Tag Archives: Development

Student-led Campaign for Oil Extraction Tax Announces Strategic Resubmission, New Partnerships

The student-led campaign to pass an oil extraction tax in California via ballot initiative entered a new phase this week. The initiative, titled the California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED, for short), began gathering signatures in April and hit the signature gathering deadline set by the Secretary of State today. However, Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the student-led group that drafted the initiative, is announcing plans to strategically resubmit a revised measure: “This Summer has been busy for the CMED team,” said Aaron Thule, Grassroots Coordinator for the campaign, “after a lot of hard work, we have built a signature gathering coalition for Fall and Winter that will be ready to activate and qualify this initiative come November.”

The revised initiative will still utilize a tax on oil extracted from California to make investments in education and energy affordability, and authors have kept the same title. However, the authors made several key changes to the initiative. First, CMED will now feature a sliding scale tax of 2% to 8%, which proponents argue will protect small business owners and jobs. Proponents of the initiative predict that the oil tax would bring in 1 billion dollars a year in revenue for the state. Second, revenue in the revised initiative would be allocated as follows:

– 50% would be placed in a special 30-year endowment for education. After 3 years, the endowment would begin to payout in four equal parts toward K-12, Community Colleges, Cal State Universities and University of California. After 30 years of collecting interest, proponents predict it would bring in as much as 3.5 billion dollars a year (in today’s dollars) for California’s education system.

– 25% would be used to provide families and businesses with subsidies to help them switch to cleaner, less costly forms of energy

– 25% would be allocated toward rolling back the gas tax increase enacted last July, to make gas more affordable for working class Californians.

The growing coalition, which set signature gathering goals to qualify the measure by early Spring, includes the University of California Student Association (UCSA), groups at San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, CSU Bakersfield and several community colleges. California College Democrats and Young Democrats, which have both endorsed an extraction tax for education and clean energy, are also lending support. “It’s hard to believe that California is the only state that practically gives away our energy – especially when, as a state, our schools and colleges continue to struggle and we have yet to provide adequate funding to meet our own renewable energy standards,” said Erik Taylor, president of the College Democrats, who added: “Cal College Dems aren’t the only ones focused on the problem. At the Democratic convention in April, the state party endorsed an extraction tax policy for California. At the Democratic eboard meeting in July, the Young Democrats took it a step further and endorsed an extraction tax for education, renewable energy and community development.”

The UCSA, which represents hundreds of thousands of students in the UC system, plans to organize across several campuses in order to ensure benefits for students. Kareem Aref, the President of the UCSA, commented, “Affordability and funding are critical issues at the UC and Prop 30 simply is not the solution in itself that we need. Our campaigns for this year are designed to ensure a stable and long term funding stream for the UC. We are excited to push CMED to the next level and see this initiative implemented.”

More information and updates from the campaign can be found at http://www.cmedact.org

Campaign for Oil and Gas Extraction Tax Responds to Governor’s May Revision of the Budget

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown announced his “May Revise” for the budget. The proponents of the California Modernization and Economic Development Act – a proposed oil extraction tax for the 2014 ballot – offered the following statement in response to his press conference:

“Though we are pleased with the potential funds for K-12 schools and community colleges, the surplus in Governor Brown’s revise of the budget, like the passage of Proposition 30 last November, is only one step in the process of providing adequate funding for K-12 and higher education. An oil extraction tax is absolutely necessary to continue this trend and promote job growth in California.

“UC and CSU enrollment rates have dropped 20% because of recent tuition hikes. This can not continue. By the year 2020 as a result of decreased access to education, the Public Policy Institute of California predicts our state will not be capable of meeting economic demand for highly educated workers. This will only make it more difficult for businesses to find qualified employees, and will perpetuate high unemployment and wage stagnation in California.

