Uber Versus The World: Should Drivers Be Official Employees?

Uber Versus The World: Should Drivers Be Official Employees?

Uber recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. The start-up that connects drivers with passengers like a taxi service has certainly disrupted the existing order, and has reaped enviable profits in the process. The company recently took on a $1.4 billion growth investment, and has been valued at $50,000,000,000.00. (That’s $50 billion in case you didn’t want […]

The San Lorenzo: To Paddle or Not to Paddle?

The San Lorenzo: To Paddle or Not to Paddle?

The San Lorenzo River is about to become the subject of a lot more human activity. The river, which runs through the center of Santa Cruz proper and serves as the City’s main water supply, may be open for more human recreational activities. Specifically, the City Council is set to weigh in on the potential […]

On Governance

On Governance

The Knight Foundation just released a report titled “Why Millennials Don’t Vote For Mayor”, examining why younger voters don’t vote in local elections. “Millennials” is the label foisted by the labelers upon people born between the early 80’s and the early 2000’s. You should download and read the report if you haven’t already, it can […]

Three Reasons Why It’s Old People’s Fault Millennials Don’t #VoteLocal

Three Reasons Why It’s Old People’s Fault Millennials Don’t #VoteLocal

Last week the Knight Foundation released a scathing report on the record low participation of millennials in local government. Why don’t millennials participate in local elections or care all that much about local issues? They don’t know anything about them. And, as a millennial who works four separate jobs that are all related to local […]

Bill Monning Recall, Proposition 13 Reform, And Voter Expansion Initiatives

Bill Monning Recall, Proposition 13 Reform, And Voter Expansion Initiatives

This past week saw a lot of activity in California state politics. Today we bring you three of the biggest issues for you to learn about and cast your vote on: Recall Bill Monning State Senator Bill Monning (D – Carmel) was served last week with a notice of intent to recall him from office. […]

Could Innovation Change Pompous SoCal Water Wasters into Water Producers?

Could Innovation Change Pompous SoCal Water Wasters into Water Producers?

It doesn’t take more than three minutes of being in Los Angeles to realize that Southern California is about luxury. There’s the cars, the billboards, the premium shopping experiences, and of course, the water. It’s green and lush all over the place, and it feels niiiiice. The warm breeze blowing through the urban oasis, picking up […]

Planning for Passenger Rail in Santa Cruz

Planning for Passenger Rail in Santa Cruz

Last Thursday the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission presented the results of a feasibility study evaluating the potential for passenger rail service along the now publicly owned rail line. The study looked at a range of metrics for evaluating seven separate service scenarios, including up front capital costs, annual upkeep and maintenance costs, expected ridership, the […]

Oakland and the First Amendment

Oakland and the First Amendment

Oakland is a city with a long history of militant activism. There was of course the Occupy Movement, which put the city in the national eye when demonstrators shut down the Port of Oakland. More recently there have been the many Black Lives Matter protests with mass marches through city streets, highway closures, and more. […]

San Francisco Tackles the Soda Industry (Again)

San Francisco Tackles the Soda Industry (Again)

  One of the hottest topics in the Bay Area over the last several months has been new regulations and taxes on the soda industry. Once perceived as invincible to electoral defeat, last November Berkeley residents overwhelmingly voted in a new tax on sugar sweetened beverages, namely soda. San Francisco failed to approve a similar […]

Should Union Employees be Exempt Under Minimum Wage Requirements?

Should Union Employees be Exempt Under Minimum Wage Requirements?

There has been a lot of talk about the minimum wage lately, both nationally and locally. And now with Los Angeles joining the likes of Seattle, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond in pursuing a $15.00/hour floor, the debate is beginning to narrow down to specifics. Foremost of these concerns is whether or not union […]

Confessions of an AirBnB Kingpin

Confessions of an AirBnB Kingpin

Since February of this year (2015) we’ve rented first one then two of the available rooms in our house on AirBnB. In four months we’ve had over 120 bookings, earning us some kind of AirBnB rookie of the year award. However, this has not led to fabulous riches, just a more mobile lifestyle. The way […]

Opinion: Increasing California Oil and Gas Taxes Would Be a Good Idea

Opinion: Increasing California Oil and Gas Taxes Would Be a Good Idea

Last week’s Santa Barbara oil spill dumped approximately 100,000 gallons of oil onto the pristine California coastline. Compared to Santa Barbara’s 1969 oil spill, when a damaged oil rig leaked 3,300,000 gallons, the latest spill seems relatively small. However, it highlights the fact that spills happen and will keep happening as long as we have […]

