Gov. Gavin Newsom lately stated that he didn’t perceive why sports activities stadiums may very well be constructed shortly however different main initiatives couldn’t. If he actually didn’t know, he in all probability simply realized.
Sports activities are well-liked. Not so with all public works initiatives. Some are hated.
The Democratic-dominated Legislature gave the Democratic governor a lesson in real-world politics and policymaking: Don’t attempt to punch above your weight.
The legislative department, when unified, is the same as the manager department in energy.
Newsom tried to ram by the Legislature his last-minute proposal to expedite development of a extremely controversial water tunnel within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Environmental teams and delta people, together with native farmers, are strongly against the $16-billion, 45-mile-long venture that might siphon Sacramento River water into southbound aqueducts for irrigation and cities, together with Los Angeles.
Lawmakers stood as much as Newsom and adamantly refused to think about his tunnel speedup plan, forcing him to again down and withdraw the proposal. It was a humiliating setback for the California governor.
The delta plan was a part of an 11-bill legislative package deal that Newsom belatedly unveiled Could 19, thrusting it into price range deliberations. It had no actual ties to the price range, however the governor’s transfer allowed his package deal to keep away from the scrutiny of legislative coverage committees. His purpose was to chop crimson tape and make it simpler to construct transportation, clear power and water initiatives.
Previous Legislatures and governors — Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger — have offered regulatory shortcuts to ease development of soccer stadiums and basketball arenas. The stadiums didn’t get constructed for varied causes, however at the least two fancy basketball arenas did — for the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
“I really like sports activities,” stated Newsom, a former faculty baseball pitcher for the Santa Clara College Broncos. “However I additionally love roads. I really like transit. I really like bridges. And I really like clear power initiatives just like the one we’re seeing right here.”
Newsom was unveiling his infrastructure speedup package deal at a future photo voltaic power farm close to Modesto in Could. He additionally had in thoughts constructing wind, battery storage and semiconductor vegetation. Add to the record regional rail, bridges and water storage services — plus the delta tunnel.
“It’s not nearly stadiums,” Newsom continued. “And we’ve confirmed we are able to get it accomplished for stadiums.
“So why the hell can’t we translate that to all these different initiatives?”
It’s a good query. I’ve requested it myself in previous columns.
One reply is that stadiums and arenas are constructed by highly effective billionaires who can toss round tons of political weight. They might help politicians run for reelection. If nothing else, they are often known as on for playoff tickets.
However the extra vital reply is that skilled soccer and basketball are extraordinarily well-liked with voters. It’s bipartisan. There’s solely fringe opposition to serving to staff homeowners construct native enjoying services.
Distinction that with the proposed tunnel, a 39-foot-wide pipe that might funnel contemporary Sacramento River water from the north delta into aqueducts within the extra saline south delta. The delta is California’s principal water hub, serving 27 million individuals and irrigating 3 million acres.
The tunnel would run underneath the delta, robbing farmers and small communities of contemporary water that now flows by the West Coast’s largest estuary. And it will scale back contemporary water for struggling child salmon, already a threatened species.
Newsom and state water officers counter that the tunnel would save the delta as a first-rate California plumbing facility. It could guarantee reliability of water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley farms and coastal cities. In any other case, the prognosis for the delta is bleak due to sea degree rise brought on by local weather change and potential earthquakes that would flatten levees.
However tunnel opponents argue the ocean degree rise is another excuse for sustaining contemporary water flows to repel the salt water from San Francisco Bay. They usually level out that no quake has ever critically harmed a delta levee. In truth, there is no such thing as a main fault underneath the delta.
Backside line: Delta individuals don’t belief state water officers to function the tunnel in a approach that might defend them and the estuary. They worry being drained, because the Owens Valley was by the Los Angeles Aqueduct a century in the past.
Governors have been attempting to construct this venture, in a single type or one other, for six a long time. They’ve been crushed by both voters or a coalition of delta individuals and environmentalists.
This time, Newsom tried to play hardball. He threatened to veto the Legislature’s pet price range initiatives except they accepted his proposal to hurry up development on the tunnel and different infrastructure initiatives.
Key to his plan is a questionable purpose of decreasing the time for wrapping up lawsuits underneath the California Environmental High quality Act. He needs a 270-day time restrict if a decide deems it possible. That appears impractical.
Legislative leaders instructed the governor final week that the delta laws was a nonstarter. He pushed them anyway, however lastly gave up Monday.
The remainder of the infrastructure speedup package deal was left for additional negotiation.
Newsom might but wind up with some wins. However on the delta, the previous lefty hurler was hammered and may have by no means taken the mound.