<![CDATA[LWV Beach Cities - BLOG]]>Fri, 17 May 2024 16:51:40 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[How much difference will Prop 1 make in fighting California’s massive homelessness crisis?]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2024 20:47:34 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/how-much-difference-will-prop-1-make-in-fighting-californias-massive-homelessness-crisis
by Marisa Kendall for CALMATTERS, Illustration by Adriana Heldiz, CalMatters; iStock
That’s the question before voters as they weigh in on Proposition 1, which has been touted as California’s chance to finally do something about the epidemic on the streets. 

Prop. 1, the only proposition on California ballots this March, asks voters to green-light a $6.4 billion bond for treatment beds and housing units catering to people with mental illnesses and addictions. It also would restructure some current funding to funnel more mental health money toward housing. 
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has championed the measure, said it will “prioritize getting people off the streets, out of tents and into treatment.” The governor has a lot riding on its success, as voters become increasingly frustrated with the state’s lack of progress when it comes to cleaning up encampments and helping the people suffering within them.

But experts are cautioning against putting too much stock in Prop. 1 as a solution. 

It won’t help everybody — not by a long shot. Nor is it designed to. In addition to funding 6,800 beds in facilities treating mental illness and addiction, the $6.4 billion bond would create up to 4,350 new homes for people who need mental health and addiction services — 2,350 of which would be reserved for veterans, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In a state with an estimated homeless population of more than 180,000, that will hardly make a dent. 

“It will be great for those individuals, but still leaves almost 98% outside or in shelters,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

Prop. 1 also would require counties to spend 30% of their Mental Health Services Act funds on housing — including rental subsidies and new construction. Those funds, which come from taxing California’s millionaires, are expected to raise about $1 billion per year for housing programs. 

“It will be great for those individuals, but still leaves almost 98% outside or in shelters.”
Bob Erlenbusch, executive director, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness

New homes funded under Prop. 1 would target homeless Californians who often are both the most visible and the hardest to help, including those in the throes of psychosis and addiction. Many unhoused Californians don’t fit that description. 

“The public perceives it as everyone, and it’s definitely not everyone,” said Dr. Margot Kushel, who directs the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, “but there are a fair number of people who have these disabling conditions.”

In a recent comprehensive study of homeless Californians, 27% of people surveyed had been hospitalized in their lifetime for a mental health problem. When asked if they had ever experienced a prolonged period of hallucinations, 23% said they had, according to the study by the Homelessness and Housing Initiative

About one-third of those surveyed reported using drugs three or more times per week. 
Even though it leaves people out, pouring resources into the sickest subset of California’s homeless community is the humane thing to do, said Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton.

“They count too,” said Talamantes Eggman, whose bill reforming the Mental Health Services Act became half of Prop. 1. “We can’t just see people as a problem. You have to see people as people and (ask) how do we do our best to help those who need it the most?”

Targeting the people with the highest needs may be politically savvy as well. Voters who are up in arms over the state’s increasingly dire homelessness crisis — and politicians’ seeming inability to fix it — aren’t complaining about the person who drives for Uber during the day and sleeps in his car, out of sight, at night. They’re complaining about the people living in encampments, walking into traffic and shouting at nobody. Those are the people this measure could help. And that’s where voters might actually see the measure make a difference on the street.  

“We’re at a point where voters need this,” said Christopher Martin, policy director for Housing California. “Voters are feeling fatigued on housing and they need to see some progress, and I think we need to demonstrate that.”
But Susan Ellenberg, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, doesn’t anticipate Prop. 1 will do much on that front.

“In terms of addressing homelessness, we need more housing, period,” she said. “And I worry that when people’s expectations are conflating, they’re disappointed and feel that problems aren’t being solved even though so much money is going out the door.”

“The public perceives it as everyone, and it’s definitely not everyone.”
Dr. Margot Kushel, director, UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative

She also worries that some of the unintended consequences of Prop. 1 could end up exacerbating her county’s homelessness crisis. To pour the required amount of Mental Health Services Act funding into housing, the county will have to take money from other programs. That means there will be fewer dollars for things like homelessness prevention and early mental health interventions. If the county skimps on the types of services that keep people off the streets in the first place, Ellenberg worries more people will fall into homelessness or their mental health will deteriorate to the point where they need even more care. 

Los Angeles County’s mental health department also has “some serious concerns” about Prop. 1, said Director Lisa Wong. Last year, the county spent 32% of its Mental Health Services Act funding on outpatient services — the psychiatric care, counseling, medication and more that helps stabilize someone living outside a psychiatric facility. If Prop. 1 passes and redirects a chunk of that funding into housing, the county will be able to spend less than 18% on outpatient services — and other programs such as crisis response and homeless services will have to dip into that funding pool as well. 

