February 13, 2017

"About 188,000 residents near Oroville, Calif., were ordered to evacuate Sunday after a hole in an emergency spillway in the Oroville Dam threatened to flood the surrounding area."

"Thousands clogged highways leading out of the area headed south, north and west, and arteries major and minor remained jammed as midnight approached on the West Coast...."
Lake Oroville is one of California’s largest man-made lakes, with 3.5 million acre-feet of water and 167 miles of shoreline, and the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam is the nation’s tallest, about 44 feet higher than the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. The lake is the linchpin of California’s government-run water delivery system, sending water from the Sierra Nevada for agriculture in the Central Valley and for residents and businesses in Southern California.

90 comments:

AprilApple said...

Democrats never to blame. *

Michael K said...

"government-run water delivery system,"

tells you what you need to know.

Maintenance is something politicians don;t do. There are no ribbon cuttings at regular maintenance completions.

Jerry Brown is begging now. I guess secession is out this week.

tim in vermont said...

It's that permanent drought due to global warming R&B is always going on about.

David Begley said...

Water restrictions remain in effect in CA.

Original Mike said...

Jerry Brown is asking Trump for $162.3M in emergency assistance. How about $1,000 for each illegal alien delivered to ICE?

Let's make a deal!

Phunctor said...

It was Boosh!

Seriously, the blame-shifting dance will be amazingly entertaining. If I were a better person I'd have more sympathy for the Californians who've been voting for insanity for so many decades. But I'm not, and I. Do. Not. Care.

Big Mike said...

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the Dumbocrat-controlled government of California skimped on basic maintenance in order to start up flashy new programs and to invest (throw away) more money on the high speed train to nowhere.

For years the water in the lake was low due to the drought, that was the time to inspect and do preventive maintenance on the spillway. Not when the lake is full.

tim in vermont said...

Water restrictions will never be lifted for political reasons.

JHapp said...

Funniest thing I read about the California drought problem is that the liberals there don't like reservoirs because they are not natural.

Original Mike said...

The rocket scientists built a power line in the emergency spillway.

Curious George said...

I wonder what Meryl Streep thinks about this.

Henry said...

Jerry Brown is asking Trump for $162.3M in emergency assistance.

Subtract that from the $68 Billion high speed rail line you still have $67.837 Billion left.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Michael K said...

Jerry Brown is begging now. I guess secession is out this week.

Nope. Now they're looking for secession, plus alimony and child support payments.

AJ Lynch said...

I hope and pray the damn dam holds up - we don't need any more huge disasters.

Jersey Fled said...

When these CA loonies start placing legitimate infrastructure needs on the same priority level as making sure men can go to the girls room, maybe I'll feel a little more sympathy for them.

Fernandinande said...

Original Mike said...
How about $1,000 for each illegal alien delivered to ICE?


There are no illegal aliens in CA.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a trio of immigration-related measures Monday, including one removing the word “alien” from California’s labor code because it is seen as a disparaging term for those not born in the United States.

LYNNDH said...

If in the past 30 yr. CA had built more reservoirs this might not be happening, but Environs stopped that. Wonder when the last time the reservoir and the spill way were examined?

mezzrow said...

Is that one of those dams that the most radical enviros dream of blowing up some day?

Let's talk some more about secession. Please. Go ahead. What Reagan and Pat Brown built rots from neglect under Jerry. Wait for the high-speed fail, er, rail.

I'm usually better than this, but events have driven me over the edge this morning.

Mike Sylwester said...

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a trio of immigration-related measures Monday, including one removing the word “alien” from California’s labor code because it is seen as a disparaging term for those not born in the United States.

Also, the correct, legal term is disrespectful.

traditionalguy said...

Mother Nature wins again. Maybe Gov. Brown can pass a better law to stop the weather.

stever said...

Irony Alert!! Hypocrisy Alert!! Who could have seen this coming?

exhelodrvr1 said...

The evacuation issues give a real feeling of confidence if a "no shit, large scale" evacuation is ever needed for some reason, don't they?

robother said...

But that High Speed Rail system from San Fran to LA is the highest priority for all tax and federal dollars. Maintenance of a 40 year dam is so boring.

viator said...



More than a decade ago, federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns that the massive earthen spillway at Oroville Dam — at risk of collapse Sunday night and prompting the evacuation of 185,000 people — could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe.

