The passage of Santiago’s bill highlighted a continually messy debate at the state Capitol concerning which projects deserve breaks from strictly complying with the California Environmental Quality Act, the primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and reduce projects’ effects on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process made longer by lawsuits that can last years.
Legislators have long talked about overhauling CEQA — Gov. Jerry Brown has called doing so “the Lord’s work” — but the rare measures that advance often only provide relief for deep-pocketed developers or have the backing of Sacramento’s most powerful interests.
Sacramento homebuilders are trying to deal with a severe shortage of construction workers by training high school students in summer internships. They want the teens and their parents to consider the possibility that a construction career might be a good alternative to college, though that can require some convincing. “There’s a negative stereotype about dirty jobs,” said Rick Larkey, executive director of the North State Building Industry Foundation. The group is leading the effort to recruit 5,000 new workers over five years in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties. A big part of that is the outreach to high-school students through internships and after-school programs.
Homebuilding was down across Southern California in the first three months of 2017, but nowhere more than San Diego County, said a Real Estate Research Council report released Monday.
Residential building permits were down by 10 percent in the seven-county region compared to the same time last year and 37 percent in San Diego County.
A recent count found a dramatic 104% increase in “tents and hand-built structures” located downtown, for a total of 418, compared to 2016. Driving through East Village, a gentrifying neighborhood on the edge of downtown, it’s tough to find a street that doesn’t have a tarp or tent – or dozens. People with neither tent nor tarp fashion makeshift shelters out of shopping carts, storage bins and blankets.
Labor costs, too, are on the rise. The construction industry unemployment rate, at 6.3% last month, has fallen back to its levels during the housing boom. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that the quits rate—the share of people leaving construction jobs voluntarily and a sign that they think they can get new jobs easily—stood at 2.5% in March, the highest since early 2008.