Institute point out that CBAs “are vestiges of the industrial economic model that prevailed in the 1950s, when assembly-line workers and low-level managers were valued less for their knowledge or technical skills than for their longevity and willingness to serve loyally as a cog-in-a-top-down enterprise. Collective bargaining contracts are especially problematic on three fronts: 1) they restrict efforts to use compensation as a tool to recruit, reward and retain the most essential and effective teachers, 2) they impede attempts to assign or remove teachers on the basis of fit or performance and 3) they over-regulate school life with work rules that stifle creative problem solving without demonstrably improving teachers’ ability to serve students.”

In this brief video, Stanford researcher Caroline Hoxby details in practical terms how CBAs stifle any management flexibility in determining the best slot for a teacher at a given school as well as denying them the opportunity to get rid of the underperformers – rigidity being the hallmark of CBAs.

So if CBAs don’t do much for students, they surely must benefit teachers, right? Well, no, and they especially penalize the good ones. Low pay, excessive bureaucracy and ineffective colleagues are all attributable to CBAs and anathema to great teachers and high-performing schools. And we lose thousands of our best educators as a result.

Wage compression” occurs when the salaries of lower paid teachers are raised above the market rate, with the increase offset by reducing pay of the most productive ones. “Why strive to become better if I am not going to be compensated for it?” is the attitude of many. Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute takes it one step further, claiming CBAs hurt the bottom line of all teachers. He compared teachers’ salaries in districts across the country which allow collective bargaining with those that don’t. He found that teachers who worked in districts where the union was not involved actually made more money than those who were in collective bargaining districts. According to Petrilli, “Teachers in non-collective bargaining districts actually earn more than their union-protected peers – $64,500 on average versus $57,500.”

CBAs don’t do much for taxpayers either. Professor Joe A. Stone of the University of Oregon writes, “In an average California school district, 85 percent of the district’s operating budget is tied to collective bargaining contracts, for both certificated and classified personnel.” (Over 55 percent of California’s general fund expenditures – over $63,000,000,000 – is targeted for education.)

University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene sums it up quite succinctly. “Until the ability of teachers unions to engage in collective bargaining is restrained, we should expect unions to continue to use it to advance the interests of their adult members over those of children, their families and taxpayers.”

One final note: Union leaders and their fellow travelers love to spread the myth of the “right” to collectively bargain. In fact, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced that he is leading a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to deny Friedrichs and maintain forced dues payment for public employees. In a press release, Public Advocate Letitia James said, “Collective bargaining is a fundamental right. I join Attorney General Schneiderman in supporting this right, and standing up for collective bargaining.”

But there is no “right” to collectively bargain. David Denholm, president of the Public Service Research Foundation, writes that the “right” is non-existent. He writes, “Collective bargaining is a legislated privilege given to unions by friendly lawmakers.” (“Friendly” in this case, of course, means those put in office by the people sitting across from them at the negotiating table.)

CBAs are wrong for kids, wrong for good teachers and wrong for taxpayers. But they sure work well for union bosses, many of whom make fat salaries that most teachers are forced to pay for the “right” to be exclusively represented by them. Some bargain.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

Water: Get Used to Paying More While Using Less

Shower head water droughtCalifornians may need to get used to paying more for water, despite and because of their successful efforts at conservation, according to state water officials at a recent Assembly committee hearing.

Californians exceeded the state’s 25 percent water conservation mandate in October for the fourth month in a row. That might be good news for a parched state, but it’s also drying up the coffers of many water districts, some of which have raised rates to help make up the loss.

Ratepayers are in essence being punished for obeying the state order to conserve water – something they thought would save them money. That has officials like John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, scrambling to explain.

“In some places people see costs go up, and think they conserved and did a great job, and yet the fixed costs are the same. And it is very confusing,” Laird acknowledged at a Nov. 17 hearing by the Select Committee on Water Consumption and Alternative Resources.