“We are concerned that missing those service dollars might compromise the ability of people to stay in housing once they’re housed, or to get to a place of wellness where they can be successfully housed,” Wong said. 
Recent expansions in Medi-Cal mean more people are covered for more services, which should help offset funding losses, Talamantes Eggman said.

“I don’t see it as cuts,” she said. “I see it as a reprioritization.” 

“In terms of addressing homelessness, we need more housing, period.”
Susan Ellenberg, president, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

There’s also the question of how counties will come up with the resources needed to make the necessary program shifts. Santa Clara County is facing a shortage of workers and hiring freezes brought on by a budget deficit, Ellenberg said. 

“I feel like we’re being asked to do significantly greater amounts of work with fewer and fewer tools,” she said. 
Kushel, who specializes in the intersection of homelessness and health, said the authors of Prop. 1 — Talamantes Eggman and Democratic Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks — have their priorities in the right place.

It’s nearly impossible to stabilize someone’s mental health or treat their addiction while they’re living on the street and pouring all of their effort into surviving day to day, Kushel said. But when given housing combined with the right treatment plan, even people who seem incredibly sick can thrive.

“Will it be enough? I don’t know,” she said. “But it seems like we should try.”

How can Prop. 1 funds be put to the best use? In San Diego, Deacon Jim Vargas says: detox beds. He runs Father Joe’s Villages, which has more than 1,000 shelter beds — none of which are specifically for detox. The entire county has only 77 detox beds — not nearly enough, he said. 

Vargas hopes to use Prop. 1 dollars to open more. “I’d like to think that yes, it will make a difference on the streets,” he said. 

Martin, of Housing California, has more tempered expectations. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” he said. “But it’s not everything.”
<![CDATA[League of Women Voters of California Announces the Launch of VOTE411 in California]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2023 21:30:09 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/league-of-women-voters-of-california-announces-the-launch-of-vote411-in-california
The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (LWVCEF) is thrilled to announce an upgrade to its voter empowerment tools. Beginning with the 2024 election cycle, Californians looking for election information from the LWVCEF will use VOTE411 as their new ballot planning tool.

VOTE411, a leading digital platform dedicated to electoral information, will offer voters in California a streamlined and intuitive interface to research candidates, understand ballot measures, and prepare to vote confidently. This shift signifies the League’s continued commitment to empowering voters and making democracy work for all Californians.

“We are excited about this transition,” states Chris Carson, Board President of the LWVCEF. “VOTE411 has a proven track record in assisting voters across numerous states. By offering this tool to Californians, we are ensuring that they have access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date information to make informed choices.”

The change comes after extensive research and consultation, ensuring the best fit for the diverse needs of California’s electorate. The new platform is expected to be user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and will offer a variety of features tailored to the unique needs of California voters.

The League urges all Californians to familiarize themselves with VOTE411 ahead of the 2024 elections. The tool will be accessible across all devices and will continue the League’s rich history of providing voters with non-partisan, factual, and trusted electoral information.

To use VOTE411, simply visit VOTE411.org.
<![CDATA[Governor Newsom Signs Legislation  9.13.23]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2023 21:15:08 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/governor-newsom-signs-legislation-91323Picture
Published: Sep 13, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has signed SB 447 by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), which creates a new public awareness project that will consult with community leaders to promote California’s values of acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community across the country. The bill also ends California’s restriction on taxpayer-funded travel by state agencies and departments to states that have adopted discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality and hope reach the places where it is most needed,” said Governor Newsom. “I thank Pro Tem Atkins for authoring this important measure that enables California to continue taking a stand for the rights of LGBTQ+ people throughout the country and combating intolerance and hate with empathy and allyship.”

“Today, we are sending a message to the rest of the nation – here in California, we embrace one another, not in spite of our differences, but because of them. And we are ready to reach across the aisle, and across state lines, to help open hearts and minds, and support our LGBTQ+ youth and communities who are feeling so alone,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “There’s so much hate, so much hurt, so much harm being inflicted on people who are just trying to live their authentic lives. The BRIDGE Project is a chance to counter that with kindness and empathy, and I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for swiftly signing this bill into law, and to my colleagues in both parties who voted for it. We will be the bridge to a more understanding and compassionate nation.”

Governor Newsom alongside Assembly member Zbur, Pro Tem Atkins, Senator Eggman and Assemblymember Ward for SB 447 signing (left to right.)

The Governor also announced that he has signed the following bills:
  • SB 104 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Budget Acts of 2022 and 2023.
  • SB 135 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Public safety.
  • SB 137 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Health omnibus trailer bill.
  • SB 138 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Human services.
  • SB 140 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Early childcare and education.
  • SB 141 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Education finance: education omnibus budget trailer bill.
  • SB 142 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Higher education trailer bill.
  • SB 143 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – State government.
  • SB 148 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – State employment: State Bargaining Units: agreements: compensation and benefits.
  • SB 152 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Background checks and fingerprinting: state employment, licensing, and contracting.

