There we go.
California is the most populated state in the United States, the 3rd largest state geographically, and the 5th largest economy in the world
. Like mountains? California's got tons, including Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48. Like deserts? We've got multiple ones, with the hottest location on the globe. Like trees? We've got the biggest goddamn trees you've ever seen. Like food? If you eat fruits or veggies in the United States, odds are it comes from California. It's about time it has its own thread, so here you go.
With a big state comes big problems. While it's the most populated state in the country, those populations are concentrated in two specific areas, leading to a significant portion of the state devoted to farmland or sparsely populated. Friction between the cities and the rural areas is constant in many areas of the country, but in California it spreads into one specific resource - water. The majority of the water in the state is deposited as snow or rain into reservoirs mostly located in the northern third of the state over the winter, and that water is transported down the state to population centers over the course of the year. Agriculture accounts for 80% of water usage when not accounting for mandated releases to keep the ocean from invading inward
, and using groundwater is actually physically causing the land in the valley to settle
. As we look to be heading back into a drought after a one-year respite, expect this to be the focal point of most conflicts, with not a whole lot being done because the state Constitution limits the ability of providers to increase water prices (which, in turn, results in more PROFITABLE crops which consume water from being the preferred crops for agriculture).
California is also expensive - lots of people want to live here (for the weather, opportunity, social atmosphere, or other benefits), but housing has not kept pace. The San Francisco Bay Area is ground zero for this, and it's also a problem shared by cities the world over, but California is leading the way. There is a significant amount of focus on this of late, specifically on the difficulty of building new housing (and the inherent NIMBYisms involved there), with 15 bills passed last year and there's more being worked on now
. This, of course, runs into the previously mentioned water rights problems, where solutions to having water for all these new residents is also needed. However, this is a very pressing issue and has led to younger generations effectively being forced into renting for life, because median price for homes has actually broken 7 figures in some regions, which is beyond the reach of many professions.
This has led directly into a massive homeless problem in the state (which is exacerbated by things like Nevada busing discharged mental patients to California cities
). There's way too many articles on the homeless situation to list, but if you go to any given city subreddit in California, it's a CONSTANT theme of posts. LA's homeless population has grown 75% in six years
. It's even pushing into rural counties, with El Dorado County's jumping 122% in two years and Butte County jumping 76%
. Cleanup of a homeless camp in Orange County led to over 1000 pounds of human waste, over 5000 needles, and about 250 tons of trash
. Swimming in the Lower American River contains unsafe levels of e. coli due to human feces
. Of course, no one really knows a proper solution, especially given many of the homeless are mentally ill, so much more of the focus seems to be on pointing fingers
than anything else.
Other stuff which is getting a bit of focus is pushing back against the current national agenda. California is hit particularly hard with the new tax bill, with over 40% of Californians itemizing deductions in 2015, with average deduction of about $18,000 - well over the new SALT cap
. There's two primary things in the works to get around this, a bill which allows Californians to donate to a state fund for an 85%-on-the-dollar deduction in state taxes
, which would circumvent the cap if permitted, and a bill which effectively restores half of the corporate tax cut, but at the state level instead of federal, which would permit lowering of individuals' taxes to help mitigate the SALT cap
. Both of these have obvious concerns - whether the IRS will permit the former, and whether businesses will flee the latter, in particular. Expect this to be in the news quite a bit as well.
Some other stuff on the docket are net neutrality
, ICE raids and how cities are working against them
(up to and including Oakland's mayor giving pre-warning of sweeps to her city), election systems having been previously compromised by Russia
, legalized recreational marijuana and how counties are playing around with it
, gun control
, and a wide variety of other things, including but not limited to those stupid fucking "split the state"
A couple months late, but quick rundown of new laws which went into effect this year
- No California school employee can carry a concealed weapon onto campus, a change from the former rules in which school officials had discretion over the issue.
- Anyone who “willfully recorded a video” of a violent attack that was streamed on a site such as Facebook could receive additional punishment in a California court of law.
- No juvenile offenders have to serve life without parole and those already behind bars would become eligible for release after 25 years. This is part of a series of easing punishment and fines for young people.
- Counties can no longer charge fees to a family for everything from detention to monitoring of juveniles, a policy that critics said hit low-income families and communities of color the hardest.
- Local officials can now make illegal the “open carry” of unloaded shotguns and rifles in urban unincorporated areas, places not covered in an existing ban on carrying handguns in public places.
- Starting July 1, Californians who assemble their own gun — a process one police chief said is now “easier than putting together Ikea furniture”— must first get a serial number from the state Department of Justice.
- Californians convicted of crimes that require them to get rid of their firearms must now prove they’ve done so before their court cases can be closed, a mandate approved by voters in a 2016 ballot measure. Additional punishment can be imposed on those who don’t comply.
- Law enforcement agencies must gather information on sexual assault evidence that hasn’t been tested — known as a “rape kit” — and explain to state officials why nothing’s been done.
- You can’t smoke or consume marijuana in any way while driving or riding in a car on California roadways.
- You can be fined $20 for not wearing a seatbelt on a commercial bus. Drivers will tell you to buckle up.
- Drivers for ride hail companies like Lyft and Uber can be cited for driving under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol content of .04%, the same as other commercial drivers.
- Drivers for ride hail companies such as Lyft and Uber now only need a single permit to drive anywhere in California.
- State officials will do more to crack down on Californians who are misusing disabled driver placards.
- Californians with HIV can no longer be charged with a felony for exposing a partner to the disease, a distinction it used to have from all other communicable diseases.
