Archive for the ‘State of California’ Category

Governor Newsom, legislative leaders announce eviction moratorium extension, increase rent relief to 100 percent

Friday, June 25th, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders of both the Senate and the Assembly today, Friday, June 25, 2021, announced a proposed extension of California’s statewide evictions moratorium, and an increase in compensation for California’s rent relief program.

The three-party agreement on AB 832 – which extends the current eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021 – will ensure that California quickly uses the more than $5 billion in federal rental assistance to help the state’s tenants and small landlords and protect vulnerable households from eviction. The agreement widens rental assistance by enhancing current law. Provisions include increasing reimbursement to 100 percent for both rent that is past due and prospective payments for both tenants and landlords. Additionally, the bill ensures rental assistance dollars stay in California by prioritizing cities and counties with unmet needs, and uses the judicial process to ensure tenants and landlords have attempted to obtain rental assistance.

“California is coming roaring back from the pandemic, but the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately impact so many low-income Californians, tenants and small landlords alike,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “That’s why I am thankful for today’s news from the Legislature – protecting low-income tenants with a longer eviction moratorium and paying down their back-rent and utility bills – all thanks to the nation’s largest and most comprehensive rental assistance package, which I am eager to sign into law as soon as I receive it.”

“Our housing situation in California was a crisis before COVID, and the pandemic has only made it worse — this extension is key to making sure that more people don’t lose the safety net helping them keep their home,” Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) said. “While our state may be emerging from the pandemic, in many ways, the lingering financial impact still weighs heavily on California families. People are trying to find jobs and make ends meet and one of the greatest needs is to extend the evictions moratorium — which includes maximizing the federal funds available to help the most tenants and landlords possible — so that they can count on a roof over their heads while their finances rebound.”

“The key thing is to recognize that people in rental housing are still facing financial obstacles, even as our economy reopens,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) stated. “This moratorium will keep families in homes, provide critical financial support to landlords, and help protect our supply of rental housing.”

Details on the proposed extension can be found in AB 832, which will be in print today. To apply for rental assistance for either renters or landlords, visit housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html.

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California Citizens Redistricting Commission to launch Communities of Interest virtual meetings

Monday, June 7th, 2021

SACRAMENTO, CA—On Thursday, June 10th, the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) will launch the first in a series of Communities of Interest (COI) virtual hearings to capture community specific data that will help Commissioners to respect community boundaries to the best of their abilities when drawing district lines, as is mandated by California’s line drawing criteria.

When the Commission begins drawing maps using census data, they will need to follow this set of criteria, in this order, as outlined in the California Constitution.

  1. Districts must be of nearly equal population to comply with the U.S. Constitution.
  2. Districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have a fair opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
  3. Districts must be drawn contiguously, so that all parts of the district are connected to each other.
  4. Districts must minimize the division of counties, cities, neighborhoods, and communities of interest to the extent possible.
  5. Districts should be geographically compact such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations.
  6. Where practicable, each Senate District should consist of two complete and adjacent Assembly Districts, and Board of Equalization districts should consist of ten complete and adjacent State Senate Districts. This is known as nesting.

We can obtain the city and county information from those jurisdictions, but we need the neighborhood and communities of interest information from Californians directly.

“The Commission is excited to hear directly from Californians about their Communities of Interest during our initial COI input meeting on Thursday, June 10th from 12 – 8 PM. Although we have been accepting Communities of Interest submissions online since March, these virtual input sessions are yet another opportunity for communities to share with the Commission about their Communities of Interest,” stated Commission Chair Isra Ahmad.

During these input meetings, participants will be asked to describe their community and will be encouraged to consider highlighting the following:

  1. Begin with your county or city.
  2. Mention the street names and significant locations in your neighborhood to help us identify the parameters of your community.
  3. What are your shared interests?
  4. What brings you together?
  5. What is important to your community?
  6. Are there nearby areas you want to be in a district with?
  7. Nearby areas you don’t want to be in a district with? Why or why not?
  8. Has your community come together to advocate for important services, better schools, roads, or health centers in your neighborhood?