For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

<![CDATA[They are coming for your tomatoes.]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2023 21:33:32 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/they-are-coming-for-your-tomatoes
People want different things from their yards at different stages of life. They should be able to lay down wood chips, gravel or artificial turf below their children’s play structure in their front yard. I should be able to hang clothes in my side yard, and grow vegetables in the sunny part of my front yard. People should be able to have a large patio space for outdoor dining, seating and play. Seniors unable to take care of their yards and unable to afford gardeners should be able to install low-care yards. If someone wants to decorate their yard with metal flower sculptures, let them. 
by Grace Peng

The Redondo Beach City Council is poised to finalize a new set of Objective Residential Standards (ORS) for new homes at its upcoming, August 15 meeting.  Why we are doing this is a long and maddening story. But the bottom line is that my yard will be illegal. Most two/three-on-a-lot yards will be illegal, and we won’t be able to re-landscape existing R2/R3 yards to meet our evolving needs. 

In 2003, Redondo Beach adopted a set of vague Residential Design Guidelines, which are subject to personal interpretation, and yield unpredictable results based on who is making the decisions. Redondo promised in its 6th Cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Housing Element (HE) to streamline residential approvals by making the design standards objective. The State provided the city with funds to hire a consultant to guide us through this technical process. 

Redondo has paid $212,035 so far to Cityworks Design (two-thirds paid by the state, one-third from our city coffers) to help our Planning Commission rewrite our Residential Design Guidelines to make them objective instead of subjective. We could have saved much time and money by eliminating all the standards that are not based on proven health and safety reasons and then replacing the words “should” and “may” with “shall” or “must” in the remaining guidelines. 

Had we done that, we would have been able to come in under the budget awarded us for the process. Instead, we are still arguing about standards, including some that are blatantly illegal. The state doesn’t care if you don’t like the law, as long as you follow it. You cannot “Add a standard in Residential Medium Density (RMD), and Residential High (RH) density multi-family zoning that states that ‘buildings shall not cast shadows onto adjacent residential uses on Winter Solstice.’”

If shadows are bad (and that is a subjective opinion with no basis in fact) then why should shadow regulations apply only to higher-density housing, and not to single family homes? At sunset on Winter Solstice, shadows are infinitely long, which means an effective ban on residential high-density of greater than 30 dwelling units/acre. How will we meet our Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirement for low income housing if we do not allow Mullin density (for lower income housing) of a minimum of 30 dwelling units/acre?
The headlines write themselves: “Redondo Beach bans low-income housing.”

This would be like sending a beacon inviting the federal and state governments to sue us, and for the national media to profile us.

At the 18 July 2023 RBCC meeting, Councilmembers Zein Obagi, Scott Behrendt and Paige Kaluderovich voted to direct staff and the planning commission to remove some sections including all the ones in violation of the 2019 Housing Crisis Act (SB330), specifically section 66300(b)(1)(A) prohibiting “reducing the intensity of land use.” Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim opposed the action and Councilmember Todd Lowenstein was absent. After much debate over this subject, the meeting adjourned past 11:30 p.m., leaving the new landscaping requirements in place. 

This brings us back to the busybody landscape rules that ban my yard. We should always keep in mind, “What problem are we solving?” and “What outcome do we want?”

If we want to reduce stormwater runoff ( there are environmental reasons why we should), then we should keep our gardens slightly below sidewalk level so rain flows into the landscaping.

Instead, the proposed ordinance states, “Planted areas must be at sidewalk level or in raised planters.”

If we are concerned with water use (a worthy goal for our climate) then we should look at total water use instead of dictating which plants people can use. If people want to grow thirstier plants (like my tomatoes), and plant a smaller percentage of their yard, why micromanage them?

In a rain gardening class, I learned to direct rain from roofs and raingutters to permeable (preferably landscaped) parts of my yard, so rain that falls on my property mostly remains on my property. Even during the recent drought, when we experienced heat waves, I was able to remain under the 80 gallons per person per day voluntary conservation target. 

So why state, “A minimum of 67 percent of the required front yard and 50 percent of side and rear yards shall be comprised of permeable surfaces; at least 75 percent of permeable surface shall consist of live plants materials, and no more than 25 percent shall consist of gravel, rock, decomposed granite or similar materials;” and “Landscaped areas shall include drought tolerant live plants in 75 percent of the area?”

How are drought tolerant live plants defined? In a separate section they refer to UC Davis’ Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS), which links to a spreadsheet of plants. We are required to use “drought tolerant plants” for zone 3, but the spreadsheet doesn’t have a column for drought tolerance. It gives a water use rating of VL (very low), L (low), M (medium) and H (high). WUCOLS also gives ET (evapo-transpiration) coefficients, but the Redondo landscape requirements doesn’t reference ET or specify a maximum allowable ET coefficient. 

