Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's twice-weekly news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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April 19, 2016
Bay Area home sales in March: up from February, down from a year earlier (The San Jose Mercury News)
The median price for homes sold in the Bay Area in March -- single family homes and condominiums -- was $643,250, up 4.6 percent from the previous month.
Southern California home prices surge in March; sales inch up (Los Angeles Times)
The six-county region’s median price hit $449,000 last month, up from $425,000 a year earlier, real estate data firm CoreLogic said. Sales, meanwhile, rose only 1.9% from March 2015 -- reflecting a tough market defined by high prices and low inventory.
S.D. home price: Highest in nearly 9 years (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The median home price rose to $478,000 last month, passing the median in August 2007 of $475,000 before the recession fully took hold.
San Jose: Councilman proposes $1 billion bond for affordable housing (The San Jose Mercury News)
Councilman Manh Nguyen on Tuesday suggested the city pass a $1 billion housing bond to build more affordable housing -- similar to a measure taken in San Francisco.
Opinion: Blame geography for high housing prices? (Citylab)
According to a recent study by Issi Romem, chief economist at BuildZoom, part of the explanation lies in the geographic characteristics of cities and metros—mountains, lakes, coastlines, etc.—that make it all but impossible to expand and add more housing.
LABOR / PENSION
6 paid sick days for workers in L.A.? City Council says yes (Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles workers would be able to earn at least six paid sick days annually — twice the state minimum — under a proposed law that the City Council backed Tuesday.
California’s workers’ compensation costs dropping (The Sacramento Bee)
By 2015, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says in a new report, employers’ average insurance premiums, which had topped $6 per $100 of payroll in 2003, had dropped to $2.86.
WATER / DROUGHT
Counties fight SoCal water giant's Delta grab (Courthouse News Service)
Political agencies and nonprofits in the Central Valley say the Metropolitan District of Southern California's $175 million purchase of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta may cause significant environmental changes and sued to block the sale.
A river is reborn after Lake Tahoe reaches milestone (KCRA)
For the first time in 18 months, the Truckee River has begun flowing after Lake Tahoe's water level reached a milestone. Water managers said melting snow pushed the lake above 6,223 feet of elevation last Saturday.
Water flows in Fresno, Visalia for recharge (The Fresno Bee)
For the first time in more than two years, water is flowing inside the Friant-Kern and Madera canals for groundwater recharge and farm irrigation.
Still no showers at San Diego state beaches (San Diego Reader)
The beach showers at Silver Strand, Torrey Pines, Cardiff, and South Carlsbad, were shut down last July. Later in the year, so were some campground showers and beach restroom sinks.
What drought? East Bay gated community orders homeowners to green up (Bay Area News Group)
The homeowners association for Blackhawk, an upscale, gated community has threatened to fine homeowners for brown or dead lawns and landscaping despite a continuing state drought emergency.
Gallery: Corporate water users who saved the most — or least (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Coalition creates 15,500-square-foot drought-tolerant project (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
A coalition of 18 local, county and state partners is replacing 15,500 square feet of grass in Watsonville with drought tolerant landscape, reportedly saving 350,000 gallons of water annually.
New Bay Area dam project reaches major milestone (The San Jose Mercury News)
In a significant step for the largest reservoir project in the Bay Area in 20 years, workers have finished building the spillway -- a massive concrete channel as wide as eight lanes of freeway and a quarter mile long -- at Calaveras Dam near the Alameda-Santa Clara county line.
Taxpayer group faults water rates notices (Stockton Record)
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says formal notices sent by the city of Stockton about a proposed water rate hike are invalid because they imply that only property owners may file protests — not renters. But the city says it’s actually going further than the law requires, and will in fact honor protests from renters even though it didn’t originally intend to. That decision came after a mailing error resulted in thousands of additional notices being sent to Stockton residents.
Humboldt Bay shipping impacted by shallow depth (Eureka Times-Standard)
Abnormally large waves at the entrance of Humboldt Bay caused by its shallow depth are creating treacherous conditions for boaters and barges as well as impacting shipments in and out of the bay, local officials state. While the dredge is set to be dredged next month due to the hazardous conditions, local and federal entities are now discussing long-term solutions to the issue.
Opinion: Drought watch: Water not wasted to the sea (PPIC)
To many, the notion of water to the ocean is akin to water wasted. It is perceived as serving no valuable purpose before mixing with salt water and being rendered useless. This perception is understandable if we limit our thinking to benefits from direct use of water: manufacturing, industry, drinking, sanitation, or growing gardens and crops. But outside of improving habitat for native species, there are multiple indirect benefits derived from water currently running into the Delta.
Editorial: Prepare for a flood of new levee work (The Sacramento Bee)
The weak El Niño and years of drought notwithstanding, Sacramento remains the most flood-prone U.S. city this side of New Orleans. For all the levee work that has been completed – $2 billion worth since 1990 – more is needed.
HOMELESSNESS / POVERTY
Woodland City Council to consider homeless plan (Woodland Daily Democrat)
“At its basic level, the Housing First Model places immediate emphasis on the goal of providing permanent housing to individuals and families, followed by provision of case-by-case wrap-around services, as needed,” explained City Manager Paul Navazio in a staff report. “The Housing First model is in sharp contrast to the historical approach whereby focus is on provision of services (mental health, substance abuse, public health, counseling, food and temporary shelter).”
Few psychiatric beds for tens of thousands in need (Capital Public Radio)
"It's a shell game right now," says Officer Michelle Lazark. She's with the Sacramento Police Department's psychiatric services unit. She says officers do their best to connect people in crisis with the best treatment options, for examples, veterans to veterans groups and the elderly to adult protective services. It all depends on a treatment provider's available space. "You can't tap out one organization," she says. "You have to spread it around."
