12/02/2021

News

Outlook Cloudy for Japan’s Renewable Energy Drive

Japan’s aggressive renewable energy push after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has stalled due to a combination of technical and political factors. And, while energy regulators are taking steps to help increase and more smoothly integrate green power, there are questions of how committed the country is to renewables.

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Parcel Taxes as a Local Revenue Source in California

Local government authority is growing in corrections, school funding, and other areas in California, putting pressure on localities to diversify revenue sources. As a result, the parcel tax may become an increasingly important fiscal tool in the state.

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Small Traffic Fines Can Lead to Big Problems for Some Californians

California’s rising traffic fines were the subject of debate amid the economic recession as legislators raised total penalties by expanding or adding on new assessments. Four years ago, with the state strapped for cash, then-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg described the growing traffic penalties as “one of the patches that we’ve relied upon to avoid deeper cuts” to state programs.

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Housing Regs Benefit a Few, Hurt Others

The legal issue isn’t solely about housing, but about whether cities have unlimited power to extract concessions from homebuilders for things that are not “impacts” from the project. In other words, it’s legitimate for government to require new developments to pay to mitigate the effect of the new residents on local infrastructure (roads, sewers, fire service), but is it OK for cities to require affordable housing just because officials want to see more of it built?

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Report: New Tax on Services Could Boost State Revenue by Nearly 50%

On the heels of a bill to impose new taxes on professional services, the California Board of Equalization estimates that such a law would generate some $123 billion for the state, with revenue roughly split between state and local government.

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Estimate of Potential Revenue to be Derived from Taxation of Currently Non-Taxable Services

The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) released an estimate today indicating that California’s state and local governments may receive approximately $122.6 billion in new revenue if tax was collected on services that are currently non-taxable. Of that amount, $60.9 billion could go to the state, with $61.7 billion for city, county, and other local government entities. The estimate assumes a statewide average sales tax rate of 8.42 percent.

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Parking Reform Group Recommends LA Slash Many Fines

The working group was formed in part as a response to the efforts of activists with the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative. The group argues that L.A. has improperly used parking fines to solve budget problems and maximize revenue rather than ease parking problems.

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Opinion: Southern California Housing Figures to Get Tighter, Pricier

In both the Bay Area and Southern California, plans are now being set to force the building of massive new towers in a few selected “transit-oriented” zones. In a bow to political realities, the planners say they won’t bring superdensity to the single-family neighborhoods beloved by Californians; the wealthy – including those who bought early and those with access to inherited money – will still be able to enjoy backyard play sets, barbecues and swimming pools.

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Seamless Transit

The Bay Area’s prosperity is threatened by fragmentation in the public transit system: Riders and decision-makers contend with more than two dozen transit operators. Despite significant spending on building and maintaining transit — and in contrast to the crowding along some key corridors — overall ridership has not been growing in our region.

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San Francisco Flirts with a $1M Median Home Price

Real estate firm Redfin says the median selling price in February in San Francisco was up 16.2 percent from a year ago, to $979,750. And people are buying them. Closed residential sales in San Francisco were up 12 percent from February 2014.

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Dan Walters: California Sales Tax Rates Going Higher

There’s a wide range of sales tax rates in California, some rates are increasing this week and if pending legislation is successful, the range will get even wider.

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U.S. Inflation Undershoots the Fed’s 2% Target for the 34th Straight Month

In projections released earlier this month, Fed policy makers lowered their estimate of the longer-run jobless rate to a range between 5% and 5.2%. That threshold represents what some economists call the nonaccelerating inflation rate of unemployment, or Nairu. In English, it’s the lowest unemployment rate that won’t stoke inflation.

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New Regulation Hits California Homeowners

California’s new energy efficiency regulations, which started being enforced last summer, dramatically boost costs for owners of older homes when they need major maintenance on their systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. That’s because ducts must be “R-8” insulated and certified to be free of leaks, a standard that can force total replacement for many houses built before 2008. . . The Energy Commission has also mandated construction industry software with epic performance problems. This is devouring dollars across the industry, as well as reducing the efficiency of new homes and commercial buildings.

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The Inflation Cycle May Have Turned

In February, U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2% from January, which pulled the annual inflation rate out of negative territory; it’s now zero. More important, core prices rose 0.16%, which nudged the annual rate up to 1.7% from 1.6%. It was the second upside surprise to core inflation in a row. The driver in January was firmer service prices, this month it was goods.

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Core Consumer Prices in U.S. Increase More Than Projected

The so-called core consumer-price index climbed 0.2 percent for a second month, a Labor Department report showed Tuesday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent increase. Prices overall also climbed 0.2 percent, the first advance in four months, as fuel costs stabilized.

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