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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May 27, 2015
ELECTIONS & REDISTRICTING
Supreme Court could deal California 'a one-two punch' on redistricting (Los Angeles Times)
Next month, the nation's highest court will rule on a case challenging the legality of independent commissions to draw congressional districts. On Tuesday, the court said it would consider whether state and local voting districts should be based on total population or eligible voters. Both cases could have enormous implications in California, where voters first approved citizen-led redistricting panels nearly seven years ago and where the state's burgeoning immigrant population has contoured the political map, regardless of eligibility to vote.
Analysis: Once aided by courts, can Latino politicians survive Supreme Court act? (Los Angeles Times)
The U.S. Supreme Court’s unexpected decision to take up a Texas voting case poses perhaps the most acute threat in a generation to Latino political strength in California. But how much of the threat actually materializes is decidedly less known.
California Assembly passes two bills to deter frivolous ballot measures (Los Angeles Times)
One would increase the $200 filing fee for potential ballot initiatives to $8,000. Another would allow the state attorney general to include a disclaimer in initiative petitions when a proposed measure would be likely to result in a violation of individuals' constitutional rights.
WATER / DROUGHT
Drought angst shrivels Californians’ views of state (The Sacramento Bee)
A new poll shows Californians’ perceptions of the state have soured in recent months as Gov. Jerry Brown and others imposed new conservation mandates. The percentage of voters who believe the state is on the right track is down 10 percentage points from February, even as its fiscal outlook continues to improve with revenue running billions of dollars ahead of estimates.
Some fear SJ Valley ag could go the way of timber industry (Capital Press)
As nearly 1 million acres of farmland could be fallowed this summer because of drought-related water shortages, some farmers are beginning to draw comparisons with the wood products industry, whose decline was hastened by protections for the Northern spotted owl.
Southland water importer OKs $350-million boost in lawn-removal rebates (Los Angeles Times)
The Metropolitan Water District initially allocated $100 million for the program this year. But it has already received $330 million in requests for rebates.
California builds emergency barrier in drought to protect water supplies (Capital Public Radio)
In a normal year, fresh water flowing from rivers into the Delta pushes back tidal ocean water. In this fourth year of drought, not enough water is flowing down river. Doug Carlson, with the Department of Water Resources, says constructing the 750-foot wide temporary rock barrier across a channel in the Delta will prevent salt water contamination.
Amid Granite Bay’s regal landscapes, residents look to conserve water (The Sacramento Bee)
The San Juan Water District, which pulls water from Folsom Lake to supply 30,000 residents in parts of Folsom, Orangevale, Roseville and Granite Bay, ranked as the fifth-highest water user in California last summer based on per-capita consumption.
Opinion: Fresno’s million-dollar water deal: What a bargain in this drought (The Fresno Bee)
Fresno bought nearly 3,000 acre-feet of Millerton Lake water last week for $1 million.
On the open water market, the Millerton water might be worth five times that price.
Turns out, the Fresno deal was part of bigger behind-the-scenes meetings that brought together federal leaders, east- and west-side agriculture as well as Kern County interests.
Grand jury investigates water loss, accountability of water systems (The Fairfield Daily Republic)
Benicia, at 25 percent, was listed as having the highest water loss among cities in Solano County, followed by Suisun City at 22 percent. Rio Vista was lowest of the seven cities, with a water loss of 9 percent.
Antelope Valley residents get temporary reprieve from water reduction targets, fines (Los Angeles Daily News)
Some Antelope Valley homeowners said that the number of people who live in a home was not factored into the allocated water usage for each household.
Davis drought plan spares water bills -- for now (KCRA)
For now, Davis plans to target its parks for much of the required reduction.