Overview: What’s Happening in Santa Cruz

Overview: What’s Happening in Santa Cruz

The weather may have been a little overcast last week, but there was plenty going on in Surf City and the surrounding areas. We had the first citizen’s repeal of a County ordinance in 13 years relating to the restrictions on commercial cannabis cultivation. The Regional Transportation Commission received the results of a County wide […]

San Francisco Takes Aim at Airbnb

San Francisco Takes Aim at Airbnb

Throughout the San Francisco housing debate, home sharing services like Airbnb have become a lightning rod for controversy. These companies allow homeowners to easily rent out individual rooms, or their entire house, to short term guests (oftentimes vacationers). By providing online platforms that are quite easy to use, firms like Airbnb have facilitated an explosion of home sharing in the city. Critics argue that this […]

Regulating Granny Units in Santa Cruz: Housing or Vacation?

Regulating Granny Units in Santa Cruz: Housing or Vacation?

Last Tuesday the Santa Cruz City Council continued to consider changes to the city’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance, which regulates smaller on-site units, sometimes referred to as “granny units,” within the city limits. City leaders and staff began this process in earnest last year, when they amended ADU design and setback requirements, making it […]

Jerry Brown’s Budget: What You Need to Know

Jerry Brown’s Budget: What You Need to Know

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal last week, presenting a $115.3 billion spending plan, up from the original $113 billion plan he presented in January. The budget reflects an unexpected increase in state revenue since the start of the year – $3 billion, to be exact. The state budget is, of course, an […]

Three Proposals to Fix San Francisco’s Housing Problem

Three Proposals to Fix San Francisco’s Housing Problem

“A lot of other places wish they had the problems San Francisco has.” By now I’ve heard this statement in one form or another from a number of people. And it’s easy to see what they mean: San Francisco has one of the strongest metropolitan economies in the country. Located a stone’s throw from Silicon […]

Should Rent Control be Adopted in San Jose?

Should Rent Control be Adopted in San Jose?

As Bay Area housing prices and rents continue to soar, many of the region’s cities are experimenting with new policies aimed at curbing the high cost of living. One such policy is rent control, that is artificially controlling the market price of certain rental units so that their landlords are limited by what they can charge. […]

civinomics 2.0

civinomics 2.0

Today we’re very excited to unveil an entirely redesigned civinomics. We first launched civinomics.com (also civ.io) on April 14th, 2013 and spent the next year and a half building out: more features for more users. Along the way, something incredible happened, a community formed. Like the radioactive tracer compounds in a PET scan, the community […]

Do We Need A Local Minimum Wage?

Do We Need A Local Minimum Wage?

Last week the Santa Cruz City Council commissioned a study on how a local minimum wage would impact our economy. Two days later, UCSC Professor Steve McKay led a presentation at the Museum of Art and History detailing the results of his study on low wage workers in Santa Cruz County. Taken together, these two events […]

Tackling Inequality In The Bay Area

Tackling Inequality In The Bay Area

  By most any metric the Bay Area’s economy is booming. The region has one of the fastest growing job markets in the country and average wages in the Bay Area are among the highest in the nation. The region is generally perceived to be at the center of the radically innovative and lucrative tech […]

Ed Lee’s I-280 Take Down

Ed Lee’s I-280 Take Down

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has big plans for the part of highway 280 that ends in San Francisco. Namely to tear it down. Mayor Lee will soon reveal plans that would take down the northern most section of I-280 and make way for an underground rail tunnel through the area, as well as a station that would […]

The Aptos Village Appeal

The Aptos Village Appeal

Today the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will be hearing a citizens appeal about the proposed Aptos Village Project, a mixed use development project slated to be built along the Soquel Avenue Corridor in central Aptos, across the street from the Safeway shopping center. The project was originally approved by the Board of Supervisors […]

Voting Roundup: Bernie Sanders, California Climate and Water, and Oakland Housing

Voting Roundup: Bernie Sanders, California Climate and Water, and Oakland Housing

We now know that that Hillary Clinton will have to overcome at least one primary opponent on the road to the White House: last Thursday Bernie Sanders, the outspokenly liberal Senator from Vermont, declared his campaign for the presidency. Indicating that his priority will be creating, “an economy that works for all of our people, […]

Lapel Cameras for Santa Cruz County Sheriffs?

Lapel Cameras for Santa Cruz County Sheriffs?

