News from Senator Blakespear
Recent storms brought heavy rain to Southern California and Sacramento (as you know!). We spotted this good omen arching behind the state Capitol. Every day I feel awash in the momentous opportunity for positive change when I see our state’s Capitol building outside my office window.
Excited to Represent You!
Welcome to the first official state Senate newsletter from the 38th District in 2023! I’m excited to share some details of the first two months representing you at the state level.
I come from having been the mayor of the City of Encinitas, where I worked closely with just four city council members to achieve local goals. Now the fishbowl is much bigger! I serve with 39 other state Senators, 80 Assemblymembers and one Governor. That’s a lot more people to get to know!
This week policy committee hearings started, and I was grateful to be assigned to two that focus on my interests – housing and transporation. The homelessness epidemic, a proposed state budget that reduced investments in transportation and the unrelenting tragedy of gun violence are top concerns.
We have a dedicated staff in both the San Diego and Orange County district offices who are committed to helping you with any problems you may have with state government. Please see the bottom of this newsletter for contact information.
I wake up every day energized to serve you and tackle California’s biggest problems. I am honored to be your state Senator!
Thank you for putting your trust in me.
The Challenge of Homelessness
The homelessness problem is a top concern across California, and unfortunately I do not see an all-hands-on-deck approach to solving this crisis. There ARE some promising initiatives aimed at the severely mentally ill population, including Care Court and conservatorship reform. However, the overall landscape surrounding the homelessness situation does not seem likely to change in the short term.
A new report detailing state spending on homelessness 2018-2021 shows that permanent supportive housing has been the most effective investment. This informative article by CalMatters offers a great overview.
“Of the more than 75,000 people placed into permanent supportive housing of some kind, for example, only 8% wound up back on the street within six months,” the story said.
“Conversely, for those who left a state funded program to live with a family member or a friend, the rate of those who were homeless again within six months doubled. And for those who left for a rental with only a temporary subsidy, that rate of return to homelessness was 23%.”
California’s homeless problem is large and complicated. We need to continue to search for solutions and find ways to get people off the streets and into housing.
I believe that people have a fundamental right to shelter and there is a corresponding obligation for them to use that shelter. No one benefits from having our public places – parks, trails, downtowns, Caltrans property, wildlands in high fire zones – become encampments.
The data shows that cities with low levels of affordable housing have higher levels of homelessness.
“Variations in rates of homelessness cannot be explained by variations in rates of individual factors such as poverty or mental illness, however, cities with higher rents and lower rental vacancy rates (i.e. tighter housing markets) are directly linked to higher per capita rates of homelessness.
Since 2010, housing production in California has increased modestly but nowhere near what is needed to address the affordability and homelessness problem. We need 1 million units of affordable housing alone, and 2.5 million units of housing at all income levels. Given the recent production trends, which show we’re now producing about 200,000 units of affordable housing a year, we are realistically more than a decade away from being able to provide the housing that is needed. What we really need is an approach that focuses on rapidly creating housing specifically to address homelessness.
The exact contours of a legislative bill addressing this are still in development, but if you have ideas I’m all ears. Send me an email at Senator.Blakespear@Senate.ca.gov.
Safeguarding the Lossan Rail Corridor
The LOSSAN Rail Corridor through San Clemente is especially vulnerable to sea level rise, as you can see in this photo of the ocean splashing onto the train.
I am grateful that the Senate Transportation Committee has created a new subcommittee that I will chair to study the LOSSAN Rail Corridor and how to improve infrastructure and service along the 351-mile heavy rail and commuter line.
Passenger service along the line was shut down recently between Irvine and Oceanside, due to hillside erosion and shifting tracks in the San Clemente area pictured above. Limited passenger service through the area has been restored, but the work required to stabilize the track highlighted the vulnerability of the line and the need to identify long-term solutions and investments to support the entire corridor.
It’s important to advocate for this corridor as a whole as sea level rise and climate change create unreliability. We don’t want sections of the rail corridor to compete against each other for attention. We need to elevate the importance of the corridor as a whole in discussions about transit and goods movement.
LOSSAN, which stands for Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, runs through six counties in Southern California and is vital to the movement of freight and passengers through the region. The line is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States.
I can’t wait for my committee to get started. I expect our first hearing to be held early this spring.
In other transportation news … Did you know that transit operations are only funded 14 percent by state government? The rest of the funding for transit service in the State of California comes from local sources, miscellaneous fees like concessions and parking, the federal government and fare box recovery. Transit could be so much better, and I’m beginning the process of working with my colleagues to figure out how.
At the Senate Desk introducing SB 452 on Feb. 14.
Here are some brief summaries of my main bills. You can click on the bill link to read the full text of the legislation.
SB 8 (Joint authored with Sen. Nancy Skinner) – Firearm insurance requirement for gun owners. Bill would require any person who owns a firearm to continuously maintain in full force and effect a homeowner’s, renter’s, or gun liability insurance policy from an insurer specifically covering losses or damages resulting from any negligent or accidental use of that firearm, including, but not limited to, death, injury, or property damage.
SB 360 – Coastal Commission Membership. Bill would add a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) or a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to the statutorily enumerated organizations on which Coastal Commissioners may serve concurrently. Currently, a locally elected official who is appointed to the Coastal Commission must resign or decline an appointment to LAFCO or a JPA that conducts activities in the coastal zone.