Registration is not required to participate in these public input meetings. The call-in number for public input on the day of each event will be (877) 853-5247.

For more information regarding the June 10th event, please visit our website at: https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/june_10_mtg. To view a full list of upcoming meetings, please visit: https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/meetings. Additionally, Californians can skip the line and provide their input online by visiting: https://drawmycacommunity.org/. The online COI tool is available in fourteen languages and includes tutorials.

Every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, California must redraw the boundaries of its electoral districts so that the state’s population is evenly allocated among the new districts.

In 2008, California voters passed the Voters First Act, authorizing the creation of the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw new State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization district lines. In 2010, the Voters First Act for Congress gave the Commission the responsibility of drawing new Congressional districts following every census.

For more information, please visit WeDrawTheLinesCA.org.

 

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California court rules in favor of churches, sets state-wide injunction against Newsom’s “discriminatory restrictions”

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Governor must pay $1.35 million to reimburse churches’ attorney’s fees and costs

Photo courtesy of Liberty Counsel

By Liberty Counsel

On Monday, May 17, 2021 a California District Court entered an order approving Liberty Counsel’s settlement of the lawsuit on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The full and final settlement was approved today the District Court and thus is the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship.

This is the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship. Under the agreed state-wide permanent injunction, all California churches may hold worship without discriminatory restrictions.

Under the settlement, California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship. The governor must also pay Liberty Counsel $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs.

The settlement references several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, that include a long list of similar nonreligious activity the High Court set forth as comparable gatherings. These include grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, infrastructure, telecommunications, and much more. In other words, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of “critical infrastructure” or “essential services” as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement agreement.

Pastor Ché Ahn, founder of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, received a letter from the Pasadena Criminal Prosecutor threating him, the staff, and anyone who attends church with daily criminal charges each up to one year in prison, and daily fines of $1,000. Despite this intense opposition, Pastor Ahn stood against these unconstitutional executive orders. He risked criminal charges and fines, as did those who worked for the church and those who attended. Thanks to his leadership, every church in California is now free.

Newsom originally imposed the most severe restrictions on churches and even home Bible studies and worship in the nation. Now after multiple reprimands from the U.S. Supreme Court, including two on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, Gov. Newsom will be the first governor in America to have a permanent injunction against him on behalf of houses of worship.

This case involved three emergency injunctions pending appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, two oral arguments before a panel of three judges, two orders from the U.S. Supreme Court, including an injunction pending appeal issued by the High Court on February 5, 2021.

The timeline for actions regarding California’s worship restrictions include:

March 19, 2020 – May 25, 2020: No Worship

May 26, 2020 – July 12, 2020: 25 percent capacity but no more than 100 people

July 13, 2020 – April 8, 2021: No worship for over 90 percent of California

April 9, 2021 – April 12, 2021: Restrictions on home Bible study lifted but not on singing and chanting

April 13, 2021 – May 9, 2021: Mandatory attendance limits are lifted

May 17, 2021 – and Forever: Discriminatory restrictions on churches permanently removed

Under the settlement agreement, discriminatory restrictions on worship and religious gatherings may no longer be applied to churches and places of worship.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an emergency petition for an injunction pending appeal on behalf of New York City synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo and Agudath Israel v. Cuomo. On December 3, 2020, the High Court granted the petition by Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, setting aside all the lower court orders and directing them to follow its ruling in Roman Catholic Dioceses. When the lower courts refused to strike down California’s restrictions, the case returned to the Supreme Court.

On February 5, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry by enjoining California’s total ban on indoor worship. This was the second time Liberty Counsel appealed to the High Court on behalf of these churches. The ruling also included South Bay United Pentecostal Church.

