Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

House passes Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act spending bill, see what’s in it

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Source: U.S. House of Representatives.

All five Contra Costa Congressmen vote in favor; DeSaulnier praises passage calling it historic investment in American families; likely to be changed in the Senate, where support of all 50 Democrats is needed; CBO says it will increase deficit by almost $800 billion over next five years

By Allen Payton

The U.S. House of Representatives passed President Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, also known as the budget reconciliation package, on Friday, on a mainly partisan vote of 220-213 with all Republican members and only one Democrat voting no. It now moves on to the Senate.

According to Roll Call, “Two key holdouts —West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema — have yet to offer a public endorsement of the package. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, (D-N.Y.), set a Christmas deadline for final passage.”

The 2,702-page bill passed following a record-breaking, 8 1/2-hour filibuster speech by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Bakersfield). He said, “it’s the most irresponsible spending bill in the history of America.”

According to the Summary of Cost Estimate by the Congressional Budget Office the legislation will increase the deficit by almost $800 billion through Fiscal Year 2026. However, “The CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would result in a net increase in the deficit totaling $367 billion over the 2022-2031 period, not counting any additional revenue that may be generated by additional funding for tax enforcement.”

However, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the legislation could result in a net deficit increase of $2.2 to $2.7 trillion if temporary provisions are made permanent without offsets.

DeSaulnier’s Statement on Passage

On Friday, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D, CA-11), who  represents portions of Antioch, issued the following statement upon passage of the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 220-to-213.

“Today’s passage of the Build Back Better Act is a victory for families across the country and in Contra Costa. Through its historic investments in early, primary, and secondary education and childcare, we are finally ensuring that all children have the opportunity to thrive both in and out of the classroom, no matter where they live or how much their parents earn. From free preschool for three- and four-year-olds to lowering the cost of high-quality childcare, this bill would give over 90% of parents with young children the opportunity to reenter the workforce knowing their children are safe, cared for, and learning.

By finally calling on the wealthiest Americans and big corporations to pay their fair share, every provision in this bill is paid for and we are making a statement that our children are our priority. I urge the Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act without delay to deliver this much needed relief to families as quickly as possible. American families are counting on it.”

In addition, Build Back Better would:

  • Provide monthly payments of $300 per child under 6 and $250 per child ages 6 to 17 for more than 35 million families under the Child Tax Credit;
  • Devote the necessary resources to combat the climate crisis through expanded tax credits for clean energy and programs to drive down pollution;
  • Lower the cost of prescription drugs and expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act;
  • Bring down costs of long-term care and supporting care workers;
  • Expand opportunities for workforce development programs; and
  • Create affordable housing.

Unpopular Provisions in Bill

According to polling, only 39% of battleground voters support “Build Back Better” while 46% oppose it.

Some of the most unpopular items in the bill include:

  • A natural gas tax that will increase home heating costs, electricity rates, and raise gas prices.
  • An eighty-thousand-dollar tax break to wealthy homeowners in New York, New Jersey, and California.
  • A $3,600 a year child tax credit to illegal immigrants for every child they bring into America or give birth to after arriving.
  • 87,000 new IRS agents to increase audits of taxpayers that will look through the bank accounts of every American earning or spending more than $600 per year to make sure they are paying enough taxes, disproportionally affecting small business owners.

What’s In the Bill

According to the National Review, the legislation includes:

$555 billion in subsidies to move America from one source of energy to another, including up to $12,500 per new electric car purchase;

$220 billion for clean energy & climate resilience;

$190 billion to establish or expand clean energy & electric tax credits;

$60 billion to establish or expand clean fuel & vehicle tax credits;

$75 billion to establish or expand other climate-related tax benefits; and

$10 billion to enact infrastructure & related tax breaks;

$400 billion for universal pre-school and day care, including $18 billion in the first three years to create universal pre-kindergarten. Then, the program would be funded by a mixture of federal and state funds;

$300 billion for restoration of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction eliminated in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. According to CNBC the bill, “raises the cap on the state and local tax deduction from $10,000 to $80,00 in 2021, which will benefit the richest households in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.”