Marijuana: Pot test shifts into the fast lane (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
No one yet has devised a practical and reliable field test to determine when a driver is under the influence of marijuana. State Sen. Bob Huff is proposing legislation that would authorize the use of saliva swab tests, which, combined with portable instruments, can detect the presence of pot and other drugs.
Santa Clara County: High-tech police spying rules take shape (The San Jose Mercury News)
Santa Clara County officials are poised to approve sweeping rules governing police use of cell phone trackers and other spying technology that advocates say will be a model for the nation but that cops worry could hamper investigations.
License plate readers capture loads of data. How long do cops keep it? (KPCC)
The Los Angeles Police Department is among dozens of California's law enforcement agencies that have failed to make their license plate surveillance policies public, despite a new state law requiring disclosure.
Apple helped with thousands of law enforcement requests: report (NBC)
The company provided at least some information in response to 80 percent of the 4,000 device-related requests from U.S. law enforcement between July 1 and December 31, 2015, according to a transparency report released by Apple on Monday.
DRONES / FAA
British Air drone collision sounds alarm for new regulations (USA Today)
A British Airways plane’s collision with a drone while landing at Heathrow Airport has renewed calls for stricter regulation in the U.S., where more than 150 airliners reported close sightings of drones in the last 18 months, including eight in the last two weeks of January.
Drone sightings near U.S. airports by the numbers (USA Today)
FAA data shows that drone-sighting reports by pilots, air traffic controllers or nearby members of the public increased more than 320% from mid-November 2014 to January 2016.
TRANSPORTATION / INFRASTRUCTURE
Beverly Hills to develop autonomous vehicles (The Hollywood Reporter)
The Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution to develop driverless vehicles that will provide public transportation throughout the city.
Staggering drop in VTA bus ridership may signal dramatic changes (The San Jose Mercury News)
Despite a Santa Clara Valley population and jobs boom, ridership on buses and light-rail trains has dropped a staggering 23 percent since 2001, forcing the Valley Transportation Authority to consider its biggest shake-up ever in transit service.
BART facing $400 million deficit over next 10 years (SF Gate)
BART faces a $400 million deficit over the next 10 years unless voters in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties approve a $3.5 billion fix-up bond.
Identifying the safest intersection designs for cyclists (Citylab)
Using pooled funds from 11 counties, regional planning bodies, transit agencies and nonprofits around the country, researchers at Portland State will first create an inventory of all sorts of intersection treatments. Then they’ll use computer simulations, video analysis, and cyclist surveys to determine the “critical thresholds that designers need to consider from one design to another,” says Christopher Monsere, a professor of civil engineering at Portland State and the project’s lead researcher.
Report: Quick Builds for Better Streets: A New Project Delivery Model for U.S. Cities (pdf) (People for Bikes)
In the last decade, some U.S. cities have been creating new models for project delivery and implementation that rethink the bureaucratic processes developed during the freeway era.
Opinion: Use of public transit isn’t surging (The Washington Post)
Transit trips did rise between 2008 and 2013. But so did the U.S. population, from 304 million to 316 million, as did the total number of trips made.
Lawmakers seek to tighten bullet train oversight, suggesting growing concern about the project (Los Angeles Times)
A key state legislative committee on Monday unanimously approved a Republican-led bill to strengthen oversight of the California bullet train, a sign of growing bipartisan concern about the project.
What's next for Exide cleanup after State Senate approves $177 million? (KPCC)
The California Senate gave final approval to Gov. Brown's request for $177 million in emergency funding to speed up the cleanup of lead around the former Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon.
JOBS / ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Slowest quarter in two years for L.A. start-up investment (Los Angeles Times)
The first quarter marked the slowest period for investment into Los Angeles start-ups in two years, with just under $400 million going to about 50 companies. The last time so little came into the Los Angeles region was the first three months of 2014, with $319 million across about 50 start-ups.
Walnut Creek's retail booms, as rents rise and high-end shopping abounds (San Francisco Business Times)
Walnut Creek's downtown is seeing a retail boom, and new report found this week, as the city continues to see record occupancy rates, rising rents and a host of high-end retailers setting up shop in the area.
CITY PLANNING / DEVELOPMENT
Anaheim advances $209M hotel (The Orange County Business Journal)
The new hotel will include 50,000 square feet of meeting space, 25,600 square feet of restaurant space, and parking for 949 cars, about 150 spaces less than normally required for a hotel and amenities of such size.
Advocates push to raise minimum wage sooner than state (San Jose Mercury News)
The city led the march in raising the minimum wage $2 above the state minimum four years ago, but some say since then, San Jose has fallen behind the curve in ensuring wages keep up with costs.
Milpitas will pay $140,000 in age discrimination settlement (NorCal Patch)
The suit alleged that city officials failed to hire a qualified applicant more than 50 years old from those who scored higher than the person selected by a review panel.
San Diego may preserve former AIDS hospice (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Aiming to help one of the nation’s first AIDS hospices avoid the wrecking ball, San Diego leaders will require historic analysis of the Truax House in Bankers Hill as part of any sale of the city-owned property.
New amphitheater at Miller Park is one of city's major projects (Fontana Herald News)
Construction of the $6.5 million project is slated to begin next January and is scheduled to be completed by June of 2018, according to Chuck Hays, the city's public works director.
IN OTHER CITY NEWS
'Shadow government?' No, it's emergency 'standby' City Council service (Bay Area News Group)
Members of several East Bay cities' elected councils, as well as the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, have for decades chosen people they know and trust to be willing to help run their cities should the unthinkable happen. It's called for in Article 15, Sections 8635 through 8644, of the state of California Government Code that provide for "preservation of local government" should the elected leaders end up dead, injured or missing.