Almost Daily Briefing
Local News Roundup for #Lafayette, California
Bay Area sheriffs schmooze with top boss, Jeff Sessions
On the same day the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office requested approval from the Board of Supervisors for a jail expansion, the agency’s top cop, Sheriff David Livingston, was in Washington, D.C., schmoozing with Jeff Sessions, the recently confirmed attorney general.
Police did not say how badly the pedestrian was injured after being hit by a Honda-CRV at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Locus Street on Monday.
Walnut Creek: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar bookstore
Following the departure of Barnes & Noble last year and the demise of several chain and independent bookstores in the city over the decades, online giant Amazon is planning a brick-and-mortar book store in Broadway Plaza.
Currently it takes a 66.6 percent votes from taxpayers to approve local transportation funding measures.
On Monday, February 13, 2017, members of the Delta Caucus of the California state legislature, including three representing Contra Costa County, released the following statement regarding the hazardous situation at Oroville Dam after news reports that previous concerns about the safety of the dam’s current infrastructure were ignored.
Oroville Dam crisis warns us of need to maintain infrastructure (Sacramento Bee)
Several Northern California towns dodged a fatal bullet Sunday night when a weakened auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam – the nation’s highest – didn’t collapse. Authorities had issued evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people living near the Feather River when it appeared the spillway was in imminent danger of giving way. The situation remains dicey as operators of the half-century-old, state-owned dam send as much water as possible down the earth-fill dam’s main spillway, which itself had been damaged by erosion, and try to lower Lake Oroville’s level to at least 50 feet below the auxiliary spillway’s lip. Meanwhile, many tons of rock will be dumped into holes at the base of the auxiliary spillway to shore up its integrity as authorities await more rain later in the week.
Buy a car, help fix California’s roads (Sacramento Bee)
Assembly Republicans released a road-funding plan Monday that contains no new taxes but poses a $4.6 billion hit to the general fund, the main source of money for state programs. The $5.6 billion package would get the bulk of its revenue from the estimated $3 billion in sales tax collected on vehicle purchases – money that currently flows into the general fund. In addition, the plan would redirect $1.1 billion in truck weight fee revenue that now goes toward paying off past transportation borrowing. And the plan takes $550 million in vehicle insurance fee revenue away from general fund. Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, have put forward similar road-funding proposals that would raise $6 billion annually. Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan, meanwhile, calls for $4.2 billion in annual spending. Those proposals include a mix of gas tax increases, raising the vehicle registration fee, and imposing other charges, which would require a two-thirds vote.
Can California lawmakers tackle road repairs with new supermajority? (Southern California Public Radio)
The California Legislature will again take up the problem of funding road repairs this week, an issue that has been championed by Gov. Jerry Brown but that lawmakers have failed to act on. In recent years, gas tax revenues have not kept pace with inflation and construction costs, leaving California with a $136 billion backlog in needed repairs to highways and local streets. In 2015, the governor called a special session of the Legislature to tackle the problem. But lawmakers have been unable to come to an agreement on any funding measures for the last year and a half. Brown's most recent budget proposal include a transportation funding package of $4 billion a year that includes a mix of tax and fee increases, cap and trade revenues and cuts at California Department of Transportation.
State must get rolling on transportation bills (San Francisco Chronicle)
The Legislature urgently needs to pass a transportation funding package in 2017 to address the billions in backlogged maintenance needs that have led to potholes, deteriorating roads, bridges and transit systems across our region and the state. The longer we wait to fix the small problems, the bigger and more expensive they become. In fact, it costs eight times more to fix a road than to maintain it. According to the California Department of Transportation, we have a $59 billion backlog of needed upgrades to state highways. A separate report funded by local governments found that local streets and roads had an even bigger backlog of improvements needed: $73 billion. The Bay Area has been a leader in passing local ballot measures to fund transportation improvements as state and federal support shrinks, but it’s not nearly enough. Inflation, more fuel-efficient cars, and electric and hybrid vehicles have eroded state transportation funding over the years; as a result, road repairs now receive only 50 percent of the funding they did back in 1994.
Investment shift costs CalPERS $900 million in potential gains (Sacramento Bee)
A shift away from stocks and private equity just before the presidential election has caused CalPERS to miss out on about $900 million in revenue since September. CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos disclosed the number at a Board of Administration meeting on Monday in a presentation describing how a temporary shift in assets has played out. The fund moved some of its investments away from stocks and private equity last fall, anticipating a period of market volatility. It has missed some of the broad market gains that have unfolded in recent months. The board is expected to reconsider the portfolio in July 2018. CalPERS in December voted to gradually lower its investment forecast, shaving its target from 7.5 percent to 7 percent. The decision reflected its expectation that it would see lower market returns for some time. Board member Theresa Taylor questioned whether CalPERS could devise a different policy that might allow it act faster if trends change.
Who’s accountable for the California housing crisis (NBC Bay Area)
California’s affordable housing crisis has reached an epidemic level, with rents at an all-time high and home ownership rates at their lowest since the 1940’s. Still, despite the housing crunch, California has some of the country’s toughest laws requiring affordable housing. But as the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovered, those rules are rarely enforced, leaving millions of people looking for alternative ways to live. Serial entrepreneur Cat Volz is among the Bay Area workers feeling the housing burden. Volz gave the Investigative Unit a tour of the 10' by 10' office space that she calls home. Volz is one of millions who struggle to pay for housing in California. State data shows more than 1.5 million households pay more than 50% of their income towards rent. San Jose's Deputy Director of code enforcement Diane Buchanan, believes the lack of affordable housing is contributing to a spike in dangerous illegal occupancies.