Vacaville council limits landscape watering to 2 days a week (The Fairfield Daily Republic)
Templeton enacts tighter water-conservation rules (The San Luis Obispo Tribune)
Watsonville approves mandatory water cuts, funding drops for social services (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
New water restrictions in SF not as drastic as other parts of state (San Francisco Examiner)
Drought surcharges due to hit Los Altos (Los Altos Town Crier)
Lompico water customers to see rate increases starting in July (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
The rate increase is the latest chapter for the water district which is struggling to keep up with repair costs for its aging water infrastructure and other related expenses.
(Video) Small town pays hefty price to drill for water during California drought (KPIX)
The small town of La Grange sits right between a lake and a reservoir, still it’s about to run out of water. While they dig for a solution, it comes with a hefty price. “3 million 200 acre feet of storage, and no access to water, it feels really weird,” said Peter Kampa of the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District.
Del Mar to turn off most beach showers to conserve water (KNSD)
A spokesman for the city said four beach showers along Del Mar beaches use an estimated 495,360 gallons of water each year, which costs the city about $2,800 per year. That's 0.1 percent of total citywide water use.
California drought: Forest service ready for wildfire season (Capital Public Radio)
The U.S. Forest Service recently hired 780 additional firefighters.
California's drought makes it rain big bucks for local businesses (NPR)
When people call up Leigh Jerrard, founder of Greywater Corps, they're greeted with a recorded message: "Note that we are overwhelmed with inquiries right now, so it may be a while before we get back to you. But have faith."
UCD researchers reduce water needs for grape-growing, winemaking (The Davis Enterprise)
To make a gallon of wine, it takes 4 to 6 gallons of water under current production techniques. Researchers such as UCD’s David Block, however, are strategizing ways to use a quarter of this amount to create a 1-to-1 ratio of water to wine.
Opinion: Oakland startup tries to change the value of water (KQED)
MeterHero tracks your water usage and gives rebates if you conserve — $1 for every 100 gallons. The rebates set a tangible price for each gallon saved, which gives some extra value to water, or more specifically, to water conservation. With the rebates, that water you let go down the drain could be turned into dollars.
State budget: Democrats release dueling spending plans (Bay Area News Group)
Both proposals assume the state will collect more revenue than Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration predicts — roughly $2.5 billion more — but Democrats in the Senate and Assembly apparently have starkly different views on how to spend the extra money.
Is Oakland’s new crowd control measure workable? (San Francisco Chronicle)
“We used to essentially provide police escorts for them,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said of past nighttime protests. Now, she said, police officers are assessing the size and demeanor of each crowd, attempting to contain traffic and prevent chaos, while facilitating activism that seems “reasonable.”
Opinion: S.F. mayor pushing for special cameras to bust speeders (San Francisco Chronicle)
The cameras could be fixed or mounted on vans and first would be deployed near schools and seniors facilities. They would operate in much the same way as red-light cameras, using radar to track speed and then snapping a photo of those going over the limit.
PERSONNEL & EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Bucking the trend, Irvine may repeal its living wage law (Los Angeles Times)
The Irvine law requires that certain city contractors match payment for their employees to the lowest rate that the city sets for its own workers, $10.82 an hour.
OPEN GOVERNMENT & TRANSPARENCY
Audit finds millions in overtime pay at L.A. transportation department (Los Angeles Times)
According to the audit, almost half the 67 employees in the paint and sign division claimed more than 1,000 hours of overtime in 2013-14. Seven claimed 2,000 hours, which would be an average of 38 extra hours of work per week.
L.A. sidewalk repair costs should shift to property owners, city report says (Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles’ commercial property owners should be required to pay for repairing badly broken and inaccessible sidewalks next to their land, a city report released Tuesday suggests. In addition, heavily damaged sidewalks next to homes should be repaired by the city and then future responsibility for upkeep and liability of the walkways should be shifted to property owners, the report says.
L.A. labor leaders seek minimum wage exemption for firms with union workers (Los Angeles Times)
Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.
Santa Cruz County median home price in April: $755,000 (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
High-end buyers have been busy in Santa Cruz County, with one of every five single-family home sales in April fetching more than $1 million.
