Sky-high prices mute California’s economic recovery – CalMatters

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California, explained
In summary
California’s unemployment rate is improving, but inflation, sky-high prices and high interest rates threaten the state’s economic recovery.
Starting today, face masks are once again required for students and staff at Berkeley Unified School District. Los Angeles County on Friday extended its mask mandate for public transit and transportation hubs. State health officials are urging eligible 5- to 11-year-olds to get their COVID-19 booster shot.
The trio of actions comes amid a steady uptick in California’s COVID test positivity rate — which breached 6% on Thursday, just a few days after hitting 5% for the first time since February — and signals further uncertainty for an economy already buffeted by troubling financial winds, including skyrocketing inflation rates.
Against this muddled backdrop, California’s unemployment department on Friday released a report showing the state’s jobless rate fell to 4.6% in April, its lowest during the pandemic and a slight drop from March’s revised rate of 4.8%.
Case in point: California gas prices hit a new record per-gallon high of $6.07 on Sunday, just a few days after passing $6 for the first time in history.
And the median price of a single-family home reached a record $884,890 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors — even as sales dropped 8.5% on an annualized basis.
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,797,890 confirmed cases (+0.5% from previous day) and 90,382 deaths (+0.2% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
California has administered 75,709,724 vaccine doses, and 75.2% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.
Speaking of housing, Newsom did not mince words in a Thursday interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board: “NIMBYism is destroying the state,” he said, referring to communities with a “not in my backyard” mentality that block the construction of affordable housing, duplexes and homeless shelters in their neighborhoods. “It’s critical to hold cities and counties accountable,” Newsom added. “There’s a crisis. Why the hell are you stopping projects? I mean, we’ve seen it over and over.” (Newsom, in the same interview, said he has “sub-zero interest” in running for president and that he is “hopeful” Vice President Kamala Harris will be “the next president of the United States.”)
The person charged with enforcing state housing laws is Attorney General Rob Bonta, who’s effectively become California’s top housing cop. But, if a swath of recent articles are any indication, he’s got his work cut out for him:
If a good compromise leaves everyone dissatisfied, then the current situation in the Sacramento Valley is a textbook example — one where nobody wins and possibly everybody loses. As California’s drought intensifies, no one is guaranteed water: not growers with senior water rights, not endangered salmon, not the migratory birds that rely on wildlife refuges and rice fields as stopovers on their 4,000-mile-long winter pilgrimages to warmer climes, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports in this haunting story. Here’s a look at how the devastation is hitting each group:
Other environmental news you should know:
Already inundated with hundreds of lawsuits alleging childhood sexual abuse stretching back decades, churches, schools and other youth-serving organizations expect to face hundreds more ahead of California’s Dec. 31 deadline for plaintiffs to file civil suits outside of the statute of limitations. Their liabilities could total hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars — as long as the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t side with a group of Catholic bishops challenging California’s “lookback window” as unconstitutional, CalMatters’ Nigel Duara reports.
In related news:
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: As Newsom and lawmakers craft the state budget, they must contend with three uber-complex, voter-approved directives that largely dictate revenue distribution.
Klamath Basin dam removal needs a science-driven oversight plan: The basin is on the cusp of the most ambitious dam removal effort ever attempted, but little money has been allocated to fund the science needed to evaluate it, write Jeffrey Mount of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center and Peter Moyle of UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences.
California’s budget surplus is distracting. // Los Angeles Times
Southern California tenants struggle to find rentals as vacancies linger near 22-year lows. // Daily News
Mayoral rivals argue for progressive moves on homelessness. // Los Angeles Times
Silicon Valley city wants to build affordable housing at ‘the least likely place’: the street where VCs made billions. // San Francisco Chronicle
Freed California siblings feared opposing rundown housing. // Associated Press
California Leavin’: Cost of living, music culture main drivers of California migration to Nashville. // KTLA
Will Los Angeles elect billionaire Rick Caruso for mayor? // Los Angeles Times
Garcetti’s parents hire lobbyist to push for his ambassadorship. // Daily News
California’s schools chief could cruise to a second term, despite criticism. // Los Angeles Times
Cannabis licensing efforts tied to Anaheim corruption investigation. // Orange County Register
Former Sonoma State administrators’ accounts of sexual harassment raise questions about Sakaki’s response. // Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Former San Jose worker gets 35 years for molestation, massage parlor sex crimes. // Mercury News
‘Michael Jordan of COVID testing’: How these political operatives cashed in during the pandemic. // San Francisco Chronicle
An S.F. man said catalytic converter thieves pointed a gun at him. Why did it take police almost two hours to respond? // San Francisco Chronicle
Alameda County court system facing attorney shortage for many defendants. // Mercury News
Santa Clara County has its first competitive D.A. race in more than a decade. // Mercury News
California parents rise up against drug deaths. // California Healthline
California school bus driver charged with giving fentanyl to special-needs students. // Associated Press
Few arrestees in L.A. accept care, housing over charges. // Los Angeles Times
A diversion program has proved to keep young people out of jail. Why hasn’t it grown under Chesa Boudin? // San Francisco Chronicle
S.F. looks to calm its streets with Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit that hires the formerly incarcerated. // San Francisco Chronicle
A new nonprofit from Berkeley and Detroit aims to tackle reparations. // Berkeleyside
California tribal casino workers could be one step closer to unionizing under new ruling. // San Francisco Chronicle
The town at the center of California’s climate refugee crisis. // The Guardian
Companies fined $1.75M in worker death at Bay Area refinery. // Associated Press
How California bureaucrats are using a typo to destroy a fisherman’s dream. // Orange County Register
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