Local News RoundUp
The Local News RoundUp is the League's daily news clipping service of articles related to California cities and local government.
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July 2, 2015
WATER / DROUGHT
California residents cut water use by hefty 29% in May, officials say (Los Angeles Times)
“My first response is almost disbelief,” said Mark Gold of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. “These results are beyond encouraging; they’re heartening. They make you realize that as a whole, people in urban areas are making the sacrifices necessary to get through this unprecedented drought.”
Areas that conserved most, least during California drought (The Associated Press)
Reporting data (State Water Resources Control Board)
Long Beach exceeds water conservation goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
Residents and businesses cut water use by 19 percent during the month compared to 2013, 3 percent more than the mandate called for by California regulators in May. The city used 4,380 acre-feet of water in June, the lowest for the month since 1956.
Berkeley’s ‘first couple’ issues a tough water-saving challenge (KQED)
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has announced a citywide water conservation challenge with the chance for Berkeley residents to win “fame, appreciation, and a free lunch,” the latter with him and his wife, state Sen. Loni Hancock.
Milpitas adopts stricter water conservation plan (Milpitas Post)
(Press release) EPA to approve California’s newest list of impaired waterways (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
More than 40,000 miles of California’s rivers and streams are currently threatened by pollution, according to a list of impaired waterways submitted by the state to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Monitoring of rivers, lakes and coastal waters in California continue to show harmful pollutant levels, based on updates to the list from three of the state’s nine regional Water Quality Control Boards — North Coast, Lahontan and Colorado River regions.
Record heat dries out California, fire risk increases (Capital Public Radio)
Nearly 99 percent of California remains in moderate drought, 71 percent in extreme drought and 46.7 percent in exceptional drought.
Opinion: California drought portends possible 'catastrophic' fire year (Contra Costa Times)
If you think the drought has done a number on your lawn, get a load of how it's ravaged California's national forests: The U.S. Forest Service reports that an estimated 12.5 million trees have died since the skies dried up, and thousands more are distressed. No one is more aware of the drought's effects -- and its implications for firefighters -- than Contra Costa Fire District Chief Jeff Carman, who said all the rules have changed.
Lake Fire: Blaze reaches 70 percent containment (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
36,000 Tahoe-area trees are dead or dying as California's drought persists (Nevada Appeal)
Statewide fire map (Cal Fire)
Downtown L.A.'s four-year rain total lowest ever recorded (Los Angeles Times)
When the weather service’s traditional rain year, from July 1 to June 30, ended Tuesday, data showed that downtown L.A. received only 8.52 inches of rain this season, or 57% of average.
County seeking grants to drill Porterville well (Visalia Times-Delta)
Tulare County supervisors have authorized an application for a $500,000 federal grant to dig a new well for Porterville in exchange for the city continuing to provide water to water-starved East Porterville.
Recycled oil field wastewater is clean, Chevron test results show (Los Angeles Times)
Chevron sells 21 million gallons of treated oil field wastewater per day to the Cawelo Water District, which provides water to 90 Kern County farmers.
State committee talks watershed impacts by drought, illegal diversions (Eureka Times-Standard)
Fisheries are at risk, streams are running dry due to drought and illegal diversions and no regulatory framework is currently in place to address one of the contributing factors to these impacts — illegal marijuana grows.
Opinion: Employing nature to replenish California’s groundwater supplies (California Economic Summit)
Under normal circumstances, about 35 percent of the state’s water supply comes from groundwater sources; today this has increased to 64 percent.
Cal Am, county water agency sue Marina Coast over regional desal project (Monterey County Herald)
California American Water and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency have filed suit against former regional desalination project partner Marina Coast Water District and consultant RMC Water and Environment, blaming them for the project’s demise and seeking more than $10 million in damages.
MWD: 'Take a turn' saving California's precious water (KNBC)
The Metropolitan Water District is rolling out a new media campaign urging people to save every precious drop. The message? If "all Southern Californians do a little more to save water, it adds up to make a big difference."
(Press release) Summer public education effort kicks off (Save Our Water)
Save Our Water’s campaign urges Californians to “Let It Go” by limiting outdoor water use and letting lawns fade to gold for the summer, while preserving precious water resources for trees and other important landscapes.
Opinion: California is becoming a dust bowl (Newsweek)
(Press release) ‘Cool’ conservation: UC Davis saves 61 million gallons of water a year (UC Davis)
The University of California, Davis, will reap savings of 61 million gallons of potable water annually thanks to the implementation this month of a new process in the Davis campus’s cooling system. The savings result from using recycled water instead of well water to help cool the campus’s “chilled water” supply; it loops around the campus, delivering chill to air handling systems, then returns to the cooling plant to be rechilled.
CI rewarded with rebate for turf removal (The Fillmore Gazette)
CSU Channel Islands will receive a $25,000 rebate from the state's Commercial Turf Removal Program after replacing 28,000 square feet of turf with more drought-tolerant landscaping.
