Friday, November 30, 2012

Good riddance – SB 3442 is dead!

We have long supported the promulgation of reusable bags and containers, and we encourage people to eschew and reduce the consumption of single-use plastic items.  We've helped raise awareness of the environmental and economic impacts of plastic litter, and we've supported a great number of policies that try to address these issues head on.

Well over 100 jurisdictions across the United States, and even 11 entire nations have banned single-use plastic bags.

Naturally, certain industry interests are not pleased by these bag bans, and they do everything in their power to fight the bans we're trying to implement.  They also dig in deep with a new tactic recently.  Instead of trying to stomp out bans as they begin to sprout, they are now trying to convince lawmakers just to prohibit bans.

"Huh?  What?", you say?

Illinois Senate Bill (SB) 3442 was a prime example.  Earlier this year, SB 3442 snuck through the Illinois General Assembly as a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Disguised as a pro-environment recycling bill, SB 3442 did nothing in terms of increasing recycling efforts of plastic bags (which doesn't work anyway).  However the real bite to this bill was that it sought to preempt "home rule", and would have specifically prohibited municipalities from not only banning single-use plastic bags, but would have also prevented municipalities from implementing their own recycling programs.

Illinois residents use more than 4.8 billion single-use plastic bags every year.  The State of Illinois spends more than $9 Million annually for litter cleanup efforts.  As plastic bags comprise an inordinate percentage of the litter stream by weight, they are disproportionately responsible for those costs.  Moreover, this figure does not include any of the energy costs associated with producing single-use bags, nor does it consider any of the negative environmental, economic, and public health costs associated with single-use bag litter.

"urban tumbleweed" yesterday in Chicago.
Photo ©2012 Christopher Chin

Plastic bags are a costly, environmentally damaging, and easily preventable source of litter and pollution.  Light and aerodynamic, plastic bags are uniquely litter-prone even when properly disposed of, and pose a serious threat to the environment and wildlife in our streams, waterways, lakes, and oceans.  Plastic bags never truly disappear in these environments; even when they are no longer visible to the naked eye, plastic bags have merely photo-degraded into tiny particles that absorb toxins and contaminate our food chain and water and soil quality.  Plastic bags also make up a disproportionate share of the litter stream, harming storm water systems, increasing cleanup costs for local agencies, and eating away at taxpayer dollars.

Recycling of plastic bags, while seemingly well intentioned, would accomplish nothing.  

A similar 2006 California recycling policy failed.  Despite the creation of a statewide collection infrastructure for plastic bags, a mere THREE percent (3%) of plastic bags have been recycled.  Plastic bag recycling is neither practical nor cost effective.  The market scrap price for recycled plastic comes nowhere close to covering the costs of collecting, transporting, and handling the bags.  Nationally, the US EPA shows a 4.3% recycling rate for HDPE plastic bags and film combined

Recycling is not the answer.  Despite efforts to expand recycling programs, in other States and municipalities around the world, the recycling rate of single-use plastic bags remains around 5%.  The remainder of these bags end up in our landfills or as litter, clogging storm drain systems, and making their way to our waterways and ocean.  It is estimated that 60–80% of all marine debris, and 90% of floating debris is plastic.  Plastic lasts for hundreds of years in our environment and may never biodegrade in the ocean.  As a result, it poses a persistent threat to wildlife.  At least 267 species worldwide have been impacted by plastic in our oceans, including plastic bags. 

SB 3442 would have set a horrible precedent.  We appealed to the Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, to veto the bill.  I had the opportunity to meet Governor Quinn when he signed our shark fin bill (HB4119) into law, and in speaking with him, it was immediately apparent that this man wanted to do the right thing.

Since SB 3442 was marked as having fiscal impact, the Illinois General Assembly required a 3/5 vote to pass both chambers.  How much of a vote would be required to override the governor's veto?  3/5.  Yikes!  Yes, the vote was presumably already there, and the Governor was sticking his neck out for us.

SB 3442 was a controversial bill in both chambers of the General Assembly, and found support mostly as a result of its spurious language.  Just as we were able to convince inland legislators and constituents of the importance of shark conservation, we were confident we could help illuminate the true intentions of this deceptive bill.  We assured the Governor that we could provide the support necessary to sustain  his veto.