$200 billion to extend and expand both the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, for four weeks of paid parental, sick or caregiving leave;

$90 billion for what the White House describes as “Equity and Other Investments”;

$38 billion in new energy taxes;

$9 billion to higher-learning institutions for “qualified environmental justice programs”;

$7 billion for service groups for projects related to “climate resilience and mitigation”;

$3.5 billion for ports to purchase “zero-emission” equipment;

$3 billion to fund pandemic preparedness;

$3 billion for better records and hospitals for veterans;

$3 billion in “climate justice block grants” that go into projects in disadvantaged communities. The criterion for grants is based on the race of the projects’ sponsors;

$450 million for nontraditional climate apprenticeship programs;

$350 million to “rebuild” the National Labor Relations Board and $321 million to “rebuild” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;

$275 million to upgrade the health-care system in Hawaii which also gets $5 million to save endangered plants;

$200 million to preserve Native American languages;

$150–$250 million (estimated) as tax credits to “local” news organizations, excluding government entities, except NPR and PBS. Note: “Local” is broadly defined, and appears to include almost all news organizations, including the New York Times and Washington Post. The bill also contains a rich new deduction for trial lawyers;

$124 million to combat substance abuse;

$85 million for studying the risks of climate change for “pregnant, lactating or post-partum individuals”;

$50 million to train and certify more doulas; and

$5 million to save desert fish.

According to CNBC, “To pay for the bill, House Dems are proposing increasing some taxes on businesses and the wealthiest Americans. It includes a 5% surtax on adjusted gross income (AGI) over $10 million for individuals and an additional 3% on AGI over $25 million.”

See more details on the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget website.

Federal Infrastructure bill brings major investment to California Rail Network

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Funding package supports several capital projects for ACE Rail and Amtrak San Joaquins which serves Antioch station; provides up to $102 billion in total spending for passenger railroad infrastructure including $28.5 billion for Amtrak

By Harlo Pippenger, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority are applauding the passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 and highlighting the bill’s series of investments in California rail projects.

The transportation reauthorization package passed out of the House on November 5th and President Biden signed the measure this past Monday. It provides up to $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending, including nearly $550 billion in new spending to address the nation’s aging transportation networks. Specifically, the bill provides up to $102 billion in total spending for passenger railroad infrastructure.

“This bill brings meaningful investments to our rail system in the Central Valley and Northern California,” said Stacey Mortenson, Executive Director of both the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), which runs Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Rail), and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), which runs Amtrak San Joaquins. “We have capital projects underway throughout our service territories, and this new federal funding package comes at the right time to support route improvements, station buildout, and equipment modernization.”

ACE Rail, a commuter service that runs between the Bay Area and Stockton, and Amtrak San Joaquins, an intercity service that runs through the Central Valley and connects to the Bay Area, will benefit from several funding streams in the legislation:

  • The infrastructure package includes a 43% increase to Federal Transit Administration formula funds, which directly support ACE’s capital program on a yearly basis.
  • The legislation provides up to $28.5 billion for Amtrak’s National Network – these funds will support routes like the San Joaquinsand help the system acquire modern rolling stock, enhance station accessibility and amenities, and address backlogged capital projects.
  • The package provides up to $10 billion for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants, which is a competitive grant program. The funding will expand eligibilities for the CRISI grants to allow state-supported routes like the San Joaquinsto acquire and develop clean energy locomotives.
  • The IIJA creates a new railroad grade-crossing elimination program – with up to $5.5 billion in funding – to improve railroad safety across the nation and our state. In FY 2020, California experienced the second most highway-rail grade crossing incidents in the nation.

“These investments will not only transform our transportation system, but will also help transform our communities,” said Christina Fugazi, SJRRC Chair. “It is essential that local, state and federal governments make it a priority to enhance and modernize our rail networks. Improving access and increasing rail service are key strategies for reducing congestion, supporting environmental and climate change goals, and strengthening our economy.”

“California is unique in how it manages passenger rail systems,” said Patrick Hume, SJJPA Chair.“So, we appreciate how this funding package will allow our state-supported San Joaquins route service to compete for new grant dollars, while also positioning us to work together with the Federal Railroad Administration and CalSTA to use this funding to modernize equipment and pursue key capital projects.”

On a local and regional level, advocacy efforts are also accelerating on behalf of a series of projects aimed at expanding passenger rail service throughout the “megaregion.”  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), and Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) have come together in a Working Group and jointly identified the “MegaRegion Dozen,” which are a variety of multi-modal transportation projects that would benefit the connected Northern California and Central Valley region. The MegaRegion Dozen plan calls for more than $400 million in additional funding priorities for Amtrak San Joaquins and ACE Rail; it will help organize how the different agencies and local governments pursue different grant or funding opportunities.

