News Blog

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  • Thu, February 20, 2020 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Partnership Sponsors Legislation to Incentivize Affordable Housing Development on Surplus School Properties

    IRWINDALE - The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership has sponsored legislation designed to incentivize the development of affordable housing on surplus school properties. The new bill, SB 1017, is being carried by one of our local lawmakers, Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge).

    “This bill will incentivize school districts to sell or lease surplus properties for vital, new affordable housing,” said Bill Manis, President and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. “By providing greater flexibility in how districts can use the proceeds of a property lease or sale, more land will be available for affordable housing in communities that desperately need it.”

    Declining student enrollment is a challenge school districts across the state have been struggling with for many years. As California grows more expensive to live in and the size of families decline, less students are attending schools. Since state funding is based on average daily attendance, many school districts here in the San Gabriel Valley have had to close schools to save money on operations, personnel, and maintenance. Just last October, Pasadena Unified School District closed three elementary schools and Wilson Middle School. A year ago, Azusa Unified closed Sierra High and Mountain View Elementary. These school campuses are often repurposed for other educational uses but many sit largely empty, sometimes for decades as surplus school properties.

    Why can't schools just sell or lease these properties, especially if they're facing financial difficulties? California state law requires schools to go through a complicated "7-11" Committee process to review the impact selling school property would have on a community. State law also restricts how the revenues of a sale or lease could be used by the district to capital improvements with some limited exceptions.

    SB 1017 provides school districts a menu of new financial options to use the revenues from the sale or lease of surplus school property - but these options are only available if the districts sell or lease for new affordable housing development. Under SB 1017, districts would have the option of using the sale or lease revenues for:

    1) capital improvements, including deferred maintenance;

    2) the option to deposit revenues in the General Fund reserve;

    3) create a new fund to pay for ongoing CalSTRS and CalPERS payments; and

    4) used to offset increasing costs for special needs students.

    “Considering the challenges that California faces regarding funding for public education, pension obligations, and the construction of affordable housing, it does not make sense to me that school districts are hamstrung in how they are able use their assets. I’m hopeful that we can help all three important efforts,” Senator Portantino said.

    For more information about this legislation, contact Brad Jensen, Director of Public Policy for the Partnership bjensen@sgvpartnership.org or (626) 856-3400.

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  • Thu, December 12, 2019 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    A NEW CALIFORNIA POLITICAL DYNASTY?

    IRWINDALE - The American political system was intended to be a sharp departure from the dynastic monarchies of Europe, which periodically plunged their nations - and sometimes the entire continent - into turmoil whenever there was a dispute over succession or who had the proper sovereign claim to neighboring lands. Think of Shakespeare's epic Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V. Americans were republicans and democrats - political power should be given to those who had earned the consent of the governed, and not bestowed upon you simply because of who your parents or family were.

    Strange as it may seem, however, political dynasties have survived and thrived in the rough and tumble electoral politics of the United States. Pick any state in the Union, and usually you can name a significant political family that have dominated its politics. Think of the Tafts of Ohio, the Udalls of Arizona, the Lees of Virginia and the Bushes, Adamses, Roosevelts, and Kennedys. California is no stranger to political dynasties, as the influence of the Brown family - which has produced two extremely influential governors and a state treasurer - has long been intertwined with other influential families in the state like the Pelosies, Newsoms, and Gettys.

    Even though the United States has never had an established aristocracy that compares with those in Europe, family ties remain powerful and advantageous, especially when running for elected office. To follow a parent or sibling into politics allows a candidate to draw upon their preexisting name recognition and all the benefits and baggage that goes with it. A dynastic candidate can also draw upon the loyalty of donors and staff that had supported their parent in the past. Moreover, family ties allow candidates to draw upon the experience, know-how, trust and support of their blood relations. All these advantages show why dynastic candidates can be extraordinarily successful in America.

