Atkins offers affordable housing plan

Feb 26, 2015

State Democratic legislators unveiled a plan yesterday to increase funding for affordable housing by adding a fee to some real estate transactions, and increasing the low-income housing tax credit.  Melody Gutierrez has the story at SFGate:


“Californians would pay a $75 fee whenever they record a real estate document with counties, such as a property refinance, notice of default and notice of a trustee sale. Home sales would be exempt, under the plan announced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.


“The new fees would generate $300 million to $720 million a year for the state depending on the number of document transactions. The money would be spent on fulfilling housing needs of homeless people and people who make just above an area’s median income. Specifics are still under discussion.


“The state’s low-income housing tax credit would jump from $70 million to $370 million, with that money going to private investors who build affordable housing. The extra dollars for the tax break would reduce how much the state collects in its general fund, which pays for basic state services such as education, prisons and social service programs….


“Housing instability is affecting more people than ever before, including more young people and families,” Atkins said. “To make inroads against California’s housing issues, the Assembly is taking a comprehensive approach to increasing the amount of affordable housing in our state.”


More than a third of Californians back government-mandated water rationing according to a new Field Poll – up 7 points from a survey last year.  Christopher Cadelago has the story in the Sacramento Bee.


“[An] increasing number of voters think that the state is experiencing a severe water shortage. Ninety-four percent describe the situation as ‘serious,’ with nearly seven in 10 characterizing it as ‘extremely serious.’ To put that in perspective, when the state was in another long-term water shortage in 1977, far fewer voters (51 percent) described their feelings at the time as ‘extremely serious.’


“’You can see that as the seriousness of the situation seems to be expanding in the public’s view, it’s willing to start making more trade-offs in certain areas than it was willing to do before,’ said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the poll. ‘As the shortage continues, we’ll see how far voters are willing to go.’”


And, speaking of water, Capitol Weekly looks at the potential impact of one provision of the recently passed water bond: restoration of watersheds and enhancing stream flows could wreak havoc with water rights. 


Scott Soriano: “The voter-approved, $7.54 billion bond provides, among other things, watershed protection and restoration. The bond offers ‘$1.5 billion for various projects intended to protect and restore watersheds and habitat throughout the state.’ Of that $1.5 billion, $200 million is put aside to enhance stream flows, of which $39 million is proposed to be spent in the governor’s budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which begins July 1.


“Enhancing stream flows is not just returning water to a stream, but it also may prevent water from being taken from streams by those who hold water rights, usually farmers.


“Water rights nowadays do not come cheap. Bloomberg reports that within a year’s time the cost of an-acre foot of water in the Fresno area jumped from $140 per to $1,100. The San Jose Mercury News reported a 2014 water auction in Madera that topped $2,000 per acre foot.


“’One of the challenges is that there is no centralized clearinghouse for water prices. There are regulations about water transfers regarding fish and wildlife, but there is no cap on what we pay,’ says Anton Favorini-Csorba of the Legislative Analyst’s Office.”


The impact of Proposition 47, which changed many crimes formerly counted as felonies to misdemeanors, is becoming clearer as counties look at the numbers.  In LA County, the effect has been profound.  From Abby Sewell and Cindy Chang at the Los Angeles Times:


“In the county jails, overcrowding has eased, as people serving time on Prop. 47 charges are released and new offenders are not being locked up. This allows more serious offenders to serve a larger percentage of their sentences instead of getting out early.


“Some people caught carrying drugs or drug paraphernalia are not being arrested at all. Narcotics arrests in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department are down 38% from Nov. 5 to Jan. 5 compared with the same period a year ago, the report said.


“By the end of January, according to the Sheriff’s Department, the decrease in narcotics arrests was even greater, 48% from a year ago.”


And that doesn’t even mention the Prop 47 “glitch” – the law inadvertently barred collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a misdemeanor.  George Skelton weighs in on that one here.


The results of California’s latest cap-and-trade auction are in: companies spent more than $1 billion on carbon credits at the February 18 sale, the largest in the state’s history.  From Jim Miller at the Sacramento Bee:


“For the latest carbon auction, which was held Feb. 18, the agency dramatically increased the volume of available credits.


“The result was that prices held steady. Participants paid $12.21 per credit for the right to emit carbon this year, a price that is roughly in line with previous auctions. They paid $12.10 apiece for credits that can be used in 2018. Each credit is good for a ton of carbon emitted.


“Environmentalists said the results showed the market is functioning properly. Katie Hsia-Kiung, a carbon analyst for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the stability in prices demonstrates that the market could ‘pass this important growth test.’


“The total proceeds came to $1.02 billion, by far the largest amount recorded to date, according to the California Air Resources Board. The agency holds auctions quarterly.”


The next time you think you are having a bad day, remember the case of Osama Bin Musa and realize that your day bad day probably isn’t that bad at all. 


Mr. Bin Musa, who is slightly cross-eyed, was leaving a movie when a group of men accused him of ‘looking at them funny,’ and attacked him with a machete.


“'Osama is slightly cross eyed and it does occasionally get people making comments, and usually wears sunglasses,' a friend told local media. 


“'But we had just come out of the cinema and he did not have them on, and as he walked into the foyer, a man asked him: “what are you looking at?"'


Bin Musa attempted to leave, but was attacked by the gang who chased him through the theatre with a machete.  He is in the hospital with critical injuries; the police have arrested two suspects in connection with the crime.


H/T to the Daily Mail for the story (which has gruesome video, btw.)