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You might be curious why Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins put out a statement of support after Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s stadium task force released its financing plan this week. After all, there’s hardly any state money in it – save some rent from the local public university and potentially cash for a new river park.
But the state can play a big role in getting a stadium done here. Atkins hints at it in her statement.
“As I have stated previously, if an agreement can be reached, I am committed to making sure San Diego can benefit from state legislation that is consistent with what other cities have received for their sports facilities,” Atkins said.
Indeed, the state has passed legislation that helped Sacramento build a new basketball arena and would have helped two past football stadium projects in Los Angeles. The laws gave those facilities certain exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s landmark environmental law that also draws legions of complaints for its business unfriendliness. This allowed those projects to have a speedier timeline by keeping CEQA lawsuits at bay.
Now, Atkins has committed to do the identical thing for San Diego.
In the past, Atkins could have also used her sway to prevent other stadiums in L.A. from getting the same deal. But a state Supreme Court decision last summer opened an avenue for other cities to gain CEQA exemptions without their own tailor-made state law or a public vote. An L.A. Times editorial last month argued against these rules, and also explained the new process well:
Just in the last two months, two massive football stadium projects have been approved by city councils in Inglewood and Carson without the crucial studies, public analysis and accountability mandated by CEQA. In both cases, developers pitched their projects as ballot initiatives, which are exempt from CEQA. They collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and then, instead of holding an election, the city councils adopted the projects outright.
— Liam Dillon
The Drought Is Finally Sinking in
Programs that give residents rebates for installing turf or drought-resistant plants have been insanely popular in San Diego. The city’s rebate program quickly ran out of money, as did the County Water Authority’s.
Some water officials want the larger Metropolitan Water District to rethink its rebate program, Ry Rivard reported this week, and one of the reasons why actually represents a big win for the state:
But with water now the No. 1 issue in California and mandatory cutbacks in effect across the state, critics of the rebate program question the need for such an expensive program to raise awareness about cutting water use.
“I believe once the governor stepped in and issued his executive order, the public has come to realize this is really serious, they’ve got to do something and one of the main things they need to do is get rid of their lawns,” said Keith Lewinger, one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s representatives on the Metropolitan board.
Indeed, the Field Poll this week found that a whopping 89 percent of those surveyed believe the drought is serious – a much higher level of concern than surveys from the state’s last serious drought. The poll also found strong support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restrictions.
The governor’s revised budget is also pumping money into turf rebate programs “in the state’s underserved communities,” according to the L.A. Times.
Speaking of drought relief efforts, some California farmers are facing mandatory restrictions for the first time ever.
Anderson Makes His Move
Randy Dotinga checked in on the brewing GOP civil war in East County, where state Sen. Joel Anderson is trying to unseat fellow Republican Dianne Jacob, and has won the San Diego County Republican Party’s support.
The party is pumping money into Anderson’s campaign, and has gotten some big donations from people who’d like to see Jacob gone, including San Diego Gas & Electric and construction companies that might be mad about Jacob’s 2011 vote making it harder for some rural property owners to develop their land.
Court to California: Let’s Talk About Sex
The Sacramento Bee noticed this week that despite lots of effort to overhaul teacher tenure and other education issues within the Capitol this year, reformers’ biggest successes have been coming in court. (Most notably, via the decision in Vergara v. California.)
That point was driven home by a Fresno ruling released last week, where a judge found that “Access to medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education is an important public right,” according to the Fresno Bee.
The courts beat the Legislature here, too. San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has introduced a bill called the California Healthy Youth Act, which would integrate HIV/AIDS education with sex ed courses, and would ensure students receive comprehensive teaching about sexual health and contraception. The bill’s still making its way through the committee process.
Golden State News
• A big development in the push to allow terminally ill Californians to end their life with medication (often called Death With Dignity laws): The California Medical Association has dropped its opposition to the Senate’s End of Life Option Act. (KPBS)
• California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye called for an emergency measure to make sure people don’t have to pay traffic tickets before they’ve had a chance to contest them in court. A budget subcommittee backed the measure, including San Diego Sen. Joel Anderson, who said penalties can be “just overwhelming for families working paycheck to paycheck.” (L.A. Times)
• The L.A. Times editorial board, along with every other California human, thinks the government does a bad job engaging people online and putting public information where people can find it. It says there’s a solution, though: An online civic engagement project called DigitalDemocracy.org.
• At least one Twitter prognosticator thinks state Treasurer John Chiang should be in the mix for the still far-away governors race. (If he does run, he’ll have to face questions like this response to the tweet: “Who?”)