Council approves Buena Vista's closure (Palo Alto Daily News)
The nine-member council voted unanimously to approve a closure application submitted two and a half years ago by the Jisser family, the owner of the mobile home park. Roughly 400 residents, many of them Latino and low-income, may be displaced as a result. "It's one that is not a happy one," Mayor Karen Holman said about the decision. "It's one that we've done our best, I think, to be fair to all parties. Whether it is palatable or not may be another matter."
Marin among U.S. leaders in gap between wages and housing affordability (Marin Independent Journal)
To afford a one-bedroom unit in Marin County, someone earning the California minimum wage of $9 per hour would have to work 140 hours per week, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
California state Sen. Mark Leno tables Ellis Act reform bill (San Francisco Chronicle)
The 1986 Ellis Act lets landlords who want to get out of the rental business evict tenants without cause. But it has also been used by real-estate investors who buy rent-controlled properties and evict tenants so they can flip a property for profit.
Editorial: Outrage should be not just about a Skid Row shooting, but that Skid Row still exists (Los Angeles Downtown News)
One in four homeless individuals in the city lives in the district that includes Skid Row. The 14th District, which covers most of Downtown, has 6,292 homeless people, up from 5,500 two years ago.
Santa Cruz homeless services facing cuts (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
The Homeless Services Center plans to shutter a majority of its walk-on day services, including the nearly 50-bed Paul Lee Loft emergency overnight shelter beds. The nonprofit received news last week that it would not receive a $350,000 U.S. Housing and Urban Development Emergency Solutions Grant it has received for about the past decade.
CITY PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Development vs. history: The struggle of how and when to preserve some O.C. landmarks (Orange County Register)
Retail developers, homebuilders and others have discovered something rare for Orange County: History has value.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY
Sewer going solar to save $$$ (Manteca Bulletin)
The city is going out to bid within the next month or so for a one megawatt solar farm project on the north side of the treatment plant along Yosemite Avenue. It will supply roughly a third of the electricity needed to run the plant. The city’s current PG&E bill for the treatment plant is $1.2 million on an annual basis.
Sacramento City Council votes to ease food truck rules (The Sacramento Bee)
The new rules, which will go into effect by the end of June, allow trucks to stay curbside for as long as parking limits allow.
Editorial: Santa Ana trolley folly (Orange County Register)
Orange County Transportation Authority board members from Santa Ana and Garden Grove unveiled their plans for a new streetcar system that would connect the two cities. The $250 million, four-mile route would take travelers through Santa Ana’s downtown, past the government offices and the courthouse, to a new transit center envisioned in Garden Grove. Ultimately, they say, it could prove a catalyst for streetcar development around the county and change the way Orange County residents view transit. The only problem is that streetcars almost never live up to expectations.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Proposed bike share program would stretch from Davis to Sacramento (CBS Sacramento)
Under the proposal, riders would pay a daily, monthly, or yearly fee to access bikes parked throughout Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis.
Supporters plead for shuttered library (Stockton Record)
The city estimates one-time reopening costs for the Fair Oaks Library at as much as $700,000 for refurbishment, stocking of the shelves and the addition of computers. Wilson’s memo estimates annual operating costs for Fair Oaks at $554,000 if it was open for 25 hours a week.
Expansion of off-road park opposed by Livermore City Council (Livermore Patch)
The land, located west of Tracy in the southeast corner of Alameda County, is owned by the State of California Parks Department. Environmental groups oppose the 3,000 acre expansion of the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area. Supporters say the land was purchased in 1998 to be used for off-highway vehicles.
IN OTHER CITY NEWS
Urban farmers want Visalia to allow backyard chickens (The Fresno Bee)
The grassroots movement for backyard chickens in urban areas has been gaining ground nationally, and now Visalia may be next to say yes. Some Valley cities allow the birds, including Exeter, Woodlake, Lindsay, Farmersville and Madera, but most cities, including Fresno, Clovis, Selma, Reedley, Tulare, Hanford and Lemoore prohibit them outright or have limited exceptions.