At Friday’s afternoon press conference, DWR civil engineer Kevin Dossey, said spillway voids are common and confirmed Oroville’s spillway surface was repaired in 2013 near where Tuesday’s failure occurred.

During the inspection in 2015, in July, the structure was again found to be stable and satisfactory. Although, inspectors looked at the discharge channel “from some distance” rather than walking it, the report says. Inspectors determined there were no visible issues with the concrete.

Looking at the many photos online of the Oroville Spillway collpase that has been in the news, there’s one major component of concrete that should be there, but is blatantly absent: rebar. If there was REBAR in the spillway concrete, you’d see a mesh lattice of it left behind in the hole, or at least a few sticking out at odd angles. Concrete is a material that is very strong in compression, but relatively weak in tension. To compensate for this imbalance in concrete’s behavior, rebar is cast into it to carry the tensile loads. This means concrete pulls apart much easier than it is crushable, but with REBAR the tensile force required to pull the concrete apart is greatly increased.

n.n said...

The perceived disorder of chaos is due to incomplete characterization and unwieldiness. It becomes ordered with improved perception and management. The former is favored by religions that defer to individuals and God as a keystone, while the latter is favored by authoritarians that defer to mortal gods and minority regimes as an anchor.

buwaya said...

"I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the Dumbocrat-controlled government of California skimped on basic maintenance"

You would be correct. This is also true on all sorts of other things such as highways and levees.

wildswan said...

There are pictures out there showing that the main dam spillway had huge gouge across it. So the dam engineers went to the emergency spillway - that eroded very quickly so they went back to the main spillway and released enormous quantities of water. This emergency release of water deepened the main spillway gouge so that red earth from under the main spillway was dug out by the water's force - meaning that the concrete along the length of the spillway is not intact top to bottom. At the same time they evacuated the immediate downriver towns. As a result (I hope) there will be no loss of life. And if they empty the lake enough perhaps the dam will hold.

But the dam holds drinking water for one third of the people of California. The lake is being emptied because the dam might burst so that rain in California is going to cause drought conditions as did lack of rain.

And California will stop attempting to secede from the US and proceed without a pause to start to demand money from the rest of the US. Since its own infrastructure money is gone on the bullet train and the windmills and the sex change counseling and showing how Californians are better than the rest of us, we owe our money to them. It's the least we can do for our cultural benefactors.

And Donald Trump's infrastructure program will sail through Congress. Which is good.

Owen said...

What I read (see posting andccomments at Watts Up With That) suggests multiple factors leading toward failure. God willing the dam itself won't fail but already the dam SYSTEM has failed, bigtime.
(1) possible design or construction flaw in the main (now failed) spillway.
(2) definite failure in inspection and maintenance. Pic of spillway from 4 years ago (2013) shows DWR trucks on the spillway inspecting what looks like the same area, which is discolored if not already displaced.
(3) likely failure in water management plan. Dam's original primary purpose was not water storage but flood control. The recent drought (whose significance was greatly affected by the global warming alarmist rhetoric) led DWR to hoard water in this rainy season, and when the rains came early and hard, with heavy snowpack melting yet to come, they had too much water already in the reservoir and could not dump it in time.

Failure happens. But it happens more when you aren't challenged along the way.

Rick said...

Original Mike said...
Jerry Brown is asking Trump for $162.3M in emergency assistance. How about $1,000 for each illegal alien delivered to ICE?


How about $10 each?

I don't necessarily think this failure is about government greed and/or incompetence. But is there any chance a similar free market failure would not be portrayed as proof of greed and incompetence?

Sebastian said...

Let's get this secession thing over with before the Big One hits and CA really starts begging the rest of us to bail them out.

glenn said...

"I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the Dumbocrat-controlled government of California skimped on basic maintenance"

Roads and bridges included. More fun to pay "folks" to vote. Then you win.

Original Mike said...

"How about $10 each?"

Yeah, I hadn't had my coffee yet when I posted that.

Mac McConnell said...

If Jerry Brown was a Republican, CNN reports "Cali Governor's Gestapo Rounds Up 188,000 Citizens".

Original Mike said...

"Since its own infrastructure money is gone on the bullet train and the windmills and the sex change counseling and showing how Californians are better than the rest of us, "

re: the choo-choo, Sockpuppet55 (or one of her other aliases) was lecturing us this weekend that CA is free to spend its money on whatever it wants. Yes, but here is the result of its poor choices.