“We have great respect for the Governor and especially for his work passing Proposition 30, which was a big step forward for California’s students and our economy. However, we could not disagree more about the urgent need to pass an oil extraction tax in our state and provide critical funding for schools, colleges and universities. Prop 30 should not be an excuse to continue giving away oil and gas that’s extracted from California and sold around the world – especially when making college more accessible has never been so important. Inadequate funding for higher education in California is still a very real problem with long term economic consequences, and a tax on extraction in California would be unnoticeable to commuters and taxpayers: it would only require oil companies to pay their fair share.

“Sacramento can practice real fiscal responsibility by using revenue from energy that belongs to California to boost our economy and create jobs at a time when 9.8% of Californians can’t find work – and subsequently, don’t pay taxes. That’s why CMED uses a consumer-friendly oil tax to make crucial investments in higher education, cities and towns and support for small businesses to switch to less-costly, cleaner forms of energy.”

More information and updates from the campaign can be found at http://www.cmedact.org

Campaign for Oil and Gas Extraction Tax Announces Earth Day Rally

by Kevin Singer, Communications Coordinator, Californians for Responsible Economic Development

With one week left until the California Modernization and Economic Development Act – a proposed ballot initiative that would enact a tax on oil and gas extracted from California – is granted official summary and title by the Attorney General’s Office, the proponents of the measure are announcing an Earth Day rally and press conference. On Monday, April 22nd at 12PM students and allies will gather on the historic steps of Sproul Plaza in Berkeley to show their support for the bill, which would infuse California’s higher education system with $900 million for the purposes of reducing tuition and hiring more teachers. The rally will be followed by a press conference, during which the lead proponent, Jack Tibbetts, will give a statement and answer questions.

The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED) places a 9.5% tax on the oil and gas that’s extracted from California, and would bring in over $2 billion of new revenue for the state. $1.2 billion would be allocated in four equal parts towards K-12, California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California. Another $400 million would be used to provide businesses with subsidies for switching to cleaner forms of energy, and $300 million would be allocated for city and park infrastructure. “We want to demonstrate that students are willing to fight and vote for a bill in 2014 that consists of a complete package of investments for their future,” said Sera Tajima, Outreach Director for the campaign. “The fact of the matter is 2014 is an off-year election, and if Democrats are looking for a ballot initiative that will encourage student turn out, CMED is the obvious candidate,” Tajima added.

The announcement comes on the heels of the California Democratic Convention, where environmental activist and philanthropist Thomas Steyer spent a great deal of time talking about the need for an extraction tax. Though he did not specify a proposal he planned on backing, he did not rule out a ballot initiative if the California Senate and Assembly do not act. The bill has already attracted the attention and support from a wide variety of interest groups and individuals, and touts a growing list of endorsements on their website (www.cmedact.org/endorsements). In February, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich endorsed CMED, calling the ballot initiative a “no-brainer.” Since then, the group has received enthusiastic support from several environmental advocacy groups, including the Community Food and Justice Coalition, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Sustainable Marin and San Rafael, and Mark Reynolds of Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

In a recent turn of events, Dr. Daniel Kammen, Nobel Prize recipient and co-author of Prop 87 (a similar measure on the 2006 ballot), wholeheartedly endorsed the proposal. “Placing a small surcharge on in-state production benefits the state dramatically, spurring innovation on the producer side to reduce costs, and bringing in funds that are critically needed to green the economy, re-invest in education, and meet basic needs.  California is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, and has profited from this process.  The California Modernization and Economic Development Act is absolutely needed.”


changed the word fee to the word tax, for article explaining difference, see here: http://www.clearthebenchcolora…

fixed a quote by Dan Kammen for accuracy

Why should you take a moment to support CMED?

by Kevin Singer, Communications Coordinator, Californians for Responsible Economic Development

In 2011 alone, California produced a grand total of approximately 200 million barrels of oil and 230 billion cubic feet of natural gas, making our state the fourth largest producer of oil and the tenth largest producer of natural gas in the country. Yet, despite this, California does not get a dime for the resources that are extracted from our state and sold on the global market. This is because, unlike every other major oil and natural gas producing state in the nation, California has not enacted an extraction fee on the energy that is taken right from under our feet.