"We're moving less and that's a bad sign for a cornerstone of the old American Dream," by The Sacramento Bee's Ana Veciana-Suarez: Story.
More pollution than cars? Gas-powered gardening equipment poses the next air quality threat (KQED)
According to state air quality officials, those machines are some of the biggest polluters in California. In fact, by 2020, leaf blowers and other small gas engines will create more ozone pollution than all of the passenger cars in the state. Yes, really, there will be more pollution from gas-powered gardening equipment than from cars, confirms Michael Benjamin, division chief at the California Air Resources Board. There’s a reason for that: Regulations on car exhaust have gotten tighter and tighter over the years, substantially reducing their ozone-damaging emissions. At the same time, while there have been some controls on the smaller gas engines, there haven’t been enough, says Benjamin. Pollutants from all of those hedge trimmers and gas chainsaws across the state add up. So the state is planning some sweeping changes to fix that. The California Air Resources Board just proposed a new rule change—to lower emissions from small gas engines by 85 percent within a decade, starting in 2020.
California waits to hear from Trump on disaster aid request," by SFChronicle's Carolyn Lochhead: "Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration for the emergency at Oroville Dam on Monday evening, citing the impending arrival of more storms and the potential need to resort again to the dam's emergency spillway, which has been severely eroded.' Story.
"'I can see the fear': multicultural Los Angeles senses a different world under Trump," by LA Times' Joe Mozingo, Victoria Kim and Matt Stevens: "While much of America supports some type of ban on Muslim immigrants, the executive order has been disorienting to many in and around Los Angeles - in part, they say, because their lives intersect with so many people of so many cultures." Story.
"Donald Trump is the bad guy in the first TV ad of Los Angeles' congressional race,'' by Los Angeles Times' Christine Mai-Duc. Story.
"The Heat is On," by Comstock's Rich Ehisen: "As head of the California Air Resources Board for the last decade, Mary Nichols is considered the second most powerful person - after Gov. Jerry Brown - in the state's wide-reaching efforts to combat climate change. It is an effort state officials have vowed to continue despite the election of President Donald Trump, a climate change denier." Story.
"Big Oil's grip on California," by The Center for Public Integrity's Michael J. Mishak in The Nation: "Two and a half years ago, California's oil regulator acknowledged that it had allowed companies to drill thousands of wells into aquifers - underground reservoirs - that were supposed to be protected as potential sources of drinking water....All of this, some environmentalists and lawmakers say, calls into question California's ability to live up to its reputation as a climate leader." Story.
LATimes' George Skelton: "California lawmakers are stuck on Trump, but there's a problem at home that needs attention: dirty water" -- While President Trump and his California resistors dominate the spotlight, a little outfit without much pizazz is trying to draw state government's attention to sickening drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley. Story.
"California renews push to promote environmental literacy in schools,'' by Carolyn Jones in EdSource: " In Clinton Huey's 6th-grade science class at Bancroft Middle School in San Leandro just south of Oakland, students have made their own carbon dioxide, measured the acid content of car exhaust, created greenhouse gas models from plastic bottles, charted sea-level rise since 700 A.D. and built wind generators - all in a quest to understand climate change. EdSource
Canary in the coal mine? "Crumbling levee triggers evacuations for small farming community in the Delta ,'' by
LATimes' Veronica Rocha: "Battered by recent storms, the levee in Tyler Island, an area about six miles south of Walnut Grove in Sacramento County, began crumbling after a nearly 70-foot-wide hole developed within the structure, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for Sacramento County Water Resources. Story.
"Abortion rates drop in California amid debate about Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights,'' via the SacBee's Sammy Caiola and Phillip Reese: Story.
"CalSTRS Cuts Hundreds of Misreported Pensions,'' by Ed Mendel, Calpensions.com: Story.
"Appeals court rejects woman's suit over Iraq War, '' by SFChronicle's Bob Egelko: Story.
"Bay Area Beats LA in Business Skills? Via Fox & Hounds' Joel Fox: " Story.
Nudists march in San Francisco streets for Valentine's parade," SFGate's Dianne de Guzman: Story.
BART has plenty of staffers at station with no trains or riders," by San Francisco Chronicle's Matier & Ross: Story.
"Legislation would block guns from California schools, ending Kingsburg's policy,'' by SacBee's Mackenzie Mays. Story.
"New App Promises to Change the Parking Ticket Game in L.A.," by LA Weekly's Dennis Romero: Story.
AND FINALLY. . .
The Almost Daily Briefing is an aggregation of links to news articles from local and regional newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and other internet sources. Its purpose is to alert readers to current issues and affairs that may impact Lafayette. The Almost Daily Briefing does not promote, favor, disfavor, support, reject, or endorse any position, candidate, campaign, or proposition, and nothing about the Daily Briefing, including the selection, presentation, arrangement, or content of the links presented should be construed as an advocacy position.
You can sign up to receive the Almost Daily Briefing by email here.
PHOTO OF THE DAY