“It flies in the face of the public’s general view that if you pay more you should get more, as opposed to you might have to pay more to get what you get now,” Laird continued. “As opposed to if the system collapses because there’s no investment you might have to pay more to get a lot less. And that is a very hard concept to explain to the rate-paying public in a way that they get it.”

Water and Power Departments’ Budgetary Woes

Los Angelenos have reduced water use by 18 percent, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has resulted in a $110.7 million hit to the agency’s budget. LADWP is now proposing a $57.6 million rate hike to recoup a little over half of its losses.

Other districts that have passed or are considering conservation-related rate hikes include the Contra Costa Water District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the San Diego Public Utilities Department, according to Reuters.

“It doesn’t seem intuitive that I’m using less water, but I’m paying more,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D- Menlo Park, who chairs the committee. “How do you explain that to the public?”

Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources responded, “I would agree that getting this message across that we’re going to expect ratepayers, and taxpayers for that matter, to pay more to hopefully not lose more than they would have otherwise, it’s a tough message,”

He cited the proposed $15 billion Delta pipelines project, known as the California WaterFix, which is expected to be funded largely through rate hikes.

“Why would we expect water users in southern California, the Bay Area and the Central Valley to pay more to get the same amount of supply they are now?” said Cowin. “Well, we have to make the case that sustainability is worth the price we are asking people to pay for.”

Climate change can actually help state officials make that case to the public, he said.

Messaging to the Public

“I think we have as good an opportunity now as we ever have,” Cowin said. “We’re in this unique opportunity right now where we’re messaging to the public: keep conserving water because we might have a fifth year of drought, plus prepare for a potential Godzilla El Nino flood event. That really is what we are looking at as the new normal for California extremes.”

Cowin continued, “So we have got to be able to message better that global climate change leads to these extremes, [which] means that the typical inexpensive sources of water are a thing of the past. And more expensive options are a part of the future.

“We’ve been lucky for decades or generations that we’ve had relatively inexpensive water throughout California, some more expensive than others. But, moving forward, water is going to be more expensive and we’re going to have to pay for it.”

Increasing Water Use Efficiency

One way to keep costs down is to use water more efficiently. Currently, much of California’s treated wastewater ends up dumped in rivers and streams. California should follow Israel’s model and instead spread that treated effluent on farms and orchards, said Eilon Adar, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, via Skype.

“Water is still being used in non-responsible ways,” he said. “You waste water. Cities in the Bay Area, they produce a lot of effluence that cannot be used in the Bay Area. However, if diverted about 150 miles to the south there are places in California that can appreciate this water.”

The state definitely can do more with recycled wastewater, said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. Only about 13 percent of California’s wastewater – 600,000 acre-feet – is currently recycled. He believes the state will meet its targets of annually producing 1 million acre-feet of recycled wastewater by 2020 and 2 million acre-feet by 2030.

“That’s an enormous amount of water,” Gleick said. “That’s water that we already have, that we already capture and treat and throw away into the ocean. Let’s put that to use.”

Gleick said he’s also concerned about “massive over-pumping of the groundwater. There’s been this long-term inexorable drop in groundwater. Groundwater is a resource, but we’re over-tapping it. And that’s unsustainable, and we know that that’s a problem.”

He continued, “There’s been enormous progress in capturing water use efficiently and developing local supplies. We are, however, still living beyond our means. We are taking too much water from our rivers and streams and especially in our aquifers. Even in wet years we over-pump our aquifers. That is unsustainable.”

FarmOn the plus side, nearly doubling the amount of groundwater pumping has helped the state’s $54 billion agricultural industry weather the drought, according to Jay Lund, director of theCenter for Watershed Science at UC Davis. About 70 percent of the lost surface water was made up by groundwater.

As a result, despite four years of drought, state agriculture has lost only about 4 percent in net revenue and about 10,000 jobs, he said.

“It’s amazing to have this drought with this relatively small effect,” Lund said. “We will always have drought in California. It’s like the East Coast having hurricanes.”

