November 26, 2022
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Our View: A wave of common sense washes over California politics

IN THIS ARTICLE

The political aftershocks from the recall of three left-leaning San Francisco school board members continue to spread to Sacramento and beyond.

One of them is a rising chorus of outrage over an Alameda County Superior Court decision to allow a cap on enrollment at the University of California’s flagship campus in Berkeley. In the San Francisco recall, extended school closings angered middle-class parents, and proposed renaming of schools prescribed a cancel-culture solution for what could have been a solid history lesson.

Now the blatant NIMBYism of the Berkeley plaintiffs in the enrollment cap case has created another backlash. Suddenly awakened to the economic and academic toll that an enrollment cap would have on the university, the city of Berkeley has switched sides and at press time was expected to go to court to seek a reversal of the enrollment cap ruling.

And in Sacramento, State Sen. Scott Wiener, a leading advocate for housing development and greater urban density, has targeted one of the real villains in the enrollment cap story: CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, the decades-old law that has been used by activists, politicians and developers seeking to stymie competition by stalling or delaying projects. Wiener’s latest bill would exempt UC, California State University and community college housing projects from the full CEQA process.

A legislative fix to CEQA is long overdue, and exemptions for university housing projects is a good starting point. It is worth noting that overlaying CEQA these days are storm water runoff rules, countless local restrictions on building height and density and other safeguards that can hamstring sensible development.

As the home of major state universities, six community colleges and a number of private campuses, the Central Coast would greatly benefit from CEQA reform that eases the burden for campus housing construction.

The recall in San Francisco, Berkeley’s reversal in the UC enrollment cap case and Wiener’s proposed bill are signs of momentum in favor of more common sense in governance. We hope the trend continues.

HONORING INNOVATION

When the Business Times launched the Central Coast Innovation Awards, we wanted to combine recognition for the region’s innovation culture with an opportunity to showcase the best student entrepreneurship emerging from our campuses.

Our mission takes a big step forward this year with the Central Coast Innovation Awards publication in the current issue of the Business Times. Our top honor, the Spirit of Innovation Awards, goes to James Rogers, founder of Apeel Sciences in Goleta.

When we launched this awards program, he was still largely a student-entrepreneur with a lot of support for his creation of an organic material that could extend the life of perishable fruits and vegetables.

Today, Apeel is at the cutting edge of the movement to improve food security for millions of people, and it is reducing food waste at major producers and retailers alike. Congratulations to James, and please join us at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Goleta on March 24 to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs at our Startup Village and congratulate the rest of our winners: Pashion Footwear; Meissner Filtration; Land Gorilla; Atara Biotherapeutics; and our to-be-named Startup Village Superstar.