SB 391 – Rebuttable Presumption for Skin Cancer. Bill would establish a rebuttable presumption that skin cancer developed by California’s wildlife officers and park rangers is associated with excessive exposure to the sun during their employment. It would remove unnecessary barriers for California’s wildlife officers (wardens) and park rangers to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits associated with skin cancer.
SB 428 –Worker Harassment. Bill would provide employers with the ability to seek a temporary restraining order on behalf of an employee who is being harassed by a member of the public at the place of their employment. Under existing law, the employee being harassed would need to seek a restraining order against a member of the public.
SB 452 – Firearm Microstamping. Bill would eventually require all new semi-automatic handguns sold in the state to be equipped with microstamping technology. Co-sponsored by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Brady Campaign, Everytown, and Giffords, this legislation would help law enforcement solve crimes and protect California families from gun violence, and ensure that this technology, which the industry has willfully boycotted in California for more than a decade, is finally introduced into the state.
SB 482 – COSRs. Bill would ensure that as the state consolidates resources for affordable housing development, the most vulnerable populations will not be left behind. It would require Housing and Community Development (HCD) to offer capitalized operating subsidy reserves (COSRs) to special needs units funded through the Multifamily Housing Program (MHP). A COSR is money set aside upfront to cover deficits in annual operating revenues for housing developments, primarily used for permanent supportive housing for extremely low-income (ELI) individuals, those earning 0-30% of the area median income.
SB 511 – CARB and Greenhouse Gas Accounting. Bill would direct the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to prepare inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for use by cities and counties to use in the preparation of Climate Action Plans (CAPs) and to prioritize the use of funding and resources to achieve optimal reductions of GHG emissions in local communities. Inventories would be especially important to reduce and eliminate disparities and impacts on vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. The bill would provide an appropriation to CARB for this purpose.
March: Women's History Month
At the first meeting this year of the Legislature Women's Caucus.
March is Women’s History Month and we have a lot to celebrate! I am especially proud of the gains women have made in recent years in winning elections to public office and moving into leadership roles.
The California Legislature is now 42 percent female, with a record 50 women serving the Senate and Assembly. That is a great development, but still more work needs to be done to advance women and fight for important women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, that are under threat.
Gender discrimination is still prevalent in many professions, and the gender pay gap still exists, with women earning on average only 84 percent of what men do. That’s unacceptable in modern California. We must continue to work for gender fairness and equity.
I look forward to honoring my District 38 “Woman of the Year” at a ceremony on the Senate floor on Monday, March 20th. Stay tuned for details!
Building a Strong Team
Swearing in Andrew LaMar, my new communications director, and Jennifer Guzman, my new scheduler.
One of my first tasks as a newly elected state Senator was to hire a staff to help me do my job and represent you. I am proud of the dedicated staff I have brought on board who are committed to serving you and confronting the biggest problems facing District 38.
Jack Christensen is my district director leading a team of eight district staff. We have district offices in Encinitas, (760) 642-0809, and Laguna Hills, (949) 598-5850. Call them, if you have questions about state government or issues we can assist with, information to relay to me or invitations to local events.
Along with Jack, our district staff includes Francine Busby, Kim Carr, Fernando Hernandez, Jessica Linder, Aurora Livingston, Maia Meunier and Matthew Rubel.
And for issues concerning my work in the Capitol or legislation I have authored, contact my Sacramento office at (916) 651-4038.
My mission is to serve you. Every day our district staff is helping constituents with problems they may be having with other branches of government.
For instance, staff recently intervened to assist a District 38 resident with an unemployment claim that had initially been denied. That resident learned last week that after we followed up with the state Employment Development Department and helped clarify the matter, the department reversed its decision and granted the claim, providing over $5,000 in unemployment benefits.
But that’s just one example of the outstanding constituent services my staff provides. I am thankful for their hard work and for what they can do for you.
Out and About
I was proud that Kim Carr on my district staff could join the City of Mission Viejo recently in honoring the Marines of the Quarter, Lance Corporal Arandy Mendoza and Sergeant Alexandra C. Munoz, for their exceptional duties. Carr presented them with Certificates of Recognition. Thank you for your service to our country!
It was wonderful to be at the groundbreaking ceremony for Genentech’s new biologics manufacturing site in Oceanside. Genentech is the largest private employer in the City of Oceanside, and the Oceanside campus beat out Germany for the location of this next generation of biotechnology and STEM jobs!
BeWell is a transformational initiative to bring together a coordinated array of mental health care services for all Orange County residents. I learned a lot from my visit and am very impressed with this model of care.
District 38 covers northern coastal San Diego County and the southern portion of Orange County. I am dedicated to representing all the communities in my district and understanding the problems they face.
I am committed to focusing on the issues Californians care most about, such as homelessness, the economy, gun violence and climate change. We discussed how to attack these issues, and more, at the Protect our Progress policy conference in Sacramento. I joined, left to right, Sens. Monique Limón, Scott Wiener, Dave Min and Lena Gonzalez for a photo after we watched the State of the Union address together.
Email my office at Senator.Blakespear@Senate.ca.gov
Call my Encinitas district office at (760) 642-0809
Call my Laguna Hills district office at (949) 598-5850
Call my Capitol office in Sacramento at (916) 651-4038