12-year old Abby Goldberg from Grayslake, Illinois started a petition to encourage the Governor to veto SB 3442, and in the end, she was able to present Governor Quinn with more than 170,000 signatures from around the world.  He graciously accepted them at a press conference, and this also helped shed more light on the issue.

On 26 August, Governor Quinn officially rejected SB 3442, much to our relief!  But remember, that 3/5 vote was still looming, and you know that the industry was going to try to rally.  Knowing that legislators generally only alter their positions for a very good reason, we had our work cut out for us.

Well, as they usually do, truth and awareness usually prevail, and we're pleased to say that SB 3442 is now officially dead!  The bill's author, Senator Terry Link (D-Lincolnshire), filed a motion to override the Governor's veto, and the Senate rejected that yesterday afternoon.

Thank you, Governor Quinn, for doing the right thing, for believing in us, and for having the political courage to follow your convictions.  Thank you, Abby for starting your petition, and for bringing your voice and so many others into the mix.  And thank YOU, all of our supporters, for your phone calls, e-mail messages, and for sharing our calls-to-action to raise awareness of this issue and provide the support necessary to make this happen.

We could not have done this without you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Help the EPA document the TRUE state of the environment

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to help my friend, Christopher Chin (executive director and founder of the Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education) represent his nonprofit at the Shark Days event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  One of my favorite things about volunteering at these types of events (whether it be for COARE or for Save Our Shores, as I volunteer with both of them pretty regularly) is getting to interact with such a huge variety of people; seasoned ocean advocates, young children, or tourists who may not have much experience in conservation issues but are eager to learn more.  I have always come away from these experiences feeling optimistic about the myriad of challenges the conservation movement faces, and every time I’ve made contacts that I know will be meaningful to my future involvement in future efforts.

Shark Days at the Monterey Bay Aquarium was no different; among the many people I talked to, I spent some time speaking with an employee from the Environmental Protection Agency about a project they’re working on to document the true state of the environment all around the world.  The project, called the State of the Environment Photo Project, is based on a similar one they conducted 40 years ago called Documerica, which had the goal of documenting environmental problems and every day life across America by asking the public to submit photos.  To me, it seems like an exciting way to involve the public in bringing attention to the diverse environmental concerns facing different locations around the world. 

One concern that the employee had mentioned was that people were sending in nothing but GOOD pictures.  Of course, the world is a beautiful place, and the EPA certainly wants to recognize all the wonders there are to behold through this project.  However, if the submitted photographs are only showing the beautiful things and ignoring the bad, it’s a pretty inaccurate view of the state of the environment.  I happen to know for a fact that a number of COARE and SOS supporters have taken stirring photographs that could be invaluable contributions to the project (I know because I’ve seen some of them myself).  The EPA is going to pick a number of photos from the submissions to exhibit across the country once the project is over. I hope that this project may be a way to reach an entirely new audience; if enough people send in pictures showing plastic pollution, threats to marine life, or other depictions of the environmental challenges we fight against, it’s possible that we can motivate them to get involved.

A photo I submitted of animals eating trash left on the beach.
Taken July 5 morning in Santa Cruz, CA

So, are you interested in helping the EPA document the true state of our environment, as things really are, and hopefully motivating more people to get involved in conservation efforts?  The EPA will pick a number of photographs out of the submissions to be featured on their webpage, their Facebook page, and to be exhibited all across the country after the project ends. The information you need to participate, including ideas for what to post, can be found on the project’s website here and their Flickr page here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A lot can happen in ten years . . . .

My goodness... how time flies. There are a number of different important dates for an organization. There's the date of incorporation, the date that it is first formed, and, of course, there's the date when the idea first comes to mind. It was ten years ago today that COARE was conceived, as a result of a life changing experience.

When people find out that I founded this organization, they often ask about my inspiration, and what led me to create COARE. I happily tell the story, although sometimes in an abbreviated format, and more often than not, the person will say something along the lines of, "wow, you've got to write that down!"