Feather River levee-repair work resumes (Capital Public Radio)
Work was stopped while the United Auburn Indian Tribe and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers argued over disposition of native artifacts found during levee work last year.
City forced to swallow $1.7 million water filter mistake (Santa Barbara Independent)
Efforts to have the city’s reclaimed water system rebuilt and running in time for this summer’s high temperatures — and even higher water demand — hit a serious setback when it turned out the project designer used the wrong water quality data when calculating what kind of filters were needed to bring treated effluent up to state field-irrigation standards.
Violent crime drops again in California (SF Gate)
The 1,697 killings last year were the fewest in California since 1971. Robberies were at the lowest level in 43 years, with 48,650 reported in 2014. In 1992, there were more than 130,000 robberies. And overall violent crimes — murders, robberies, rapes and assaults — came in at 151,425, the lowest since 1976.
Stockton police reassess policies after K-9 dies in hot patrol car (Capital Public Radio)
The Stockton Police Department has begun an internal review of the events in which the K-9 Nitro died from the heat after being left in the back of a patrol car on a 106-degree day. Officer Joe Silva says Nitro was only in the car 15 minutes. The patrol car's air conditioning had been running but failed.
San Jose: City, police, residents get crime-conscious heading into summer surge season (San Jose Mercury News)
That translates to a crackdown on illegal firecrackers and other festive explosives. It also means pushing youth jobs programs and ramping up gang intervention efforts to stem the territorial violence that historically surges in San Jose when the days are at their longest.
Staffing levels highest since 2008 (The Stockton Record)
The Police Department now has 393 sworn officers in its ranks. The Police Department had 430 officers in 2008 before budget cuts and staff reductions cut the city’s police force to 324 officers in 2012.
Budget cuts close Station 4 in Eureka (Eureka Times-Standard)
The Humboldt Bay Fire station at Myrtle Avenue closed its doors on Wednesday and will remain unstaffed until further notice, the first of many changes for the agency in the wake of budget cuts. Another is the upcoming retirement of Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Ken Woods, who admitted he isn’t quite ready but said he is willing to give up his firefighting career if it means keeping department crew members.
Cosumnes FD ends engine brownouts (Elk Grove Citizen)
The Cosumnes Fire Department ended two years of brownouts during which it temporarily removed engine companies from service due to budget cuts.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY
CPUC considers pricing plan that would boost electricity bills for many (KPCC)
Competing plans to overhaul how millions of Californians pay for energy get a hearing Friday in front of the California Public Utilities Commission.
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Wages shrink for state's middle-income workers (Los Angeles Times)
Wages for the typical worker in California — those who earn $19.18 an hour, or about $39,800 a year — are still 1.8% lower than they were in 2011, when the state's unemployment rate hovered around 11.5%. The current unemployment rate is 6.4%.
Towers sell in downtown San Jose, spurred by tech demand (San Jose Mercury News)
The purchase of a South Bay office complex for $62 million -- despite being only 51 percent occupied -- points to the emergence of downtown San Jose as a destination for tech companies, realty experts said Wednesday.
City Council president says L.A. lacks a strategy for creating jobs (Los Angeles Times)
With the region emerging from a recession that dramatically upended the city's finances, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson announced that he is creating a special five-member committee to develop a plan for increasing employment across the city.
Mayor Johnson asks for restraining order against City of Sacramento (KCRA)
Mayor Kevin Johnson has filed a restraining order request against the city of Sacramento in an attempt to block the release of emails that were sent while he was a member of the National Conference of Black Mayors.
Opinion: K.J. sues SN&R over controversial emails (Sacramento News & Review)
The litigation is meant to force the Sacramento News & Review to agree that the city should not disclose certain emails even though the city attorney has determined them to be public records. Failing that, Johnson’s attorney wants a Sacramento Superior Court judge to prohibit the city from releasing emails, which he believes are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Opinion: There’s no smoking gun in arena trial (The Sacramento Bee)
You can argue whether the Sacramento arena is a bad deal for the city. But is it illegal? That’s the very tall mountain arena foes are trying to climb, claiming in their lawsuit that city officials committed fraud by giving prospective Kings owners as much as $200 million in undisclosed “sweeteners” to help the investors offset overpaying for the team.
Jurupa Valley: City suing Riverside County for $3.7 million (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
The city of Jurupa Valley is taking Riverside County to court, alleging the county has shortchanged the city to the tune of $3.7 million in property tax revenue.
PERSONNEL & EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
California workers’ compensation costs rise (The Sacramento Bee)
California employers’ workers’ compensation insurance premiums jumped by $2 billion in 2014 but payments to workers for job-related injuries and illnesses remained static, while medical costs declined, according to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau.
PENSIONS / LABOR RELATIONS
Huntington leans toward policy to make labor talks more public (Huntington Beach News)
City Council members directed staff to bring forward a policy that would help shed light on the negotiation process with the city's eight employee groups, including police, firefighters and non-public safety personnel, and open the process to public review. Several agencies, including Orange County and the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, have adopted ordinances or policies intended to increase transparency in government.