- Farm animals in California can no longer be given antibiotics without a veterinarian's prescription — a law designed to help lessen the spread of infections that are resistant to antibiotics
- Hazardous chemicals in cleaning products have to be clearly identified on labels and online.
- Owners of gasoline or diesel-fueled cars must pay a new annual fee to help pay for road repairs. The fee ranges from $25 to $175, depending on the vehicle’s value.
- California’s lowest-paid workers are getting a raise, as the 2016 law to phase in a minimum-wage increase has raised that pay to $11 an hour for most businesses. Workers at the smallest companies will see their minimum wages rise to $10.50 an hour.
- Californians will pay a new $75 fee to refinance a mortgage and make other real estate transactions, money to be spent on providing more low-income housing in the state.
- Local law enforcement officials across California have new, strict limits on how much they can help federal immigration authorities — a law that pushes back against President Trump’s policies on illegal immigration.
- A landlord can face civil penalties for threatening to report a renter to federal immigration authorities.
- It now takes a warrant from a judge for federal agents to come to someone’s workplace on an immigration raid, and employers can be fined for not giving workers a 72-hour notice that those agents will be inspecting employee records.
- State agencies that provide help to juveniles and the developmentally disabled no longer have to report immigration violations to the federal government.
- California schools can no longer deny a lunch to a child whose parents haven’t paid their meal fees.
- Schools in low-income communities must provide free tampons and other sanitary products to students in grades six through 12.
- This fall, school buses must have a child safety alert system that requires a driver to make sure no kids are left on the bus.
- Voters in five counties will find their neighborhood polling places closed and ballots sent to them in the mail, the first phase of a shift to the use of “vote centers” across California. The 2018 rollout begins with Sacramento, San Mateo, Madera, Napa and Nevada counties. Los Angeles County can move away from traditional polling places in 2020.
- Following reports of too little help at polling places in 2016 for California voters who speak limited English, more sample ballots in other languages will be available.
- Big donors to state ballot measure campaigns will have to be better identified in political advertisements in 2018.
- New parents at small businesses of at least 20 employees will be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for the child, and won’t lose their health coverage while away.
- When you apply for a new job in California, you can no longer be asked, “How much did you make at your last job?”
- California's equal pay law has been expanded to government jobs in an effort to remove any gender-biased pay rates.
- Beginning in September, Californians can choose a gender-neutral option on their birth certificate for those who are transgender, intersex or don’t identify as male or female. That change will be allowed on a driver’s license in 2019.
- More parents taking high school equivalency or English language courses are now eligible for subsidized child care.
- Some California cities will allow sales of marijuana for all uses, the first retail transactions since voters fully legalized pot in November 2016.
- More buildings, from theaters and restaurants to government offices, must provide diaper changing stations in restrooms for men.
- No more jaywalking tickets can be issued for stepping into a crosswalk after the flashing signal begins — as long as you can still cross safely before time runs out.
- Local officials can place new restrictions on Hollywood bus tours, limiting the streets traveled and loudspeakers on open-topped buses and vans.
- All landlords in the state must provide information about bedbugs — how to identify them and how to report them — to apartment renters and must follow new rules if an infestation is found.
- Using a bullhook to handle or control elephants will be against the law in California.
- If you’re 20 years old or younger, you will need a boater safety card before operating a boat.
- California’s first vegetarian gets a formal title: Augustynolophus morrisi, a plant eater whose fossils have only been found in the Golden State, is now the official state dinosaur.
But legislation isn't the only way that laws can be put into effect. California, in their infinite wisdom, has a proposition system which allows for some crazy shit to get proposed, and sometimes put into effect. Here's what's on the horizon
Confirmed for this June
Confirmed for this November
- $4 billion in bonds for parks, environmental protection, and water infrastructure
- Requires some transportation revenue to be used for transportation purposes, instead of going to the general fund
- Requires a one-time 2/3rds vote to use revenue from cap-and-trade
- Changes date when voter-approved ballot measures take effect
- Excludes rainwater capture systems from property tax assessments
- $4 billion in bonds for housing programs and veterans' home loans
There's 13 more with at least 25% of signatures needed, and a TOOOOOON more which are cleared to collect signatures, so expect both of these to grow.
Speaking of future elections, Jerry Brown's time is up this year, and the race for his successor is heating up. California operates with a jungle primary, where the top two candidates from the open primary make the final ballot. More and more in recent years, this has led to contests between Democratic candidates for the higher offices, and this year looks to be no exception. Gavin Newsom, the current Lieutenant Governor, is the heir apparent, but there's some challengers both on the Republican side as well as from the Democratic side, with current polling showing it likely that either Villaraigosa or Chiang from the D side would be the second candidate to come out of the primary, with John Cox (R) the next-closest contender. Similarly, looking into the US Senate election, Kevin de Leon is challenging Feinstein and looks to be the likely second candidate. This wouldn't be particularly noteworthy except that at this past weekend's party convention, the state party declined to endorse Diane Feinstein
, an uncommon move for an incumbent with as much power as Feinstein has. In fact, de Leon received 54% of the delegate votes (endorsement requires 60%), so he was closer to getting the official party endorsement than she was.
It's a messy, big state out there, and there's lots of little things going on that don't necessarily warrant their own threads, so here's a place for us to discuss.
- This isn't a California general chat thread - while you won't get kicked out for the occasional road trip question, this thread isn't for that purpose and we want to try to avoid that
- There will obviously be some blurring of lines when it comes things like immigration policy and what have you, but this is NOT a thread to bitch about Trump policies. If you're not talking about a specific action being taken by the state government, or a mayor or something along those lines, it's off-topic.
- California's big. Please make sure to clarify/list what part of it you're talking about if it's not immediately apparent
Warning: this post contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.