What to Expect Next from Civinomics

What to Expect Next from Civinomics

As many of you may have been noticing, Civinomics has been going through some changes recently. Specifically, we have taken to rewriting a huge portion of our internal code, while also fixing some user interface problems. This hasn’t been for nothing, and has actually been in preparation for a whole new product that we are […]

Going Out With a Bang: Three Big Issues to Close the California Legislative Year

Going Out With a Bang: Three Big Issues to Close the California Legislative Year

This week marks the return of our elected officials to Sacramento for a four week sprint through some of the most important issues currently facing the state. Will they be able to pull it off? Read below to learn about what’s facing our legislators. First up: the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. As you may have noticed while […]

Funding Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Funding Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz

Last week the Santa Cruz City Council weighed in on the draft Housing Element for the City, a section of the General Plan that outlines how the City hopes to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) over the next seven years. The RHNA numbers are the projected total number of units that will need […]

A Little Less Direct Democracy: Raising the Fee to File an Initiative

A Little Less Direct Democracy: Raising the Fee to File an Initiative

As residents of California, one election day tradition we all get to look forward to is voting on at least a couple ballot initiatives. Ballot initiatives are where we, the citizens, decide on specific policies the state should adopt. Known as direct democracy, the practice is meant to empower average people to propose and pass […]

Civinomics Initiative Filings

Civinomics Initiative Filings

August 25, 2015 – Suggested last day for proponent(s) to submit proposed measure to the California Attorney General and request a circulating title and summary. sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures We are exactly two weeks away from the suggested last date to submit a ballot initiative in California. While Civinomics has frequently focused on local politics (city and county), […]

Can Congress Fix the Drought?

Can Congress Fix the Drought?

It’s a saying you’ve probably heard quite a few times now amidst the coverage of California’s drought, but it’s worth reiterating – whisky’s for drinking, water’s for fighting. My guess is our elected representatives will probably appreciate a cocktail by the time Congress decides on a drought relief bill for the state. There are currently […]

Dealing with Gotcha Evictions in SF

Dealing with Gotcha Evictions in SF

As the housing crisis in San Francisco continues largely unabated so do many of the horror stories of tenants being evicted. We have covered this issue before when discussing the spike in Ellis Act evictions last year, which is a California law that allows property owners to forcibly evict tenets, even in a rent controlled property, […]

FairVote Partners with Civinomics to Launch Ranked Choice Voting Functionality

FairVote Partners with Civinomics to Launch Ranked Choice Voting Functionality

Early on at Civinomics, we learned that the choices you give someone for answering a question are as important as the question itself. The folks at FairVote certainly agree. FairVote is a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to improving American elections by promoting fair, democratic election systems that empower voters. Their research has shown that ranked choice […]

The Santa Cruz County Housing Element

The Santa Cruz County Housing Element

Last week marked the first public hearings on the County’s draft Housing Element, an important planning document that outlines how the County expects to accommodate future population growth in terms of additional housing. Under state law, every city and county must prepare a housing element, which is technically a specific part of each local government’s […]

Local and Congressional Action in the Wake of Kate Steinle’s Death

Local and Congressional Action in the Wake of Kate Steinle’s Death

It has now been almost a month since 32 year old Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed as she walked along San Francisco’s Pier 14. To recap the series of events, quickly following the shooting authorities arrested and charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with multiple drug related felonies to his name, as well […]

Why We Need to Have a Good Fight About Trains

Why We Need to Have a Good Fight About Trains

The CA Highspeed Rail Act of 2008 did more than just approve a state-wide train, it allocated $1B in funding for local rail projects and gave the green light to county transportation agencies to pursue rail as well. Now local rail is the latest battleground for whether train projects make sense in the 21st Century. […]

Should Congress Approve The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Should Congress Approve The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Man, a lot of talk about Iran lately, huh? But just what exactly is going on right now? Let’s see if I can break it down for ya – Last week Secretary of State John Kerry, along with representatives from five other nations (Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China), emerged from negotiations with Iran with […]

More Regulation for Uber?

More Regulation for Uber?

It appears that the ride sharing taxi application, Uber, is once again facing regulatory hurdles, this time from the biggest regulatory agency in the State – the California Public Utilities Commission. Normally this agency is better known for rules governing our water rates and power supply, but in the case of Uber it comes down something a […]

The Promise and Reality of Digital Water Meters

The Promise and Reality of Digital Water Meters

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the first water department in the State of California to roll out digital water meters for every residential and commercial connection, all 180,000 of them. Digital water meters can update customers with their cumulative water usage in near realtime (every 24hrs). This information could radically increase conservation thanks to […]

An Update on Santa Cruz Water

An Update on Santa Cruz Water

Last October the City of Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee (WSAC) held an open call for citizen ideas about how to address our water shortfall. This culminated in a day long ideas convention during which over 50 proposals were presented, from recycled water, to quarry storage, to even pulling water out of the ambient […]

Vote: Should SF limit Airbnb rentals to 60 days per year or 120?

Vote: Should SF limit Airbnb rentals to 60 days per year or 120?

The debate over short term rentals in San Francisco comes to a head this Tuesday, the 14th, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will decide on two amendments to the city’s largely toothless Airbnb law. The hardline supervisor David Campos wants the board to limit the number of days a homeowner can rent out […]

With the Death of Kate Steinle, SF’s Sanctuary Laws Come Under Fire

With the Death of Kate Steinle, SF’s Sanctuary Laws Come Under Fire

Under the most unfortunate of circumstances, San Francisco has been thrust into the national spotlight. On Wednesday last week, Kathryn Steinle was walking with her father along Pier 14, a popular tourism destination for its views of the bay, when she was struck by a stray bullet. She was rushed to the hospital but died […]

Airbnbs in SF: The Saga Moves to the Ballot

Airbnbs in SF: The Saga Moves to the Ballot

Things have been heating up in San Francisco with regards to short term rentals. Part of the new “sharing economy,” sites like Airbnb and Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) have been in use for years now and have allowed residents to rent out either a room or an entire unit to short term renters (usually […]

Crowdsourcing California’s 2016 Ballot Initiatives: Transportation and Marijuana

Crowdsourcing California’s 2016 Ballot Initiatives: Transportation and Marijuana

The last few years have seen a fabulous rise in the collective understanding of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing, using the ideas, knowledge and funds of the public to solve problems, has been used to discover the structure of the aids virus and respond to catastrophic natural disasters like the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Now crowdsourcing California Ballot Initiatives […]

A Salute To Pride

A Salute To Pride

Pride this year was special. The annual celebration in San Francisco is one of the city’s most joyous, colorful, delightfully cringe inducing, and important events of the year. Every year thousands upon thousands of revelers descend on the city of Harvey Milk and countless other gay rights pioneers to celebrate their legacy. But with the […]

Citizen Tech in Santa Cruz County

Citizen Tech in Santa Cruz County

Today marks the official launch of the Citizen Connect application for the County of Santa Cruz. That’s right, the County has created a mobile application for iOS and Android (iPhone and Google operating systems for the uninitiated) that will allow for citizen reporting of things like potholes, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, and even illegal dumping. County […]

In Wake of Charleston, Amending the Constitution May be Our Only Hope

In Wake of Charleston, Amending the Constitution May be Our Only Hope

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” You may have noticed the 2nd Amendment has been slightly, well, amended above. The new verbiage is the suggestion of retired Supreme Court Justice […]

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 […]

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