Come up with your own $160M, Jerry.

Michael K said...

California is so misgoverned the past 40 years that it is very hard to feel sorry for the state where I lived for 60 years.

It used to be that California was smart enough, just smart enough, to elect Republican governors to keep the lights on and the roads repaired while the Democrats ran wild in the legislature.

George Deukmajian and Pete Wilson made the place hold together while the fruits and nuts partied.

All that is gone.

Earnest Prole said...

Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago

“Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

“The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

“FERC rejected that request, however, after the state Department of Water Resources, and the water agencies that would likely have had to pay the bill for the upgrades, said they were unnecessary.”

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Thanks, Trump.

cubanbob said...

Viator are you saying the dam was built without rebar?

Tank said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Michael K said...

Jerry Brown is begging now. I guess secession is out this week.

Nope. Now they're looking for secession, plus alimony and child support payments.


Only Feb and we have a leading candidate for comment of the year.

Static Ping said...

I suppose I should note that this is Butte County which is part of the proposed State of Jefferson. It's also Trump territory. This is not going to endear the locals to the state government.

Larry J said...

Larry's Fourth Law: Neglecting maintenance is a fool's economy. The repairs will always cost more than doing the maintenance, usually a lot more.

Back in the late 1970s, my oldest brother was a mechanic. He told me one day, "I just taught a woman an $800 lesson on what a dipstick is." Some three years earlier, she'd bought a new Honda Civic. Over the years, she'd put over 33,000 miles on the car but never once checked or changed the oil. The oil idiot light came on and she kept driving until the engine seized. It had less than a cup of oil in the pan. The cost of the repair? $800. Had she changed the oil every 3,000 miles as recommended back then, she would've been out maybe $110. Instead of paying for the maintenance, she got to pay a lot more for the repair. Yep, neglecting maintenance always costs more in the end.

Oso Negro said...

It is difficult to cognize a pestilence, plauge, or natural disaster befalling California that I wouldn't enjoy on some level. I know, I lack normal compassion. But the shit those people have foisted on the rest of the country over the years!

MountainMan said...

Interesting history. Not heard this before.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atmospheric-rivers-california-megaflood-lessons-from-forgotten-catastrophe/

Michael K said...

" Had she changed the oil every 3,000 miles as recommended back then, she would've been out maybe $110. Instead of paying for the maintenance, she got to pay a lot more for the repair. Yep, neglecting maintenance always costs more in the end."

My oldest daughter did this but I got to pay for it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Mountain Man

This is the problem with people and especially with Liberals/Democrats: they think every day is a new day and there is no history to learn anything from. They don't know history, aren't interested in history, deny it if they do know and refuse to learn.

I live in North California and when the latest hoo haa about the drought was going on, I was sceptical. Not that there was a drought, because that is a fact but that it was going to last forever. The chicken littles and henny pennys running around with their feathers on fire forgot that in the 1960's we had a ginormous flood. Once in a hundred years...they said. They forgot that in the 1970's we also had a drought that was going to last forever!, but then we had major rain that filled the reservoirs in one winter.

Of course....being the dimwits that they are, they immediately forgot about the drought of the 70's and refused to consider building storage for the next, inevitable and reoccurring droughts. Because history, whatever.

And here we are today. Dejabull...that feeling that you've lived through this bullshit before.

Yellow Kitty said...

Governor Brown, please submit an eight year repayment plan and your request for funds will be considered.

Hagar said...

The dam is "earthfill," i.e, built with clay core (or in some cases a concrete curtain wall in the center) and carefully selected, processed, and placed layers of earth to each side.
The main spillway, with controllable gates, discharges into a long unreinforced concrete chute leading to the river below. The dam and main spillway are constructed to handle any foreseeable flow into the reservoir.
The emergency spillway is for when Mother Nature goes beyond the foreseable, and even engineers who should know better forget that this does indeed happen, especially in California, where it did happen to several dams in the spectacular storms around 1960 following the long drought of the 1950's.
At Oroville, the emergency spillway is not "earthen" - there is no such thing, since overtopping would mean instant massive failure - but may be something like a low concrete covered dam extending across bedrock west of the main spillway, and the area below the emergency spillway is earth-covered and indeed forested over bedrock.
(At the bottom of the main spillway an area can be seen where flows in the spillway have washed away the cove down to bedrock.)