    This week news broke that two prominent political families may end up vying head-to-head over the open 57th Assembly seat in the 2020 election. Majority Leader Ian Calderon, who has held the 57th Assembly seat since his election in 2012, announced his intent not to run in 2020. Several candidates have since thrown their hats in the ring, most prominently Calderon's stepmother, Lisa Calderon, as well as Sylvia Rubio, the sister of State Senator Susan Rubio and Asm. Blanca Rubio. The Calderon family once featured three brothers in the state legislature - could the Rubios become the first family of three sisters to serve as state lawmakers together? The voters in the 57th Assembly District will decide next year. 

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  • Fri, November 22, 2019 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    FIVE SGV CITIES PLACE SALES TAX INCREASES ON THE MARCH 2020 BALLOT

    IRWINDALE - Five San Gabriel Valley cities - Alhambra, Azusa, La Verne, San Gabriel and West Covina - have placed 0.75% sales tax increases on the March 2020 ballot. If voters approve the measures, these cities will reach the state maximum rate for sales tax at 10.25%. Cities raising their sales tax to pay for city services, facilities, pensions and other financial obligations has been a recent trend as voters in Covina, Pasadena, Pomona, Glendora, Arcadia, Monrovia, Irwindale, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena have all approved sales tax increases in the past two years. Other cities in the region, like Duarte and Montebello, have considered similar measures. Claremont had a sales tax increase narrowly defeated just two weeks ago.

    "Cities are asking their residents to approve sales tax increases because they have rising costs, but also to retain more tax dollars in the city rather than lose it to LA County or other regional agencies," said Partnership President and CEO Bill Manis, himself a former city manager. "Losing local dollars is a serious problem. With so many competing tax authorities, San Gabriel Valley cities and residents worry that they send their precious tax dollars into L.A. but only get pennies back to deal with major problems in their towns like homelessness. Raising the sales tax in the city allows them to retain more revenue for their own services and residents."

    Pasadena Unified School District had discussed placing an $850 million school facilities bond on the March ballot but last night agreed to push it to November 2020. There are significant needs in the district to upgrade the technology available in classrooms and to properly maintain several school facilities. However, Board members felt that more time was necessary to properly inform the public about these needs and to evaluate the spending plan for this measure.

    Bassett Unified School District, located in the central San Gabriel Valley along the 605 freeway between the 10 and 60, will place a $50 million facilities bond on the March 2020 ballot. If approved, the monies raised will be used for a variety of school facility improvements.

    For more information about these measures, contact Brad Jensen, Director of Public Policy at (626) 856-3400 or bjensen@sgvpartnership.org.

  • Wed, November 06, 2019 10:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Sales tax increases approved in four SGV cities, defeated in Claremont

    IRWINDALE - Sales tax increases were approved in Monrovia, Irwindale, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena yesterday while a measure to raise the sales tax in Claremont was defeated by a thin margin of 122 votes. With the approved increases, sales tax rates in the four cities will rise to the state max of 10.25%.

    There has been a distinct trend of sales tax increases being placed before city voters here in LA County over the past two years. Arcadia approved a sales tax increase in June 2019, which was preceded by Glendora in March 2019 and Pasadena and Pomona in November 2018. This trend is due, in part, to ongoing financial pressures facing cities over pensions and cost of services, as well as concern over LA County placing sales tax increases on the ballot, removing part of the taxing "space" available for municipal governments to raise funds from. With the defeat of Measure CR - the third straight city-backed measure to be defeated, with two previous bond measures addressing facility costs for a new police station - the City of Claremont now faces a difficult financial situation with hard decisions ahead for the council.

    San Marino voters agreed to extend an ongoing parcel tax to fund city services while City Council incumbents Steven Huang and Steve Talt were both re-elected.

    Full results from the San Gabriel Valley elections can be downloaded here:


    For additional questions about the election results, contact Brad Jensen, Director of Public Policy at bjensen@sgvpartnership.org or (626) 856-3400.

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  • Thu, September 19, 2019 4:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Governor Newsom signs sweeping independent contractor reclassification bill into law

    IRWINDALE - On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 5 into law, a major piece of legislation that has massive implications for state employment law. The bill codifies a California Supreme Court decision in the Dynamex case, which threw out established state law that allowed workers to operate as independent contractors which did not provide the same rights and benefits as full employees but gave them greater scheduling flexibility and less operational oversight by employers.