On April 9, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an emergency injunction pending appeal in Tandon v. Newsom and ruled that Gov. Newsom’s restrictions on home Bible study and worship violate the First Amendment.

Pastor Ché Ahn said, “This is a momentous day for churches in America! After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor. I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state, but also in our nation. We are incredibly grateful to our attorney Mat Staver and to Liberty Counsel for their relentless support and fierce determination. Most of all, we give all the glory to God for moving mightily in this historic season!”

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID restrictions intentionally discriminated against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings. The Supreme Court intervened multiple times to provide relief. California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship. Gov. Gavin Newsom has now been permanently quarantined and may not violate the First Amendment rights of churches and places of worship again. We are grateful for Pastor Ché Ahn, Harvest Rock Church, and Harvest International Ministry. Pastor Ahn’s leadership and courage has toppled the tyranny and freed every pastor and church in California.”

 

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Sex ed transparency bill resurrected to be heard Wednesday after being rejected by Senate Education Committee

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Contra Costa’s Glazer is a committee member

By Greg Burt

This Wednesday, April 28, the Senate Education Committee is again considering approval of a bill to require school districts to put their sex education material online for easy parental access. The same bill, SB 217, failed in March, even with the support of the committee chair Senator Connie Leyva (D-San Bernardino). The author Senator Brian Dahle (R-Redding) is hoping that removing the requirement that sex education lessons be translated into various languages, will guarantee passage this time. Senator Steve Glazer is a member of the committee.

The President of the California Family Council Jonathan Keller commended Senator Dahle for working hard to resurrect the commonsense proposal. “Whether they vote Democrat or Republican, all parents believe in government transparency, especially regarding the education of their children,” Keller said. “We urge elected officials on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisan politics and support these reasonable protections for kids and families.”

Senator Dahle believes the need for the bill has increased because of the pandemic. “Given the new structure of our schooling system as changed due to COVID-19, we should encourage that parents actively participate in their child’s development and instruction,” Dahle wrote. “The shift to internet-based and technology heavy education has forced schools to prevent parents from physically accessing the school campus during the pandemic. … As such, we need to ensure that parents and students have access to all of the material and curriculum being taught by the school.”

The idea for this bill came from a Bay Area mother named Denise Pursche several years ago when her elementary school resisted showing her the new sex education curriculum to be used for her twin 5th graders. After being sent on detours, and then asking again and again, Denise finally got a chance to look at the actual lessons being used, but she could only review them at the school district office for a limited period of time. Once she saw the graphic, age-inappropriate content, Denise realized why school personnel tried to hide the curriculum from her.

It is common practice for school officials to require parents to come to the school or district offices during school hours if they want to review the sex-ed lessons, a difficult prospect for single parents or homes with two working parents.

With the help of the California Family Council, she got former Senator Mike Morrell to introduce SB 637, a bill not only required sex education materials to be translated into various languages and put online, but required schools to get parental permission before teaching comprehensive sex education to children in elementary school. Currently, parents can opt their children out of classes, but they must initiate the process.

The Senate Education Committee heard Morrell’s bill, SB 673, in January of 2020, but it died along party lines. The committee chair Senator Leyva said at the time she supported the transparency part of the bill, but not the opt-in procedure. So this year, Senator Dahle took Leyva at her word and introduced SB 217 that only included the transparency part of the bill, plus the costly provision that required the curriculum to be translated for parents who didn’t read English. Unfortunately, the bill died 3 – 3, with Senator Richard Pan not voting.

Hopefully, with the cost-prohibitive translation provision removed, at least one of the four Democrats on the education committee, Senators Richard Pan, Dave Cortese, Steven Glazer, or Mike McGuire, will change their minds and vote for the bill. SB 217 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on the morning of Wednesday, April 28.

Take Action

CALL your State Senator and tell them to vote “Yes” on SB 217!

Burt is the Director of Capitol Engagement at the California Family Council.