He agreed with Cowin that weather extremes like drought have the benefit of reminding the public about the state’s ongoing water needs.

“Droughts bring attention to where water management is not keeping pace,” said Lund. A Dutch engineer told him “in the Netherlands they need to have a threatening flood every generation to remind them that they have water problems. California is a dry place susceptible to floods. It’s useful for us … to see droughts and floods from time to time.”

The committee plans to hold a hearing in December in Los Angeles on desalination and one in January in Sacramento on recycling and reclamation issues.

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Still Thankful for Liberty in 2015

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

With the recent terror attacks against France, America’s oldest ally, most Americans are rightfully concerned for the welfare of our friends abroad as well as our own safety.

With the French, we share a common heritage of a dedication to liberty. The Statue of Liberty that stands proudly in the harbor of New York is a gift from the people of France.

Acknowledging the contributions of French officer the Marquis de Lafayette to the success of our revolution, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stanton a commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WW I, told Parisians on arrival, “Lafayette, we are here!”

While Americans and the French are victims of terrorism because of our beliefs and way of life, both nations continue to value and be grateful for our republican form of government that allows citizens to elect their representatives. And we share a common conviction that we will prevail over adversity.

In California, there is a tendency for taxpayers to see the elected Sacramento political class as working against the interests of average citizens. Nonetheless, we are grateful for elections that allow us to rehire or fire our elected representatives. As Proposition 13 author Howard Jarvis said, “The people we elect are not the bosses, we are.” Howard did not believe that complaining would solve problems, we, the people, had to take responsibility. If we don’t like the service we are receiving from the politicians, he reminded us, it is up to us to fire them and hire a better class of representatives.

Taxpayers are also grateful that over the last year, despite an anti-taxpayer majority in the Legislature, a strong coalition of grassroots citizens led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association succeeded in defeating all the attacks on Proposition 13. Taxpayers are grateful to every one of these citizen activists as well as those lawmakers who stood firm in defense of the interests of taxpayers.

Although proposals to repeal or weaken Proposition 13 will return in January, the coalition to protect Proposition 13 remains intact, and for this, too, we are thankful.

Howard Jarvis liked to quote the last line of our national anthem, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” “This means” he would say, “that people cannot be free if they are not brave.” This remains true in the face of international terror as well as when struggling over fundamental principles of government at home.

Finally, it has been said that America has the worst government in the world – except for all the others. And while complaining about government is an American birthright, we must remember that billions of souls around the world risk imprisonment or death for speaking out against their despotic governments or leaders. So, in keeping with the season, let us be thankful that we live in a country that, despite her faults, remains the last, best hope for mankind.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis  Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Ivy League Faculty, Staff Funnel Millions To Dem Campaigns

Eight universities make for a small athletic conference, but Ivy League campuses are financial and political powerhouses for Democratic candidates and campaigns.

Administrators and professors have funneled seven times more cash to federal Democratic candidates and causes than to Republicans since 1990, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of data.

Employees at the eight prestigious schools donated $25.3 million to Democrats over the last 25 years compared with $3.5 million to Republicans, reinforcing the notion that America’s universities lean heavily left.

Cornell University faculty and staff are the most one-sided in their contributions, giving $2.1 million to Democrats versus $118,000 to Republicans in that time period. Yale University employees skewed left nearly as much as Cornell employees, giving $2.6 million to Democrats versus $173,000 to Republicans.

harvardBut Harvard University faculty and staff out-shine their competitors by donating more to Democrats than anyone else — $9.4 million total, versus $1.3 million to Republicans.

Dartmouth College faculty and staff came closest to being balanced in their political donations, but still donated twice as much to Democrats as Republicans — $618,900 versus $309,000.

Total donations from Ivy League faculty and staff may be much higher, as federal law doesn’t require donors to name their employers.