Last Friday the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs office began a trial period of testing wearable cameras while on duty. Commonly referred to as “lapel cameras” or “body cams,” these little devices are attached to the front of an officer’s uniform and record everything they do. The cameras are meant to promote a greater sense of […]

Should Hetch Hetchy Be Drained?

Should Hetch Hetchy Be Drained?

They say that water is for fighting. Last week the environmental group Restore Hetch Hetchy filed a lawsuit that seeks to drain the reservoir. Hetch Hetchy supplies over 2 million Bay Area residents with water, however proponents of this endeavor say that the water can be stored in other reservoirs such as Don Pedro, Cherry […]

A New Face On The $20 Bill?

A New Face On The $20 Bill?

We very well may have a woman president after election 2016. And not long after that we may soon see a woman’s face on the $20 bill. Earlier this month, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation – Women on the 20 Act – to replace Andrew Jackson with a woman who has had a […]

Should Dog Walking Be Banned On UCSC’s Coastal Campus?

Should Dog Walking Be Banned On UCSC’s Coastal Campus?

Readers of this blog may recall our coverage of Santa Cruz County’s off leash dog debate. Well, virtually the same issue appears to be coming again to the fore, this time involving the university. UC Santa Cruz recently unveiled plans to ban all dog walking – leashed or unleashed – on its marine campus near the Younger […]

Regulating Airbnb and Other Shared Rentals

Regulating Airbnb and Other Shared Rentals

San Francisco is on the cusp of adopting a series of new laws aimed at curtailing the use of short term rental web sites like Air Bnb. These sites allow residents to host guests at their property on a short term basis in exchange for money, much like a traditional bed and breakfast. Hosts and […]

Bay Area Initiatives: Grady Ranch Housing, Minimum Wage Hikes, Ellis Act Reform

Bay Area Initiatives: Grady Ranch Housing, Minimum Wage Hikes, Ellis Act Reform

Lots of juicy issues from the Bay Area over the past week to sink your teeth into: First off, you probably heard about the new Star Wars trailer that was released last week, but the franchise’s creator was also in the news for a different reason. George Lucas, a longtime resident of Marin, has proposed […]

Homelessness in Santa Cruz: Where Reality and Perception Meet

Homelessness in Santa Cruz: Where Reality and Perception Meet

The following is a summary of the second phase of a study on Homelessness in Santa Cruz conducted in partnership with faculty from the UCSC Community Studies, Sociology, and Psychology Departments, as well as the Center for Statistical Research. The lead academic researcher for the study was Mary Beth Pudup, of Community Studies. The study […]

One-Way to the Beach on Pacific Ave?

One-Way to the Beach on Pacific Ave?

The question of traffic flow on Pacific Ave is once again under consideration. This time the Downtown Commission is considering making Pacific Ave one-way going towards the beach by reversing the one-way North section from Church to Cathcart to be one-way South. This has the added advantage of providing an alternative to crowded Ocean St for visitors […]

Should BART Fares Go Up?

Should BART Fares Go Up?

Last week I wrote a blog about what needs to be done to improve public transportation in the Bay Area. I focused on the fact that there are many, fragmented systems, and that much of the solution lies in finding ways to better integrate the systems together. But of course there is the 500-pound gorilla […]

Clinton’s Announcement

Clinton’s Announcement

Let there no more doubt – last Sunday, Hillary Clinton announced that she will, indeed, be running for President in 2016. Clinton made a video announcement that she would be running and enters the field as the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Over the years she has been in the public eye from […]

A Special Thank You, Corrections.

A Special Thank You, Corrections.

  Over the course of the past week numerous people have reached out to us to thank us for our work on the Homelessness study. And while we would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support and feedback, we would also like to highlight the lead academic researcher who made this all possible: Community […]

The Reality of Homelessness in Santa Cruz

The Reality of Homelessness in Santa Cruz

The following is a summary of the second phase of a study on Homelessness in Santa Cruz conducted by Faculty from the UCSC Community Studies, Sociology, and Psychology Departments, as well as the Center for Statistical Research, in partnership with Civinomics. The study was funded through the Social Sciences Division. This is part 2 of […]

Last Chance to Weigh In on SC METRO Fee Increase and ParaCruz Cuts

Last Chance to Weigh In on SC METRO Fee Increase and ParaCruz Cuts

Local public transit operator Santa Cruz METRO is nearing the end of its public input process on proposed measures to close its looming budget shortfall. The proposals include increasing the fare for the Highway 17 bus from $5 to $7 and reducing ParaCruz service to the minimum required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The proposed changes would bring METRO’s […]

