Pain at the pump not letting up as San Diego gas prices soar

The average price has now risen each day for the last three weeks, including 1.2 cents over the weekend, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. The price has increased 20.5 cents since it began rising 21 days ago. Monday’s average price is 7.2 cents more than a week ago, 26 […]

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Solar jobs down 14% in California, 3.8% nationally

After experiencing consistent year-over-year growth, the number of jobs in the solar energy sector took a hit in 2017, with California absorbing the biggest blow. Solar employment dropped 14 percent in California last year, which was largely responsible for a 3.8 percent decline nationwide, according to the National Solar Jobs Census released earlier this week.

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As car ownership increases among the poor, transit ridership falls

Public transit ridership is falling in Southern California as more low-income residents purchase cars, according to a report released Wednesday by the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. The report was commissioned by the Southern California Association of Governments and analyzed data for the agency’s service territory, including the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San […]

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Reasonable rates’ is stricken from CPUC mission statement

The California Public Utilities Commission has amended its long-standing mission statement, leaving out the idea of ensuring “reasonable rates” for the water and power used by the public. The change comes as state utility regulators have been under criminal investigation for potentially improper backchannel dealings with the utility companies they oversee and facing multiple lawsuits alleging they failed to protect the people they serve. For more than 20 years, the agency mission statement said, “The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.” Under a recent revision, the statement now says: “The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.”

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San Diego boosts police pay up to 30 percent amid staffing crisis

San Diego boosted pay between 25 percent and 30 percent for the city’s police officers on Tuesday to help solve a crisis of departing officers that has lengthened response times, limited proactive policing and ballooned overtime budgets.

The City Council unanimously approved the pay hikes, which also aim to attract recruits to the police academy. They come as the number of officers has dropped to about 1,820 — more than 10 percent below a goal of 2,040.

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Special report: Can we build our way out of the housing crisis?

The Union-Tribune examined if San Diego County can build more housing to slow the pace of rent and home price increases. What we found:

– Zoning changes, emphasis on townhomes and reduced regulation would likely speed up construction;

– Biggest hurdles continue to be anti-growth sentiments and lack of land zoned for housing;

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California Supreme Court rules for farmworkers, and upholds binding mediation

California’s highest court decided unanimously Monday that farmers may have a labor contract imposed on them if negotiations with a union fail to produce an agreement. The state Supreme Court, overturning a lower court ruling, upheld a 2002 law that permits the state to order farmers and unions to reach binding contracts. The Legislature passed the law after determining that farmers were refusing to negotiate with unionized workers. The law allows either side to ask for a neutral mediator and for that mediator to impose a contract covering wages and working conditions.

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Get ready for a bump at the pump in California

California drivers normally catch a bit of a break this time of year when gas stations switch over to winter blends, which usually run about 12 cents a gallon less than summer-blended fuel.

But this year, the switch will coincide with the rollout of a state law to increase the price of gasoline by 12 cents a gallon.

In essence, the hike in the gas tax will nullify the reduction in price associated with the transition to winter fuel.

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SDG&E wants to raise rates 11%, starting in two years

San Diego Gas & Electric filed a request with state regulators late Friday afternoon, asking for an 11 percent rate increase in 2019 and running through 2022.

The utility estimates a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month would see an increase of $6.13 and a typical customer using 25 therms of natural gas would spend $7.57 more on a monthly bill.

If granted in full, the proposal represents a $218 million increase over 2018 rates.

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State Supreme Court takes up appeal challenging San Diego pension cutbacks

The state Supreme Court will review San Diego’s five-year-old pension cutbacks that, if overturned, would require the city to spend millions creating retroactive pensions for more than 3,000 workers hired since 2012. The court voted unanimously on Wednesday to review an April ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal that had vindicated the city and its pension cuts.

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Opinion: Republicans Won with California’s Free-Market ‘Cap and Trade’ Program

Republicans were not just casually supporting this bill. After countless negotiations with the governor, industry groups, taxpayer associations and community groups, Republicans have finally attained an equal seat at the legislative table. To echo the California Manufacturers Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and countless other groups that share the common interest of the taxpayer, a free-market based cap and trade program is much better than a costly “command and control” alternative.

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Market transformation will end dominance of electrical utilities, regulators predict

California is poised for a swift transformation of its electricity landscape — and that could bring tumult if preparations aren’t made soon to maintain quality and avoid reliability problems like rolling blackouts, the state’s leading energy regulator is warning. After decades of dominance by investor-owned utilities, electricity markets in the state are becoming more competitive. Ratepayers today have a growing number of choices for powering their lights, laptops and electric cars — from installing rooftop solar panels and consumer-scale batteries to joining increasingly popular government-run electricity programs known as community choice aggregation, or CCA. Currently, investor-owned utilities such as San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric together buy and sell more than 75 percent of the state’s electricity. Their collective share could plunge to 10 percent within the next five years, with CCA programs causing most of the change, according to the state’s most aggressive forecast. More conservative estimates still show major shifts away from the utilities.

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Editorial: Best thing California Senate, Gov. Brown can do for schools

Here’s a cynical view: Maybe the law’s stated goal wasn’t its real goal. Maybe influential teachers unions wanted to shower big districts with money to pave the way for teacher pay raises denied during the state’s long revenue recession. Want evidence?

On the micro level, consider what happened in Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district. In August 2014, the United Teachers Los Angeles issued a statement calling for a 17.6 pay increase and asserting the raise was affordable because of all the “extra dollars [that] have already flowed into the district as part of the state’s new funding formula.” In May 2015, the union ended up winning a 10 percent, two-year raise, and a year of retroactive higher pay. The following month, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson overruled an underling and said that Local Control Funding Formula money could be used for teacher raises. As Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, immediately pointed out, this is not what the Legislature intended when it passed the law.

On the macro level, consider what’s happened in Sacramento. The Brown administration has been implacably opposed to attempts led by Weber and Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, to determine how school districts have spent their Local Control funds. It doesn’t want the public to know.

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Editorial: Crucial issue for 2018 governor’s race? Middle-class jobs

The new economy is not like the old economy. Once that settles in, there is an obvious strategy to pursue: overhauling our education system so it produces far more people with elite job skills. These skills often involve critical thinking and a facility with science and technology. Fields such as information technology, life sciences, cybersecurity, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence-assisted research and advanced statistical analysis are certain to grow in coming years.

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Report: Housing construction collapses in San Diego County

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.

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