“All landscaped areas need to be at least 2-feet wide in any direction.” So flower strips along the sides of driveways won’t be allowed any more. Side yards will be counted towards the part that needs to be planted with live plants. Currently, most people have gravel in their side yards. I have my clothesline there. It’s permeable and I don’t have to water it in the dry season; I save my water for the more visible parts of my yard. 

Under Measure W, we are already taxed for each non permeable square foot of our properties (with credits for redirecting rain from non permeable to permeable areas). We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and layer on even more onerous requirements onto the County law. 

The rules for higher density housing are even more nonsensical. They require private space rather than higher quality, and larger shared spaces as is common in developments elsewhere. For instance, the townhomes and condos in a San Mateo development have no private yards, but open up to a Greenway with community gardens, BBQ areas with tables, and play structures surrounded by benches and trees. The Greenway connects the neighborhood to a school and the Hillsdale Caltrain station.  All rainwater from the roofs are directed into runoff bioswales.

The bottom line is that urban space is precious, particularly in multi-family developments. People want different things from their yards at different stages of life. They should be able to lay down wood chips, gravel or artificial turf below their children’s play structure in their front yard. I should be able to hang clothes in my side yard, and grow vegetables in the sunny part of my front yard. People should be able to have a large patio space for outdoor dining, seating and play. Seniors unable to take care of their yards and unable to afford gardeners should be able to install low-care yards. If someone wants to decorate their yard with metal flower sculptures, let them. 

Controlling water runoff  and reducing outdoor watering demands are good, but we don’t have to micromanage people or complicate rules already in place. It shouldn’t matter to the city whether I cover 75 percent of my yard with plants off their list or 35 percent with the plants I want as long as I don’t plant invasive species, use excessive water, or allow excessive stormwater runoff. 

“What problem are we solving?” and “What outcome do we want?” These landscaping rules are muddled and aren’t solving anything. 

Please tell the city to “get off our (metaphorical) lawn!” Send your comments to your council members and cityclerk@redondo.org.

There are great alternatives.
Multi-family housing does not need private outdoor spaces to build a community.
Multi-family housing does not need private outdoor spaces to build a community. Check out this welcoming development in NorCal near where I grew up. The condos/townhouses in San Mateo, CA by the train station have community gardens in the large, sunny area (instead of small private shady patios). They also have play equipment under the trees at each end and a BBQ area with lots of picnic tables.  
We were visiting a friend nearby and walked through this development. Look at the community garden! 
<![CDATA[The biggest survey of homeless Californians in decades shows why so many are on the streets]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2023 20:36:52 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/the-biggest-survey-of-homeless-californians-in-decades-shows-why-so-many-are-on-the-streets
The largest survey of homeless Californians in decades aims to dispel myths about what drives that state’s most pressing crisis. It found that addiction and mental health conditions rarely cause homelessness.

Losing income is the No. 1 reason Californians end up homeless – and the vast majority of them say a subsidy of as little as $300 a month could have kept them off the streets.
That’s according to a new study out of UC San Francisco that provides the most comprehensive look yet at California’s homeless crisis.
In the six months prior to becoming homeless, the Californians surveyed were making a median income of just $960 a month. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in California is nearly three times that, according to Zillow. And though survey participants listed a myriad of reasons why they lost their homes, more people cited a loss of, or reduction in, income than anything else. 

The study’s authors say the findings highlight the idea that money, more than addiction, mental health, poor decisions or other factors, is the main cause of – and potential solution to – homelessness. 
“I think it’s really important to note how desperately poor people are, and how much it is their poverty and the high housing costs that are leading to this crisis,” said Margot Kushel, a physician who directs the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, which conducted the study.
Already the study – which the authors say is the most representative homelessness survey conducted in the U.S. since the mid-1990s – has drawn attention from high places.

Read the full article from CalMatters.org here.
<![CDATA[L.A. mayor reports that 14,000 homeless people have moved off the streets]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2023 19:57:39 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/la-mayor-reports-that-14000-homeless-people-have-moved-off-the-streets
By Ruben Vives, Doug Smith
Los Angeles Times June 14, 2023

More than 14,000 people experiencing homelessness have been moved off the streets during the first six months of her administration, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass reported Tuesday.
About 30%, or 4,332, acquired permanent housing.

An additional 10,049 people were placed in interim housing through city and county programs from December through May, Bass said — a 27% increase over the same period the year before.
Of those in permanent housing, about a third moved into new housing units, with the rest using subsidies to obtain rental units.

Bass said the housing placements resulted from executive directives she enacted upon entering office, including a state of emergency on homelessness and the launching of the Inside Safe program, which is designed to clear street encampments by moving unhoused people indoors.

“We believe the emergency obviously continues, but we do see a way forward,” Bass said at a press conference at City Hall.

