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California Environmental Quality Act delays new home build in San Diego even without an environmental reason

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I grew up in California, and I’m the last member of my family to live here. One of my sisters and her family moved to Oregon. For her family, it wasn’t an economic issue as much as a quality of life issue. In a recent ranking of states, California ranked the worst state for quality of life.

My parents recently bought a home in Las Vegas, and my eldest sister already lives out there. In the past two years, my family has moved out of California because of taxes, cost of living, quality of life, traffic, and a whole host of other issues.

California’s middle-class is leaving because California isn’t the “Golden State” it once was.

One major issue we are facing in California is a housing crisis, and it isn’t due to lack of developers wanting to build more housing. One main reason is overbearing government regulations.

The Building Industry Association recently commissioned a study that found that up to 40 percent of the cost of a new home is attributable to the 45 regulatory agencies that govern home building in California.

As a candidate for California State Controller, I will not have any legislative ability to address this issue, but I plan to introduce Trickle-up-Taxation to voters with a ballot initiative in 2020. Trickle-up-Taxation will indirectly help to solve our housing crisis because with Trickle-up-Taxation, regulatory reform and realigning of regulatory agencies will be necessary, and those reforms will not only help with the housing crisis but a myriad of other failed state governmental policies and structures.

Trickle-up-Taxation isn’t just about bringing much-needed tax dollars into your community to address the needs of your community. Trickle-up-Taxation will give greater flexibility to your local elected officials to streamline new development and cut down costs.

A perfect example of overbearing government regulation is the halting of a dilapidated California Theatre building in downtown San Diego. A theatre that has been closed since 1990 has fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition for a new 40-story residential tower.

The new construction has been halted because the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that a city’s environmental report includes several alternatives for the site including at least one preservation alternative.

Since the city’s report did include several alternatives, it did not consider at least one preservation alternative. Thus the court ruled that a new report had to be issued and at least one preservation alternative must be considered.

My question is, why should one preservation alternative even be considered? The building is from 1927, in disrepair, and its contaminated with lead and asbestos. Cleaning up asbestos and lead is very expensive, and no developer in their right mind would spend the millions necessary to remove that and preserve a building that will not bring in a reasonable rate of return or even a profit.

CEQA and the State of California should have no say in what happens to this building. We already have codes on how to properly clean up and dispose of asbestos and lead, and those codes are needed but spending thousands of dollars to consider preserving a building the owner and the city do not want, is utter nonsense.

Does regulatory reform that Trickle-up-Taxation ensure your city will do the right thing?

No, it doesn’t. San Francisco has proven that its local elected officials can delay development for over five years and require the owner to pay over a million dollars and doing study after study and still delaying the new housing development with nonsense that a building that was built in 1924 and was gutted when it was turned into a laundromat may have, but weren’t not sure, have some historical significance because neighborhood groups used the land once upon a time.

Government regulations are necessary for the protection of residents and the environment. I’m not arguing government doesn’t play a role, what I am arguing is that in the San Diego case, CEQA and the State of California have overstepped their bounds and are medlying in what should be a local issue, not a state issue. If San Francisco wants to make it difficult for their developers then so be it, they have that right.

My opinion is CEQA, and the State of California is delaying housing that is desperately needed and due to their government overreach, are adding millions of dollars of cost to new home build projects and thus will result in more expensive homes and years of delays.

Therefore, fewer people will be able to afford decent housing, and if they can’t find housing they will do what my family and many other Californians are doing; they are leaving the state for greener pasture elsewhere.


Konstantinos Roditis is a candidate for California State Controller. You can learn more about his campaign at cacontroller.com, and you can follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

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Guns and Crime

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

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France shooting 2 dead several wounded in Strasbourg

PARIS (AP) — A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed two people and wounded up to eight others, officials said, sparking a major security operation around a world-famous Christmas market on Tuesday. Authorities said the shooter remains at large.