Pure speculation, but the there may have been some heaving in the concrete paving blocks of the main spillway, and then the large discharge after the recent storm created a jump and the fast-flowing water sucked up a block a bit and away we go!
It is embarrassing - especially since it seems that have not kept a close watch on the emergency spillway crest either - but not life-threatening.

Hagar said...

And DBQ - the storms of 1959 and 63 (?) were not 100-year storms, but 1,000-year, and the 1963 ones after they recalibrated their curves after the 1959 storms.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I suppose I should note that this is Butte County which is part of the proposed State of Jefferson. It's also Trump territory. This is not going to endear the locals to the state government.

@ Static Ping

Check out my profile and location :-)

The locals here are not likely to ever be endeared to the State Government and the Dimocrats who are our dictators and overlords. State of Jefferson FTW!!!

Seriously. If this latest idiocy by the Calif Government to create sanctuary cities, create a sanctuary state and try to secede from the United States doesn't catapult the move to secede the north from the rest of the California...nothing will. NOW is the time.

JAORE said...

This dam (like the levees in New Orleans) were large enough to have been routinely inspected and maintained. That were not is a damnation (see what I did there?) of the various levels of governments involved.

But dams are a national crisis in waiting. Many are earthen dams, i.e. little to no concrete). Many are not inspected yet hold LOTS of water just above many homes. The good news are most of these are far smaller than the headline dam o' the day.

Small comfort to those along the river bank.

Yellow Kitty said...

Having observed the construciton of a quite small membrane bioreactor, the failure of a water holding tank the size of the Oroville Dam size is absolutely incomprehensible. Is it not true that all the really, really, really smart people live on the Left Coast?

The scope of devastation... the homes obliterated, the livelihood lost... how does one justify such gross incompetence? Such utter disregard?

How?

JAORE said...

Google Teton Dam and Sugar City Idaho for an example.

Sugar City had a second disaster of sorts a bit later. FEMA came in and "replaced" the homes that were completely gone. The records of the homes were similarly gone. Oddly enough FEMA learned that virtually all the homes in Sugar were brick, larger than one would have expected and had amenities like central air and garages.

The second "disaster"? Several of the locals couldn't afford the taxes and other expenses of their new digs. A few got repossessed. The price of houses dropped, more went under.... Affected prices for years and years.

Owen said...

Anybody wanting to know what happens when an earthen Dems is overtopped, would benefit from reading David McCullough's "The Johnstown Flood." Water with that kind of volume and head, once it gets going, will cut like a torch through dirt.

The emergency spillway has a concrete lip but farther down it is a broad course of earth and maybe riprap. Unclear how quickly it will erode. Last I heard, inflow into the reservoir is >100K cubic feet per second. So between the main spillway, the hydro outflow and the emergency spillway, DWR has to unload at least 100K cu ft/sec for some time to come. With new storms inbound.

People living downstream may have weeks and weeks, camping in a distant high school gym, to contemplate the wisdom and competence of their government.

Owen said...

In my last, "earthen Dems" should be "earthen dams."

Freudian spellcheck failure. Abject apologies.

Michael K said...

"Anybody wanting to know what happens when an earthen Dems is overtopped, would benefit from reading David McCullough's "The Johnstown Flood."

I used to hike around the wreck of the St Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon north of LA.

When that dam failed, the wall of water went to the ocean at Ventura

At 11:57PM on March 12, 1928, the dam catastrophically failed, and the resulting flood took the lives of as many as 425 people.[2] The collapse of the St. Francis Dam is considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California's history, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The disaster marked the end of Mulholland's career.[3]

Millions of people now live in that area.

The flood heavily damaged the towns of Fillmore, Bardsdale, and Santa Paula, before emptying both victims and debris into the Pacific Ocean 54 miles (87 km) downstream near Ventura at Montalvo around 5:30 a.m., at which point the wave was almost two miles (3 km) wide and still traveling at 6 mph (9.7 km/h). Bodies were recovered as far south as the Mexican border; many were never found.

viator said...