Since Bass took office in mid-December with a promise to house 17,000 people in her first year, homelessness has been at the forefront of her agenda.
In April, she announced that $1.3 billion of her $13 billion proposed budget would go to addressing homelessness, including about $250 million for Inside Safe. Previously, the program had been leasing rooms around the city. Bass’ team has shifted the strategy to purchasing property and is looking to acquire at least eight motels or hotels.

Bass said Tuesday that in her first six months, Inside Safe cleared 19 encampments, with 1,323 people voluntarily moving into temporary housing such as hotels — a slowdown from her first 100 days.

A handout distributed at the City Hall briefing showed photos of streets in Hollywood, Venice, Harbor City and South L.A. before and after they were cleaned. More than 262,000 pounds of waste were said to have been removed.

The handout detailed several challenges to Inside Safe, including the cost of motel rooms, the difficulty of clearing RV encampments and limited capacity to provide services in part because of a lack of healthcare personnel and access to drug treatment as well as homeless service providers already being stretched thin.

“Community-based organizations have been stretched beyond what they’ve been asked to do,” Bass said. “When a person leaves a tent and goes into a hotel, on day one, they should have services, including a physical exam if they’re open to it, and meeting with a social worker.”

As a remedy, Bass said she has hired a director of community health to work with local universities and colleges that can provide nurses, doctors and dentists.

Other solutions to getting more people off the streets were described generally, without detail, in the document: more persistent outreach to overcome resistance from some homeless people to moving indoors, more long-term leasing and more permanent housing to avoid spending money on motel rooms.

Bass said her executive directive to cut red tape had streamlined the processing of more than 8,000 units of new housing in 456 projects that are in the development pipeline.

She said approvals are now being obtained in 37 days as opposed to six months.

The numbers released Tuesday included an update of a report Bass gave after her first 100 days, more than doubling the number of people she initially said had gone indoors. In March, she had reported just under 4,000, a number that was revised to 8,726.

Va Lecia Adams Kellum, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the earlier undercount was due to lag time and the need to verify the data that was entered.

“We didn’t have a full accounting of the people who had been helped,” Kellum said. “The data has been reviewed and corrected, and it gives a true sense of how many people were moved from tents into hotels.”
<![CDATA[Governor Newsom Proposes Historic 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to End America’s Gun Violence Crisis]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2023 19:46:35 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/governor-newsom-proposes-historic-28th-amendment-to-the-united-states-constitution-to-end-americas-gun-violence-crisis
Published: Jun 08, 2023

Principles of proposed 28th Amendment broadly supported by the American public and gun owners
SACRAMENTO – Today Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to enshrine fundamental, broadly supported gun safety measures into law. While leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition, the Governor’s proposal guarantees common sense constitutional protections and gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, independent voters, and gun owners overwhelmingly support – including universal background checks, raising the firearm purchase age to 21, instituting a firearm purchase waiting period, and barring the civilian purchase of assault weapons.
“Our ability to make a more perfect union is literally written into the Constitution,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “So today, I’m proposing the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to do just that. The 28th Amendment will enshrine in the Constitution common sense gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and gun owners overwhelmingly support – while leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition.”
The 28th Amendment will permanently enshrine four broadly supported gun safety principles into the U.S. Constitution:
  • Raising the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21;
  • Mandating universal background checks to prevent truly dangerous people from purchasing a gun that could be used in a crime;
  • Instituting a reasonable waiting period for all gun purchases; and
  • Barring civilian purchase of assault weapons that serve no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time – weapons of war our nation’s founders never foresaw.

Additionally, the 28th Amendment will affirm Congress, states, and local governments can enact additional common-sense gun safety regulations that save lives.

Passage of the 28th Amendment will require a convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, also known as an Article V Convention or amendatory convention. Working in partnership with members of the California State Senate and Assembly, California will be the first state in the nation to call for such a convention with a joint resolution being introduced by California State Senator Aisha Wahab and Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer. The Governor will work with grassroots supporters, elected and civic leaders, and broad and diverse coalitions across the nation to fight for the passage of similar resolutions in other state legislatures to ensure the convening of a constitutional convention limited to this subject. 33 other states, in addition to California, would need to take action to convene such a convention.
“A man of action, Governor Gavin Newsom has the backbone to actually do something about the gun fetish culture around weapons of war, and tackle the relentless problem of gun violence and mass shootings,” said Senator Aisha Wahab. “As someone impacted by gun violence, I have an obligation to elevate the voices of victims and those of us left behind in the wake of tragedy.”
“I am proud to introduce this resolution to protect the common sense gun reform legislation our Assembly Public Safety Committee has championed over the years,” said Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer. “We cannot stand idly while courts roll back our work and diminish the ability of our Legislature to keep Californians safe. This bold but fair resolution calls on other states to join us in protecting some of the most effective ways of reducing gun violence.”
With gun violence claiming the lives of over 110 Americans a day, California’s nation-leading gun safety laws serve as a valuable blueprint for other states and Congress to save lives. California’s gun safety laws work. In its most recent scorecard, California ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and according to the most recent data, the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 9 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 16.36 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 33.9 in Mississippi, 21.2 in Oklahoma, and 15.6 in Texas.

