Brown, Newsom clash over merits of obstruction

18 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Zorro drew his sword. Paladin went for his gun. TJ Hooker whipped out his stick. When in peril, Californian heroes find salvation in a sure and deadly weapon. In our finest tradition, lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom faced the looming threat of Donald Trump’s wall, shouted not in my backyard and brandished the ultimate equaliser: the California Environmental Quality Act. According to the Los Angeles Times

“There’s something called CEQA in California — NEPA at the federal level,” Newsom said.


California needs fast, investor friendly projects to win federal infrastructure money

14 December 2016 by Steve Blum

A new business model?

Money could start flowing into California infrastructure, if president-elect Donald Trump’s plan to spend a trillion dollars on construction projects continues on the course that it seems to be on. That was the cautious optimism expressed at the California Economic Summit yesterday during a briefing on infrastructure programs and progress.

The optimism was about the way Trump’s infrastructure priorities – at least as far as those have been articulated – broadly matches California’s make-up: big projects in major metropolitan areas that have a national impact and rural areas that are close to major economic drivers – like Silicon Valley – and to logistics hubs like major seaports, rail lines and highways.… More

Three ways for California to lead telecoms policy in the right direction

8 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Time to untangle.

California is large enough and our economy is advanced enough to support independent telecommunications policy making, as the California Public Utilities Commission is beginning to do. It’s a start in the right direction, and more can be done…

  1. In recent decisions regarding the California Advanced Services Fund, the CPUC has made useful and workable distinctions between middle and last mile broadband infrastructure, requiring open access on transparent terms to the former and non-discriminatory access to the latter.


Wireline broadband regulation should follow the wireless roadmap

7 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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The major broadband service providers are cable and telephone companies, which are regulated, or not, under two completely different sets of rules. There are huge differences in technology and business models, but the basic service – Internet access – is a commodity. It’s time to find a common regulatory regime.

A good starting point is to look at the the wireless industry. Regulation is split into two largely independent policy areas: 1. creation and physical management of the infrastructure – technical regulation of the allocation and use of spectrum – and 2.… More

Governor Brown signs community broadband bond financing bills into law

30 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Cities and other local agencies in California will be able to issue bonds to pay for building broadband infrastructure, thanks to two new laws approved by Governor Brown yesterday. Assembly bill 2292 and senate bill 628 expand the use of infrastructure financing districts (IFDs), on the one hand specifically allowing broadband to be included in old-style IFDs and creating a new kind, called enhanced infrastructure financing districts, on the other. In both cases, the bonds can be repaid by earmarking the incremental tax revenue that the project is expected to produce.… More

Broadband missing on California's new enhanced infrastructure list

3 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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A deal to give local governments more infrastructure financing options finally came together in the closing hours of the California legislature’s 2014 session. Assuming Governor Brown signs senate bill 628 – likely, considering that his staff was deep in the negotiations that led to it – it’s good news overall for local governments. The measure gives local agencies the ability to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts that can issue bonds to build public facilities and earmark the future tax revenue the project is expected to generate to pay the money back.… More

No reform this year for California's environmental road blocks

27 August 2014 by Steve Blum

One of the useful, if frustrating, aspects of the California Economic Summit’s state capitol conference earlier this month was listening to some lawmakers defend the California environmental quality act (CEQA). It’s universally considered to be a needlessly complex and economically damaging impediment to any kind of infrastructure project. Except by environmentalists and their allies in the legislature.

The core argument in favor of CEQA in its current form is that even though it’s cumbersome, it has saved California’s signature natural assets – you get the idea it’s the only thing standing between the redwoods and a horde of chainsaw wielding loggers.… More

California governor, lawmakers consider expanded infrastructure financing power for local government

13 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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A new plan to finance public infrastructure is being hatched in Sacramento and, at this point, broadband is included.

Chris Hill, a senior budget analyst working for California governor Jerry Brown, talked about the negotiations going on with legislative leaders, during an infrastructure breakout session at yesterday’s California Economic Summit conference at the state capitol. The idea is to allow local governments to create what are being called enhanced infrastructure financing districts that could sell bonds to build a wide variety of projects and repay the debt using property tax money.… More

Clearing the way for better infrastructure in California

8 November 2013 by Steve Blum
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It costs more here.

California’s infrastructure was “designed for 25 million people”, state treasurer Bill Lockyer told an opening breakout session at the California Economic Summit in Los Angeles. The problem, he said, is that California will have 50 millon people before there’s a fix in place.

The focus was on roads and water – publicly funded projects – but it’s equally true for infrastructure that’s supported by private capital, such as telecommunications and energy.

That conversation was mostly about ways to funnel more tax dollars towards road maintenance and construction but as the conference moved on, the cost side of the equation took center stage.… More