Let’s think about this for a moment. California, the ninth largest economy in the world, is ranked 43rd in the country in terms of K-12 spending per pupil. The University of California, the flagship public university system of the nation, has seen a 14% decrease in funding since 2010. And at a time when a quality college education has never been more important, tuition is skyrocketing, making a diploma unaffordable for an increasing number of young Californians. Meanwhile, at 9.8% unemployment, even those who have graduated from college find themselves without work or working at jobs they are tremendously over-qualified for. The appalling disrepair of our municipal infrastructure only discourages employers from bringing more jobs to our state. But our state government has its hands tied behind its back. The $250 billion dollar state debt all but assures that there will be no additional funding for education and infrastructure in the near future.

And we are giving away our oil and natural gas. We have the wealth to fund the investments that California needs and deserves and we are giving it away. This is to say nothing of that fact that by not charging an extraction fee on oil and natural gas, our state, which prides itself as a leader of reducing CO2 emissions, is not putting a price on the CO2 that eventually makes its way into the atmosphere. To say this is ridiculous would be an understatement. It is an outrage.

The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (or CMED) would put an end to it. By implementing a modest 9.5% extraction fee on oil and natural gas (Alaska, hardly an enemy of big oil, has implemented a fee of 24% on oil and natural gas that’s extracted from the state), CMED would raise between 2 and 2.5 billion dollars in revenue for California. A little more than half, 1.2 billion dollars, would be allocated in four equal parts for K-12, California Community Colleges, Cal State Universities, and the University of California for the purposes of increasing quality and restoring tuition to 2010 levels. 400 million dollars will be used to support small businesses by aiding their transition to cheaper, carbon-free and carbon-reduced forms of energy, which would in turn empower them to expand, hire additional workers, and reinvest. An additional 300 million dollars would be apportioned to the general funds of California County Governments for the purpose of upgrading and better maintaining municipal infrastructure, funding the conservation of regional park land and providing a multitude of other public services.

These are more than investments, they constitute a complete vision for responsible economic development in California. Making that vision a reality is as easy as ending the giveaway of our oil and natural gas, but it’ll take a popular movement if we truly want to realign the policies in Sacramento with the wishes and desires of Californians. Simply by taking a few moments, right now, and visiting www.cmedact.org, liking our Facebook, following us on Twitter, telling your friends or donating anything you can, even $5, you can provide the crucial grassroots support we need. It’s that easy. You could be the difference between failing to qualify and qualifying CMED on the 2014 ballot, so that Californians can have a chance to pass it democratically.

We can do this California, but not without your support. If you think it’s ridiculous that we are giving away our oil and natural gas at a time when California is more cash-strapped than ever, join our cause. It won’t be easy, but together we will qualify and pass the California Modernization and Economic Development Act and put our state back on the right track.

Great Developments in Emission Reduction

This happened a couple days ago, but as it’s crucial that the clean-truck program at two of the nation’s busiest ports go forward, I think it’s significant:

A federal court judge in Los Angeles on Monday tentatively denied a trucking association’s bid to block a landmark clean-truck program at the nation’s busiest port complex.

After a 40-minute hearing, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder said she would probably allow the program to move forward, despite objections from truckers.

“The balance of hardships and the public interest tip decidedly in favor of denying the injunction,” she said in court.

Under the program, the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would upgrade their aging fleet of about 16,800 mostly dilapidated rigs that produce much of the diesel pollution in Southern California.

Though the American Trucking Association is opposing the bill and filed the attempted injunction, the clean-ports program was borne of a true blue-green alliance between labor and environmental groups, which is the next level of how we’re going to fight climate change in this country and build millions of new green-collar jobs.  The courts are now on the record as saying that reducing greenhouse gas emissions are in the public interest.  And the ATA is being a little coy here – a good number of the trucking firms are already upgrading, so their injunction effort was meant to satisfy a few big corporations.  It didn’t work.  

The second exciting development is SB 375, which for the first time links emissions to urban planning, and could easily become a model for the nation.  We have to make sure it’s signed into law, of course, but if and when it is, it will represent a great leap forward for the environment, live/work issues, quality of life, and traffic reduction.