Eventually, a "history" section will appear on the COARE website, but in the meantime, I thought a tenth anniversary might be a good occasion to honor the foundation of the path that led us to where we are today.

Ten years ago, Howard and Michele Hall were in Fiji finishing up their work on the IMAX film Coral Reef Adventure. A dear friend alerted me to the production, and also let me know that Howard and Michele would be doing some planned shark dives from the main island.  They had recently acquired a high definition camera, had built a custom housing for the beast, and were planning to replace some of their standard definition library footage of sharks with new high definition material.

Encouraged by my friend's recommendation to visit Fiji, and the opportunity to blow bubbles alongside two of my underwater heroes, I made arrangements to join them on that trip.

divers watching on as we film
Photo ©2001 Christopher Chin
Fast forward... to Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. I met Howard and Michele on board Aqua Trek's boat. We shuttled out to Beqa Passage, where the excitement would begin. The site was set up with a viewing area for customers at a depth of approximately 20 meters. From there, the bottom gently sloped down to a theater-like plateau at approximately 32 meters. This is where Howard, Michele, and I eventually found ourselves surrounded by sharks.

Howard Hall heading down to the shark "theater"
Photo ©2001 Christopher Chin

We did several dives at this location, and we estimated that we had twelve or more species of sharks swimming around us, including a great number of bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and a very large tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). The star of the show was the tiger shark, and she was magnificent – graceful, powerful, and impressive. While I was amazed by my first tiger shark, it was the second day of filming, and another species, that would hold great meaning for COARE.

We were down in the "theater" again, with the big fish all around us once more, with some of the more curious sharks just an arm or camera length away. I began to recognize some of the individual animals by their behavior and swimming style, and then it happened: as one particular bull shark began to swim by, she looked me dead in the eye... and held the gaze. We locked eyes for eight or more seconds as she made a slow semicircle, and I was in absolute awe. Even people don't maintain eye-contact that well!  If you think that eight seconds does not seem like very long, try counting to yourself next time you make eye contact with someone and see how long you can hold it.

One of the bull sharks that changed my life
Photo ©2001 Christopher Chin

In that moment, I realized this shark was a sentient being. It wasn't just a primitive fish mindlessly fulfilling its biological needs; she was a sentient being trying to figure out who the heck I was and what I was doing there.   My whole world changed in that moment, and it occurred to me – I had been diving with sharks for years and had never realized what I did that day.... and if *I* didn't know this, what about the other people on the boat or other divers?  What about people that have never even been to the ocean?  They have no idea.  I'd just had this amazing epiphany, and felt compelled to share it.  I knew that sharks were in trouble (but didn't fully realize the extent of their plight at that point), and that they were maligned and suffered from a bad reputation.  People needed to know just how special sharks are, and that they need our protection.

I surfaced and handed my camera up to the boat crew, and as I climbed on board, I decided that I needed to do something; I needed to make a difference.

early COARE logo, circa 2006
It took a few years of reflection, research, and thought-provoking conversations to figure out what to do, how to do it, and what needs an organization should fill and what role it should play. With the help of my dear friends Linden Wolbert and Nico Danan, we chose the name, and developed the mission and vision, and in May of 2006, COARE was born.

COARE was incorporated the following February, and we've done some amazing things these last five years.

COARE's table at BLUE 2010
Photo ©2010 Christopher Chin
Michele Hall, Howard Hall, and Christopher Chin at BLUE 2010
Photo courtesy Prof. Chris Kitting, Cal State U East Bay

Over the years, I would see Howard and Michele in passing at different events, but it wasn't until the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit of 2010 that I finally shared that story with the Halls. COARE had a presence in the sponsorship hall, and as I showed them our table, I explained quickly some of our programs, and then revealed how they were a part of this – how they were there for the original spark that became The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education.

 - Christopher Chin
   Executive Director and Founder

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Open Letter to Toby Keith and His Disposable Red Cup

This is a cross-post from the Save Our Shores blog, Into the Blue.

