Homeless spending audit + Dem support for clearing homeless camps + First transgender lawmaker?

California news

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California has spent more than $20 billion over the last five years to address the crisis of homelessness. The bipartisan Joint Legislative Audit Committee asked the state auditor on Wednesday to figure out what taxpayers have to show for their investment.

“Homelessness is the most urgent issue facing California,” said Sen. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, one of the lawmakers to request the audit. “Given the crisis has only worsened, we need to know what the money has accomplished and what programs have been effective in moving people to permanent housing.”

Niello joined Sens. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose; Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa; Assemblymen Evan Low, D-San Jose, and Josh Hoover, R-Folsom; in making the ask.

As Hoover noted in a statement, since 2018 “we have seen a 77% increase in our state’s homelessness population.”

The auditor also will be tasked with investigating the City of San Jose’s approach to homeless spending. Cortese said in a statement that the audit wasn’t intended to single out any city, “it is to single out the fact that human suffering on our streets has persisted far too long.”

Grant Parks, the new California State Auditor, told the committee that he expects the audit to take six to seven months to complete.


Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, on Wednesday announced his support for Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones’ bill to clear out homeless encampments near schools, parks and daycare centers.

“Californians of all political stripes can agree on one thing — homelessness is a crisis in our state,” Dodd said in a statement. “We must work together to move people from encampments into better accommodations where they can have access to services.”

Jones’ bill, SB 31, bars unhoused people, including parents and children, from camping within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries or daycare centers. It also requires governments to provide three days’ notice before doing a sweep and mandates that police or other enforcement officers provide unhoused people whose camps are being cleared with sleeping alternatives and homeless and mental health services available in the area.

This is separate from Assemblyman Hoover’s AB 257, which prohibited camping with 500 feet of schools. That bill failed to pass the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

In a statement, Jones said, “Kids shouldn’t be exposed to the open drug use and the dangerous situations we are seeing in homeless encampments near schools and parks across the state.”

SB 31 is set to be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee next Tuesday.


Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, a Democrat, has launched her campaign for Senate District 19, a newly redistricted open Senate seat representing the Inland Empire. If elected, she would be California’s first openly transgender lawmaker.

In an interview with the Press-Enterprise, Middleton — who made history as California’s first openly transgender mayor — said that she spent “far too many decades trying to hide who I was.”

“I plan to be a very pragmatic candidate and a problem solver and we’ve got some major problems that need to be solved,” Middleton told the Press-Enterprise.

She has secured one high-profile endorsement: Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who said in a statement that, “We need Lisa Middleton’s proven leadership fighting for California’s 19th Senate District.”

Middleton will have some competition for the seat, including from a sitting senator — Sen. Ochoa Bogh has filed to run for the seat as well.

But if it comes down to Middleton and Ochoa Bogh, Middleton will have a slight advantage, as Democrats have a slight (nearly 2%) voter registration lead in the district over Republicans.


“Didn’t think I’d have to say, but I will not be voting to ban books and take kids’ lunches away this week.”

– Rep. Josh Harder, D-Tracy, via Twitter.

Best of The Bee:

  • The fate of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to bring down California’s high gas prices by going after oil companies over their recent record profits could be decided in a matter of days, via Maggie Angst.

  • Nearly 60,000 workers across California State University’s 23 campuses are demanding the university increase their pay and guarantee step raises so they won’t fall behind the market, via Maya Miller.

  • Another labor uprising is brewing in California higher education – this time within the nation’s largest public university system, via Maya Miller.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for The Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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