“We see a lot of momentum right now in support of a strong, reliable, accessible passenger rail network in California,” Fugazi added. “We appreciate the dedication of Senator Padilla, Senator Feinstein, and our congressional representatives from Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley who helped push through the IIJA legislation that brings tangible benefits for our programs, and we are ready to put the new funds to good use immediately.”

President Biden also signed an Executive Order for implementing the bill on Monday, in which he wrote, “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a once-in-a-generation investment in our Nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. It will help rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails; expand access to clean drinking water; work to ensure access to high-speed Internet throughout the Nation; tackle the climate crisis; advance environmental justice; and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. It will accomplish all of this while driving the creation of good-paying union jobs and growing the economy sustainably and equitably for decades to come.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Four McNerney bills included in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Signed by Biden on Monday

Washington, DC – In response to President Joe Biden signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) issued the following statement on Monday, Nov. 15:

“Today, I had the privilege of joining President Biden as he signed into law the largest federal infrastructure investment in nearly a century. Americans called on us for action, and we answered ‘yes’ to rebuilding our communities, ‘yes’ to good union wages, ‘yes’ to expanding opportunity, and ‘yes’ to doing it all while tackling the climate crisis.

“Building back better is no longer just a promise, but a reality that Americans will see throughout their communities and across our nation. I am extremely proud that four bills I authored were encompassed in this historic law. As part of the law’s $65 billion broadband investment, the Digital Equity Act will provide $2.75 billion to help close gaps in broadband adoption and increase digital literacy. Connectivity and digital skills are essential for opening gateways to economic opportunity, and this funding is crucial for lifting up communities across the country – including many in my district. Additionally, the Cyber Sense Act and the Enhancing Grid Security Through Public-Private Partnerships Act will help bolster the cybersecurity of our electric utilities to better secure our grid as we confront a growing number of cyber threats. Finally, the Grid Hardening Act will dedicate $3 billion to modernize the electric grid, including upgrades to increase resiliency against wildfires.”

“Through investments such as the $55 billion allotted to update our drinking water infrastructure and $17 billion marked for ports and waterway enhancements, we will create an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the next 10 years. Our roads and bridges will be repaired and rebuilt with an emphasis on climate change mitigation, and our commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions will be honored with the largest investment in public transit in our nation’s history.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney represents California’s 9th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Represents that includes portions of Contra Costa – including parts of Antioch, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties. For more information on the Congressman’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

Antioch councilwomen claim tenants are being harassed, face eviction, want new protection ordinances

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker speaks as Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson (far right) and others, including representatives of Contra Costa County’s chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment listen at the press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Photo from her official Facebook page.

Hold press conference to ask Mayor Thorpe to place tenant anti-harassment and just cause for eviction policies on next meeting agenda; fail to invite local media; council members and mayor refuse to answer questions about the proposals

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker held a press conference to highlight claims of Antioch renters getting harassed by their landlords and facing eviction, and call on Mayor Lamar Thorpe to place both an anti-harassment and a just cause for eviction ordinances on the next council meeting agenda. The councilwomen did not invite local media to attend.

A KTVU FOX2 news article from the press conference reports, “they were joined by members of Contra Costa County’s chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which has campaigned for similar tenant anti-harassment ordinances in other cities.” A similar anti-harassment ordinance was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in June. According to the ordinance, “violation of the ordinance can be either a criminal misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine for each offense), or a civil violation (damages, rent refunds for reduction in housing services, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, fine of up to $10,000 per violation, or tenant relocation)”.

Tenant protections against eviction, rent increases and late fees ended in Contra Costa County on Sept. 30. The Board of Supervisors on a 2-3 vote chose not to extend the protections. (See related article)

The state’s protections also ended Sept. 30.

KTVU also reported Thorpe said, “I personally have concerns with Antioch tenants being harassed, especially during the pandemic, so conceptually, I agree with these protections.”

On her official Facebook page, on Oct. 12, Torres-Walker posted the following statement about the effort with photos from the press conference, including three people who spoke, besides the two councilwomen.

“Antioch had the highest rate of evictions out of any Bay Area city during the pandemic, and researchers are predicting it is likely to be a hotspot for evictions after the statewide eviction moratorium lifts. Sadly the highest concentration of evictions in Antioch has been in District 1.

In September I requested that an anti-displacement policy be brought to the council for immediate action as Statewide and County-wide moratoriums were coming to an end and renters facing eviction were calling on us as city leaders to do something. I was honored to have the support of mayor pro tem Monica Wilson who back up that request last month stating that she as well wanted to see policies around anti-landlord harassment and just cause evictions to be brought to the council.