Let’s Fix Public Transportation in the Bay Area

Let’s Fix Public Transportation in the Bay Area

The TomTom Traffic Index – which measures trends in highway traffic globally – was released last week, and the report confirms what many a Bay Area driver could probably have guessed: San Francisco has some of the worst traffic in the country. Specifically, the city ranked #2 in the nation for bad traffic. And nearby […]

The Bay Area’s Dog Debate

The Bay Area’s Dog Debate

Bay Area dog enthusiasts are up in arms (paws?) over a plan that would greatly reduce the number of sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area where their pets could roam leash free. The National Park Service is set to issue draft rules in the Spring that would allow dogs to be off leash […]

Santa Cruz County Reverses Progressive Commercial Medical Marijuana Legislation

Santa Cruz County Reverses Progressive Commercial Medical Marijuana Legislation

Last week Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors considered new legislation on commercial marijuana grow operations in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County, due to a 42% increase in illegal grow operations in the last two years. On March 24th, the Board of Supervisors Chambers overflowed with financial stakeholders in the extremely profitable marijuana industry, […]

The Future of Housing in California

The Future of Housing in California

On March 17 the Legislative Analyst’s Office of California, the non-partisan state research agency, released a comprehensive report on the high cost of housing in the State. The report documents a 40-year trend in which the costs of housing within California rose at near four times the national average, and highlights the impact that local “no growth” […]

How Santa Cruz Perceives the Homeless

How Santa Cruz Perceives the Homeless

The following is a summary of the first phase of a study on Homelessness in Santa Cruz conducted by the UCSC Community Studies, Sociology, and Psychology Departments, as well as the Center for Statistical Research, in partnership with Civinomics. This is part 1 of a 4 part series previewing the full study. Phase 1 of […]

Voting Roundup: Pot Growing In Santa Cruz, UC Funding, Ted Cruz, and Mandatory Voting

Voting Roundup: Pot Growing In Santa Cruz, UC Funding, Ted Cruz, and Mandatory Voting

Never a dull week goes by it seems with several critical local, state, and national issues coming to the fore. Looking locally, the Santa Cruz County Supervisors are set to vote this week on whether to ban the growing of commercial cannabis within unincorporated parts of the county. Over the last several months Supervisors have been […]

To Expel or Not to Expel

To Expel or Not to Expel

It has been two weeks since the UCSC protesters blocked the highway, causing a severe traffic jam and costing many people a lot of time and money. And while the students have been suspended through finals week, and are currently facing misdemeanor criminal charges, the fate of their expulsion has yet to be decided, despite […]

A Clear Perspective and Path Forward on Homelessness

A Clear Perspective and Path Forward on Homelessness

I am writing today to announce the completion of a landmark study on homelessness in Santa Cruz and the beginning of a four part blog series to review the results. I am announcing this today as it pertains to the release of the new Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, which will be considered at both the […]

Biking in Berkeley

Biking in Berkeley

I’ve been a Berkeley resident for nine years now. First arriving in this town as a Cal student, I stuck around after graduating to work as a music substitute teacher. Schlepping from school to school, I quickly discovered that I could do away with hassle of driving and frantically looking for a parking spot by […]

Keep an Eye On: Supreme Court Independent Redistricting Decision

Keep an Eye On: Supreme Court Independent Redistricting Decision

I’ve recently covered Rank Choice Voting and some of the potential reforms around the California initiative process. Well, the Supreme Court is about to issue a major ruling on independent redistricting committees, which touches both election policy and direct democracy. Redistricting commissions are one of the election reforms Californians have successfully passed. It has lead […]

A 500 Million Gallon Pipeline for Water in Santa Cruz

A 500 Million Gallon Pipeline for Water in Santa Cruz

  Last week the loose consortium of local water advocates known as Water for Santa Cruz held a series of workshops detailing a new proposal for addressing the community’s water supply shortfall. Led by Scott McGilvray, the workshop provided information on the monthly flow of the San Lorenzo River, the infrastructure for drawing water, and the legal and […]

Two Supremely Important Decisions: Healthcare and Gay Marriage

Two Supremely Important Decisions: Healthcare and Gay Marriage

Over the past several years, two of the biggest national policy issues have been the advance of same sex marriage and President Obama’s healthcare law. These have dominated the national conversation and have affected the lives of countless Americans. And the future of both may finally be decided this year in the nation’s highest court. […]

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