Others funneled far more cash to Democrats than Republicans over the last 25 years, too.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter, or email her at

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

CARB’s Ironic Quest to Save the Rainforest

RainforestThe California Air Resources Board recently announced plans to dedicate a portion of its hidden gas tax to saving the tropical rainforest. This is ironic because CARB’s own policies actually contribute to rainforest deforestation.

The agency is a strong advocate of a “low carbon fuel standard,” or LCFS. The LCFS is a food-for-fuel program that, along with similar mandates in the European Union and the United Kingdom, is wreaking havoc in the rainforest.

Unlike the national ethanol mandate, which relies heavily on domestically-produced corn-based ethanol, CARB’s LCFS places a much greater emphasis on sugar and soybean-based fuels – crops often produced in tropical nations where rainforests are endangered.

When CARB initially considered adoption of the LCFS in 2008, 27 scientists and researchers submitted a letter indicating the policy could have serious unintended consequences on land use.

Holly Gibbs, a researcher at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environmentstated: “If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks.”

Noted primatologist Jane Goodall has also spoken out, stating: “We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now.”

Just a few days ago CARB collected hundreds of millions in hidden gas taxes in an opaque carbon credit auction. However, instead of raising gas prices to save the rainforest CARB could do much more by reevaluating its LCFS program instead.

Eric Eisenhammer is the founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit grassroots organization for access to affordable energy and quality jobs.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

New eClaim System Makes It Easier to Reclaim Your Property From CA Government

California’s chief fiscal officer is making it easier to reclaim private property held by the state.

State Controller Betty T. Yee announced earlier this month an expansion of the eClaim feature for the state’s unclaimed property program. Property owners will now be eligible to submit their claims for property valued up to $5,000 using the controller’s streamlined paperless electronic claim process.

“The eClaim process is simple, efficient, and can be completed in a couple of minutes,” Yee said in a press release. “An increased threshold of $5,000 will allow many more Californians to claim lost or forgotten property online and quickly receive a check in the mail.”

Unclaimed Property: Your Money Held by the State

Under state law, when there’s been no activity on an account for three years, financial institutions are obliged to report this unclaimed property to the California Controller’s Office. In turn, the controller holds the funds until it is claimed by the owner. The most common types of unclaimed properties are bank accounts, stocks, bonds, uncashed checks, wages, life insurance benefits and safe deposit box contents.

Among the biggest problems facing the state’s unclaimed property program: a lack of public awareness about where people can find their old property. Most people don’t realize they’re owed money from a forgotten insurance settlement or an abandoned stock dividend.

However, for those owners aware of the program, obtaining the necessary paperwork to prove ownership can be costly and time-consuming. Many find the hassle of paperwork not worth a small dollar amount.

Unclaimed Property: eClaim created by Chiang

To address the paperwork hassle problem, in January 2014, then-Controller John Chiang created the eClaim feature to expedite the return process for properties valued at less than $500. Later that year, Chaing increased the value to $1,000. In total, more than 315,000 properties have been returned through the Controller’s eClaim feature.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 10.35.42 AMThe state currently holds more than $8 billion in unclaimed property that rightfully belongs to more than 32 million people and businesses. More than three-quarters of unclaimed properties are estimated to be eligible for the new expanded eClaim feature. Yee says that by increasing the threshold to $5,000, she’ll be able to return another $9.4 million per year.

Among those who could benefit from the eClaim feature is billionaire hedge fund manager turned environmental activist Tom Steyer. The former hedge fund manager has three unclaimed properties, each valued at less than $50, dating back to his time as founder of the San Francisco-basedFarallon Capital Management.

LAO Report: State Can Do More

For decades, the state has made it difficult for owners to obtain their property. From 1990-2007, state law prohibited the Controller’s office from contacting approximately 80 percent of owners.

Earlier this year, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report critical of the state’s unclaimed property system. The state could do a better job of finding owners, the report concluded, instead of passively waiting for the cash to be claimed.

It also argued that the state has a conflict of interest in managing the program.