In July I met with over 20 residents in the River Town [sic] area who were facing eviction and devastated about their family’s future I met with even more residents in the Sycamore community who had the same concerns that their families would end up on the streets.

The government assistance that was promised to make renters and landlords whole has been slow to reach the ground, slow to meet the need, and moratoriums have only been a band-aid for a larger issue around housing access and affordability in the region.

Proposed policies:

Anti-Harassment Ordinance

An anti-harassment ordinance defines certain bad-faith landlord behaviors as unlawful harassment. Tenants can then enforce their rights against landlords who engage in these behaviors. Harassment can include lack of repairs, a landlord not taking care while doing construction or other repairs, discriminatory behavior like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or disability discrimination, a landlord threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, a landlord threatening violence, and other behaviors designed to make tenants’ lives more difficult or cause them to leave their homes. If a tenant wins in court, their landlord will pay damages and their attorneys’ fees.

Harassment of tenants is a way for some landlords to circumvent other legal tenant protections. When some landlords can’t legally evict a tenant to raise the rent, they will instead harass the tenant until they have no choice but to leave their home. This makes existing tenant protections less effective.

An anti-harassment ordinance removes the financial incentive for harassment by adding penalties for bad actor landlords. Landlords who don’t harass tenants don’t need to worry about the anti-harassment ordinance because they won’t need to change their behavior to comply with it. Instead, an anti-harassment ordinance promotes neighborhood stability and safe and healthy housing.

Just Cause Supplements

Tenants also need effective eviction protections to remain in their homes. The statewide just cause for eviction law, AB 1482, contains several eviction loopholes that allow landlords to evict tenants for ‘no-fault’ reasons and then re-rent the unit at a higher rent once the tenants have been forced out. To prevent unscrupulous actors from using these ‘building clearing’ loopholes, a city can pass a “just cause” supplement.

‘No fault’ evictions can happen to tenants who are paying their rent and complying with their lease. ‘Substantial renovation’ and ‘removal from the rental market’ are examples of two ‘no-fault’ types of evictions that, unless regulated, can result in tenant displacement.

Under the substantial renovation loophole, a landlord can evict a tenant under state law to remodel their unit, and the tenant has no right of return. In contrast, under a local just cause supplement, a tenant may only be required to temporarily move out, once the landlord has secured all necessary building permits, and can return at the same rent amount once the repairs are made.

Similarly, under the ‘withdrawal’ loophole, state law allows a landlord to evict a tenant to remove a property from the rental market for an unspecified amount of time. But under a local just cause ordinance designed to prevent unfair evictions, the removal must be long-term (ten years), give the tenant additional notice, and allow the tenant to return at the same rent if the property is re-rented.

These ‘building clearing’ loopholes, when used by unscrupulous actors, can put entire neighborhoods at risk. However, the loopholes can be easily closed under an ordinance to stop pretextual evictions and prevent displacement.”

Questions for Councilwomen, Mayor

Questions were sent to the councilwomen and mayor early Friday morning asking, what landlords are harassing tenants? In apartments or single-family residences? How many and which tenants were or are being harassed? What do they mean by harassment? Requiring they pay their rent or face eviction? Or was their rent raised or late fees assessed illegally up until Sept 30 when the county protections for tenants ended? Did any of you, including Mayor Thorpe, speak with any of the landlords to get their side of the story? Was it anything to do with COVID that the tenants couldn’t pay their rent or some other reason the tenants were facing eviction?

In response to Torres-Walker’s Facebook post more questions were asked, including, what can the City of Antioch actually do to enforce such an ordinance? Can a general law city, like Antioch, adopt and enforce a just cause evictions ordinance (like Los Angeles, which is a charter city)? Do you have a sample of one you can provide? Would the city sue the landlord or help the tenant sue their landlord? Can the city fine the property owner?”

In addition, Saturday night, questions were posted below the photos on Torres-Walker’s Facebook post asking who are the other that spoke during the press conference and appear in the photos and what did they say.

Thorpe responded Friday morning, but only with “Please remove me from this discussion. This press conference was put together by these two Council members not me. They have requested these items come before council so let’s be cognizant of the Brown Act.”

The same questions were then immediately resent to just the two councilwomen, and a separate email was sent to the mayor.