What People Are Saying About Governor Newsom’s Historic 28th Amendment Proposal

<![CDATA[Driverless trucks on California highways? Legislators don’t trust the DMV to ensure safety]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2023 19:22:21 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/driverless-trucks-on-california-highways-legislators-dont-trust-the-dmv-to-ensure-safety
Los Angeles Times By Russ Mitchell Staff Writer 

When Teslas are in self-driving mode, they’ve been recorded crossing into oncoming traffic and hitting parked cars. But what would happen if an 80,000-pound, 18-wheel driverless truck suddenly went off the rails?
That’s an experiment some California legislators aren’t ready to run. They argue that the state Department of Motor Vehicles has so badly mishandled the driverless car industry that it can’t be trusted to oversee big rigs barreling down the highways autonomously.

AB 316 — which would wrest control of driverless truck testing and deployment from the DMV and require human drivers in the cab for at least five years while a safety record is collected — passed in the Assembly on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the state Senate and if passed will head to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature.
Its proponents argue that effective laws and regulations depend on shared data, institutional trust and public transparency, and that the DMV is struggling with all three.

“Ultimately, this issue is of such importance and relevance that we can’t abdicate our responsibility to the DMV, and the DMV doesn’t have the capacity to think about the consequences going forward,” Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) said in an interview.

DMV Director Steve Gordon did not respond to a request from The Times for comment. In fact, the former Silicon Valley executive has rarely spoken with the media about anything at all since Newsom named him to the post in 2019.

The driverless truck industry, however, has pushed back hard, saying AB 316 would harm California’s technological competitiveness. Meanwhile, public debate over the bill is highlighting concerns about safety and job loss, as human drivers of commercial vehicles face replacement by computer systems programmed with artificial intelligence.

How we got here

The Legislature handed driverless vehicle regulation to the DMV when it passed its first bill governing such vehicles in 2012. Hearings held at the time focused on the wonderful future ahead for driverless cars — no more crashes, no more traffic jams.

Autonomous vehicle engineers, including former Google executive Anthony Levandowski, made safety claims that went largely unchallenged. “Our data so far is showing that the technology is able to drive safer than our trained and professional drivers at the wheel,” he said.

Because AI vehicles theoretically could drive at high speeds bumper to bumper, “it’ll really clear up the 110 and the 405 and the 710,” said Mark DeSaulnier, then the chair of the state Senate transportation committee. (DeSaulnier is now a member of Congress.)

Eleven years later, those freeways are as jam-packed as ever. And the safety information on those self-driving passenger cars? It’s spotty — in large part because the DMV and the vehicle industry are working to keep key safety data out of public view.

In 2021, after a public records filing by an unidentified individual, the DMV invited Waymo to seek a court injunction to prevent the agency from releasing full crash reports.

Waymo and the DMV worked together on a precedent-setting court agreement that allows the company to black out safety information on the public version of its robotaxi crash reports.

After the injunction was granted, the DMV — with the legal assistance of California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta — cut a deal with Waymo to keep the information concealed on the grounds of protecting company trade secrets, according to court records. The deal, approved in Sacramento County Superior Court, allows Waymo to redact most of the details of collision reports as well as information on how the company handles driverless car emergencies, for at least two years.

Although those vehicles, thus far, have not killed or seriously injured anyone in the state, news reports show they can cause plenty of problems on the road: They tend to brake suddenly; block traffic as they pause to decide what to do; cruise through construction zones; and “brick” or stall in traffic, requiring a human on the scene to move the car. They’ve even fled from police.

What Tesla has to do with it

Although the performance of Waymo and Cruise robotaxis operating in San Francisco concerns many legislators — including Friedman — what is especially troubling, they say, is the DMV’s relationship with Tesla.

That is “what really tilted the balance for me” to support AB 316, Friedman said. At a committee hearing in March, she slammed the DMV “particularly in regard to one particular auto manufacturer and their overstated promise of what their vehicle actually is capable of doing.” Friedman argued that Tesla’s marketing claims are “leading to confusion from the drivers and purchasers of those vehicles and to lots of tragic accidents that could have been prevented with better oversight from the DMV and [federal] regulators.”