    AB 5 had several significant carve outs and exemptions for certain professions, such as physicians, lawyers, and accountants, but much of the news has focused on "gig" workers at Uber and Lyft and the reaction of those companies to this aggressive new regulation by the state of their unique business model. It is estimated that reclassifying all their previously independent contractors as full employees will cost Uber and Lyft $3,625 per driver per year for a combined bill of over $800 million. Uber and Lyft have threatened to place a ballot measure before voters next year to reverse AB 5.

    Labor advocates have argued that independent contracting is a legal loophole that allows companies to shortchange workers on the benefits and protections full employees receive at the price of flexibility. What is less discussed in the press is that independent contracting is a long-established form of employment that many, many companies (and many government agencies) rely on to address important needs at an affordable price. In light of this new regulatory bill, companies will face extremely difficult choices of what to do with their previously independent contractors. Certainly some companies will choose to hire some contractors as permanent new employees but given the high price to do so, it is more likely that more will simply discharge the contractors they've relied on. The overall result is that California companies will be shorthanded and hamstrung without access to affordable labor in their own state, putting them at a severe disadvantage compared to their competitors in the rest of the country while California's formerly independent contractors will find themselves without the flexibility and easy-access gig work they once relied on. Lyft has already notified its drivers that they may soon have to work in specific shifts, in specific areas, and only work for a single ride-share platform.

    Lawmakers are fond of citing the fact that California is the 5th largest economy in the world, frequently in an attempt to say that the state is doing pretty darn well and therefore it can afford to pay a little extra for more regulation in the labor force. What's often overlooked is that the state - with its immense advantages in agriculture, technology, entertainment, and many other industries - should really be the 2nd largest economy in the world, with a vastly larger economy that delivers more wealth and goods for California's millions of residents. Instead, the state struggles with a crippling housing crisis and vast disparities in poverty and opportunity. Perhaps AB 5 results in some contractors being hired full time and enjoying stronger benefits and protections but more likely is less job opportunities all around, less flexibility, less innovation, and a less dynamic economy in a state that prides itself on being forward thinking.

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  • Fri, September 13, 2019 10:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    State Legislature, LA County Enact Rent Control while Independent Contractor Reclassification Bill Passes

    IRWINDALE - It's been a huge week in California politics. The California State Legislature, which will wrap up the 2019 session today, passed a statewide rent control bill that will limit rent increases to 5 percent annually plus inflation while prohibiting the eviction of tenants except for just cause. The measure, AB 1482, will remain in force for ten years. Similarly, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a cap on rent increases in the unincorporated areas of the County, making what was a temporary measure permanent.  While most rent control is enforced by local city rent control boards, it is likely the statewide rent cap increase would be enforced by the courts.

    Lawmakers in Sacramento also passed AB 5, a landmark bill that enacts the controversial Dynamex decision into state law, thereby reclassifying independent contractors as employees. AB 5 initially earned the support of business groups across the state in the hopes that a workable compromise could be found to preserve the flexibility and benefits of working as an independent contractor while legally reconciling state law with the Dynamex decision. However, a grand compromise did not pan out, with individual industries lobbying for special exemptions and carve outs for their workers. Maintaining independent contractor status is important for the broader economy, to allow for career flexibility for employees while employers benefit from a more affordable and flexible workforce. While there was talk of creating a hybrid employee classification somewhere between a fully independent contractor and a full employee, this proposal was never finalized. Particularly upset with the passage of the legislation was prominent gig companies like Uber and Lyft, who have threatened to support a ballot measure to allow voters next year to over turn AB 5.   

    Here's how our San Gabriel Valley state lawmakers voted on AB 1482:

    Yes on AB 1482: Asms. Calderon, Chau, C. Garcia, Friedman, Holden, Rodriguez; Senators Leyva, Portantino, S. Rubio

    Not Voting on AB 1482: Senator Archuleta

    No on AB 1482: Asms. Chen, B. Rubio; Senator Chang

    Here's how our San Gabriel Valley state lawmakers voted on AB 5

    Yes on AB 5: Asms. Calderon, Chau, C. Garcia, Friedman, Holden, Rodriguez, B. Rubio; Senators Archuleta, Leyva, Portantino, S. Rubio

    No on AB 5: Asm. Chen, Senator Chang

    For more information, contact Brad Jensen at the Partnership.