The questions were resent, again early Sunday morning, Oct. 17 to the councilwomen and mayor, in two separate emails. As of Sunday night, none of the three had responded to the questions from the Herald.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Governor signs Senator Glazer’s key local proposals

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Small wineries can open two off-site tasting rooms     

Local governments gain new tools for overseeing short-term rentals

Thousands of acres of East Bay wilderness to be preserved

By Steven Harmon, Policy Analyst/Communications, Office of Sen. Steve Glazer

State Senator Steve Glazer. (D-7-Orinda)

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed three long-standing proposals advanced by Senator Steve Glazer, (D-7-Orinda), that will have a direct impact on residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

“It’s very gratifying to see important legislative priorities for my district signed into law,” Senator Glazer said. “These are bills and proposals that I’ve been working on with partners, in some cases, for years. I’m thankful to Governor Newsom for ushering them across the finish line with his signature, a nice reward for all the hard work put in by key allies and friends.”

The three proposals that Gov. Newsom signed were:

Winegrowers: Offsite Tasting Rooms (SB 19)

SB 19 will allow licensed winegrowers or brandy manufacturers to operate two off-site tasting rooms under their winegrower licenses. This bill will particularly help small and family-owned wineries to operate as California continues to recover from the Pandemic.

Approximately 55 wineries are located in Senator Glazer’s district, including in Livermore, Oakley, Brentwood, Byron and Moraga.

“Small and family-owned wineries have struggled the most among wineries, because they rely heavily on visitors and direct sales,” said Senator Glazer. “With tourism taking a terrible hit from the pandemic and consequences of the wildfires, I’m glad that Governor Newsom recognized that these wineries are in need of that additional outlet to provide tastings and sales to their customers.”

Prior to the current tasting room closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many wineries viewed additional off-site tasting rooms as a significant benefit. This was even more pressing for many small wineries looking to expand business opportunities, especially those wineries that produce their wine in an agreement to use the facility and equipment of a second (usually larger) winery.

Steven Kent Mirassou, owner and winemaker of Steven Kent winery, part of the Livermore Valley Wine Country Association, said SB 19 will make a difference to the industry, but also to wine enthusiasts.

“The ability to take care of people – which is the true center of hospitality and wine – is important at all times,” Kent Mirassou said. “It is especially crucial during the pandemic when we are all striving to maintain connections with our larger circle of friends and patrons, that small wineries remain open and thriving. I am so appreciative of the hard work and perseverance that Senator Glazer and his staff have shown in helping us continue to add joy and richness to peoples’ lives.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, tasting rooms have been required to either close or significantly alter their operations for tastings, but can continue to operate sales for curbside pickup or delivery. Tourism has become almost nonexistent and is not expected to recover for several years. As a result, the impact from COVID-19 to the wine industry is estimated to be $5.9 billon, with a $3 billion loss in tasting room sales.

In addition, the 2020 wildfires had a substantial impact on the wine industry. According to the Wine Institute, the estimate of damage from 2020 wildfires amounts to $3.7 billion, including a loss of $41 million in tasting room sales and $57.6 million in lost winery structures.

Allows Increased Fines on Short Term Rental Violations – to Rein in House Parties (SB 60)

Under SB 60, cities and counties can now impose increased penalties on short-term rental hosts who violate local property rental laws – an attempt to rein in house parties, sometimes violent, that have been occurring at short term rentals because of lax oversight of these properties. SB 60, which took effect immediately, authorizes localities to impose fines up to $5,000 for a violation of a short-term ordinance.

“These large gatherings have made some short-term rental properties the sites of underage drinking, brawls, noise complaints, and violence,” Senator Glazer said. “I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for signing this bill so that local governments have the tools to ensure the safety of those who want to continue to use short-term rentals, and of our residents who live nearby these properties.”

The legislation was sparked by a spate of violence at short-term rental properties, most notably a mass shooting in Orinda, where five people were killed. Other abuses at short-term rentals occurred in Los Angeles and other locales in Northern California, including a party at a Sunnyvale rental where a teenager was shot and killed in August after violence erupted at the gathering. (See related articles, here, here, here and here)

Smaller fines were proving to be ineffective in deterring violations. Hosts were able to charge so much rent for big houses that the fines, if they occurred, were just seen as a cost of doing business.

“Violence and destructive behavior at short term rentals has become a true public safety issue in cities throughout California, as residents of Orinda know all too well,” Orinda Mayor Amy Worth said. “I am thankful that mayors like me will now have the ability to impose fines at a level high enough to get the attention of property owners who operate short term rentals to ensure the safety of our residents. Senator Glazer has been a true champion of this issue, and we are thankful for his hard work on making this California law.”

