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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The California Journal of Politics and Policy (CJPP) is an online journal of original scholarship, focusing on state and local politics, public policy formation and implementation, especially in the Golden State.


Some General Consequences of California's Top-Two Primary System

This paper analyzes some of the general election consequences of the top-two primary system in California elections beginning in 2012.  In particular we focus on general election contests between candidates of the same party that were not possible under the previous primary system, but have occurred with some regularity with the top-two.  We find that same party elections are characterized by greater competitiveness, lower turnout, and less—but still substantial—polarized voting.

Cosmopolitan Berkeley and the Concept of Cultural Diversity in an American University

The argument that cultural and other forms of diversity enhance the educational experience of all students is generally associated with post-1960 efforts to expand the presence of disadvantaged groups on the campuses of America’s universities and colleges. In the case of the University of California-Berkeley, arguments on the merits of cultural diversity have much earlier roots in the historical enrollment of international students. Debates in the late 1800s and early twentieth century revolved around the appropriateness of enrolling foreign students, particularly those from Asia. The result was an important intellectual discussion on the merits of diversity and the ideals of a cosmopolitan university that was eventually reframed to focus largely on underrepresented domestic students. In this essay, I discuss how the notion of diversity, and its educational benefits, first emerged as a value at Berkeley. I then briefly discuss the significant increase of international students at Berkeley and other public universities. Thus far, the primary impetus of this increase has been mostly financial—Berkeley has faced significant public disinvestment, seeks new revenue sources, and can charge international students tuition rates similar to elite private colleges and universities. By targeting 20 percent of all undergraduates as international or out-of-state (US-resident non-Californians)—the majority international—the Berkeley campus is essentially diversifying its student body. How does having a more globally inclusive enrollment fit into our contemporary ideas of diversity? I attempt a brief discussion of this question and the policy challenges generated by the dramatic increase in international students at the undergraduate level at Berkeley and other UC campuses.

The Outer Circle: The Importance of NonorganizedAdvocacy Coalitions to the Passage of Smoke-Free Policy

Public health and public administration literature speaks to the fact that smoke-free policy has been steadily diffusing within and between states for the last decade. The literature suggests common strengths and challenges associated with advocacy efforts in tobacco control. The similarities suggest that policy activity in this area fits with policy-making theory of the advocacy coalition framework (ACF). After reviewing relevant literature on tobacco control advocacy and theories of policy making, this study discusses a grounded theory qualitative analysis of focus group data to examine to what degree the themes and grounded theory derived from the data conform to the advocacy coalition framework and concludes by looking at an emerging issue in tobacco control, regulating the use of electronic cigarettes and how the modified version of the advocacy coalition framework could be applied.


This article evaluates two alternative standards for resetting property assessments on title transfer in property tax systems like Oregon’s and California’s that are explicitly designed to protect property owners against rapid, unanticipated increases in their tax bills, California’s reset to market and one in which the property is given a new assessed value based on its market value multiplied by a ratio that reflects the average relationship between assessed value and market value within a jurisdiction. We find that the latter promotes assessment quality better than the former and probably mitigates lock-in.

Toward a Greater East Side: California Political Boundary Law and Southeast Los Angeles County

My paper discusses the ineffectiveness of California state law to address socially inefficient municipal boundaries. By focusing on the recent struggles of a group of industrial suburbs in Southeast Los Angeles County that includes the City of Vernon, the paper demonstrates how a fragmented municipal topography worsens socioeconomic decline, hazardous land uses, and a lack of political accountability.  Next, I analyze California statutory and constitutional law on the subject, demonstrating its ineffectiveness in encouraging boundary modifications to address the inequities facing the communities of Southeast Los Angeles County. Finally, I suggest legislative and constitutional modifications to encourage greater political accountability and socioeconomic equity in California’s municipal topography.

Integrating California's Climate Change and Fiscal Goals: The known, the Unknown, and the Possible

California is a global leader in climate policy and sustainability planning, yet its tax system may not support its climate goals. The state’s reliance on a mix of income, property, sales, and other taxes may contribute to sprawling land use patterns that increase vehicle miles traveled. This could make it challenging for the state to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals for passenger vehicles. This article uses a combination of literature review and original data analysis to examine the relationship between fiscal structure and land development patterns. Previous studies have established how tax systems affect state growth, fiscal stability, and social equity, as well as how property and sales tax shapes development patterns (and thus vehicle miles traveled). Since the literature specific to California is somewhat out of date, this research adds a new analysis of city tax revenue data linked to parcel- and neighborhood-level data on development and travel characteristics.

California’s biggest impact on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions comes not through its ability to reduce its emissions in absolute terms, but its innovation of climate change policies that make a difference. Reforming the tax code, even if it will not have a large impact, sends a signal that states and countries can change course and also address climate change goals through their regulatory structure. Theory and evidence suggest policy principles that would help incentivize new compact development where most needed: 1) return more property tax to municipalities based on their willingness to build more compact, high-density development; 2) share property and/or sales tax regionally, rewarding jurisdictions that meet their regional housing obligations; 3) avoid penalizing new development; and 4) connect future taxes directly to environmental goals.