Blogger cubanbob said...
Viator are you saying the dam was built without rebar?
2/13/17, 10:39 AM

There are a number of pictures of the spillway and the damage. The concrete is broken and missing in large areas. I see no sign of rebar which should be easily visible.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It'd be interesting to read an account of the money spent on infrastructure projects as part of the ARA stimulus package of 2009 and onward. Interesting but likely disheartening. In my county there were some signs up ("Funded by the Recovery Act") but as far as I could tell it just meant we got some federal funds to pay for existing state DOT projects.
Maybe fixing dams is one of those "jobs Americans won't do." Probably if we had a better temporary migrant worker program this would have been fixed years ago.
That's the ticket.

gadfly said...

From February 12 Daily Mail: California extends its emergency drought regulations until May - despite a winter that brought storms and floods.

Where have all the Moonbeams gone?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Michael K

Thanks. That was interesting reading about the St. Francis Dam. I was aware of the destruction of Owens Valley by Mullholand but not this instance. California never learns.

viator said...

Broken concrete WITH rebar.

Michael K said...

"That was interesting reading about the St. Francis Dam."

Some of his life was fictionalized in "Chinatown" the movie but most was fiction.

I used to hike all around it. I can't remember f there was any rebar in it. Bug chunks of concrete to climb around but it was over 50 years ago.

Owen said...

Apparently Sacramento Bee is reporting that the reservoir level has fallen below the lip of the emergency spillway (901 feet) so the discharge is now coming from the main spillway, at about 100K cf/s. Inflow is reportedly 40K so the level should continue to drop: DWR is saying it could lower the reservoir by 50% in another day if need be. Main spillway, while damaged, seems to be holding.

They may have dodged the bullet. Hope so; it would add to the evidence that God protects fools.

David said...

I stopped following this when I realized that I was starting to root for the dam to break.

Simon Kenton said...

There are several serious design issues here. First, this is a 700-foot earthen dam, a triumph of the mentality that if it can be done, it should be done. As noted above, there appears to be no rebar in the concrete of the main spillway, an omission so grave it is nearly incredible. At this point, both sidewalls of the main spillway have been breached in addition to the avulsion of the bed. The main spillway has been designed as a chute, with flip buckets or blocks only at the end, meaning that the water picks up speed without significant energy dispersion all the way down. More ludicrous is that the emergency spillway - a notch in the dam crest - is aimed at a dirt slope, not at a natural or even constructed channel. Any discharge through the emergency spillway must create its own channel through the hillside until it eventually reaches the riverbed somewhere downstream. Given the slope, that area will be - has already been - subject to near-immediate down-cutting, with the possibility of headward erosion working back up into the dam itself. That's one of the ways you get truly catastrophic failure, given an earthen dam. Look at this, the collapse of Teton Dam:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdOGPBnfoKE

None of these would be problems if the dam had been designed with internal outlet works that would pass an appreciable fraction of the annual, much less the Maximum Probable, flood. If you don't design and construct that into the dam, then any serious flood that comes down when the reservoir is full or nearly full must be dealt with at the crest, that is, down the spillways, spillways which have proven they are not up to it. (The spillways at the Bureau of Reclamation dams, Glen Canyon and Flaming Gorge, failed similarly from similar design flaws and pre-flood water-hoarding in the Fools Flood of 1983, but the period of high water didn't last long enough or get quite high enough to drop the dams.) Failure to build a major-flood-discharge passage through an earthen dam is incomprehensible. If the water gets out of contact with reinforced concrete or steel and into contact with dirt, the dirt melts away, and you have true disaster.

In rebuilding from the flood of '13, I have been dealing for most of 4 years with county engineers and hydrologists, with the occasional federal requirement appearing like a worm in an apple. The incompetence, the inability to learn anything from a flood that they actually watched as it happened, is dispiriting. But it is the condescension, the attitude that as engineers who are good buddies with actual numbers (you know, integers and even exponents, and most special of all, dimensionless numbers!) they are owed reverence by the public, that is infuriating. The hapless people who are now out of their homes in California were told to trust the engineers, and no matter how this situation plays out between now and the end of the snowmelt, within a couple years they will again be told haughtily, "We are the water engineers of the California Department of Water Resources, and we know what is best for you." At least Mulholland had the shame to retire, after his catastrophic dam failure.

Michael K said...

" At least Mulholland had the shame to retire, after his catastrophic dam failure."

Humility has been outlawed for government officials.

hombre said...

Maybe California could divert funds from Eric Holder's fees to fix the dam.

Owen said...

Simon Kenton: very informative, thanks. I believe that the fatal flaw of the Johnstown dam was the lack of a drain at the base of the dam. Here they have the hydro outflow but I don't think it has the capacity to handle this event.