The use of short-term rentals has skyrocketed by 105 percent over just the past three years, according to vacation rental data compiled by AirDNA. Though short-term rentals offer a way to improve tourism and earn owners some extra money, their recent proliferation has allowed bad actors to use the platform to advertise and secure homes for large parties, oftentimes in violation of local ordinances.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to an increase in people using short-term rentals to evade public health restrictions on large public gatherings. Noise complaints as a result of parties have tripled since the start of the pandemic, according to Host Compliance, which tracks legal compliance among short-term rentals for 350 cities and counties in the U.S.

In the last half of 2019, 42 people were shot inside or just outside a short-term rental property nationwide and 17 people died.

East Bay Regional Park District 2013 Master Plan Map designating Tesla site (yellow area) as a potential regional preserve. Source: EBRPD

Tesla Land Preservation (Budget)

Thousands of acres of East Bay wilderness threatened by the expansion of an off-highway vehicle park will instead be preserved. (See related article)

The legislation, approved in the Governor’s recent budget bills and took effect immediately, ends plans to expand the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area into the 3,100-acre Tesla parcel in the southeast corner of Alameda County, which scientists have described as a biologically unique habitat and Native Americans have long considered to be a sensitive historical site.

That land will now become a new state park closed to motorized recreation. The state will reimburse the Off-Highway Vehicle fund for the purchase price of the land, its appreciation in value, and the money spent planning the expansion, which was opposed from the start 20 years ago by nearby residents and public agencies. That money will go toward the purchase and development of an off-road park at another location.

“Our community and region will preserve this natural and cultural treasure, leaving it pristine for future generations to enjoy,” Senator Glazer said. “Meanwhile, off-road enthusiasts will be able to keep their current park and receive funding to develop another park on land that’s more suitable to that kind of recreation. I appreciate the hard work that so many key individuals played in moving this critical environmental and cultural issue to the Governor’s desk, and, of course, for the Governor to work with all the players to sign this important agreement.”

Senator Glazer partnered with Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, the Sierra Club, Friends of Tesla Park and other environmental organizations and individuals in getting the final approval from the governor’s office. Earlier, former Assembly member Catharine Baker worked with Senator Glazer on the same issue.

Nancy Rodrigue, a leading member of the Friends of Tesla Park steering committee and Livermore resident, said she was proud that years of hard work and persistence paid off.

“A very special thank you goes to Senator Glazer and Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan for the many years of work on this special project,” Rodrigue said. “Tesla Park will now be a reserve with no motorized recreation. Instead, the future holds Tesla as a protected native landscape for hikers, history buffs, nature lovers, researchers and educators.

“Saving Tesla Park has been a long, difficult, and now a rewarding journey, and we are grateful for the tremendous work of so many for saving Tesla as a legacy for future generations,” Rodrigue continued. “We are looking forward to planning the next phase of Tesla Park as a nature and cultural preserve, providing passive recreation and education to the community of the Bay area, the San Joaquin Valley, and Northern California.”


‘Absurd’ pro-abortion laws in California highlight need for parent-child communication, policy expert says

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

State Legislators representing Contra Costa County: Senators Steve Glazer, Nancy Skinner and Bill Dodd (top row), and Assemblymembers Tim Grayson, Jim Frazier, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Buffy Wicks (bottom row) voted for the two bills.

All seven state legislators representing portions of Contra Costa County voted for both bills

By Jonah McKeown | Catholic News Agency

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills Sept. 22 that relate to privacy surrounding abortion, and a policy expert commented to CNA that the laws highlight the importance of parent-child communication regarding difficult topics such as abortion.

All seven state legislators representing portions of Contra Costa County voted for both bills, including Senators Steve Glazer, Nancy Skinner and Bill Dodd, and Assemblymembers Tim Grayson, Jim Frazier, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Buffy Wicks.

Kathleen Domingo, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference, told CNA that the new laws, while “absurd” and harmful, are just the latest in a pattern of performative pro-abortion actions taken by California lawmakers over a period of decades.

“The reality is that this isn’t really anything new, and I think this is important for people to know…this has been the agenda of California for decades,” she said.

AB 1184 allows insured individuals, including minors, to keep “sensitive services” confidential from the insurance policyholder, generally their parents.

The law requires insurance companies to “accommodate requests for confidential communication of medical information” regardless of whether “disclosure would endanger the individual.” Set to take effect in July 2022, the law specifically mentions “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender affirming care” as potentially “sensitive services.”