Dear Mr. Keith,

When I first heard your new song, “Red Solo Cup”, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real, but I was unfortunately mistaken. I understand that it’s supposed to be funny; I get where you were trying to go with it (an ode to your favorite beer receptacle), I really do. That said, there are so many things wrong with this song, I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin. I would like to preface this letter by saying I like beer and fun maybe even as much as you do, but in spite of my affinity for a good time, I still have some issues with this song that I’m not able to excuse right off the bat.

As someone who spends quite a lot of time picking up trash at the beaches and has seen firsthand the damage single-use items can cause, I have to object to your love affair with plastic.

Plastic, even in the form of a beer-holding receptacle, is NOT your friend (although the plastic industry may like you to think it is). It’s not friends with the ocean, either, or with wildlife. Contrary to your lyrics, red solo cups are not decomposable in 14 years (in fact, they can take hundreds of years to decompose completely). Plastic never goes away; it only breaks down into smaller pieces that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain (ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, anyone?).

And I’m guessing you also didn’t know that the state of California alone spends around $72 million per year to collect and dispose of one-time use disposable cups (*ahem*, red solo cups) and bags? I know that political correctness isn’t exactly your thing, Mr. Keith, but I sincerely hope you weren't aware of these facts when you wrote this song. After all, I can’t imagine that you would encourage people to purchase and use items that will directly harm wildlife and the health of our environment… Just check out the stomach contents of this bird that died after consuming tiny pieces of plastic that came from sources like your red solo cup.

Although I know it wasn't your intent to promote unnecessary plastic use at the expense of the oceans, that’s exactly what you've ended up doing. I think we’d both agree that you’re no expert on the decomposition rates of plastic, but your fans are still going to take your word for it.

I’m trying not to think about how many Toby Keith fans are going to think of your song the next time they go shopping for their “beer receptacles”… but since your video is averaging around 100,000 views a day on YouTube, the number is going to be very high (and I mean panic-attack inducing high). Your song, which was intended to be fun and silly, has potentially influenced people to make a harmful and dangerous choice.

I would like to humbly suggest that in the future, you be aware of the far-reaching (and unintentional) effects that your lyrics can have. Your fame gives you a unique responsibility (and opportunity!) to have a wide-reaching influence. By doing just a little more research and being a tiny bit more attentive to the message you’re sending, a song like this could end up sending a positive message about using less plastic while still shining a spotlight on your fun-loving side; the proverbial “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone,” if you will. I mean, red solo cups aren’t even all that great! Reusable cups are way, way better (and they even come in red)!

I hope you will join me in reducing plastic use by becoming a part of the solution!

Sara Cannon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Toronto fin ban - aiming for a K.O. in the T.O.

Earlier this month, with Governor Jerry Brown's signature, California enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 376 banning the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins. In so doing, California became the fourth and largest state in the U.S. to enact a legislative ban on shark fins.

While we're celebrating the victory for sharks here in California, we're also supporting the effort in Canada's largest city – Toronto.

After a disappointing and discouraging report from Toronto's Municipal Licensing and Standards Division, I decided to attend the next City Council Licensing and Standards Committee meeting where they would be reviewing and considering the implication of that flawed report.

To that meeting last Thursday (13 October), I brought several perspectives, including that of someone who grew up with shark fin soup, and that of someone intimately involved in the legislative processes of several States "south of the border", as they put it. We saw a number of similarities between the shark fin ban in California, and the one proposed for the City of Toronto.

    Christopher Chin and esteemed municipal attorney Geoge Rust-D'Eye
before the City Council's Licensing and Standards Committee
(photo: Laura Bombier)

COARE's Executive Director offering testimony/deputation in support of shark fin ban
(photo: Florentine Leloup, ©2011 Vision'R)

Since there were so many speakers/deputants interested in addressing the committee, speaking times were limited to three minutes. However, because of the great interest in my perspective and COARE's experience in the western U.S., many of the committee members and guest Councillors posed questions. All in all, my three minutes turned into well over twenty – much more than any other speaker enjoyed.

mredia statements following deputation
(photo: Laura Bombier)

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to continue the process and recommend the ban to the full City Council. We are extremely pleased by the strong message that this vote sends.

The City Council will consider this issue this Monday, 24 October 2011. While we are optimistic that this will see favor in the full Council (especially in light of such a strong committee recommendation), it's still important that we reach out to the Mayor and Council members to encourage them to support the measure as well.