 

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California, Contra Costa follow FDA, CDC in pausing use of Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Vial of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Source: CDC

SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement from Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist, regarding the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

“Today, the CDC and FDA have recommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution. Of over 6.8 million doses administered nationally, there have been six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

“California is following the FDA and CDC’s recommendation and has directed health care providers to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until we receive further direction from health and safety experts. Additionally, the state will convene the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to review the information provided by the federal government on this issue. As the federal government has said, we do not expect a significant impact to our vaccination allocations. In California, less than 4% of our vaccine allocation this week is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

For more information about the adverse effects, and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider. We will provide additional details on what this means for our state efforts as they become available.

The joint CDC and FDA statement can be found here.

In addition, the Contra Costa Health Services issued the following announcement on Tuesday about the matter, also pausing use of the J&J vaccine:

To ensure that every dose of COVID-19 vaccine provided in our county is safe for patients, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) will today temporarily pause its use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine while federal regulatory agencies examine new information about a possible, rare side effect that can cause blood clots.

CCHS is closely following guidance issued this morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding this vaccine. CCHS continues to administer the other vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a very small part of Contra Costa’s vaccine allocation from the state and federal governments and CCHS does not anticipate cancelling any of its vaccination appointments at this time.

Patients with vaccination appointments through CCHS should attend at their scheduled time.

CCHS is not aware of any reported cases of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccine in the county that were inconsistent with those documented during the extensive clinical trials conducted to ensure the safety of all vaccines used in the U.S.

The risk of an adverse reaction for people who received Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago is extremely low, according to the CDC.

People who received this vaccine more recently should contact a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms such as severe headaches, severe abdominal pain, severe leg pain or shortness of breath – these symptoms are different than the usual, minor reactions that some people may experience in the day or two following their vaccination.

The FDA has not received any reports of similar side effects associated with the use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

CCHS will update the public at cchealth.org/coronavirus as more information becomes available about this developing situation.

 

 

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State says Measure T’s growth limitations in Antioch’s Sand Creek area “cannot…be adopted, implemented or enforced”

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

The Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative known as Measure T on the November 2020 ballot cannot be implemented.

Violates state law known as SB330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019

Would have devalued property by over 99%, downzoning it from 2 homes per acre to 1 home per 80 acres

Cities and counties must approve new homes or face hefty fines which will fund low-income housing

By Allen Payton

As was reported in news articles and an editorial by the Herald during the 2020 fall election campaign, the state has issued an opinion letter confirming that the residential growth limitations in Measure T on the November ballot, “cannot permissibly be adopted, implemented or enforced.” That’s due to the passage of SB330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, also as previously reported. Known as the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Protection Initiative, the measure passed by almost 79% of the vote.

SB330 added Section 66300 to California Government Code preventing cities and counties from reducing zoning of residential property by either council action or citizen initiative until Jan. 1, 2025.  Also, if a city council doesn’t approve new housing within existing allowable zoning, the new law requires a court to fine the city a minimum of $10,000 per housing unit denied and force the city to approve the new homes, and require they spend the funds from the fines on additional, low-income housing.

SB330 and State Housing Law

The language of SB330 reads, “(c) It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, to do both of the following: (1) Suspend certain restrictions on the development of new housing during the period of the statewide emergency described in subdivisions (a) and (b). (2) Work with local governments to expedite the permitting of housing in regions suffering the worst housing shortages and highest rates of displacement.”

Furthermore, the act reads, “The Legislature finds and declares that the provision of adequate housing, in light of the severe shortage of housing at all income levels in this state, is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair…Therefore, the provisions of this act apply to all cities, including charter cities.”

In addition, the new law reads, “with respect to land where housing is an allowable use, an affected county or an affected city shall not enact a development policy… that would  have any of the following effects: Changing the general plan land use designation, specific plan land use designation, or zoning of a parcel or parcels of property to a less intensive use or reducing the intensity of land use within an existing general plan land use designation, specific plan land use designation, or zoning district below what was allowed under the land use designation and zoning ordinances of the affected county or affected city, as applicable, as in effect on January 1, 2018.”

