The shortage of affordable rental housing can be traced directly to the 1980s when the federal government sharply curtailed domestic spending.
Among the pile of bills that the legislature passed at the end of their session and delivered to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk were some significant ones for workers, health, education and the environment. The deadline for Brown to sign the bills was midnight Tuesday.
California became the first state to ban single use plastic bags, the formerly ubiquitous grocery bags that have a special talent for working themselves into waterways, beaches, and sensitive environmental areas.
The statewide ban follows – and replaces – dozens of local bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Senate Bill 270, which the Sacramento Bee called “one of the most contentious bills of 2014,” was authored by state Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach). The latter two joined as authors and helped solidify a majority in the legislature after ensuring that economic incentives would be available to help companies and workers impacted by the change.
Last week a Superior Court judge dismissed a final attempt by community groups to score a victory against the Walmart grocery market that opened in Chinatown last year. The groups’ complaint against Walmart brings up a number of factors that undermine the validity of the Chinatown store’s permits. These include zoning and redevelopment requirements that have not been met, poor record keeping by the City, the lack of current California Environmental Quality Act information about the neighborhood, and the fact that the permits were issued the day before a City Council hearing that could have halted the project.
Walmart has long occupied center stage in the national debate about income inequality because of its low wage jobs and ruthless ability to undercut small local businesses. How, then, did the retail giant plant a 33,000-square-foot flag in the middle of Los Angeles’ urban core, despite long-established safeguards designed to protect the unique neighborhood character of places like Chinatown?