Hagar said...

The Johnstown dam did not have any spillway at all.

The Oroville Dam spillway has plenty of capacity, but it looks like they neglected to properly inspect and maintain the chute.

Hagar said...

I ams so old I can remember when California was lauded for having by far the best highway system in the nation. This is no longer so.

Michael K said...

"I can remember when California was lauded for having by far the best highway system in the nation"

I even remember it.

Yancey Ward said...

Wow, I remember the Teton Dam failure as a news event. I had forgotten about it- I was ten at the time.

Earnest Prole said...

Rebar visible in the final picture here. For all you internet sleuths, the scale of the spillway is so enormous that only a close-up photo like this will reveal the necessary detail. Now I understand how 9/11 conspiracy theories took root.

harryo said...

Idiots running the asylum.

At least the cali-people found out that evacuation doesn't really work, and that living below a dam is stupid.

Drago said...

David: "I stopped following this when I realized that I was starting to root for the dam to break"

That is a republican area I believe.

Which might explain the neglect out of Sacramento and the Gov's mansion.

Freder Frederson said...

So, through years of tax cuts, undermining the property tax system, that starves the state (and Federal) government of funds to properly maintain our infrastructure. When something goes predictably wrong it is the fault of the Democrats for not spending on maintenance. There is really no way we can win.

Hagar said...

Earnest Prole is correct. There are both rebars and what looks to be some very substantial load transfer bars visible in the last picture. The different colored earth layer under the slabs probably is soil cement, i.e., processed dirt with cement and/or flyash mixed in, and compacted.

Earnest Prole said...

For those exulting at the thought of California disaster, the dam towers over California’s Trump country, filled with the same struggling working-class whites as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, etc.

Hagar said...

California is hardly starved of tax income, Freder. You just chose to spend it on other things.

Bruce Hayden said...

No, Freder, the issue is not the level of money being spent on infrastructure, but, rather, of the vast quantities of it that were badly spent. When times are good, the Blue State model is to spend it on pet projects, letting the politically connected siphon off their piece of the pie. Then, to scream bloody murder when the chickens come home to roost, and the years of squandering of my infrastructure dollars into pet projects are ignored. For example, a small part of the money already spent on the bullet train to nowhere could probably have made a big difference here.

Michael K said...

So, through years of tax cuts, undermining the property tax system, that starves the state (and Federal) government of funds to properly maintain our infrastructure.

I guess you buy into the left's complaints about Prop 13 and property taxes. I am unaware of California tax cuts.

Certainly, under Obama, there have been no federal cuts.

If Prop 13 were to be reversed or somehow ended, California property values would crash. The taxes are factored into the price of homes.

That's Economics 101 to people like you. If you are going to buy a home, you figure what you have to spend on payments and part of that is taxes.

I just left California and moved to Arizona. My taxes here are about the same as they were in California although I spent about $100 k more on my house here than I spent on the one in California 20 years ago when I bought it.

California, aside from bragging how rich they are, is running huge pension deficits.

Public employee unions are raping the state and the bill will come due the next mild downturn.

The state is wholly dependent on income taxes which illegals largely do not pay. Texas depends on sales tax which everyone pays.

Owen said...

Michael K: AZ should pay you for the sales pitch. Or maybe CA should pay you to stop with the un-sales pitch!

Excellent point about the perverse effect of Prop. 13. Reminds me of NYC rent laws: they distorted the market in a number of ways. Those with rent control were unwilling or unable to move, so the supply of that housing dried up. Never any vacancies, and one had to pay "key money" etc to get anything. New supply (at open-market prices) was aimed at the very rich. Middle class got hosed.

Capping the real property tax distorts the market in different ways, but no less damaging ones.

And once these distortions take effect, they worsen over time. NYC rent laws were an artifact of WW2. As was employer-based health insurance.

Metaphor alert: Oroville Dam = Great Society legislation?

Freder Frederson said...

Texas depends on sales tax which everyone pays.

You're making a snarky comment to me without even bothering to check Texas' sources of revenue. Texas gets about a quarter of its revenue from sales taxes (26.4% in 2015 to be precise). Oh, and the single largest source of revenue for the tough, go it alone, fuck the Federal government, nation of Texas? Federal Income (33.5% in 2015).

And yes that is a link which you claim I never provide.

Freder Frederson said...