The measure, known as SB375, aims to give existing and new high-density centers where people live, work and shop top priority in receiving local, state and federal transportation funds. The idea is that such developments check sprawl and ease commutes, in turn cutting the car pollution wafting through the Golden State.

Authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the bill reflects California’s push to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Sponsors say the measure is part of a much-needed growth policy for a state whose population is expected to swell to 50 million from the current 38 million in two decades.

“Many places across the country have realized that if you just build spread-out developments, with the expectation that everyone will have to drive for everything, it should be no surprise when the result is excessive burning of gasoline,” said David Goldberg, spokesman for Smart Growth America, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group that helps cities and towns plan more workable, environmentally friendly growth.

“SB375 breaks new ground, because it specifically links that pattern of development to excess driving and what we need to do to address climate change,” he said.

Instead of trying to capture more resources every time there’s an energy shortage, we can reorganize our lives to maximize existing resources while making our lifestyles far less stressful and more pleasant.  It’s the solution that works on all fronts.

The budget madness is super-depressing, but these developments are cause for optimism.

Density Comes To California

Via Matt Yglesias and Atrios, the city of Sebastopol is thinking about supporting increased density in their upcoming development plans.

The Sebastopol City Council kicked off deliberations of a controversial redevelopment plan Tuesday with a majority of members voicing support for higher-density buildings as the most environmentally sound approach.

“Density is what makes transit feasible, giving us the option of getting out of our cars,” said Councilman Larry Robinson […]

The redevelopment plan would allow 300 residential units and nearly 400,000 square feet of new business and civic space between the Laguna de Santa Rosa and downtown.

Supporters have said the plan encourages the most environmentally sound method of development and would help add economic vitality to the city.

This approach is not without critics.  There remain those who consider tall buildings an urban blight, think that all development comes with traffic woes and want to maintain local “character” when talking about growth.

The point here is that we have to start to re-orient to a different kind of lifestyle.  If basic necessities are within walking distance and a strong transit spoke can build out from denser development, the traffic problems are eliminated, the quality of life goes up, and people can get around and get to work without the need for their cars.  Santa Monica is a pretty dense city, with several points of interest and commercial shops within walking distance and a strong bus system.  It’s not Manhattan and it doesn’t have to be.  But there’s less of a reliance on the automobile, and ultimately reducing that reliance is the key to making us energy secure.

The alternative is areas like the Inland Empire, where runaway sprawl and persistent construction of single-family homes is not only unsustainable, it’s unaffordable, as the mortgage crisis and soaring energy costs turn these developments into ghost towns.  With 200 dollar-a-barrel oil on the horizon, urban planning simply cannot retain the status quo and expect to survive.  There isn’t one complete answer here – telecommuting and Internet delivery, increased mass transit (I can’t wait for my subway to the sea), and density will all play a role.  But we cannot sacrifice any of those options in the name of NIMBYism.  

Jerry Brown: “Elegant Density”

Former (and future?) governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown was waxing nostalgic about his days in the governor’s mansion, driving the famous blue Plymouth (“it lasted 240,000 miles without an engine overhaul – now that was sustainability”), and suing Ronald Reagan over the governor’s mansion.

But the core of his speech dealt with our climate crisis. Brown emphasized his administration’s earlier efforts to encourage smart growth, urban density, walking, even trains. And he called for renewed action on this today. He conceptualized it as “elegant density” – get people out of their cars, build more walkable communities served by trains and other forms of mass transit, powered by solar energy, to not just deal with global warming, but to encourage a more sustainable California.

During the 1970s, Brown had tried to promote a similar agenda. He appointed a trains advocate as the head of Caltrans, promoted a solar energy program, and cut off funds for freeway construction projects, and establishing the Office of Planning and Research. He even promoted an ambitious Urban Strategy for California emphasizing density and limiting sprawl.

