Assemblyman Vince Fong spoke to the Taft Rotary Club recently, covering a variety of topics and talking at length about the state's homeless problem.

"As I travel up and down the state homelessness has become a big issue," he said. It has become a big issue affecting the business climate in the state's largest cities, Fong said, and it is the "number one concern of business owners in Los Angeles."

Its the same in other cities, the second-term assemblyman said, including places ranging from San Diego to Bakersfield to Taft.

Homelessness is up sharply in Kern County, he said, citing numbers compiled during a homeless count earlier this year.

He said 1,330 homeless were counted this year, up from 885 in 2018.

The homeless counted showed a 32 percent increase in homeless children, 43 percent increase in homeless young adults and a 51 percent increase in homeless veterans.

The state has spent nearly $1 billion battling the problem but is making little headway.

A three-step process to get people off the streets has identified, but it's a challenge.

First are emergency shelters, second is services for addicts and the mentally ill and the third is access to permanent housing.

"For us, the first two are the biggest challenges," he said. "Do we have enough beds for them? Do we have enough providers for addicts and the mentally ill? This is a big challenge."

Fong also talked about the high cost of living in the state from expensive housing to high taxes and fees.

"Every time the legislation gets together they pass legislation that makes living here more expensive," he said.

Fong said he's going to oppose an anticipated ballot measure for a "split roll" property tax which would separate commercial real estate from residential land and allow for it to be re-assessed and taxed at a higher rate each year.

"It's a direct attack on Proposition 13. It's something I'm going to oppose."