The motive for the shooting is unclear. It wasn’t immediately clear if the market was the target of the attack or if there was any link to terrorism.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters that the gunman has been identified, and had a police record for common crimes. He several of the wounded were in critical condition and that he was heading to Strasbourg.

The French Interior Ministry called on the public to remain indoors.

“Our security and rescue services are mobilized,” Castaner said.

Local authorities tweeted for the public to “avoid the area of the police station,” which is close to the city’s Christmas market. Strasbourg’s well-known market is set up around the city’s cathedral during the Christmas period and becomes a major gathering place.

Images from the scene show police officers, police vehicles and barricades surrounding the sparkling lights of the market.

The European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, was on lockdown. Spokesman Jaume Duch said that “the European Parliament has been closed and no one can leave until further notice.” It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were inside.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that “my thoughts are with the victims of the shooting …. Strasbourg is like no other a city which is a symbol of peace and European democracy.”

France has been hit by several extremist attacks, including the 2015 Paris shootings, which killed 130 people and wounded hundreds, and a truck attack in Nice that killed dozens in 2016.

Some Strasbourg residents have reported on social media that they heard gunfire in some parts of the city center.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted that “the situation is still underway, priority is given to security forces and rescuers.”

President Emmanuel Macron has adjourned a meeting at the presidential palace on Tuesday night to be able to monitor the events, his office said.

Strasbourg, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Paris, is on the border with Germany.

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Democrats

Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall, shutdown

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Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders are seeking to avert a partial government shutdown amid a sharp dispute over Trump’s border wall and a lengthy to-do list that includes a major farm bill and a formal rebuke of Saudi Arabia for the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump is set to confer Tuesday at the White House with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer ahead of a Dec. 21 deadline to shut down a range of government agencies.

“Republicans still control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement Monday.

“Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown,” the Democrats said, adding that Trump “knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.”

Republican congressional leaders have repeatedly said it’s up to Trump to cut a deal with Democrats, an acknowledgement of their own inability to produce spending bills with Republican votes alone.

That gives Democrats some momentum heading into the closed-door talks, which also could veer into Trump’s request for emergency funding for deadly wildfires in California and a Republican-sponsored bill to extend expiring tax breaks and delay some health care taxes.

Before lawmakers adjourn for the year they also may consider a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.

By far the biggest unresolved issue is the border wall. Trump wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for it, an idea Democrats have flatly rejected.

Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a bill that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Sept. 30. The homeland bill includes about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures at the border.

If Trump does not agree to that, Democrats will likely urge a continuing resolution that funds all the remaining appropriations bills at current levels through Sept. 30, an aide said. The aide was not authorized to discuss strategy by name and requested anonymity.

Trump said Friday that Congress should provide all the money he wants for the wall and called illegal immigration a “threat to the well-being of every American community.”

At an appearance in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump accused Democrats of playing a political game and said it was one he ultimately would win.

“I actually think the politics of what they’re doing is very bad for them,” Trump said of Democrats. “We’re going to very soon find out. Maybe I’m not right. But usually I’m right.”

Pelosi, who is seeking to become House speaker in January, said she and many other Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive” and noted that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, an idea Mexico has repeatedly rejected.

Protecting borders “is a responsibility we honor, but we do so by honoring our values as well,” Pelosi said last week.

Schumer said Democrats want to work with Trump to avert a shutdown, but said money for border security should not include the concrete wall Trump has envisioned. Instead, the money should be used for fencing and technology that experts say is appropriate, Schumer said.

“We do not want to let a Trump temper tantrum govern our policies or cause the shutdown of a government, which everyone on both sides of the aisle knows is the wrong idea,” Schumer said. If Trump “wants to shut down the government over Christmas over the wall, that’s his decision,” he said.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Trump was all that stands between fully funding the government and a shutdown.

“Time and again, President Trump has used the government of the American people as a bargaining chip for his fabricated solution to his manufactured crisis,” Leahy said Monday in a Senate speech.