Prop 13’s passage ended much of this as state government was starved of funds. But Prop 13 was about more than low taxes. It was the reaction of the lovers of suburban sprawl, of the 1950s model of California, against Brown’s more forward-thinking model. As recently as 2001 arch-conservative Tom McClintock danced on the grave of Brown’s sustainability strategy calling it:

a radical and retrograde ideology into California public policy that quite abruptly and permanently changed the state.

That radical ideology has been the central tenet of governance in California through four successive gubernatorial administrations, Democratic and Republican, to the present day. It was described by Jerry Brown as “the era of limits,” punctuated by such new-age nonsense as the mantra, “small is beautiful.” Suburban “sprawl” would be replaced with a new “urban strategy.”

Republicans continue to make these arguments. They are bent on preserving the failed 1950s model of urban life at all costs. By doing so they have become a party of aristocracy. “Elegant density” isn’t just an environmental and climate strategy – it’s also necessary for the survival of California’s working and middle classes in the 21st century. Republicans will fight against this, and so it is very good to hear Jerry Brown mounting a full-throated defense of sustainable living.

The rest of his speech is pure red meat – bashing the Bush Administration and its EPA (“those idiots”), denouncing them for the mortgage crisis, and calling for the repeal of NCLB. If he does have the governor’s office in mind in 2010, this kind of playing to the base would make him an even more formidable opponent in the Democratic primary.

San Diego Ready to Build Up, Not Out

With everyone off doing presidential stuff around the country, I’m gonna sneak in some local fun.  For the first time since 1979, the City of San Diego is reviewing and updating its general plan for growth and development.  The report is more than 300 pages long and not even I am nerd enough to read it all (ok, not yet), but it’s kicking up quite a stir as it recommends a rather dramatic shift to infill, redevelopment and other building up instead of out priorities.  Why the shift? Well, there’s no more room.  As the U-T points out, only 4% of San Diego remains open for new development.  Which means it’s time to start thinking like an actual city instead of neverending suburbia.

This notion has of course stirred up plenty of controversy.  Some of it is legitimate, like Councilmember Donna Frye’s concerns about infrastructure and services keeping up with increased density.  Some of it is mostly just people just trying to cover their own butts without regard for the broader picture.  I’m all for making sure that the projects are executed correctly, but criticisms along the lines of “if it’s done wrong, it’ll be bad” really don’t help me much.

Calitics has, on many occasions, discussed the need to change the way California thinks about development.  Robert has led the way on the notion that building density and a non-car based transportation system is key to the next generation of planning.  So while I’m cynical like many people around town who say “The plan has these wonderful platitudes but on every page,” I’m also encouraged by just the notion of setting a goal of building forward-thinking urban density.

On the flip is a brief rundown of the ten elements that the plan promotes and a bit of local intrigue that, not surprisingly, is getting caught up in this.

The proposed new blueprint for San Diego is guided by 10 principles. They are:

An open-space network formed by parks, canyons, river valleys, habitats, beaches and ocean.

Diverse residential communities formed by the open-space network.

Compact and walkable mixed-use villages.

Employment centers for a strong economy.

A regional transportation network of walkways, bikeways, transit, roadways and freeways that link communities to each other and to employment centers.

High quality, affordable and well-maintained public facilities.

Historic districts and sites that respect San Diego’s heritage.

Balanced communities that offer opportunities for all San Diegans.

A clean and sustainable environment.

A high aesthetic standard.

Mayor Jerry Sanders, in a serious battle with fellow right-winger Steve Francis (hitting from the left and the right cause there’s no major Dem in the race) for November’s mayoral election, is dusting off his anti-labor credentials by complaining about the promotion of living wage regulation for low-wage industries like, say, tourism.  Center for Policy Initiatives has coincidentally (not at all a coincidence) reminded San Diegans this week that the local economy has not exactly been churning out the big bucks (pdf).  Via email:

In San Diego County, two-thirds of all jobs created since 1990 are in the bottom third of wage levels — with median pay of $24,500 a year. Research from the California Budget Project shows that even a person living alone needs $28,000 a year to meet basic living expenses in our county.

Nice. So San Diego is producing jobs that pay too little to live in San Diego, thus the living wage is a bad idea. Clearly. Living is bad. Affording to live in San Diego is bad for the local economy. Jerry Sanders is an economic mastermind.

