Entries categorized "Money"

CTC joins Davis in rejecting science & climate realities and funds Yolo 80

CTC's $105M highway widening grant shows it has lost the plot when it comes to following Governor Newsom’s and the Legislature’s stated climate directives.

By Carter Rueben (NRDC) and Alan Hirsch

On May 16 the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved $105 million from the State’s Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP) to widen a stretch of Interstate 80 from Davis to Sacramento. In the room and on the Zoom feed, dozens of Davis and Sacramento-area and statewide advocates called in to ask CTC to reject the funding and push Caltrans to provide real congestion relief and reduced environmental impacts.

NRDC identified TCEP in a 2023 report, "Closing the Climate Investment Gap," as the state program that most heavily invests in highway widening in contravention of our state’s climate goals.

 A study commissioned by the California State Transportation Agency came to a similar conclusion. 

By NRDC’s latest estimate, CTC has granted over $2 billion total to more than 50 highway expansion projects since the TCEP program was created in 2018, even though the program is able to fund projects that are wins for both goods movement and the environment, like truck and train electrification projects and rail grade separation projects.

We're at a pivotal time when the state’s climate laws require the state to dramatically scale up rail lines, bus routes, and active transportation corridors, while investing in electrification efforts that zero-out tailpipe pollution. Yet, the TCEP highway widening projects are doing just the opposite – collectively adding hundreds of millions of additional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) across the state per year. This is a trend we can and must reverse, as our friends at NextGen Policy detailed in their report, California at a Crossroads.

The Yolo 80 project is indicative of the systemic issues at Caltrans and CTC and retro-thinking by Yolo County and city elected officials that reject their own climate action plans drawn up by 5 local citizen climate to enable Caltrans.

What makes the Yolo 80 highway widening particularly striking?

Continue reading "CTC joins Davis in rejecting science & climate realities and funds Yolo 80" »


Final I-80 EIR released - an embarrassment of errors that sets up Caltrans for Legal challenge

I-80- causeway narrower lane cross section
By Alan Hirsch

On Wednesday May 1, the 1971 page (plus 345-page appendix)- final EIR for yolo80 was released. The 139 comments take up nearly 71% of the pages.   – 108 of the 139 were from individuals, not government agencies, cities or  environment groups with paid staff.  This highlights the  fact this science-defying proposal from Caltrans has become “the most controversial freeway project in the state.” 

-----------------------
 NOTE: The last chance to comment on the funding will be at California Transportation Commission Meeting Thursday May 16, By Tuesday send any comments. (esp inadequately funded mitigation plan, induced demand negates any congestion relief, no environmental justice plan for tolls)
to [email protected]
Subject: Widening I-80 with a Expensive Toll lane.
Pro-Tip: use 14 or 16 pt font for short email.

--------------------------

The EIR concluded that despite the widening the freeway will generate 158M more miles of driving (VMT) a year...equal to adding over 11,000 more cars to the road and should be built based on “Statement of  Overriding concern” as it has benefit to reducing congestion- Even  though everyone agree this is wrong as congestion will return within less than ten years.  It is also strange given  their VMT Mitigation plan only offsets 55 Mil VMT miles year of the additional driving and ignores the nearly 50Million of additional a truck.

Adding capacity via toll lanes only guarantee richest member of community- and groups of Tahoe travelers  never faces congestion.

The EIR also ignores any analysis of increased danger from narrowing lanes and permanently removing shoulders. (see diagram)   

The ability of the proposed mitigation plan to provide a carbon/VMT offset is taken to higher degrees of absurdity to somehow claim the project tolls will fund adequate mitigations- and have money left for a social equity/environmental Justice  program into perpetuity.

Public not told about public hearing on toll levels.

Continue reading "Final I-80 EIR released - an embarrassment of errors that sets up Caltrans for Legal challenge" »


Four Million CA Households Fleeced for Utility Profits and Never-Ending Rate Hikes.

Objecting to cpuc

By Scott Steward

State leadership is about to let utilities gouge you. Three days before the end of the 2022 legislative session, legislators passed AB 205, a utility flat tax introduced by Newsom as a rider. The bill passed without public discussion.  