Also, the new law amended Section 65589.5 of the Government Code that reads, “the court shall impose fines on a local agency… in a minimum amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per housing unit in the housing development project on the date the application was deemed complete.” Furthermore, the law requires, “the local agency shall commit and expend the money” from the fines “for the sole purpose of financing newly constructed housing units affordable to extremely low, very low, or low-income households.”

So, not only will the new homes in the development that was denied be built, but the city will be fined and the funds from the fines must be used to build additional, low-income housing.

Finally, According to the HCD, “Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their ‘general plan’ (also required by the state). General plans serve as the local government’s ‘blueprint’ for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include seven elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as ‘housing-element law.’

California’s housing-element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely on the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.” Each of the regions in the state must develop a plan for their Regional Housing Needs Allocation and Housing Elements.

The Bay Area’s current Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan (RHNA) projected 187,990 units needed between Jan. 31, 2015 and Jan. 31, 2023 and another 441,176 units will be needed between 2023 and 2031, according to the HCD and the Association of Bay Area Governments. In the new RHNA, it requires Antioch to add 2,481 more housing units by 2030. (See related article)

City of Antioch Letter to HCD Regarding Measure T and SB330

A letter was sent on Jan. 8, 2021 from an attorney hired by the City of Antioch to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) seeking their advice and opinion on implementing Measure T. In that letter, attorney David Mehretu of Meyers Nave asked Paul McDougall, Housing Policy Manager for HCD to review Measure T for a determination of its “validity under SB 330 as follows: Letter to HCD Re Measure T (Antioch)

  1. Whether Measure T’s housing development restrictions are proscribed under Section 66300(b)(1)(A) of the Government Code.
  2. Whether, pursuant to Sections 66300(b)(1)(B)(i) and (ii) of the Government Code, Measure T’s housing development restrictions constitute “a moratorium or similar restriction or limitation on housing development . . . within [Sand Creek] . . . to specifically protect against an imminent threat to the health and safety of persons residing in, or within the immediate vicinity of [Sand Creek] . . . ”.
  3. Whether Measure T acts as an impermissible cap on housing pursuant to Section 66300(b)(1)(D)(ii) of the Government Code; and
  4. Whether Antioch may, consistently with SB 330, enforce Measure T’s housing development restrictions.”

Response Letter from HCD Explains Why Measure T Violates State Law

In a March 9th response letter entitled “Enforceability of Measure T’s Reduction in Land Use Intensity pursuant to Housing Crisis Act of 2019 – Letter of Technical Assistance,” McDougall wrote, “the City requested the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) opinion as to the enforceability of a reduction in the intensity of land use included in the City’s voter-approved initiative Measure T.” HCD Antioch SB 330 Letter 03.09.2021

“HCD’s opinion is based on the mandatory criteria established by the Legislature with the passage of Senate Bill 330 in 2019, known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019,” McDougall wrote.

“HCD finds that the less intensive use provisions of Measure T are impermissible under Government Code section 66300,” and “Measure T effectively acts as a ‘…cap on the number of housing units that can be approved…’, a violation of Government Code section 66300…,” he wrote.

McDougall offered one caveat writing, “the City could enforce the reduction in intensity contemplated in Measure T, notwithstanding this opinion, if and when it concurrently changes the development standards, policies, and conditions applicable to other parcels within the jurisdiction to ensure that there is no net loss in residential capacity.” However, he further wrote, “nothing in Measure T provides for an equal increase in intensity of land use elsewhere in the jurisdiction, therefore, these provisions of Measure T cannot be permissibly adopted, implemented, or enforced consistent with Government Code section 66300.”

He concludes his letter offering the state’s opinion that Measure T is impermissible.