But where this really will start hitting problems is when people have to pay for it.  Not because people are unwilling to pay for good stuff, but because of the near-toxic combination of politicians who demonize government inefficiency (that they contribute to), the media that laps up the notion (because it’s easier than being a legitimate watchdog), and the years of (to put it nicely) crap government in San Diego.

But as Planning Commission Chairman Barry Schultz puts it, “if we want to have this vision we have to be willing to contribute our part.”


Cross posted at San Diego Politico

Placer County, Developers and A Lack of Real Planning

You might not be surprised that the Placer County Board of Supervisors is controlled by Conservatives/ John Doolittle acolytes.  But, the Placer County Dems have no ideas of giving up the fight.  They have been consistently fighting against poor land use and other decisions that would have a disastrous effect on the County, and the state right along with it. You see, Placer County is the future of this state. If we are to maintain control, we must seek to build up our resources in counties like Placer County.

The latest outrage? Well, the Board plans to authorize the “Placer Vineyards” project. If you were thinking a nice little vineyard, um, think again. This will be several thousand acres of sprawl. The developers plan to build 14,000 homes with over 30,000 new residents. Although that number seems low to me, you’d expect each house to have an average of more than 2.2 people. But, that might just be quibbling, so let’s say, conservatively 30K people. That many people don’t just stay in their house, they need facilities to live and work in. Trouble is, that most of these people are likely to commute back to Sacramento or other parts unknown.

Placer County Dem Chair Larry Dubois responds today in an op-ed in the Bee:

f Placer County residents ever want to stop our inexorable descent into suburban hell where strip malls, six-lane highways and low-density suburban “McMansions” replace mandarin orchards and oak woodlands, then we have to stop supporting politicians who are literally paid, through campaign contributions, to do the dirty work for big-city suburban sprawl developers. (SacBee 8/8/07)

I highly recommend the op-ed to anybody interested in Placer County politics, or really anybody interested in the politics of development. It’s one area where progressives have been beat over and over again. It’s great to see the Placer County Dems stand up against it.

Can Disney Agree to Affordable Housing in Anaheim?

(Photo courtesy of OC Register; story cross-posted at The Liberal OC)

Oh my! Here’s some interesting news on the fight over affordable housing in Anaheim. The Register has a story on last night’s Anaheim City Council meeting, and of their latest decision to give Disney, Suncal, and the affordable housing advocates three weeks to work out a compromise.

Obviously, this leaves one HUGE question in my head. Can the two sides reach a compromise? Is there middle ground between affordable housing near Disneyland and giving Disney free reign to do as it pleases in the “resort district”?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Outside Anaheim City Hall, affordable housing activists staged a protest by pitching over 100 red-domed tents outside. They were doing this in an effort to  help people visualize the need for affordable housing for Orange County’s working poor. They used the tents to do a skit in which people were not allowed to pitch their red-domed tents in an area called “Disneyland”, and then they were forced away by “Disney Villains” from another area called “Nimby-land”. The people with the tents had nowhere to stop and put their tents down, just like how far too many working families in Orange County have nowhere to call home.

Inside city hall, an unusual sense of calm came upon council chambers. OK, so it was still kind of tense. However this time, the meeting went on fairly smoothly. And in the end, the Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 to give all sides in the dispute another 3 weeks to reach a compromise.

But how can a compromise be reached? Is there land available for affordable housing in other nearby areas? Is there an affordable housing proposal in Anaheim that Disney can support? Is there another proposal for the “resort district” that Suncal and the affordable housing advocates can support?

As we’ve discussed before, the working-class folks who make the entire “Anaheim Resort District” work are in dire need of homes that are within their reach and within their budget. However Disney just doesn’t want to see any housing within the “resort district”, as that may disturb their “third gate” plan for a possible third theme park and plenty of new timeshare properties to go with it. So can both sides agree to “third gate” AND affordable housing? Is there room for both in Anaheim?

I guess we’ll find out in these next three weeks.