California has a parental consent law for minors seeking abortions on the books, but the law is permanently enjoined by court order, meaning minors in California can seek abortions without their parents’ knowledge or permission. Planned Parenthood provides resources instructing teens how to hide abortions from their parents, Domingo noted.

Also signed Sept. 22 was AB 1356, which makes it illegal to film or photograph patients or employees within 100 feet of an abortion clinic “with the specific intent to intimidate a person from becoming or remaining a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant.” Domingo said this law could affect pro-life campaigners and sidewalk counselors, who may merely want to film or photograph themselves and their work outside abortion clinics.

Domingo said laws of this kind reinforce the importance of parents and guardians talking to and building trust with their children, and encouraging them to seek their parents’ advice in difficult situations.

“It really comes down to having conversations in your own families, and making sure that your children understand what your values are, and understand that they can come and talk to you if they have situations that are difficult,” Domingo said.

“If they know of someone who has a situation, if they themselves get into a situation where they need help, I think more than anything it’s just continuing that conversation and making sure are families are equipped to know what to do in those moments, that our parishes are equipped to know what to do, so that if you have a situation where a young woman finds herself in need, she knows who to talk to: our pregnancy resource centers and our pro-life pregnancy clinics up and down the state.”

Domingo said while performative pro-abortion laws will likely continue to be passed in California, supporting pro-life alternatives is the best way to combat them.

“That truly is the work that is needed. We can’t necessarily combat these laws that keep compounding abortion in California, but we can do the grassroots efforts that we have been doing for almost 50 years in California of helping people one at a time and saving families one at a time.”

A group of Republican lawmakers wrote to Newsom before he signed the bills into law, urging him to veto them instead.

“We should be encouraging parents and family to be involved in their children’s lives, not removing them further from it,” the letter reads, which was signed by nine state senators.

They also argued, in a more pragmatic vein, that AB 1184 would put policyholders in the “impossible position” of being financially responsible for bills incurred by their dependent children, but which they have no means of verifying because of the new confidentiality rules.

Newsom’s office heralded the laws as a strengthening of California’s status as a “haven” for women seeking abortions.

“This action comes in the wake of attacks on sexual health care and reproductive rights around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to block Texas’ ban on abortion after six weeks,” a statement from Newsom’s office reads, referring to a pro-life law in that state that took effect Sept. 1.

“California is a national leader on reproductive and sexual health protections and rights, and Governor Newsom’s actions today make clear that the state will remain a haven for all Californians, and for those coming from out-of-state seeking reproductive health services here.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Feinstein introduces bill requiring COVID-19 vaccine, negative test or recovery documentation for domestic air travel

Friday, October 1st, 2021

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Official photo

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), on Wednesday, introduced the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, a bill that would require all passengers on domestic airline flights to either be fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative for COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19.

The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, to develop national vaccination standards and procedures related to COVID-19 and domestic air travel in order to prevent future outbreaks of the disease.

The bill would also require the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to make recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine use in health care settings and among health care personnel in other settings.

The legislation builds on a current CDC requirement that all air passengers traveling to the United States from a foreign country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Last week, the Biden administration announced it will work with airlines to implement additional protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on international flights.

“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again,” Feinstein said.

“Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19. This bill complements similar travel requirements already in place for all air passengers – including Americans – who fly to the United States from foreign countries. This includes flights from foreign countries with lower COVID-19 rates than many U.S. states.

“It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren’t contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated.”

The bill is supported by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association.

Dr. Barbara D. Alexander, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine and pathology at Duke University School of Medicine said: “Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives. The Infectious Diseases Society of America supports Senator Feinstein’s legislation to require vaccination for domestic air travel as part of our nation’s broader COVID-19 vaccination strategy.”


  • According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines continued to offer strong protection after the Delta variant became predominant over the summer. People who were fully vaccinated were five times less likely to be infected and more than 10 times less likely to be admitted to the hospital or die compared to those who were unvaccinated.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United States is seeing its highest weekly totals of pediatric COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. The CDC also found that in August, emergency department visits and hospital admissions among children were higher in states with lower vaccine rates and lower in states with higher vaccine rates.
  • According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people traveling to other counties or states last year contributed to higher COVID-19 case numbers in their destination communities. Authors of the study later observed that this was especially true during the 2020 summer and winter holidays.
  • According to a Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, COVID-19 testing requirements for airline passengers could have a meaningful effect on detecting active infections either immediately before or after a flight.
  • According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about three in 10 people surveyed who were waiting to be vaccinated said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if airlines required passengers to be vaccinated. This number increased to about four in 10 among unvaccinated individuals who said they would only get the vaccine if required.