If you live in the GTA, and especially if you live in Toronto proper, please be sure to contact the Mayor and the City Council. At a minimum, you should contact the Mayor and the Councillor for your ward.

You can find the full list of Councillors here, but for your convenience, we'll include the list of (most of their) e-mail addresses here:

Please also consider sending a note to the following Councillors who supported the motion at the Licensing and Standards Committee meeting:

Michelle Berardinetti
(Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest)

Glenn De Baeremaeker
(Ward 38 Scarborough Centre)

Chin Lee
(Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River)

Gloria Lindsay Luby
(Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre)

Frances Nunziata
(Ward 11 York South-Weston)

Cesar Palacio
(Ward 17 Davenport)

Anthony Perruzza
(Ward 8 York West)

Kristyn Wong-Tam
(Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale)

Your message to the Mayor or your Councillor need not be detailed; simply include your name and address (so they know you're one of their voters), and indicate that you want him/her to support the shark fin ban. Use your own words, or feel free to draw from this sample message text.

Remember, your two minutes can help save millions of sharks!

Lend a hand to save some fins!℠

 - Christopher Chin
   Executive Director

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tradition, culture, and common sense

(This blog posting, in addition to representing the opinion of the organization, will also benefit from and draw upon the author's experience and perspective as a member of the Chinese-American community.)

Tradition... that word has been tossed around quite a bit lately. It has been used as a crutch, it has been used as an excuse, it has been used as justification, but most disturbingly, it has been used a a distraction and diversion.

Using the term in its real sense though, traditionally, Chinese people do not like to waste, and they especially do not waste when it comes to food. Anyone who has been to dim sum can attest to this. We offer things like tripe, pigs' knuckles, and chicken feet. Nothing is wasted. Absolutely nothing.

This is what makes the "tradition" argument in support of shark fin soup so ludicrous. The demand for shark fin drives the practice of shark finning, which is arguably one of the most wasteful practices in which mankind has ever engaged.

The irony slapped me in the face at a recent event held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in celebration of sharks. Those of you familiar with COARE's tabling efforts know that we often offer gummi sharks as a treat for those who stop by and engage in conversation with us about shark conservation. Since we were running low on supplies, one of our volunteers, Jilian, offered to procure additional gummis to replenish our "shark bowl".

She returned with plenty of gummi sharks, but also brought back a small selection of other gummi shapes, including gummi worms, cola bottles, raspberries, and chicken feet. Yes, you read that correctly – gummi chicken feet.

gummi chicken foot gracing our newsletter signup form
photo ©2011 Christopher Chin

Earlier that morning, we were discussing distinctive chinese cuisine, (i.e., the "weird stuff" we eat), and how Chinese are, culturally, practically, and anecdotally, not wasteful. The aforementioned dim sum offerings entered the discussion that morning, so when Jilian discovered the chicken feet, she could not help but to buy a few to bring back. The fact that the chicken feet are so celebrated that they deserve their own gummi shape is very telling. . .  and that is what prompted me to write this blog.

We already covered most of the relevant issues regarding California's proposed shark fin ban (and dispelled opposition arguments) in a previous blog, and still feel strongly about all of those points.

In that previous blog, I spoke of the two basic positions: people who understand the issues and support the bill, and those who do not yet understand the facts, the situation, or the consequences of shark fin soup. Basically, people who support the ban of shark fins, and people who do not YET support the ban of shark fins. It really is a "no-brainer" decision. I alluded to a third position – those who have a financial interest in the short-term slaughter of sharks and choose personal financial gain despite the societal and environmental costs In closing that blog posting I chose to remain optimistic in humanity indicated I would continue to lump that third category in with the second, considering them misinformed or misguided.

It's become more apparent, with this fight, that greed and special interests play a larger role. Hiring two of the most high powered and influential lobby firms in the State to kill the shark fin bill is certainly not the work of mom-and-pop restaurants or concerned citizens; clearly, much is at stake for those profiteering from what amounts to the trade of endangered (and near endangered) species.