The department allows the electric-car company to test driverless technology on California roads without a permit, while other companies are expected to conform to rules that require permits and trained test drivers. Tesla has said that the feature it calls Full Self-Driving is a technology that requires human attention, and doesn’t require a permit, according to email records released under California’s Public Records Act by the court transparency organization

Meanwhile, the DMV allows Tesla to market this technology package as Full Self-Driving. That name appears to violate the DMV’s own rule — now a state law — against marketing cars as autonomous when they aren’t capable of fully driving themselves. The DMV said the matter is under investigation, but that investigation has dragged on for more than two years.

“The lack of information after two years is deeply concerning,” said Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), who heads the state Senate’s transportation committee.

When asked about the issue recently, Newsom said he had “great confidence” in Gordon and his team. The governor said he’s grateful for legislative oversight. But pressed on the specific criticisms aimed at the DMV, he said: “Forgive me for not being alarmed or shocked.”

What is — and isn’t — at stakeThe driverless technology industry, centered in Silicon Valley, is opposed to AB 316. “The economic impact of this bill is going to be devastating,” said Jeff Farrah, who heads the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Assn., which represents Waymo, Cruise, Motional, Aurora Innovation and other driverless car and truck technology companies. “California will cede its position as a leader in the development of autonomous vehicles to other states that are embracing this lifesaving technology at a rapid pace.”

Bill supporters regard such statements as alarmist hyperbole.
“It’s easy for people to threaten to leave,” said Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), co-author of the bill, which is supported by the Teamsters union. “People aren’t going to leave because of this,” she said, noting the rich pool of technology talent clustered in Silicon Valley. Tesla, in fact, announced in February that it would move its Texas engineering team back to California, in part to attract and retain talented engineers.

<![CDATA[The gun violence initiative they say is actually working]]>Sat, 17 Dec 2022 19:35:15 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/the-gun-violence-initiative-they-say-is-actually-working
The Community Violence Intervention Collaborative is a success story few have heard about — and it could be years before it has measured results its backers can tout.
Read the full article by Myah Ward at Politico here. 12/06/2022

Amid intense criticism from the left that the White House and Congress haven’t done enough to stop gun violence, the Biden administration has been underwriting an initiative that’s drawn barely any notice.

The work started on the campaign trail, when Joe Biden pitched community violence intervention as a component of his gun violence prevention plan. Once he took office, Biden secured tens of billions of dollars that can be used for community violence intervention, which he and advocates say is critical for reducing recidivism rates.

For a year and a half, city and county leaders around the country have received funding, training and technical assistance, and met regularly with White House officials to bolster community violence intervention programs that have been shown to break cycles of violence.

Learn more about Community Violence Intervention
<![CDATA[How to Judge a Candidate]]>Sun, 02 Oct 2022 18:29:29 GMThttps://lwvbeachcities.org/blog/how-to-judge-a-candidate
Article by by the League of Women Voters. Image by rawpixel.com
 Elections up and down the ballot present voters with important choices. Whether it's a local race that will affect your community or a national race that could change the direction of the country, elections are a time to consider the issues that you care about and decide which candidate you support. 

But is it possible to move beyond campaign ads, social media chatter, and noisy news cycles to find the best substantive candidate who represents your values and needs? The answer is yes! 

Six Steps for Judging Candidates 
The 6 steps outlined here are designed to help you judge and choose the best candidate for you in the next election. 

Step 1: Determine what you are looking for in a candidate You can judge candidates in two ways:
  1. The positions they take on issues; and,
  2. The leadership qualities and experience they would bring to the office.

Your first step in picking a candidate is to decide the issues you care about and the qualities you want in a leader. 

When you consider issues, what problems do you want people in government to address? For example, you may be interested in national security, government funding for student loans, or climate change.  

When you consider leadership qualities, what characteristics do you think make an effective elected official? Do you look for intelligence, honesty, humility, an ability to communicate? What else?

Step 2
: Visit Votersedge.org and learn about the candidates on your ballot

Find out which candidates are running in your area by using the League’s online election resource VotersEdge.org. When you input your address, VotersEdge shows you all the races and candidates on your ballot. 

VotersEdge also includes information about each office on your ballot, candidate background information, stances on issues directly from the candidates themselves, and extensive background and explanations on ballot questions. 

Step 3: Gather materials about the candidates 
Research and collect information about the candidates. Read their positions on their campaign website, watch media coverage, review online discussions, and check out their stances on VOTE411. Sources of information you may choose to review include: 
  • VotersEdge.org candidate stances 
  • Direct mail letters, flyers, and postcards 
  • Media coverage
  • Online, radio, and television ads 
  • Candidate endorsements by individuals, organizations, and news outlets 
  • Candidates’ speeches 
  • Candidate debates 
  • Online candidate forums and town hall events 

Step 4: Evaluate candidates’ positions on issues 
In a local race, interviews with the candidates can be helpful.
For incumbents, a look at their voting records on issues important to you (which you identified in Step 1) can also tell you a lot.  
Ask yourself the following questions: 
  • Does your collected information give you an overall impression of the candidates?  
  • What specific conclusions can you draw about the candidates’ positions on issues?  
  • Record what you have learned about where they stand on your priority issues from each source you review in Step 3.  

