California’s rent control movement, strongest in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is again gaining steam as the state faces an extreme housing shortage that has led to skyrocketing rents and rampant tenant displacement. State officials call it an unprecedented crisis, exacerbated by the erosion of state and federal funding for low-income housing development. Activists are launching new rent control campaigns up and down the state, from Sacramento to Pacific to Glendale.
California consumers buying insurance for 2018 through the state’s insurance exchange will see average premiums increases of 12.5 percent, but by comparison pricing, many could limit their premium hikes to 3.3 percent, Covered California officials announced Tuesday.
The increase was a little lower than the average 13.2 Covered California premium hike implemented this year, despite uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act amid Republican attempts to repeal the law.
. . . That “ongoing uncertainty” could mean that roughly 650,000 consumers who buy Covered California’s most popular insurance plans, those in the silver tier, will face a double whammy on their premium prices. The exchange said it may have to add a 12.4 percent surcharge to premiums in that tier because insurers are worried about continued federal funding that lowers out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.
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.
A powerful California water agency is poised to adopt its own regulations that could protect more of the state’s wetlands from being plowed, paved over or otherwise damaged. Environmental groups are pressuring the State Water Resources Control Board to push back against Trump’s decision and adopt a wetlands policy that’s even stricter than former President Barack Obama’s. “The state board should be adopting a policy that is even more protective of California’s wetlands,” said Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife. “This (proposed) policy is a critical opportunity for the state to step up and protect its own resources.” A fight over the proposed rules has been brewing for years and is about to come to a head. A year ago, a broad coalition of developers, homebuilders, farmers and other business groups submitted testimony against the regulations, saying they would create more red tape, higher costs and fewer rights for landowners.
The measure by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, whose district suffered heavy flood damage in February, would require state agencies to speed up permit processing and approval for certain types of flood-control projects. Current law already allows authorities to exempt or delay permit requirements during emergencies. Yet other high-priority projects still have to go through the normal permitting process. That leads to delays.