From the Publisher: It’s Getting Closer

Less than 80 days to go to the national Election Day and my definite impression is that everyone is getting nuttier. There was a time in past elections when you could talk to friends and get some sense of where the election seemed to be headed, but today it’s all over the place depending on what they’ve read on their little phone in the last half hour. People seem to be in different silos of different facts and can’t even agree on a baseline. Presidential elections always tighten as Election Day nears so it stands to reason that Biden’s current lead will shrink. Understand that a five-point win is almost considered a blowout in a presidential race. But even more important is where the votes are located, so again, we’re back to tracking the battleground states. This election, I’m guessing, is going to be again won or lost in the Midwest, unless Trump blows a major state like Florida or Texas. Today, Trump is in Kenosha, Wis. (a battleground state), despite the mayor and governor asking him to stay away. Kenosha is a bit of a tinderbox after the recent police shooting and everyone is holding their breath while Trump is there.

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Yesterday, Sept. 1, was the last day of the California state legislative session. That means that if a bill hadn’t been approved by both houses by midnight last night, it was dead. If it passed both houses, it continued on to Governor Gavin Newsom, who can sign it or veto as he pleases. The last day in the legislative session is bedlam because it’s do or die and there are loads of bills teetering. Everyone works in teams so if one of you goes to the bathroom at least one of you is around. Bills have been lost because someone went to the toilet at the wrong time. Although Sacramento seems far away, a lot of what happens there affects us all, especially in a year like this of coronavirus, fires everywhere, budget deficits and everyone fighting to protect their piece of the pie. Whether it’s schools vs. public safety vs. environmental protection, vs. police, vs. higher education, etc., there are simply not going to be enough dollars to go around, so everyone becomes the enemy. Here is a bit of what they did or didn’t do:

Housing: There were a bunch of bills aimed at increasing housing, which is in critically short supply. All of those bills died, which means that even though we are pretty much a one-party state, there is no consensus on housing. The last bill was going to allow duplexes to be built in R-1 zoning (which now allows only single family residences). Although it cleared the assembly, it didn’t get out of the senate in time.

Police Bills: Several bills to make policing more transparent—and also release info on cops’ arrest records, shootings and complaint histories —also died. There was a bill related to county sheriffs’ transparency that did pass and which I’ll discuss in another column

Evictions: There was a great fear that there would be a slew of COVID-19-related evictions because the moratorium had just run out, so they extended the eviction moratorium until January 2021, with some conditions. As far as I’ve been able to find out, it doesn’t extend to foreclosures.

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Of course, none of this matters if the governor doesn’t sign these bills. 

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There seems to be a growing sense that the worst of the pandemic is over, which, frankly, is a bit crazy because this August, which just ended, saw more deaths in California than in any previous month. Nationally, we’re over 184,000 deaths and clearly on our way to well over 200,000 by the end of September. I’m guessing we’ll hit 250,000 deaths by Election Day. Still, deaths are a bit of a trailing indicator, and most of us are so fatigued and lonely from virus angst that we’re all beginning to let our guards down a bit. It really doesn’t make much sense, but, after a while, many people start getting very fatalistic.

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There have been a number of stories lately about the supposed rush to move to the suburbs. I don’t know if Malibu qualifies as a suburb, but both our rental market and our home sales market have heated up lately. Still, it turns out after some careful analysis by the real estate industry and the academic side of the industry that the so-called “rush to the suburbs” is just a bit of a myth and simply isn’t happening in any significant way. If you follow real estate, there is an interesting website to check out called CurbedLA. Can anyone else suggest interesting real estate websites? Since, for most of us, our homes are often our largest asset, this citywide election is particularly important. One of the candidates, Steve Uhring, who is a planning commissioner, voted to downzone the city of Malibu. But after a major hue and cry by the citizens of Malibu, the city council backed off and voted down the idea. Uhring and the others pushing it don’t call it downzoning, but treat it euphemistically, talking about maintaining “neighborhood standards” or “anti-mansionization.” It doesn’t matter what you call it. If Uhring and perhaps some of the other candidates are for these “neighborhood standards,” it may become the law in Malibu and many people will see their homes significantly reduced in value, particularly the older homes. There will be online forums, so ask the candidates where they stand on the issue.

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Lastly, I find it almost absurd that Ron Jeremy, a famous male porn actor, is being accused of sexual harassment. He’s always been a bit of an anomaly in the porn field. He’s short, fat and kind of ugly but still has had a successful porn career. But, after a long tough day on the porn set, I would imagine you’d want nothing more than to go home, kick off your shoes, watch The Animal Kingdom on TV and leave your work behind on the set. But what do I know?

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