Step 5: Learn about the candidates’ leadership abilities 
Deciding if a candidate will be a good leader is difficult. How can you know if someone will be honest, open, or able to act under pressure if elected to office? Here are some ways to read between the lines: 
  • Look at the candidates’ background and their experience. How prepared are they for the job? 
  • Observe the candidates’ campaigns. Do they give speeches to different groups (even those who may disagree with them)? Do they accept invitations to debate? Do the campaigns emphasize media events, where the candidates can be seen but not heard? (For instance, a candidate is seen cutting ribbons to open new bridges rather than going on record about transportation and infrastructure challenges.) 
  • Review the campaign website, social media content, and materials. As you watch the campaign develop, consider information that provides insights into candidates’ personalities and leadership qualities. For example, do campaign materials emphasize issues or nice images? Do materials paint a true picture of a situation? Add this information to the Candidate Report Card shared below. 

Step 6: Learn how other people view the candidate 
Other people’s opinions can help clarify your own views, but do not discount your own informed judgments.  
  • Seek the opinions of others in your community who are affected differently by decisions of political leadership. Talk to people of diverse backgrounds and positions, such as a person of a different race than you, a teacher, a member of the business community, an Indian tribe member, or a sexual or gender minority person to find out which candidate they support and why.  
  • Learn about endorsements. Endorsements provide clues to the issues a candidate supports. For instance, a candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club (an environmental organization) will be in favor of legislation that protects the environment. A candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Association would be opposed to gun control laws. Get a list of endorsements from each of the candidates’ campaign websites. Find out what these groups stand for and find out why they are endorsing this candidate. 
  • Look into campaign contributions. Where do the candidates get the funds to finance their campaigns? Do they use their own money or raise funds from a few wealthy donors, from many small contributors, or from Political Action Committees? (PACs, as they are known, are groups formed to raise and distribute money to candidates without disclosing individual donor names.) Many types of information about campaign contributions must be reported to the government and are watched by the press, so the information is relatively easy to find. Check your local newspaper for stories on campaign finance or go to www.opensecrets.org.  
  • Which candidate’s views on the issues do I agree with the most? 
  • Who ran the fairest campaign? 
  • Which candidate demonstrated the most knowledge on the issues? 
  • Which candidate has the leadership qualities I am looking for? 
  • Is the choice clear? If so, pick a candidate.  __ 

Other Considerations
  • Avoid Distortion Techniques Candidates try to sell themselves to voters, but they can sometimes distort the truth in ways that are difficult to detect. Here are seven examples of distortion techniques that you should watch for as you review candidates’ campaign materials: 
  • Name-calling/Appeals to prejudice: Accusations such as, “My opponent is arrogant and full of hot air,” do not give any real information about the candidate. Reference to race, ethnicity, or marital status can be subtly used to instill prejudice. 
  • Rumor mongering: These include statements such as “Everyone says my opponent is a crook, but I have no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing,” which imply (but do not state) that the opponent is guilty. 
  • Guilt by associations: These are statements such as “We all know Candidate B is backed by big money interests,” which attack candidates because of their supporters rather than because of their stands on the issues. 
  • Catchwords: These are phrases such as “Law and Order” or “un-American,” designed to trigger a knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than to inform. 
  • Passing the blame: These are instances in which a candidate denies responsibility for an action or blames an opponent for things over which they had no control. 
  • Promising the sky: These are unrealistic promises that no elected official could fulfill on their own.  
  • Evading real issues: These include instances in which candidates may avoid answering direct questions, offer only vague solutions, or talk about the benefits of proposed programs but never get specific about possible problems or costs.  
  • Evaluate Candidates’ Use of Video:  Candidates are aware of the potential power of video and try to use it to their advantage. When you see videos about a candidate or that feature the candidate, consider that the picture you see may be staged by a media advisor whose job is to make the candidate look good on camera. As you watch news coverage of campaigns, be aware of staged events (also known as photo opportunities) and try to instead focus on what the candidate is saying about the issues. The same applies to political advertisements on television or online. When you watch political ads, be aware of how the medium influences your reactions. Ask yourself: Did you find out anything about issues or qualifications, or was the ad designed only to affect your attitude or feelings about a candidate?  

Now Take Action
  • Back the candidates you believe in.
  • Talk to your friends and family about “your” candidates. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions at candidate meetings, debates, or rallies or when a campaign worker rings your doorbell. 
  • Write letters. Tell candidates, newspapers, and party leaders how you feel about the issues. 
  • Volunteer to work on a campaign or make a donation. 
  • Register to vote. 
  • Make a voting plan.
  • Vote by mail, absentee, or in person before or on Election Day.