Trump “wants to score a made-for-reality-TV moment and he doesn’t care how many hardworking Americans will suffer for it,” Leahy said. “This is not about border security. This is about politics, pure and simple.”

But House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Democrats were the ones playing politics.

Trump “wants to secure the border. He got elected president on that platform,” Scalise told Fox News Channel.

If there’s a better way to secure the border than the $5 billion plan Trump has laid out, Democrats “need to come with an alternative,” Scalise said Monday. “They can’t come and say they want to shut the government down for no reason because they don’t want border security. They’ll lose that argument with the American people.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday he does not believe Trump or Democrats want to shut the government down.

“When I was with him the indication was he didn’t want to shut the government down, but he did want his wall,” Shelby said.

___

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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Conspiracy Theory

NIAC report shows America is insanely ill-prepared for a catastrophic power outage

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NIAC report shows America is insanely ill-prepared for a catastrophic power outage

In the United States, many citizens take the power grid for granted. There has never been a nationwide catastrophic power outage in our history. While localized events like Hurricane Katrina exposed our inability to handle smaller scale long-term outages, an alarming report by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) says we’re still not ready for a wide-scale outage.

While our preparedness remains insufficient, the ways in which a catastrophic power outage could occur have increased dramatically. Between higher potency of natural disasters, the rise of cyberterrorism, electromagnetic events from space, and a high risk of electromagnetic attacks, the potential for such an event are higher than ever before. At this point, such events would cripple the nation, perhaps irreversibly.

The 94-page report is loaded with things one might think came from The Onion. It warns that since the council was formed in 2001, the threat risks have outpaced improvements in countermeasures. Perhaps the most alarming takeaway is that there is currently no established protocol to follow from top to bottom in case of such an event.

At this point, we’re still at the recommendation stage of determining who would be in charge of efforts to stabilize the power grid in case of catastrophic failure. While the report recommends the Secretary of Homeland Security would be in charge over both the Department of Energy and Department of Defense, that designation has not been officially made. It’s hard to imagine DHS taking command of the military in any circumstance, but that’s essentially what the report recommends.

As the Washington Examiner says, it may be time for preppers to ramp up their efforts while non-preppers should reconsider their stance.

Start prepping! Electric grid ‘prime target’ of terrorists, ‘profound threat,’ says DHS

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/start-prepping-electric-grid-prime-target-of-terrorists-profound-threat-says-dhsThe report is an urgent call to action to organize a uniform reaction to a grid attack, harden it from attack, warn of the threats and push regular Americans into preparing for the worst.

It also calls for federal spending instead of a reliance on rate hikes by individual utilities to fix their systems and said that $1 spent to protect the grid will save $6 in the case of recovery.

“The power grid is a prime target for attack by nation states, and it is not fair for ratepayers to bear the full burden for this national security function,” said the report, which looked at the potential of a “catastrophic” half-year blackout that could impact 75 million.

My Take

Yes, it’s time to prepare. The threats are so numerous and some of them are so easily achievable through terrorism, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been hit yet.

As noted earlier, it’s very discouraging that in the event of a nationwide catastrophic power outage, nobody in DC knows exactly what to do. Keep in mind, this isn’t the type of report where they would hold back information for the sake of lulling our enemies into a state of complacency. We would want them to think we had a clear handle on any situation they could dream up. If anything, this report increases the chances that someone would make an attempt.

What’s worse is that the report recommends essentially handing over control of recovery efforts to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Currently, that person is Kirstjen Nielsen. While she seems competent enough to handle her duties, there have been questions about her job security. Her biggest defender has been Chief of Staff John Kelly and he’s on his way out this month. Will Nielson be next? If so, would an attack on our power grid be timed by our enemies during a transition period? Scary thought.

It isn’t just the government who seems completely unprepared based on the report. Most Americans are scarcely able to survive a week without a trip to the grocery store. Alarmists have been screaming for years. Today, it may be time to start listening.

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