Now, the CPUC is allowing utilities to hit four million ratepayers with a $24/month utility tax. The hardest hit will be those with a small energy footprint, working families and seniors living in apartments and small homes, as well as people with rooftop solar. (Find out more about the STOP THE UTILITY TAX here). (CALL TO ACTION, MAY 9TH IN SACRAMENTO).

The Utility Tax will add to the pain that these four million households are already feeling from never-ending rate hikes, which have increased by over 30% in California in the last two years.

The CPUC is letting the utilities increase taxes, electricity, and gas rates without a cap, which means the pain will only get worse in the years to come. The $24/month tax is just the start. Utilities have made it clear that they intend to raise the utility tax to $80 a month or more.

More than 250 nonprofit groups and 20 legislators supported AB 1999, which would have capped the Utility Tax at a sensible $10/month and pegged any increases to inflation. But Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas pulled the bill out of the Assembly Utility and Energy Commission (that had the votes to pass the bill).

Continue reading "Four Million CA Households Fleeced for Utility Profits and Never-Ending Rate Hikes." »


The I-80 Whistleblower was clearly Right

I-80 causeway 4th lane done 2024 04 14 sketch 2

By Alan Hirsch

The Caltrans whistleblower Jamie Wald-Waller accused Caltrans district 3 to beginning widening the causeway illegally- using  SHOPP-money   i.e.  funds reserved to maintain pavement surfaces. If you drive California freeway you know how short we are here on money to maintain what we already  have.

But not only does this action by Caltrans a the misappropriation of funds,  it is wildly illegal to widen a road without going thru the environmental process.

 You can see it happen in this picture of the causeway= the have repaved the center shoulder it already is a new 4th travel lane. This picture was on West Sac End of the causeway east bound on Sunday  4/14/24.  You can also notice I-80/ Reed Ave  bridge in West Sac is  being widening for the new toll lanes with money that was supposed to be only used for road maintenance.

Caltrans official I District 3 will likely get away with no consequences.

Even if you think we need the widening, should it not go thru the legal process---that has enabled added thousand of miles of new lane in the past?

This reflect a culture of corruption: If Caltrans District 3 is institutionally willing to do, why should anyone trust them on any report or application?

It seems if you have enough money the law is not an impediment to accomplishing your goals. One can also question who the elected officials in Yolo County who have said not a word as this illegal behavior works to accomplish their goals.


Soroptimist financial empowerment talk is April 24

SueWestwood 1
Sue Westwood (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Taxes & Accounting will be the topic of the Wednesday, April 24 meeting of Soroptimist International of Davis. The free program will be from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the conference room at University Inn and Suites, 1111 Richards Blvd., Davis.

Soroptimist International of Davis is empowering local women by offering a series of financial literacy talks. The programs are educational and free from sales pitches. They focus on the issues females face in the financial world, including a gender pay gap, smaller pensions than men, and continued patriarchal attitudes.

Certified Public Accountant Sue Westwood, a partner at Carbahal & Company in Davis, will discuss tax issues that are especially important to women.

This is the third of a four-part financial empowerment series. Topics have included Women & Investing, and Life & Liability Insurance. The final one, on Estates, Wills & Trusts, will be May 22, featuring Davis family law attorney Raquel Silva. Guests may attend one or all sessions. Lunch is provided by the club, with donations accepted to cover costs. First-time guests are always free.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. It was founded in 1921 in Alameda County. Soroptimist International of Davis was chartered in 1954. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. Its core values are gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.

SI Davis offers cash Live Your Dream Awards to female heads of household seeking education or training, and assists King High students through its Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program. It also funds high school scholarships, and grants to nonprofits that align with the Soroptimist mission.

SI Davis members meet twice a month on Wednesdays – once at lunchtime and once in the evening – and connect for other fun activities and service. Learn more at https://www.sidavis.org/.


Soroptimist financial literacy series begins Jan. 24

Jenkukis
Jen Kukis (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Women and investing will be the topic of the Wednesday, Jan. 24 meeting of Soroptimist International of Davis. The free program, open to the public, will be from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the conference room at University Inn and Suites, 1111 Richards Blvd., Davis.

Women experience a gender pay gap and have smaller pensions than men, yet they live longer. They also spend more time caring for others, which impacts their income and savings. Soroptimist International of Davis wants to empower local residents by offering a series of financial literacy talks. The programs are educational and free from sales pitches.

Jen Kukis, an Edward Jones financial adviser from Davis, will give the Jan. 24 presentation, Future programs, each led by a new financial expert, will be Feb. 28, April 24 and May 29.

With five money questions, Kukis will help attendees identify their financial goals and set strategies. Participants will be given tools to assess their financial positions, establish objectives, and begin formulating plans on ways to get there while staying on track.

Lunch is provided by the club, with donations accepted to cover costs. First-time guests are always free.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. It was founded in 1921 in Alameda County. Soroptimist International of Davis was chartered in 1954. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. Its core values are gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.

SI Davis offers cash Live Your Dream Awards to female heads of household seeking education or training, and assists King High students through its Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program. It also funds high school scholarships, and grants to nonprofits that align with the Soroptimist mission.

SI Davis members meet twice a month on Wednesdays – once at lunchtime and once in the evening – and connect for other fun activities and service. Learn more at https://www.sidavis.org/.


I-80: No such thing as a Free $86m Lunch

On Tuesday, let’s hope council is more curious than YoloTD on DEIR

By Alan Hirsch

Funds
Slide from YoloTD slide presentation on I-80 DEIR December 11 when the  board decided it was OK with the DEIR and mitigation plan. It does not disclose that the DEIR requires Yolo commit to $50m/year mitigation spending.

At the YoloTD board meeting on December 11 the YoloTD staff the presented the I-80 project. After 6 public comment, and 16 ½ minute discussion they unanimous decided to accept the DEIR, it VMT mitigation plan, and the staff recommend alternate 4. HOT3+

These are the slide staff presented.

https://yolotd.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/2023-12-11_YoloTD-BoardSlides.pdf

No one at the meeting unpacked the ongoing financial obligation of mitigation that YoloTD took on as part of the DEIR

..... in turn for getting the $86 million in free starter money for the project

The VMT/GHG  mitigation plan is on slides 15-19—which lists all the 7 mitigation measures.

Its bit confusing so let me unpack – before the Tuesday council meeting.

Continue reading "I-80: No such thing as a Free $86m Lunch" »


Green Finances: Align Your Money with Your Values

Cathy Cowan Becker headshot2
Cathy Becker, Green America Responsible Finance Campaign Director (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Looking to align your money with your values? Cool Davis will be hosting two online “Green Your Finances” events this winter; the first is coming up soon on Wednesday, November 15th online at 6 pm PST focused on banking and highlighting associations and institutions that offer green banking and credit cards and their associated criteria and benefits. Our presenter is Cathy Becker, Responsible Finance Campaign Director with Green America. Enjoy a discussion between Cathy and our moderator, Cool Davis Board member Rekha Vaitla, Investment Officer for Sustainable Investment and Stewardship Strategies at CalSTRS, with a chance to ask questions at the end. These events were organized in support of the Yolo Earth Day pledge. Email [email protected] for more information.

Sign up today: www.cooldavis.org/pledge

Cool Davis will be hosting the second event in January focused on investments. We’ll be busting the performance myth, explaining the difference between divestment and engagement, and clarifying terms such as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) ratings. Get all the details by signing up for our newsletter at www.cooldavis.org/signup/.

Explore strategies to make your dollars even greener! A great way you can make a positive climate impact is to be more conscious about where your money is going … especially when you’re not using it. Many financial institutions lend, invest, or engage in projects that contribute to climate change, but you have the power to vote with your dollar by greening your finances.

Cool Davis works to create enduring community resilience through equitable and inclusive strategies that lower greenhouse gas emissions and help our region adapt to a changing climate. Green America is a nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of socially responsible investing for almost 40 years. Green America harnesses economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. They offer information, campaigns, and an extensive PDF guide to socially responsible investing (SRI) with a few pages covering banking and credit cards as well.


Think PG&E Rates Are Too High? They Are in Imminent Danger of Skyrocketing Into the Stratosphere

By Dan Cornford

Davisites should be aware of what I was not aware of until a week or so ago.  Your PG & E bills are set to go way up and proposals are being made to further dis-incentivize solar power.  We are about to be a hit with a barrage of proposals that took me some time to disentangle.   PG & E and other major utilities are hitting consumers from three different angles.  In two instance the CPUC will likely make a final decision on proposals at its November 2 meeting.  So, if you share my concern, please read this article and take some of the actions I suggest at the end of it—most will take only a few minutes of your time.

I am sure I need not regale you with info on PG & E moral and legal culpability for a whole series of recent fires going back to 2017, but PG & E culpability for such events ( read the entry on PG & E in Wikipedia) goes back decades not to mention the San Bruno pipeline explosions of 2010 that killed 8 people and injured 58.

After the rash of major fires, 2017-2022 and findings of PG & E’s legal culpability, there appeared to be some brief prospect of meaningful state intervention by Governor Newsom and the state legislature as PG & faced the prospect of bankruptcy and our governor threatened a public takeover of PG & E.   But this came to nothing, and unsurprisingly in view of the fact that PG & E has regularly made large donations to the campaigns of Governor Newsom and many others in the state legislature.

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/investigations/governor-newsom-most-state-lawmakers-took-money-from-convicted-felon-pge/103-2414790f-3a19-4411-92c2-fe23b519d646

Continue reading "Think PG&E Rates Are Too High? They Are in Imminent Danger of Skyrocketing Into the Stratosphere" »


It Does Pencil Out

2 + 2 = By Larry D. Guenther

We often hear from developers that a building required by existing zoning “doesn’t pencil out” and that they therefore must be allowed to build bigger. Several issues make this claim suspect.

First, developers never show the math they use to make this statement. Never.

Secondly, there appears to be no set building size that does ‘pencil out’. Proponents always ask for one more story. If the zoning is two stories, they insist it won’t work, but three will. If the zoning is 3, they need 4. If the zoning is 4, they need 5, etc.

Thirdly, there are plenty of examples that contradict these statements: the Roe Building on the SW corner of 3rd and C St. (3 stories, mixed use); Central Park West across from Central Park (2-1/2 stories, residential); Pizza and Pints (1 story, commercial); the most recent Ace Hardware addition on 3rd St. (1 story, commercial); The Arbors on C St. (3 stories, mixed use); the building on the SW corner of G and 5th St. (3 stories, mixed use), etc.

Fourth: developers site the increase in material costs as part of their reasoning (the number 15% is suspiciously common and has been cited before and during the Pandemic). While material costs definitely increase over time, they certainly increase far less than residential rents. Material costs are also a one-time expense, while rental income continues - and increases - for the life of the building.

Continue reading "It Does Pencil Out" »


Sutter to cut 205 trees to save money

Picture3City fails to acknowledge health benefits of trees

By Alan Hirsch  [email protected]

On Wednesday, 7/14 the City Planning Commission approved a request by Sutter Davis Hospital to remove an additional 63 mature trees. If you missed the fact the city had already OK’ed the removal of 142 tree for solar panel panels you are not alone: the Tree Commission and Tree Davis were unaware either. City staff revealed at meeting that they had quietly issued permits for the  removal this small forest of  trees two years ago. Sutter claims this location is cheaper than installing them on the roof, but did not discuss how much, or why they couldn’t install the panels in treeless area between Sutter and Communicare Clinic, or the largely  treeless parking lots  in the far north. 

At the meeting the city defended Sutter and argued that the permits were all  “legal” even though they never ran it by the citizens on the Tree Commission that have legal authority to review all tree removals.

The relative size of the cutting (205 mature trees) is huge:  the City of Davis only plants 200-500 new saplings a year and they don’t all survive and mature.

Continue reading "Sutter to cut 205 trees to save money" »