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Construction workers building homes in Echo Park.
Construction workers building homes in Echo Park. (Los Angeles Times)

Those who want to blame a California environmental law for the state’s housing problems should instead point their fingers at cities and counties, according to a new report from researchers at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.

The California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, a 1970 state law, requires developers to analyze and eliminate a project’s effect on the environment before building. While often praised for preservation, CEQA is a continual target for those who argue the law blocks needed housing.  

The real problem isn’t CEQA, but rather how local governments approve projects, the report said. CEQA only comes into play if a city or county decides to review housing developments individually. If a local government relies on zoning or other processes to determine whether a particular project gets built, developers don’t have to go through the CEQA process.

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  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
  • U.S. Senate race
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

California Democratic Party delegates received a mailer on Tuesday from Sen. Dianne Feinstein asking for their support in the endorsement race at the state party’s convention this weekend.

“Today, more than ever, California and our nation’s progress are threatened on many fronts by Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress,” Feinstein wrote. “… California Democrats can and must lead Democrats across the nation to victory. Please know that I stand with each and every one of you and that I deeply appreciate all you do for our party and for the values we share.”

The mailer also touts Feinstein’s endorsement by scores of California political leaders, including Sen. Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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  • California Legislature
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Tuesday said he would not appeal a state appellate court ruling that granted a new bail hearing for a San Francisco man accused of stealing cologne, paving the way for a change to the way judges across the state award bail.

The announcement comes after Gov. Jerry Brown pledged last year to work with state lawmakers and the state’s chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, on overhauling California’s bail system. 

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells announced today he is running for Congress, challenging long-time Republican incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter for a hotly-contested East County district.

Orange County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Puckett checks a motorist's identification at a DUI checkpoint.
Orange County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Puckett checks a motorist's identification at a DUI checkpoint. (Al Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

California motorists under the age of 21 would lose their driver’s license for a year if caught driving with marijuana in their system under new legislation, though the state still is developing methods of measuring the drug in the body and determining a standard for impairment.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) said he proposed the law so that the state would have the same “zero tolerance” policy for pot that it has for those under 21 who drive under the influence of alcohol.

“This bill will save lives by making it illegal for drivers under age 21 to drive under the influence of marijuana, just like current law for alcohol,” Hill said in a statement.

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  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Democrats
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Amanda Renteria, the former Hillary Clinton aide who has been silent since filing paperwork to run for governor last week, released a minute-long video Tuesday morning.

It sheds little light on who she is or why she is running.

The online video features scenes of cities, the coast and farmland, and firefighters, a soldier, a gay couple, a construction worker, a professor and others that a voiceover describes as “warriors.”

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election

GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox plans to launch an online ad Tuesday attacking Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa over his support for a political ally’s son who was sentenced for his part in the stabbing death of a young man.

The ad focuses on Villaraigosa’s words on behalf of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez’s son, Esteban, as he was charged for his role in a 2008 street fight in San Diego that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Luis Santos.

The two-and-a-half-minute digital ad notes that when the younger Nuñez’s bail was set at $2 million, Villaraigosa was among the state political leaders who spoke out his behalf.

  • California Legislature
A solar installation in Van Nuys
A solar installation in Van Nuys (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A new bill from a Bay Area lawmaker aims to increase rooftop solar production throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1399 from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would create a new system in which owners of existing buildings that have high energy use but little roof space could contract with owners of other local buildings that have lots of roof space, but little need for energy.

The idea, Wiener said in a statement, is to create more incentives for rooftop solar installations by matching those who could supply it with those who would use it.

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Labor rights icon Dolores Huerta won't be on the ballot in California’s 21st Congressional District, but she has influenced the Central Valley race Democrats view as one of their biggest pickup opportunities in the midterm elections.

Candidates for statewide office in California.
Candidates for statewide office in California. (Associated Press / Getty Images / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of California Democrats will gather this week in San Diego for their annual convention, featuring several potential presidential contenders as well as candidates battling for endorsements from the party faithful in advance of the June primary.

Potential 2020 candidates speaking at the convention include Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Kamala Harris and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer.

One notable California Democrat who repeatedly ran for president is not scheduled to appear: Gov. Jerry Brown, in his final year leading the state. He has previously faced protests and heckling from critics who did not agree with his stance on fracking.