What is particularly offensive to me, both as Chinese-American and as a reasonable person, is the use of cultural sensitivity as a distraction, and the use of fear as a tool to incite people towards opposition. Fear is a powerful tool and has been used for political, personal, and financial gain by infamous figures throughout history. Whether it's fear of economic collapse, xenophobia, or political or cultural oppression, fear has been used to rile and beguile unwary citizens into tacit and active participation in some of the most horrific campaigns in history, including widespread genocide. By suggesting to people (in this case, Chinese-Americans) that they are the target of a racial affront, it's natural that they will want to react negatively. This exploitation of fear is truly the only reason why some otherwise uninformed Chinese-Americans choose to oppose this measure.

In reality, 70% of Chinese-Americans in California support a legislative ban on shark fins, according to a poll conducted by Fairbanks Maslin and commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.... and that poll was conducted before AB 376 was even introduced. Now that people know more about this bill, and now that even more people are aware of the issues surrounding the shark fin trade, that number would most certainly be higher.

As far as the discrimination argument is concerned, common sense reflects the legal definition of discrimination, particularly with regard to law and established practice. AB 376 is not discriminatory because it does not affect Chinese or Chinese-Americans as a class. AB 376 merely asks to prohibit the trade and consumption of a luxury product. The fact that more Chinese-Americans consume shark fin than other ethnicities does not give a delicacy protected status. Moreover, only some Chinese-Americans consume shark fin, not the average Chinese-American, and certainly not on a regular basis.

Prominent Chinese-American and Asian-American civil rights leaders also support the ban, and actually find offensive the use of cultural discrimination as an argument in opposition; if anything doing so trivializes civil rights matters of real significance, and "crying wolf" is not a game to play with civil rights.

This is a really simple matter, and the vote truly is a "no-brainer", but special interests and powerful lobby firms are attempting to sway our lawmakers. What helps make a difference for legislators is hearing from their constituents.

If you live in California, please be sure to call your State Senator and let them know how you feel. It will take you less than ONE MINUTE, quite literally, and will make a tremendous difference. For detailed and easy-to-follow instructions and to look up your Senator, visit our previous blog posting:

 - Christopher Chin
   Executive Director
   info [at]

(If you're visiting this blog well after it was published, perhaps the Senate vote has already taken place. You can visit this page for status.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling all Californians - it's time to save some sharks!

Last week, the California State Senate Committee on Appropriations voted (5-2) to pass Assembly Bill (AB) 376 to the Senate floor.

You've all waited patiently (and some of you have helped) as we've battled through the State Assembly, and in the policy and fiscal committees of both Houses. . . . but now we're in our final stretch and VERY MUCH need your help.

The full Senate will be voting on this matter soon, and we need every Californian to contact his/her Senator to urge support for this matter.

California State Capitol in Sacramento

If you're looking for talking points, watch this space; we'll post comprehensive arguments in the next day or so.  These will be useful for anyone desiring to write articles, for those taking interviews on the matter, or anyone who may be meeting with legislative offices for more in-depth discussions.

However, you don't need any of that for this push, and you don't need any of that to help!

Making a difference is easy!  You don't need to know details, and it doesn't take much.

If you are a California resident, take your hands from the keyboard, and pick up the phone.

Step away from the keyboard.  Really.  Signing petitions may feel good (and may certainly help in the beginning stages of legislative efforts), but what really makes a difference is individual and personal contact with your legislator's office.  You may send a letter of support if you feel your position or status is influential, but it's probably simplest just to call.  Just a simple phone call that only takes two minutes.  You can spare two minutes to save sharks and save the ocean, can't you?

Your two minutes can (quite literally) help save millions of sharks!

If you don't already know who your legislative representatives are, you may use this form to look them up.

Simply call and emphasize that, as one of his/her voters, you want him/her to support AB376.

Not sure what to say?   It's simple.   Just follow these suggestions; you won't need to go into great detail when you call.

When you call, an office staff member will answer.

Simply say:
    "I am a member of your district and I urge you to support A.B. 376, the bill to ban shark fins in California." 

That's it!   You've helped!

Now, please pass this page on to other friends who also live in California.