Opinion: The Great Transit Rip-off

Too many people go to too many locales to work, and, as housing prices have surged, many have moved farther way, which makes trains less practical, given the lack of a dominant job center. But in its desire to emulate places like New York, Los Angeles has spent some $15 billion trying to evolve into what some East Coast enthusiasts call the “next great transit city.”

The rail lines have earned Mayor Eric Garcetti almost endless plaudits from places like the New York Times. Yet, since 1990, transit’s work trip market share has dropped from 5.6 percent to 5.1 percent. MTA system ridership stands at least 15 percent below 1985 levels, when there was only bus service, and the population of Los Angeles County was about 20 percent lower. In some places, like Orange County, the fall has been even more precipitous, down 30 percent since 2008. It is no surprise, then, that, according to a recent USC study, the new lines have done little or nothing to lessen congestion.

Read More

Is Southern California suffering a tech brain drain?

Here’s the good news: Los Angeles and Orange counties produced 45,968 college graduates to technology-related degrees between 2010 and 2015. Only two other markets — New York and Washington D.C. — produced more. L.A.-O.C. produced 33,080 new technology jobs between 2011 and 2016, seventh-best growth among big tech hubs behind San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and D.C. Unfortunately, when you combine those two trends you see an ugly gap between the lofty level of local tech graduates and modest growth of L.A.-O.C. tech employment.

Read More

Opinion: Is California anti-family?

These changes will define, and perhaps undermine, our economy by creating a dearth of new workers. Between 2013 and 2025, the number of high school graduates in our state is expected to drop by 5 percent, compared to a 19 percent increase in Texas, 10 percent growth in Florida and a 9 percent rise in North Carolina. Some, of course, may hail these trends. Environmental activists and their allies in the density lobby generally prefer a childless population, both to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to expand their influence. Some tech-oriented futurists may even suggest that robots will replace all but the most skilled of workers, making additional children more a burden than a blessing. Yet, for California employers — at least until the technological nirvana — a labor shortage, particularly in skilled trades, could prove troubling in the near-term, and even medium-term, future. Historically, California could count on migration from both the rest of the nation and abroad. But this seems to have changed dramatically. The state has lost more domestic migrants than it has gained since at least 2000. Net immigration, the other lodestone of our labor force growth, has also slowed.

Read More

Opinion: Can California survive a tech bust?

Historically, California’s great strength was the diversity of its economy, stretching from high-tech and aerospace to finance, entertainment, energy, basic manufacturing and homebuilding. Yet, during the most recent boom, the growth of high-wage job growth largely took place in one region — the Bay Area — while other sectors generally stagnated or shrank. . . . Perhaps most damaging of all, the allure of the tech boom has been used to justify Sacramento’s crushing regulatory and tax regime. The state’s strong performance since 2010 has convinced many in the political class and the media that business climate does not matter. It has made apologists able to ignore some 10,000 businesses that have left or expanded outside of the state, many of them employing middle- and working-class people. High-tech and entertainment are great industries to have, even at slower growth rates, but they cannot long carry such a diverse state with the highest poverty rate in the country and severe affordability challenges. California has been largely lulled to sleep by a now fading boom. We could experience a very rude awakening that will cause havoc to the state budget, produce a potential housing correction and challenge communities across the state.

Read More

Opinion: Is America now second-rate?

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent trip to China reflects the massive disconnect inherent in the progressive establishment worldview. The notion that the country that is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, emitting nearly twice as much as the United States, and is generating coal energy at record levels, should lead the climate jihad is so laughable as to make its critics, including Trump, seem reasonable. All this, despite the fact that the U.S., largely due to the shift from coal to natural gas, is clearly leading the world in greenhouse gas reductions. Paris is good for China in that it gets it off the hook for reducing its emissions until 2030, while the gullible West allows its economies to be buried by ever-cascading regulations. The accords could have cost U.S. manufacturers as many as 6.5 million industrial jobs, while China gets a basically free pass. President Xi Jinping also appeals to the increasingly popular notion among progressives that an autocracy like China is better suited to address climate change than our sometimes chaotic democratic system.