Airbnb to collect San Diego tourist taxes (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Previously, Airbnb hosts were expected to collect the 10.5 percent transient occupancy tax, as well as the 0.55 percent tourism marketing district tax and remit it to the city of San Diego on their own. That didn't always happen. On July 15, after the Comic-Con International convention, the popular short-term vacation rental service will include that amount on its bills to guests.
Ride-share drivers face new insurance requirements (Capital Public Radio)
Drivers for “transportation network companies” like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar must now carry additional insurance from the moment they turn their ride-sharing apps on.
Lyft, Uber OK for airport pickups (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
After months of negotiations, rideshare companies Lyft and Uber will soon start a pilot program for pickups at San Diego International Airport, giving visitors new, potentially cheaper alternatives in ground transportation.
Forest in danger: Illegal Cambria homeless encampment was hiding 'in plain sight' (The San Luis Obispo Tribune)
Cambria residents still breathing a sigh of relief after a close-call fire June 16 in Fern Canyon, just west of Highway 1, are turning their attention to the related issues of fire danger, illegal encampments and homelessness in the forest.
CITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
San Diego City Council OKs plan to turn a busy street into a park (KPBS)
"Our neighborhood is about 87 percent deficient in parks," said Laura Riebau, chair of the Eastern Area Communities Planning Committee. "That means we have 13 percent of the parks that we should have for the population."
Monterey waterfront plan: ‘Key problem to solve’ is parking (Monterey County Herald)
An attempt to restart the stalled five-year effort to pass a Monterey waterfront master plan was beset by problems of the past, namely parking.
East Bay city to require millions in concessions from new downtown highrises (San Francisco Business Times)
Berkeley's City Council has voted to require specific community benefits from tall buildings in the city's Downtown area, a move that will likely require millions of dollars in concessions from developers. The concessions would affect up to seven projects over 75 feet that are allowed under the city's 2012 Downtown Plan.
Affordable mixed-use project moving forward in downtown Roseville (Sacramento Business Journal)
A property in downtown Roseville stalled by financing problems when redevelopment agencies shut down is moving forward again.
Redwood City Planning Commission approves nine-story office project (The San Mateo Daily Journal)
The public was generally split on the project with those in favor saying more offices are needed downtown as those opposed said the project does not have adequate parking, according to a video of the meeting. Others said the city is growing too fast and that development should be slowed.
Santa Rosa again rejects moratorium on rent hikes (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
On a 4-3 vote, the council agreed to discuss a number of options to address the city’s rapidly rising rents, which have soared 30 percent in three years as the economy has rebounded while construction of new units has lagged. But it rejected, also on a 4-3 vote, a proposal to temporarily bar landlords from increasing rents by more than 3 percent per year.
Santa Paula Village Apartments: Council signals approval of $8M purchase, rehab (Santa Paula Times)
The Santa Paula Village Apartments will have a new owner who will use an $8 million tax-exempt bond to purchase and refurbish the 56-unit affordable housing complex after the City Council, as representatives of the host city, signaled their approval of the deal.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY
‘FresGO’ touted as digital route to a better city (The Fresno Bee)
Mayor Ashley Swearengin and three City Council members unveiled an app called FresGO that in essence allows people to file public-nuisance complaints in a swift and timely manner.
‘Surprise’ cell towers arouse La Jolla residents’ ire (La Jolla Light)
City officials say the new installations are legal and they are not required to notify residents in advance of their installation on private property. Crown Castle says the so-called DAS towers are necessary to improve residential cell phone coverage and improve safety, in cases where residents may need to phone 911.
Long Beach health inspectors defend the public from foodborne illnesses, cockroaches (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is one of three city-operated health jurisdictions in California. The other two are in Pasadena and Berkeley.
San Jacinto: City reopens parks shut by budget cuts (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
City-operated Sallee, Hofmann and Mistletoe parks were closed in December after voters failed to approve a proposed utility tax that would have pumped up the city budget. The parks were reopened as a result of a property tax increase.
DWP watchdog urges changes in hiring rules, union influence at utility (Los Angeles Times)
In the wake of the botched rollout of a new billing system at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that sent inaccurate bills to many customers, a new report by a watchdog agency says the city must make a host of changes to speed up hiring and contracting to prevent similar problems in the future.
Long-awaited permit parking program to begin in September (Palo Alto Daily News)
The City Council voted 8-0 Monday to hire Serco Inc. to enforce the so-called residential preferential parking program, or RPP, which was developed in response to community outcry over a dearth of street parking.
Shelters to end euthanasia (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
A coalition that represents most shelters in San Diego County announced that it no longer will euthanize animals because of a lack of space, but put down only those with serious and untreatable medical conditions.
IN OTHER CITY NEWS
Audit: L.A. failed to collect $1.8 million in overtime reimbursements (Los Angeles Times)
The white-gloved officers who guide Los Angeles drivers through traffic jams and road closures during Dodgers games, the Academy Awards and other special events earned nearly $6 million in overtime in a single year. In many cases, event sponsors are supposed to reimburse the city for those wages.