“In particular, because property not reunited with owners becomes state General Fund revenue, the unclaimed property law creates an incentive for the state to reunite less property with owners,” the report found. “Now generating over $400 million in annual revenue, unclaimed property is the state General Fund’s fifth-largest revenue source. This has created tension between two opposing program identities — unclaimed property as a consumer protection program and as a source of General Fund revenue.”

Unclaimed Property: How to Search for Unclaimed Property

To find out if you have unclaimed property held by the state, go to

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Billionaire Tom Steyer Donates $1 Million To Hike Taxes On Smokers And Vapers

cigarette smoking ashesBillionaire liberal activist and environmentalist Tom Steyer has donated a cool $1 million to a campaign to raise California’s tobacco tax by $2.

A long-time fundraiser for prominent Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Steyer has turned his attention to making smokers cough up more money for their cigarettes.

“We have a moral responsibility to stand up to tobacco companies and keep kids from becoming lifetime smokers, and we can do that by raising the tobacco tax,” Steyer said in a statement.

But its not only smokers who would be hit if Steyer’s health crusade proves successful. The tax would also cover e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and are 95 percent safer than regular smokes.

The campaign to raise the tobacco tax is supported by a number of public health lobby groups like the California Medical Association as well as the California State Council of Service Employees, who have donated $2 million to the effort so far this year.

Supporters of the tax say it will raise $1.5 billion that will be spent on increasing the number of physicians in California. All previous efforts to introduce a tobacco tax in California via ballot initiative have failed. Californians currently pay 87 cents per pack in state taxes.

“Big Tobacco profits from a product that kills millions of people around the world every year and is the leading cause of preventable death in California,” Steyer said. “The best way to prevent these smoking deaths is by protecting children from ever becoming addicted to this deadly product in the first place.”

The polls appear to be in Steyer’s favor with a survey funded by California Wellness Foundation showing 67 percent of voters favored a $2 rise in the state tobacco tax, with only 30 percent opposing the move.

Steyer is the founder and former Co-Senior Managing Partner of Farallon Capital Management, LLC and the co-founder of Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland-based community development bank. Funded by California Wellness Foundation, the survey showed 67 percent of voters favored a $2 rise in the state tobacco tax, with only 30 percent opposing the move.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Court Gives Indian Tribe New Chance at CA Casino

CasinoIn what amounted to a tart reminder to California voters that they have limited authority over sovereign Indian tribes, a federal judge has ordered Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to renew negotiations with North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians officials over the tribe’s plan to build a casino in the Madera area off Highway 99, about 30 miles north of Fresno.

State voters last November rejected Proposition 48, which would have ratified Brown’s and the Legislature’s approval of the proposed $350 million, 2,000-slot machine casino. Opposing the ballot measure was largely supported by the state’s editorial pages on the grounds that the casino would be built on land purchased by North Fork Rancheria that’s more than 30 miles from tribal lands. The fear was this would set up a precedent for a sharp expansion of Indian casinos in heavily populated urban areas.

But the main groups funding the push to reject Proposition 48 were Indian tribes who didn’t want to see their market share reduced, not civic activists worried about gambling expansion. U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii’s ruling appears to clear the way for such an expansion. This is from the Fresno Bee:

Ishii said federal law requires the governor to negotiate with the tribe and conclude compact negotiations within 60 days. If both sides can’t reach agreement, the judge will appoint a mediator. The state and the tribe will then have 60 days to present a final offer for the mediator’s selection.

The North Fork tribe argued that under federal Indian gambling law, the power rested in the hands of a federal judge to order the governor back to the table and, if necessary, select a mediator to choose between a state-proposed compact and one from the tribe. The complaint was filed after the governor’s office sent a letter to the tribe’s lawyers declining further negotiations.

“The state does not now contend that any of the (Department of the Interior) secretary’s determinations were incorrect, nor does it articulate a basis for its refusal to negotiate regarding the Madera parcel,” the judge said in requiring the governor to negotiate.