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  • Thu, September 05, 2019 2:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Job Killer bills moving forward in Sacramento as State Legislature nears the end of 2019 session

    IRWINDALE - With less than two weeks left in the 2019 session, lawmakers in Sacramento will soon be voting on major pieces of legislation that will harm the state's economy and impede job creation in California.

    Chief among these harmful bills is SB 1 (Atkins), a bill that creates major regulatory uncertainty by authorizing state agencies to adopt federal rules and regulations without having to follow the Administrative Procedures Act safeguards which requires all new rules to be subject to public comment and review. Moreover, this bill will create more hurdles for the conveyance of water to Southern California by derailing ongoing Voluntary Agreement negotiations. SB 1 is currently on the Assembly floor and could be brought up quickly for a vote.

    Another key bill to oppose is AB 1066 (Gonzalez), which would allow striking employees to claim unemployment benefits after four weeks on strike. This bill is particularly odious as businesses pay into the unemployment insurance fund to assist those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Striking workers have not been fired or laid off - they have employment which they are choosing not to fulfill. By allowing striking workers to draw unemployment insurance, California runs the risk of depleting that fund and not having assistance available during a major economic downturn.

    Finally, AB 51 (Gonzalez) would ban arbitration agreements made as a condition of employment, thereby increasing costs for employers and employees and increasing the chance of litigation. Such a law, if it were to pass, would likely be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and would only delay the resolution of disputed employment claims. Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, noting that it "plainly violates federal law." 

    For a detailed list of more key bills to watch at the close of session, visit the CalChamber's Action Alerts Web page for ways to contact and engage with your lawmakers.

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  • Fri, August 09, 2019 11:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Gold Line backed with additional funding from San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, will complete the line out to Pomona

    IRWINDALE - The Foothill Gold Line will be built to Pomona having obtained crucial additional funding from the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments in a unanimous vote on Thursday night. The Partnership wrote a letter and spoke in support of additional funding for the Gold Line to ensure that the line would be built to Pomona.

    "The Foothill Gold Line is the single most important economic project underway in the San Gabriel Valley," said Partnership President and CEO Bill Manis. "Yes, it's a mass transit system but the Gold Line brings with it development incentives to build thousands of new homes, add thousands of new jobs, and brings billions in investment to the region. Its completion is absolutely vital."

    A total of 27 San Gabriel Valley cities backed the project, agreeing to assign special reserve funds to the Gold Line project, whose cost estimates had increased due to the high demand for steel and labor in the broader economy. It is hoped that the Gold Line will be completed from its current terminus in Azusa through Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and to Pomona by 2025.

    The Partnership is pleased to see the strong support for the Gold Line in the region and wishes to thank our cities and their representatives to the COG Board for the vote in favor of funding the project.

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  • Fri, August 09, 2019 9:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    State rent caps, data privacy, major labor bills in limbo as State Legislature reconvenes

    SACRAMENTO - State lawmakers will return to the State Capitol on Monday to begin the final session of the year with major legislation pending on a host of topics including data privacy regulations, a statewide cap on rent increases, and significant changes to state labor law.

    "This has been a very significant year in Sacramento as lawmakers try to gauge what Governor Newsom will sign and support," said Partnership President and CEO Bill Manis. "After eight years of Governor Brown - who was willing to veto bills he felt were too costly, poorly thought out, or just plain silly - lawmakers have rolled out many bills that push the envelope to see what Governor Newsom will do when presented with similar bills."