First, this is a 700-foot earthen dam, a triumph of the mentality that if it can be done, it should be done.

And this is significant why? Correct me if I am wrong, but the dam is sound. The problem is with the spillways.

Hagar said...

Iirc, California property taxes were based on the last sale, but then the state voted to update to current value. All the Democrats got stars in their eyes at the thought of all the wonderful things they could do for "the people" with all this new money, while all the retired people were on the phone to their children demanding that the offspring help them pay the double or triple taxes they did not have the money for.
And the offspring put Prop. 13 up for a referendum on that idea.

Michael K said...

When I was living in Orange County in the 1970s, houses were far cheaper in real dollars and inflation had not yet taken off with the Watergate Congress. A friend had a very nice house that he paid $250,000 for. I had bought my house about 7 years earlier for $47,000.

His taxes were $7,000 a year. That is where Prop 13 came from. Houses in Orange County now are around a million dollars for the house I paid $47,000 for. With Prop 13, those houses have taxes about $12500/ per year.

You did make a h=good point about Texas but I suspect most of that federal money zeroes out with military bases and Medicaid. The state, as far as I know, runs on the sales tax money.

California is very dependent on high incomes that pay around 12% state income tax. When the economy slows and those very high incomes dip, the state gets sick. Sort of like used to be said about Washington State. When Boeing got a cold, the state got pneumonia. Now, it's Microsoft and Amazon. Boeing left.

Earnest Prole said...

This is a 700-foot earthen dam

Not to be pedantic, but it’s a 770-foot earthen dam, and the extra 70 feet on top likely hold back more water than the first 500 below.

And this is significant why? Correct me if I am wrong, but the dam is sound.

It’s said to be sound by the same people who said the spillway and emergency spillway were sound, until they failed. The earthen dam also happens to sit on top of a fault that experienced a 5.7 earthquake in 1975.

buwaya said...

"If Prop 13 were to be reversed or somehow ended, California property values would crash"

I don't know. Current property values - for current sales - come with the assumption of tax rates at the sale price. That is, the buyer for a $million 3br 2ba San Francisco townhouse already expects to pay @$12,000 a year. If property were assessed at current market value at a net wash in property tax revenues (hah) perhaps the $1M house could be assessed $6K.

That would be expensive for us homeowners who bought decades ago, doubling our tax perhaps, but that would not deter someone else from making an offer for my house.

I would however have an incentive to sell, seeing as I have lost my property tax shelter, and could more reasonably move elsewhere.

Whatever happens to prices, no doubt there will be more sales.

buwaya said...

Freder,

A larger perspective is needed here -
ALL States receive large transfers from the Feds.

https://taxfoundation.org/which-states-rely-most-federal-aid-0

CA for instance, according to this, receives 25% of its General revenue from the Feds, vs 33% for Texas.
33% is more accurate than 26% btw.

The proportion of State revenues coming from the Feds is partly an artifact of the per capita tax revenues - that is, the in-state tax burden. CA collects a lot of tax/inhabitant vs Texas, hence its proportion of more-or-less needs based funds from the Feds is lower.

However, this whole area is rather obscure, or rather deliberately obscured. The CA State budget declines to state up front what proportion of its revenues come as Federal block grants, which you have to chase program by program in various "special funds".

Besides which States vary in which services are delivered by agencies covered in the State budget and which are NGOs/Quangos which receive Federal funds independently. Sorting this out to make comparable metrics between States is a difficult business.

My estimate below, but YMMV on this.

Lets look at it as $/capita for 2015/16
Total State Taxes, etc. Fed Transfers (or "Special Funds")
CA $4168 $2974 $1194
TX $4037 $2678 $1359

Michael McNeil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael McNeil said...

Hagar said...
And DBQ - the storms of 1959 and 63 (?) were not 100-year storms, but 1,000-year, and the 1963 ones after they recalibrated their curves after the 1959 storms.


I'm sorry, but the idea that those were really “1,000-year” storms is absurd. The real 1,000-year storm (if indeed even it is that) has got to be the series of “atmospheric river” storms which — over a period of 45 days — inundated California back in the winter of 1860-61, leaving the state looking like this (see also that).

Calling any lesser storms — especially when (most suspiciously!) several are observed to occur well within that supposedly millennium-long average period — simply (IMHO) reveals the inherent gross hubris lurking in the assertion/conclusion.