“Measure T appears to have been drafted to assure that housing development in the City is restricted in a manner that preserves agriculture and open spaces (Measure T, section 1). However, there is minimal analysis in Measure T to support this outcome. Measure T language more readily suggests it was passed primarily with the intent to restrict future housing development as opposed to accommodating future residential growth as intended in the City’s general plan,” the HCD Housing Policy Manager continues.

“In sum, the provisions of the voter-approved Measure T result in a lesser intensity of land use and create a development cap, resulting in a reduction in the total number of housing units that can be built within the Initiative Area than what is currently allowed in the City’s General Plan. Accordingly, HCD is of the opinion that such a reduction in the intensity of land use created by Measure T cannot permissibly be adopted, implemented, or enforced consistent with Government Code section 66300,” McDougall concluded.

Measure T is Moot, Council Must Approve New Homes

Therefore, as previously reported, the state has confirmed that Measure T, which would have devalued four privately owned parcels on the west side of Deer Valley Road by over 99% from two homes per acre to just one home per 80 acres, is moot and will have no impact on the development of new housing in Antioch. It would have affected less than 900 housing units remaining of the total 4,000 homes allowed in the City of Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area of the general plan. But now those housing projects will move forward in the planning process and can be expected to be approved.

That’s because the council must adopt all new housing projects in the Sand Creek area and anywhere else in the city, until Jan. 1, 2025, which don’t require any zoning changes or general plan amendments, or the city will face state fines of $10,000 per unit, at a minimum, and the homes will still be approved and allowed to be built, and the fines fund additional, low-income housing in the city, according to SB330.

 

 

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California CASA releases 2019/2020 Impact Report: Stronger Together

Friday, March 12th, 2021

California CASA announced today, Friday, March 12, 2021, that it has published its 2019/2020 Impact Report, which reinforces the organization’s mission as it relates to helping serve the over 83,000 youth in California’s foster care system, local CASA programs, and Court Appointed Special Advocates. This year’s report also focuses on the unique actions the organization took in the wake of unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this exceptional year, the 44 CASA programs in our state experienced first-hand how difficult it was, at times, for children in foster care to get their basic needs met. California CASA also witnessed the dedication and resiliency of CASA staff, boards, and volunteers in their outstanding support of youth who have experienced abuse and neglect,” said CA CASA CEO Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq. “The 2019/2020 Impact Report showcases the strength of our network and the potential to serve even more children by recruiting, training, and overseeing a growing and more diverse group of volunteer advocates in each county.”

The title of this year’s report — Stronger Together— underscores the cooperative relationship of California CASA and the variety of community members that come together to care for children across the state. In the midst of these tumultuous times, California CASA’s flexibility enabled the organization to operate exceptionally in an environment where county and state guidelines shifted in unpredictable ways. This purposeful approach was enhanced by dedicated CASA staff and volunteers at individual CASA programs adapting to ever changing dependency court and public health requirements that impacted advocates and the youth they are connected to.

The report looks at the how California CASA managed a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the service, quality, and impact of Court Appointed Special Advocates around the state.

Summary of 2019/2020 Impact in California:

  • 14,150 children in California foster had the support of a CASA volunteer.
  • 8,798 Court Appointed Special Advocates worked on behalf of children.
  • $17.6M+ worth of volunteer service hours were provided by CASA volunteers to foster youth.
  • 6,628 hours of technical assistance were provided by California CASA to local CASA programs.
  • $8.5M+ in funding was facilitated by California CASA for local CASA programs.
  • 2500 local CASA staff and volunteers attended California CASA webinar training sessions.

California CASA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization ensuring that children and youth in California’s foster care system have both a voice and the services they need for a stable future. California CASA connects the 44 county CASA programs in the state in order to raise awareness of the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates and provides support, advice, resources, and oversight to maintain high-quality programs that serve children’s best interests. California CASA is a member of the National CASA/GAL Association for Children.