To contact the senator’s office, visit Contact – United States Senator for California (

State Senate Election Committee Chair Glazer calls for recall system reform

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Senator Glazer calls it “flawed” “broken” in spite of only two recalls of governor in state history; joins Assembly member Berman, Assembly Election Committee Chair to hold hearings to examine needed changes in wake of recently concluded recall election

By Scott Harmon, Policy Analyst/Communications, Office of Sen. Steve Glazer

State Senator Steve Glazer. (D-7-Orinda)

Sacramento – Following Tuesday night’s recall election of the governor, only the second one to qualify for the ballot in state history, the California Legislature’s two leading members on election issues on Wednesday announced a coordinated effort to examine reforms to California’s recall election system.

Senator Steve Glazer (D – Contra Costa) and Assemblymember Marc Berman (D – Menlo Park) and said they are determined to fix a broken system in the wake of the 2021 gubernatorial recall election, which raised questions about whether a system designed in the early 20th century has enough checks and balances to ensure democratic and fair elections.

Berman, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Elections, and Glazer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, will hold a series of bipartisan joint hearings in the coming months to begin a statewide discussion regarding potential improvements to California’s recall laws. The intent is to produce a proposal that will be taken up in the Legislature during the 2022 legislative session.

“Now that the recall is over, I believe it is time to re-evaluate and update California’s recall process,” said Senator Glazer.  “The voters want to see a more democratic process put in place that keeps elected officials accountable but, prevents political gamesmanship of the rules.  We hope to work with policy experts and stakeholders of different political perspectives on a viable solution that ultimately makes sense for a modern-day California.”

The recall process is one of four ways the state’s voters can have direct impact on the legislative and governing process, which also include electing representatives, as well as the referendum and initiative. (See CA Constitution Article II) Under the leadership of then Gov. Hiram Johnson came into office proposing the three major populist changes, bringing direct democracy to California. According to Ballotpedia, “Johnson and the new Progressive majority in the legislature made the most sweeping governmental changes ever seen in the history of California. Among these were the introduction of initiativereferendum, and recall at both the state and local levels. Voters ratified these amendments in a special election on October 10, 1911.”

At that time, Johnson said, “they do give to the electorate the power of action when desired, and they do place in the hands of the people the means by which they may protect themselves.”

According to the Secretary of State’s website, “Since 1913, there have been 179 recall attempts of state elected officials in California. Eleven recall efforts collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and of those, the elected official was recalled in six instances.” Of those 179, 55 were attempted recalls of the governor, two qualified for the ballot, Grey Davis and Newsom, and only Davis was successfully recalled.

The committees will evaluate recall laws in other states, and will invite experts to examine California’s recall process, including issues such as grounds for removal; signature gathering requirements; process of succession if a governor is recalled; and other issues. The process will be open to the public in an effort to maintain the utmost transparency, and the committees also hope to include the expertise of elections officials, political scientists, legal experts, and others.

“While the recall is an important tool for voters to address misconduct or corruption by elected officials, yesterday’s election highlighted the fundamentally undemocratic nature of California’s existing recall process,” said Assemblymember Berman. “California law should not allow someone else to be recalled and replaced by a candidate who receives far fewer votes. I look forward to hearing from a bipartisan group of experts about how California’s recall process should be reformed.”

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said that she supports examining recall reform.

“A thorough review of California’s recall law is timely and worthy of debate, and I would like to thank Senator Glazer and Assemblymember Berman for spearheading the efforts to start this important conversation,” Atkins said.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said, “It is totally appropriate to begin discussion of reforming the recall process. We came far too close to having a governor elected by a tiny fraction of eligible voters. While that is no way to pick the leader of the most populous state in the nation, it would be equally wrong to make any changes without a thorough study of alternatives. I look forward to hearing the discussion.”

The recall process was adopted in California almost 110 years ago but, has been used sparingly for most of the state’s history. More than 70% of the attempts to recall elected state officials that have qualified for the ballot, including the only two statewide recall elections in California history, have occurred in the last 27 years. Each of California’s last nine Governors has faced multiple recall attempts, though only two of those attempts have qualified for the ballot.

Two recent polls, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California and by the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that a majority of voters favor keeping but reforming the recall process.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.