Construction of the North Fork casino would be paid for by Station Casinos, the Las Vegas company that would operate the facility and share profits with the tribe.

Senate president worries about rapid gambling expansion

The federal court’s ruling is likely to be treated with alarm by some state lawmakers. State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon has a history of raising concerns about off-reservation casinos. In July 2013, he wrote a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown in reaction to approval of the North Fork project.

“I am deeply concerned by the current ad hoc process of approving off-reservation gaming projects which does not sufficiently protect state interests and our residents,” he declared.

But Brown has been working much more closely with Indian tribes to advance their casino projects, at least their non-controversial ones, than his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Republican actor-turned-politician used his 2003 recall campaign as a platform to demand that Indian tribes share their gaming revenue with the state. Subsequent deals his administration cut with tribes were conditioned on such revenue sharing. But in 2011, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held up a trial court summary judgment ruling throwing out any such state requirements. The blistering opinion mocked the state of California’s official position that demanding a cut of tribal gaming revenue wasn’t really a tax.

“No amount of semantic sophistry can undermine the obvious: a non-negotiable, mandatory payment of 10 percent of net profits into the state treasury for unrestricted use yields public revenue, and is a ‘tax,’” the ruling held.

Brown’s administration chose not to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. That suggests the governor, a Yale Law School graduate, expected the North Fork ruling but didn’t want to resume negotiations with the tribe until ordered to by a federal judge so as to not seem to be defying voters’ rejection of Proposition 48.

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Los Angeles NIMBYs Fight to Halt Development in City

Los Angeles developmentLos Angeles is in the midst of a housing crisis, plain and simple. The stock of available dwellings can’t sustain a growing population, people are paying a wildly disproportionate amount of their salaries on rent, and building new affordable housing is seen by some developers as a nuisance to be avoided at all costs.

The city’s approach to the problem has often been to give developers carte blanche, lifting restrictions and amending city codes to facilitate construction of LA’s new iconic structure: the mid-rise mixed-user.

Opposing this development bonanza are longtime residents, the NIMBYs, who decry the new focus on density as a shift in the fundamental values of a city seeking to find its identity and place in the Twenty-First Century.

The battle now looks to be headed to a showdown at the voter’s booth as one anti-development group has turned to a classic California method of change, the ballot measure.

According to the LA Times, the Coalition to Preserve LA has announced plans to push forward the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative ballot measure in an effort to thwart the spread of new developments in Los Angeles.

The CPLA cites Hollywood as a “microcosm” of unrestrained development in Los Angeles. They believe “unlawful favoritism” is being shown to many Hollywood developments seeking amendments to the city’s General Plan in order to skirt zoning restrictions on height, parking, and density.

The upcoming Palladium project in particular is called out as one of the 69 major projects brewing in the Hollywood area whose “piecemeal” amendments to the city code begin to add up and create the “Manhattanization of Hollywood.”

(One backer decries the loss of the parking lot where the project would rise: “Palladium developers are asking the City to amend the General Plan in order to rezone its back asphalt parking lot from industrial land use to commercial use. The City’s General Plan is supposed to preserve the distinct character of neighborhoods and to prevent infrastructure overload.”)

The CPLA wants Los Angeles to stick more strictly to the established city planning guidelines, which in many cases are decades out of date. When the city tried to pass new, more modern planning guidelines in Hollywood, anti-development groups successfully sued to stop the plan.

According to the CPLA press release, the ballot measure would change development rules in four key areas:

(1) Direct officials to halt amendment of the City’s General Plan in small bits and pieces for individual real estate developer projects, and

(2) Require the City Planning Commission to systematically review and update the City’s community plans and make all zoning code provisions and projects consistent with the City’s General Plan, and

(3) Place City employees directly in charge of preparation of environmental review of major development projects, and

(4) For a limited time, impose a construction moratorium for projects approved by the City that increased some types of density until officials can complete review and update of community plans or 24 months, whichever occurs first.