 More information about California Court Appointed Special Advocates Association can be found here: CaliforniaCASA.org.  

 

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Newsom, state leaders agree to reopen schools by end of month, offer incentives, penalties

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Governor, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Assembly Speaker Rendon highlight new $6.6 billion package to reopen schools and deepen student supports

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon today highlighted an agreement on a $6.6 billion budget package to accelerate the safe return to in-person instruction across California and empower schools to immediately expand academic, mental health and social-emotional supports, including over the summer.

“Since the height of the winter surge, we have successfully shifted the conversation from whether to reopen schools to when,” said Governor Newsom. “Now, our collective charge is to build on that momentum and local leadership, and – just as critically – do whatever it takes to meet the mental health and academic needs of our students, including over the summer.”

The Governor was joined by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and other legislative leaders at Franklin Elementary School in the Elk Grove Unified School District. The state’s fifth largest public school district was among the first to close for in-person instruction last year. Last week, based on deep partnership between school staff and leaders, the district announced plans to reopen grades K-6 in mid-March and grades 7-12 in early April.

Elk Grove Unified and public schools throughout the state will be allocated $6.6 billion under the proposed budget package. $2 billion would fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing. $4.6 billion would fund expanded learning opportunities, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services. Together, the funds empower schools to develop and execute comprehensive strategies to both reopen and expand programs to address the social-emotional, mental health and academic needs of students.

All public schools would be required to offer in-person instruction to grades K-2 for all students and for high-needs students in all grades by the end of the month, losing 1 percent of eligible funds every day thereafter if they do not. Schools in the state’s Red Tier or better would be required to offer in-person instruction to all students in all elementary grades and at least one middle or high school grade, or risk the same penalty. Together, these requirements help ensure schools begin to reopen as soon as possible, in order to build trust and confidence to continue phased reopenings.

As students return to in-person instruction, all public schools would also be empowered to meet the needs of the whole child. The Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants allocate $4.6 billion to local educational agencies based on the equity-based Local Control Funding Formula, with an additional $1,000 for each homeless student. These funds would be for supplemental instruction and support for social and emotional well-being. Schools would be able to use the funds for providing more instructional time, such as summer school, and accelerating progress to close learning gaps through tutoring, learning recovery programs, mental health services, access to school meal programs, programs to address pupil trauma and social-emotional learning, supports for credit-deficient students and more.

The package would also codify multiple successful state programs to support safe school reopenings:

  • Vaccine Prioritization for K-12 School Staff. The package codifies the Governor’s commitment to set aside 10 percent of vaccines for education workers. This commitment ensures that the state prioritization of school staff, in place since January, is made real in all 58 counties. Since the Governor’s announcement two weeks ago, the state has collaborated with county health departments, the Biden Administration and providers such as Kaiser Permanente to accelerate vaccine access for K-12 school staff starting March 1.
  • Data Reporting. The package codifies data reporting requirements, including requirements for schools to report reopening status and COVID-19 safety measures. These statutory requirements will help build on efforts to increase transparency, including interactive geospatial maps displayed on the Safe Schools Hub.
  • State Safe Schools Team. The package also allocates $25 million to the State Safe Schools Team, which serves to provide technical assistance, oversight and accountability to the over 10,000 public schools in the state. The capacity will enhance the Team’s reach, and the Team will conduct a safety review of any school with two or more COVID-19 outbreaks.

The budget package is the result of months of work by the Governor’s Office, Senate and Assembly. The Governor, Senate Pro Tem Atkins and Assembly Speaker Rendon also thanked Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Connie Leyva (D-Chino), along with Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) for their tireless work and leadership on this effort.

The state’s efforts to accelerate safe school reopenings to date include delivery of three months of PPE and safety supplies to all schools at no cost, direct support to over 1,000 schools in 41 counties to implement COVID-19 testing and direct technical assistance to over 300 school districts.

For more information, please visit: https://schools.covid19.ca.gov/.

 

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