Read More

Opinion: California’s descent to socialism

California is widely celebrated as the fount of technical, cultural and political innovation. Now we seem primed to outdo even ourselves, creating a new kind of socialism that, in the end, more resembles feudalism than social democracy.

The new consensus is being pushed by, among others, hedge-fund-billionaire-turned-green-patriarch Tom Steyer. The financier now insists that, to reverse our worsening inequality, we must double down on environmental and land-use regulation, and make up for it by boosting subsidies for the struggling poor and middle class. This new progressive synthesis promises not upward mobility and independence, but rather the prospect of turning most Californians into either tax slaves or dependent serfs.

Read More

Opinion: Why California’s good economic times aren’t better

California is spending record sums on anti-poverty programs, $19 billion per year more than in 2012. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation, over 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau, when the cost of living is taken into account. But taxpayer-funded programs can never catch up to the problem, because higher taxes are part of the cause of the problem. Where are the jobs that allow people to climb out of poverty and enjoy a rising standard of living, instead of declining wages and never enough money to buy things?

Read More

Opinion: Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies

The apparent growing appetite for suburban living presents a unique challenge to California. The state policy is aggressively anti-suburban, placing ever-higher hurdles on any development on the periphery. This, over time, is slowing construction in the interior and forcing housing prices unnaturally up, even in these areas.

Some so-called progressives hail these trends, as forcing what they seem to see as less desirable elements — that is, working- and middle-class people — out of the state. They allege that this is balanced out by a surge of highly educated workers coming to California. Essentially, the model is that of a gated community, with a convenient servant base nearby.

Read More

Opinion: The other California: A flyover state within a state

California may never secede, or divide into different states, but it has effectively split into entities that could not be more different. On one side is the much-celebrated, post-industrial, coastal California, beneficiary of both the Tech Boom 2.0 and a relentlessly inflating property market. The other California, located in the state’s interior, is still tied to basic industries like homebuilding, manufacturing, energy and agriculture. It is populated largely by working- and middle-class people who, overall, earn roughly half that of those on the coast.

Read More

Economist says job creation ‘miserable’ as Orange County market slows

The current job creation rate is “miserable,” said Chapman University economist Raymond Sfeir, adding that the number of Orange County residents who were employed in January was only 3,100 more than a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s household survey.

Read More

Opinion: Two cheers for NIMBYism

A density-only policy tends to raise prices, turning California into the burial ground for the aspirations of the young and minorities. This reflects an utter disregard for most people’s preferences for a single-family home — including millennials, particularly as they enter their 30s. . . Ultimately, the question remains over what urban form we wish to bequeath to future generations. Ours is increasingly dominated by renters shoved into smaller spaces and paying ever more for less.

Read More

Petition challenges Anaheim’s deal for 2 luxury hotels near Disneyland

A group representing union hotel workers and Anaheim residents has submitted a referendum petition with more than 18,000 signatures to the city, challenging the proposed development of two luxury hotels in the Resort District. . . The union has sought a labor partnership with Wincome.

Read More

Editorial: CEQA for thee, but not for me

The refusal of lawmakers to obey their own laws, which they foist upon the rest of the public, is a chief sign of corruption. The repeated exemptions from CEQA for politically connected interests – particularly when it comes to the building that houses most legislators or a new stadium for their hometown basketball team – are evidence of both the inequity of the law and the decadence and hypocrisy of the Legislature. If CEQA cannot be abolished altogether, it should at least be substantially reformed to prevent lawsuit abuses and focus narrowly on legitimate environmental concerns while leaving people free to develop their property without undue hassle and expense.

Read More

State tax credit for third California electric car company

It’s the third tax credit Gov. Jerry Brown’s Go-Biz board has approved in the hyper-competitive electric car market. It previously approved $15 million for Tesla and $10 million for Faraday Future.

Read More

State planners cut $754 million in transportation projects

The California Transportation Commission has adopted more than $754 million in cuts to planned highway, transit and other projects because of falling tax revenues tied to gas prices.

Read More