Los Angeles Times Architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne took to Twitter to eloquently contextualize this unique period of Los Angeles history and challenge both sides of the development argument to bring more to the table.

(Jeff Wattenhofer writes for Curbed LA … where this perspective was first posted.)

Can CA Survive Without Oil? Two Perspectives

Gas-Pump-blue-generic+flippedA week ago, Zocalo Public Square published an article, Imagining California Without Oil Refineries, by one of its editors, Lisa Margonelli, suggesting that Californians are embracing new technology that will lead to an oil free future. She wrote that not being gasoline consumers has become part of many Californians’ identities. Meanwhile, the California Resources Corporation (CRC), a publicly traded oil and natural gas exploration and production company, produced a website also asking Californians to imagine the state without oil. The two imaginings could not have been more apart.

The Zocalo piece spoke of the history of the environmental movement in the Golden State and the fact that younger generations are limiting consumerism and supporting a new way of living that reduces — and some day would eliminate — the need for oil. The CRC imagined a day without oil and offered a list of products that would disappear. Never mind the energy that is used to power products, petroleum is raw material used in refrigerators, dishes, smartphones, coffee makers, kayaks and more.

But it was the area of economic effects that made me take notice.

Margonelli wrote that, “Technologies as diverse as Facebook, compost bins, and electric vehicles have made many Californians see themselves as participants in building an oil-free future, without much fear of the potential downsides.”

And: “Rather than being afraid, a surprising number saw an economic upside in getting oil out: In polls, 43 percent of Californians said that cutting gasoline use would create jobs, while only 13 percent said it would kill them.”

(I might note that the PPIC poll respondents don’t always have the best information. Continually when asked, they describe prisons as getting the most money from the state budget and education near the bottom when the opposite is true.)

But accepting for the moment that there would be a rush of new jobs with technology and alternative energy what might be lost if we shut down the oil business?

The CRC made the following assertions:

The industry directly employs 184,100 Californians from diverse backgrounds and all levels of the socio-economic spectrum, which translates into $23.3 billion per year in wages and salaries for oil and natural gas jobs. It offers jobs to workers of all education levels, including truck drivers, geophysicists, chemists and machinists.

The oil and natural gas sector reflects California’s diversity. Over a quarter of the statewide industry workforce is Latino … In California, the average annual oil and natural gas industry salary of $118,032 is double the $56,590 average for other private industry jobs, according to a 2015 report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).

In total labor income alone, the oil industry injected $40 billion annually into the state’s economy, according to the LAEDC report. These salaries filter into the local economy through the vendors who work with the oil companies and the local businesses frequented by workers… The oil industry supported 456,000 jobs in the state, or 2.1 percent of California’s employment, and generated more than $204 billion in direct economic activity.

In addition, U.S. oil and natural gas companies pay considerably more in taxes than the average manufacturing company. According to Standard & Poor’s research, in 2013 the oil and natural gas industry paid an average effective tax rate of 40.2 percent versus 22.3 percent for other S&P 500 industries such as healthcare, retail, utilities, media and pharma.

In California, nearly $22 billion in state and local taxes collected in 2013 can be attributed to the oil industry, as well as $14.8 billion in sales and excise taxes, according to the LAEDC report, all of which help fund essential services and infrastructure that Californians rely on every day.

The issue of taxes paid by oil and gas companies plays against the future imagined in the Zocalo piece. Will the new alternative energy industries produce the same kind of revenue for the state?

The end-oil commentary concluded that a young woman was driving an electric vehicle – a Leaf—“with state and federal incentives.” (The family) “even installed solar panels that feed the Leaf, making them participants in generously funded state programs…”

You wonder if we cut out the traditional energy industries with all those jobs and the billions paid by the oil and gas industry in taxes if there will be revenue available to offer generous state funded incentives to buy solar panels and electric vehicles or pay for other budget items.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily