Thursday Must Read: Cities to Sue over Redevelopment; Leaves California



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A consortium of California cities says it’s going to sue the State of California in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to effectively eliminate redevelopment agencies as of October 1. The consortium says it will take its case directly to the California Supreme Court and bypass lower courts, Capitol Weekly reports. Cities contend that the Democratic bill signed by Brown yesterday violates Prop. 22, a statewide measure that prohibits state government from raiding local coffers. The legislation that Brown signed would force cities to pay $1.7 billion from their redevelopment funds next year to help balance the state budget. Oakland officials say the bill would cost the city $40 million next year alone, the Trib reports.

2. and announced that they have fired all of their California affiliates following the decision by Brown to sign a bill yesterday that forces the giant online retailers to collect sales taxes in the state for the first time, the Mercury News reports. The online companies contend that the terminations will allow them to still sell products to California consumers without having to collect sales taxes. However, the issue is expected to go to court because state legislators contend that the bill still requires and to collect sales taxes if they have subsidiary businesses in the state, which they do.

3. UC and CSU students likely will face another tuition hike of at least 10 percent because of the budget passed by the state legislature, the LA Times reports. The new round of fee hikes comes on top of an 8 percent increase at UC and a 10 percent increase at CSU that will take effect this fall. The Democratic budget calls for additional $150 million in cuts to both UC and CSU starting July 1 on top of $500 million cuts for each university system enacted earlier this year. The expected large fee hikes mean that students at California’s public universities will pay a larger percentage of their education than the state for the first time.

4. Teachers in California K-12 schools, however, got a big last-minute break in the budget process when the legislature approved a measure at the eleventh-hour this week that blocks school districts from laying them off this year, the SacBee reports. The legislation highlights the power of the California teachers’ union because it also blocks school districts from laying off teachers if the state decides it has to cut more from the budget in January. That’s a very real possibility because the budget deal between Democrats and the governor depends heavily on California’s economy rebounding over the next six months. If the economy doesn’t, then the state will have to enact deep cuts to K-12 education.

5. The Berkeley City Council approved a plan this week to create a green-business-corridor in West Berkeley and open up the traditionally protected area to companies that engage in research and development, the Berkeley Voice reports. West Berkeley artisans and some residents had opposed the plan, arguing that it will lead to higher rents in their neighborhoods. But the council believes that the best way to invigorate Berkeley’s flagging economy is to attract green-tech.

6. Monica Ung, owner of the politically connected Oakland company NBC General Contractors, was sentenced to ten months of probation and her business was ordered to pay $1.2 million for defrauding its workers, the Trib reports. Ung won government contracts with low bids, telling governmental agencies that she was paying the prevailing wage when she was not.

7. California regulators said yesterday that they will give power plants and utilities another year to comply with the state’s new cap-and-trade program that limits greenhouse-gas emissions, AP reports. Polluters will have to until 2013 rather than 2012 to comply with the program. Earlier this year, a judge had blocked cap-and-trade after some environmental groups contended that it didn’t go far enough. But an appellate court recently ruled that the program could go forward while the appeals process plays out.

8. And motorists in hybrid cars will no longer be able to drive solo in carpool lanes in the state tomorrow, because the temporary program that sought to increase the sales of fuel-efficient cars in California is ending, the SacBee reports.

Update 11:08 a.m. This post was updated to show that the elimination of redevelopment, unless blocked in the courts, would take effect October 1.