    Data privacy has been a major issue all year long as last year's deeply flawed bill, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is scheduled to go into effect January 1st, 2020. Several common-sense fixes to the CCPA have moved forward in the State Legislature but have yet to cross the finish line. AB 25 (Chau), which clarifies the definition of a consumer in the CCPA is still moving forward as is AB 846 (Burke), which will allow companies to continue customer loyalty programs like frequent flier miles. AB 874 (Irwin) clarifies language in the CCPA on what is personal information under the law, AB 1146 (Berman) clears up language on vehicle recalls and warranty repairs, and AB 1564 (Berman) establishes alternate ways customers can contact companies for customer complaints. Each of these bills will be heard in Senate Appropriations, a committee chair by Senator Anthony Portantino, who represents Glendale, Pasadena, and the foothill cities in the State Senate.

    Tenant protections has been championed by Governor Newsom this year and a recently amended bill, AB 1482 (Chiu), will follow newly enacted rent cap legislation in Oregon to cap rent increases across California at 7% per year plus an allowance for inflation (usually 2.5%). This measure, if passed and signed into law, would be in force for the next three years. This bill is also in Senate Appropriations.

    Finally, two labor bills will upend established state law regarding employer-employee relations. AB 51 (Gonzalez) prohibits arbitration of labor and employment claims as a condition of employment. This aggressive bill is likely preempted by federal labor law, which clearly allows employers to require agreement to arbitration to settle employee-employer disputes as a condition of employment. AB 51, if passed, will also expose employers to criminal liability and adds another private right of action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, inviting more litigation at marginal benefit to employees in the state. AB 1066 (Gonzalez) would allow employees who are out on strike during a labor dispute to apply for unemployment insurance after four weeks. Unemployment insurance is intended to assist employees, who, through no fault of their own, are forced to leave their employment. Employers pay for unemployment insurance to assist these employees. Striking workers are still employed and have voluntarily chosen not to work as a negotiating tactic. It is fundamentally unjust for these workers to draw unemployment insurance while they still have employment, thereby depleting these insurance funds for those who truly need assistance. Both of these bills are in Senate Appropriations.

    The Partnership will visit Sacramento next week to meet with our lawmakers and will advocate for legislation that will improve the business environment of the state while encouraging the defeat of legislation that harms the economy.

    For more information, contact Brad Jensen, Director of Public Policy, at the Partnership or by email bjensen@sgvpartnership.org.

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  • Thu, August 01, 2019 2:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Governor Newsom signs Partnership-opposed bill adding more environmental reviews to the Cadiz Water Project

    IRWINDALE - Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 307 (Roth), a bill opposed by the Partnership, that sets a terrible precedent of allowing the State Legislature to arbitrarily select infrastructure projects to undergo additional environmental review. This will require the Cadiz Water Project, which has already passed the required environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and defended those clearances 12 times in court, to undergo yet another environmental review.

    "The signing of SB 307 is an absolute disaster for the State of California," said Partnership President and CEO Bill Manis. "It will embolden the State Legislature to slap additional environmental reviews on any controversial infrastructure project in the hope of killing them. It is completely unjust and upends the reasonable expectation that there is one set of rules, that if followed, will allow projects to be built and completed."

    The Cadiz Water Project is located in the high desert of San Bernardino County. It is estimated the project can produce tens of thousands of acre feet of water each year to be delivered to the urban areas of Southern California. While it has already passed environmental review, and defended those results in court multiple times, it will proceed with the new required review process, assured that it will be cleared again to proceed.

    In a statement regarding the signing of SB 307, Cadiz, Inc. said:

    “We look forward to working closely with the Governor's office, the State Lands Commission and other State Agencies as we complete this fair, public and transparent procedural step and we are confident that we will continue to demonstrate that the Project is environmentally sound and a worthy part of the solution to California’s persistent water supply challenges. 

    “California is home to over a million people who lack access to safe, clean, reliable drinking water. Over the long-term we face a statewide supply-demand imbalance that requires a successful water resiliency strategy, especially if we seek to achieve the State's objectives of providing water and housing for all.   We believe a fact-based evaluation of the Project conducted under the Governor’s watchful eye will undoubtedly conclude we can sustainably contribute to this effort.”

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San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership

4900 Rivergrade Road, Suite B130, Irwindale, CA 91706

Phone: (626) 856-3400    Fax: (626) 856-5115

Email: info@sgvpartnership.org

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