From the Publisher: The Year to Come—Looking Into the Crystal Ball

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Arnold G. York

It’s a new year and a clean slate. Just about anything is possible—or so we’d like to think. 

It’s going to be a big year at the polls. Nationally, it will the first chance for most voters to have their say about the Trump presidency and how far they’re willing to go to change things again. The local test of the Trump presidency will be in the races for the House and Senate. California is the bluest of the blue states but there are strong pockets of Republicanism in certain congressional districts. If Democrats expect to take the House, they have to win some of those California congressional districts, particularly where Hillary Clinton won the district but the Congress member was a Republican. The incumbent Republicans have a tough road to go. They all voted to repeal Obamacare. All but three voted for the tax cut bill. Both of those votes appear unpopular with the majority of Californians, so the question is: How much of the national Republican program is going to be an anchor around their necks? The Democratic hit list includes the following:

• Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

• Steve Knight (R-Palmdale)

• Jeff Denham (R-Stockton)

• Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)

• David Valadao (R-Hanaford)

• Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)

• Mimi Walters (R-Irvine)

• Duncan Hunter (R-Carlsbad)

• Devin Nunes (R-Tulare)

• Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove)

• Ken Calvert (R-Corona)

• Doug LaMalfa (R-Redding)

Many of these Republicans are pros who have been around long time and certainly know how to explain the Republican agenda to blue state people. Many of their districts are rural or suburban but there are some shifts going on. The rural vote is typically very Republican but the suburban vote is getting a bit iffier for them countrywide. A number of Republicans are also running in districts that have been changing demographically over the years. Democratic registration is rising but in the final analysis, the elections may turn depending on whose voters go to the polls. In other words, it’s the enthusiasm that counts.

On the state level, we’re going to choose a new governor since current California Governor Brown is termed out. Typically, a race for governor means a good turnout at the polls but since we are a top two state—meaning the top two vote-getters in the primary go onto the general election in November—we could end up with two Democrats running against each other, now looking most probably as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and former California Assembly Speaker and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It’s possible, with several other Democrats also running for governor, that the Democratic vote is split and one of the Republicans becomes the second candidate. The final election voter turnout may be affected by who is running at the top of the ticket, with a more exciting race producing a greater turnout. Races are impacted by which party is better at turning out the faithful, and that turnout has a major impact on the down ballot races for the Congressional seats. Enthusiasm is going to count in this one. Still lots of unknowns but the Democrats smell blood in the water and appear very enthused.

We’ve also got a City of Malibu election coming up. We get to select two new council members since the incumbents—Laura Rosenthal and Lou La Monte—are both termed out after serving eight years. Since switching the city election to November, we’re getting larger turnouts; this election will be a test to see if the slate, which brought in Rick Mullen, Skylar Peak and Jefferson Wagner, can increase its reach or if there will be pushback. The slate has stuck together on some things and split on other issues. This city election will probably decide the fate of the Malibu Bluffs Park expansion, the Charmlee-Bluffs Park swap and the addition of some ball fields and perhaps a community center as well as an arts plaza. Then, there is the issue of the proposed neighborhood standards to limit some older neighborhoods to essentially the average size of the surrounding homes, which, for some of the older residents in older houses, that means a possible substantial loss of equity in their property and less retirement funds than they thought they had.

There are going to be several local battles about parking or, more accurately, lack of parking. We’re probably going to try and put some limits on vacation rentals, like Airbnb or VRBO. Since we haven’t done anything to increase our hotel space, we can expect the California Coastal Commission to push back hard against our attempt to limit vacation rentals in any way because the commission views it as an attempt to limit beach access.

The parking is particularly acute in some parts of town. For example, Soho House Malibu got the OK for 400 guests on New Year’s and parking in the area turned into a total nightmare. All the rules seemed to go down the drain. Soho House had guests and staff parking everywhere it could; it rapidly became a dangerous and chaotic situation. The council either has to move to change the rules and help find some solutions, or it’s going to turn into total parking warfare where someone is going to get bodily hurt or killed, and there are going to be lawsuits all over the place.

A caveat: Looking into a cloudy crystal ball at the start of the year is always iffy. Over the year, I will be revisiting many of these congressional, state and local races as new facts emerge so stay tuned.