VOICES-California, a state that once had so much beauty, promise, and opportunity that it was called the Golden State.
Don't hear that phrase anymore. The golden epicenter was Los Angeles. Now the only thing golden is politicians' rhetoric and elegant hypocrisy, pretending they want to make the state better. California’s ruling class is now creating a dystopian reality via top-down regulation, legislative fiat, and wokeness.
Los Angeles, once the bright hope of so many people, is experiencing an exodus out of the City, leaving LA bereft of its best and brightest citizens, and causing its tax base to crumble. In turn, this will deny its persevering residents essential services because the City is bankrupting itself fiscally and socially.
Makeshift lean-tos made of cardboard and tarps sit under nearly every freeway overpass. The mentally ill and junkies stager around the street without restraint, leaving their debris of junk food wrappers, needles, and feces, in many cases yards from multi-million dollar houses. These conditions are brought about by State and City policies that encourage the building of McMansions and luxury high rise apartments. The politicians think creating a glut of luxury housing will somehow lower all housing costs.
Nobody is coming to California because they want to anymore. There is an exodus out of the city and state because people no longer feel safe. The “permitted” riots and looting did not make anyone feel safer and hurt lots of small businesses. The defunding of the police by a $150 million is sure to have repercussions, and crime will go up. If you didn't have to be here, would you raise your family here?
The State Legislature -- still unsatisfied with putting every single-family neighborhood in jeopardy by trying to rezone every lot to carry higher density and more tenants -- just came up with a brilliant idea to drive our most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs out of California with a wealth tax. This proposed tax will raise income taxes from 13.3% to 16.8% on California’s highest earners. The bill is positioned to tax 0.4% of the wealth (not including real estate) of anyone worth over $30 million. Their reasoning? I believe it is to fund the insane debt loads that cities and the state have racked up in the decades leading up to the pandemic. Did you know that Los Angeles’ unfunded pension liability is almost $9 billion, and is the City's largest financial obligation, taking 25% of the Cities budget?
Nothing highlights California's lack of evidence-based planning, and its blissful ignorance of true-cost economics, holistic-analytics, and open-source-engineering as the recent blackouts. Sacramento's penchant for "green energy" doesn't mean it's cheap, clean, abundant, or good for the environment. I believe this passion for "green-energy" is putting our lives at risk. Sacramento has ordered all coastal gas-fired plants to be shut down, with no replacement for the megawatts needed to be produced. And now, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is being closed. It serves three million people. There is no plan to replace this generating capacity.
The whole attitude to planning for the 21st Century’s electrical needs was summed up by Loretta Lynch, a former president of the Public Utilities Commission. Lynch was quoted in the LA Times (09/24/2019):
“. . .extending the coastal gas plants and requiring energy providers to buy thousands of megawatts of new power — purchases that could include additional natural gas — would be diametrically opposed to state goals,” she said. “The PUC has presented ‘zero evidence’ of a need for new power."
Lynch pointed out that the analyses projecting shortfalls don't show California won't have enough power come 2021. Rather, they show utilities might not be able to meet a requirement to have a reserve of 15% more power than they expect to need — a requirement Lynch believes is excessive.
"Everybody knows we're got plenty of power," she said.
But if we can’t power the major appliances in our house, where is the power coming from for our electric car future? According to Steve Goreham, author of Outside the Green Box, "California sacrificed reliable electrical power on the altar of the fight against global warming. There is no evidence that State efforts will have the slightest effect on global temperatures, but they will be great for candle and flashlight sales."
(Eliot Cohen is President of Homeowners of Encino.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.