By Tim Hunt
Livermore trustees demonstrating wisdomUploaded: May 23, 2017
Congratulations to the Livermore school trustees for not taking the bait and jumping into the immigration battles.
Unlike Pleasanton and Dublin trustees, who heeded state schools chief Tom Torlakson’s request to declare their districts “sanctuaries and safe havens,” Livermore trustees steadfastly have refused to even put the item on their agenda.
A few determined advocates write letters and speak at meetings, but all five trustees have stayed focused on their job—providing the policy guidance to ensure that children are educated.
The resolutions are meaningless—federal law requires that school districts educate any child who shows up. And, immigration enforcement staff already routinely avoid school campuses.
In short, it’s a political action being pushed by Torlakson and the Democrat party. None of the school districts should have gone there.
The same goes for the cities that continue to embrace the sanctuary policies. Last I checked, federal law trumps state and local rules. It’s curious to see how these officials simply choose to ignore the law. Perhaps the president should find a way to withhold federal law enforcement grants for the cities that do not comply with the law.
The East Bay economy is humming according to Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics.
Speaking recently to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, Thornberg said the economy is a strong as he’s ever seen it since he started studying it in 2003. He expects the unemployment rate in the East Bay will drop below 4 percent this year.
The challenge here, as it is throughout the Bay Area, is lack of housing supply. Median housing prices jumped 70 percent between 2010 and 2015 because the demand was so strong. For those that can afford it, life is good. For others, it means moving to outlying counties and enduring long and difficult commutes.
With the supply so short, affordability is a critical issue. Earlier this year, a Wall Street Journal article pointed out that in 1970, California prices were about 30 percent over the national average. Now, they are 2 ½ times higher.
For non-profit developers of affordable housing, the situation got even worse when Gov. Jerry Brown was elected for his third term and the state budget was in the doldrums. The governor targeted redevelopment agencies for elimination. He succeeded in wiping them out, saving the state and local agencies millions and eliminating questionable projects such as large theater in downtown Livermore.
One casualty of the cuts was funding for affordable housing—the redevelopment law required 25 percent of the funds go to affordable housing.
A report last week by three housing organizations, as reported by Roland Li in the San Francisco Business Times, showed just how dramatically funding has fallen. The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo, collectively saw funding plummet from $250 million in 2008-9 to $65.6 million in state and federal funding. Alameda lost 74 percent of its funding—a decline of $115 million. Ending redevelopment agencies eliminated about $100 million annually.
Last fall, Alameda County voters approved a $580 million housing bond—that will come in quite handy because it will allow the second phase of the new senior project—Kottinger Gardens—to move ahead on schedule. Residents already have moved back into the new homes in phase 1.
The report notes that Alameda County needs 60,173 to meet the needs of low-income residents.
There are a couple of bills moving in the Legislature. One would charge a $75 transaction fee for some real estate filings and would raise between $250-300 million annually for affordable housing. Notably, the state realtor’s association supports the bill giving it a chance of passing although it will take a two-thirds majority in both houses.