Is Gavin Newsom turning the state into Commifornia? What’s next for the Golden State?

Sobering news has been given to me by fellow Californians. Gov. Gavin Newsom may be ruining what was once great about California.

A co-worker told me about how he’s leaving the state, maybe to Florida. A few hours later at lunch, an old friend told me about leaving the state and moving to Japan to take a job. He’s concerned that Newsom is turning the state into “Commifornia” that’s going to drive up taxes and the cost of living even further. He’s especially concerned about Newsom recently signing bills to create more affordable housing in California; the new laws allow more duplexes and small apartment buildings in certain neighborhoods. He’s afraid that will bring him a few undesirable neighbors.

My co-worker would agree, and had a long list of problems with what’s going on in Washington, DC, as well. Newsom’s California is not for him, and he may need to leave the country. I didn’t ask whether they’d voted to recall Newsom last month, but I assume they did.

Maybe they’re pragmatic libertarians. I haven’t heard Trump’s name come up lately, or a Republicans vs. Democrats political battle. That was resolved on inauguration regardless of the January 6 chaos and Trump’s continued claim that the election was rigged. I think the two men I spoke to the other day wouldn’t be Trump true believers; but they don’t like what the state stands for and that it does cost more to live here than in a few neighboring states, several other states, and plenty of other countries. Panama was one I heard about that might be the destination of a move.

I have heard that voice coming from others, too. When I go to work in Costa Mesa, it’s an interesting mix of ex-hippies, surfers, creative workers, rich people from Newport Beach, Trump backers, visitors from other countries, vegans, environmentalists, and working people who worry about the cost of living going up. They might bring up the COVID-19 economy and how things are going up in prices and are taking long to receive — a new car, parts for their house remodel, electronics, and more.

For those wanting to leave the state, there’s a good long list of complaints: high cost of living, high taxes, job loss, and crowdedness make the list. There’s also the large homeless population, air that could be cleaner, road construction and traffic jams, and prices that keep going up.

What about diversity? I don’t see that one mentioned or hear it in conversations, but my gut instinct is that many white people are leaving because the Latinx (Latino/a) population has been growing along with other people of color. Public Policy Institute of California reported that no one group has 51%. As of 2019, it broke out to 39% of state residents are Latinx, 36% are white, 15% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 6% are African American, fewer than 1% are Native American or Alaska Natives, and 3% are multiracial or other, according to the 2019 American Community Survey.

There’s also a lot of young people moving here for school and work. That ties in with an overall population trend toward Millenials and Generation Z — meaning that teenagers through people in their early 40s fit into these two large demographic groups.

Along with those planning to leave California, recent conversations have been about whether you stay in California as you age and head to retirement years. Can you afford it?

As part of my master’s degree program in strategic communication, I’ve been working on a paper on Gen Z (teenager through late 20s) going to college and surging out into the workforce. They are a bit different, even when compared to Millennials. They’ve been “digital natives,” the first generation to be able to teach grandparents how to use their smartphones and play video games at four years old.

They’re also very open and straightforward in conversation, the workplace, and on social media — about race issues, gender identity, sexual orientation, and climate change. They may have a friend who’s been through transgender surgery, and they get very annoyed if one of their parents express concerns over one of their friends being in the LBGTQ community — or that their son or daughter is one of them. Or they may be white and just got married to a black person and they’re going to have kids.

I took that subject matter in my paper for a couple of reasons: one is that I’ll be working with Gen Xers in the next two years when I finish grad school and start teaching journalism and communication college courses. The other is that I have Gen X family members, who openly share with me about any of these questions. Their friends, and some of my co-workers, have also added to the conversations, and have made the research very insightful and never dull.

They love California, and I would tend to agree. Besides the weather, a long list of places I love to go to, and the kind of people who live here, there are other reasons.

Let’s look at a few interesting facts about the state:

U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales First Half 2021
National: 310,272
California: 121,006
Source: California Energy Commission

  • EVs made up 10.66% of the vehicles sold in California during the second quarter of 2021, according to Detroit Bureau. The top two selling EVs in California were Teslas: the Model Y and Model 3.
  • Non-C02 emitting electric generation accounted for 51% of in-state generation in 2020, down from 57% in 2019. That came from nuclear, large hydroelectric, and renewables. Total renewables reached 33%, up 2.5% from 2019 levels.
  • Residential rooftop solar photovoltaic systems directly reduce the measured delivery of power from the state’s fleet of utility-scale power plants. As a homeowner with solar power panels on the roof, I’m proud to hear that.
  • While Tesla has a lot going on out-of-state, the company just broke ground in Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, Calif., to build a new “Megafactory” planned facility. The company will be making Megapacks, the energy-storage product Tesla sells to utilities. That will create more jobs for the company and for the state. It had been souring lately, when CEO Elon Musk moved to Texas in December and talked dow California polities. There’s also a new factory for production of the Model Y and Cybertruck in Austin. But like other companies, Tesla won’t be leaving the state behind entirely.
  • California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035, Newsom announced a little over a year ago.

California, the rest of the US, and probably most of the world, will be continuing through a very stressful and strange time in our history. Murders increased 30 percent in the U.S. last year according to FBI statistics, and this year is up, too, though at a slower rate.

Clearing through COVID-19 would help quite a bit, but the polarity and struggle over political, social, economic, environmental, cultural, and other issues, won’t be getting any easier anytime soon.

And in other news…………
More than 100 U.S. House lawmakers urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to keep a $4,500 tax credit incentive for union-built electric vehicles (EV) in a massive spending bill. In the letter, 107 Democrats asked the speaker to retain the credit supported by the United Auto Workers and US automakers.

Volvo Trucks has received an order for 100 FM Electric trucks from DFDS, Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company. It’s the biggest electric truck deal that Volvo has made, and one of the largest ever for electric heavy duty trucks worldwide. “I believe this will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey,” said Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is partnering with fleet operations to pilot 12 new heavy- and medium-duty natural gas vehicles. This pilot is the first step to what is an expected compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet numbering 160 or more vehicles. Janisse Quinones, PG&E Senior Vice President of Gas Engineering, said that the environmental and cost-saving benefits are the primary reasons for this program, which is why it aligns with PG&E’s sustainability goals.


3 thoughts on “Is Gavin Newsom turning the state into Commifornia? What’s next for the Golden State?”

  1. Hmmm..The article on Newsome looks to be a more personal political opinion piece. This is not what I would expect from this newsletter.

      1. Now he wasn’t given that opportunity. I did see a lot of interest and comments on the subject matter on social media. I appreciate your feedback, Joel.

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