I hope you're doing well. November was a month filled with multicultural celebrations. Traditions like Diwali and Thanksgiving brought community members of various faiths and backgrounds together. As we gathered for these celebrations, I was reminded of the great diversity of my district, and why I'm so passionate about representing my community as your State Assemblymember.
Assembly District 24 is incredibly diverse with different traditions and a multitude of outlooks. As I noted in a recent interview, "On any given weekend, I could be going to a mosque, a Hindu temple, a church, a Confucian or Buddhist temple." I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about the different religions and beliefs of our constituents.
Our commitment to diversity is all the more important in these trying times of conflict and division. We can reconcile our differences by seeing the values we share with one another. As for Diwali, the lighting of the Diya represents hope and optimism, and that the light around us will bring wisdom and positivity. With 2023 soon coming to a close, I hope we can all find gratitude in all that we've achieved, and together, there's so much more to be accomplished next year.
It was an honor to join B.A.P.S. at its Milpitas temple to celebrate Diwali, an occasion that symbolizes light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Our office also welcomed B.A.P.S. to the State Capitol for a wonderful Diwali celebration. Thank you to B.A.P.S. for hosting the event for our Capitol community. I hope that all those who celebrated Diwali had a great time with friends and family. I wish you a very happy new year!
Volunteering During Thanksgiving
On Thanksgiving Day, I joined the League of Volunteers to prepare meals, from turkey and mashed potatoes to pumpkin pies, for families in Newark. Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers for their hard work in delivering over 900 meals!
Touring a New Clinic
Last month, I visited the new Valley Health Center Lundy in San José. The clinic provides tuberculosis care, and healthcare services for refugees, asylees, humanitarian parolees, and other vulnerable populations. Here's more about the clinic.
When it comes to addressing our housing crisis, it's critical we look at international best practices, and use every tool available to tackle our housing shortage.
Let's take building codes related to apartment staircases as an example. Currently, California requires two-stairway exit routes in apartments above three stories tall. But the mandate can make it more costly to build housing, and harder to find available land. It's especially restrictive for architects, and many countries allow for more flexible staircase requirements.
Switzerland, for instance, permits single-staircase apartments without any height limits. At the same time, the country has regulations, such as maximum travel distances to the stairwell, for fire safety. Even with single-stair buildings of unlimited height, people in Switzerland are roughly five times less likely to die in fires than those in the U.S.
With the development of modern fire mitigation measures, ranging from pressurized stairwells and fire-treated lumber to sprinkler systems and fire alarms, it's time we re-evaluate our building codes for apartment staircases.
This year, I authored AB 835 as a first step in pushing for single-staircase reform in California. The bill directs the State Fire Marshal to study this issue while maintaining fire safety standards.
Here in the U.S., New York City and Seattle already allow single-stairway apartments up to six stories. In the case of Seattle, the city limits each floor to four units, with requirements for sprinkler systems and fire-resistant building materials, among other safety features.
Ultimately, easing the single-stairway mandate in California will serve as one of many tools to alleviate our housing crisis. As the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board explains, "tweaking the building code could make more projects pencil out, encourage bigger units for families and perhaps foster architectural creativity."
I'm proud that the Governor has signed AB 835, and I look forward to seeing the report by the State Fire Marshal. This is just the beginning of our work!
Milpitas Unified School District - MHS Wellness Center makes immediate impact on student mental health
In partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, Milpitas Unified School District held a ribbon cutting of the new wellness center at Milpitas High School. I was so glad to attend the occasion at my alma mater. It's great to see that educators and students are prioritizing mental health on campus. Learn more about the center.
Milpitas Beat - Diego Hammett named Veteran of the Year in Milpitas ceremony
We recognized Diego Hammett as Milpitas' Veteran of the Year on Veterans Day. Diego's storied career and dedication to volunteering for our community embody what everyday service means in so many ways! Here's more about our Veteran of the Year.
The open enrollment period of Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, began on November 1 and runs through to January 31, 2024. During this time, everyone can apply for a plan through Covered California. For coverage to begin at the start of next year, individuals are advised to enroll by December 31. Visit Covered California's website or call its service center at (800) 300-1506 for more information.
Assemblymember, 24th District