Sunday, December 31, 2006

Venture Philanthropy

The new focus on strategic thinking and return on donations is embraced in a new vision of philanthropy called venture, or high engagement philanthropy with the basic concept outlined in this article.

The concept of social capital, balanced with economic capital is also connected and together indicates a maturing social investor perspective congruent with an increasing sophistication in economic investments.

Philanthropies learning lessons from business
By James Surowiecki -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 31, 2006

James Surowiecki is the financial columnist at the New Yorker and the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. This article appeared in Technology Review, an MIT enterprise.


As the names of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations suggest, American philanthropy has always depended heavily on American businessmen.

But with some exceptions -- like the Carnegie libraries, or the Salvation Army, which Peter Drucker once called "the most effective organization in the United States" -- the fact that foundations were mostly funded by business did not mean they were businesslike in their approach.

Over the last decade or so, that has changed dramatically. Beginning sometime in the mid-1990s, two trends came together to remake philanthropy in the United States: the tremendous boom in the U.S. economy and stock market, and a growing desire on the part of wealthy businesspeople to apply their moneymaking techniques to other, less commercial endeavors.

The economic boom meant a lot more money floating around: Charitable donations in the United States rose 10 percent annually in the late 1990s. It also meant a lot of newly wealthy people, many of them entrepreneurs, who were interested in figuring out how to spend that money in the smartest way possible.

The result has been an explosion in new forms of philanthropic investment and a concentrated effort to identify what might be thought of as the philanthropic equivalent of business opportunities: areas where neither business nor government has been meeting a need.

Although the growth in charitable donations slowed with the stock-market crash and recession, it's picked up again, with donations rising about 23 percent between 2001 and 2005.

Future Forecasting

The future regionally will probably reflect the past, with the continuing lack of a clear vision from any organized group of public leaders around the issues of highest priority: public safety (county and city police forces need to grow), flooding (building the Auburn Dam), accommodating growth through infrastructure (build roads) while preserving valuable natural recreational resources (preserve and strengthen the Parkway).

Editorial: Will 2007 be year of unity or division for region?
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 31, 2006

To progress as a region, Sacramento has one paramount need: to overcome some growing political divides.

There is the urban core -- the city of Sacramento -- where the politics lean left.

And there are the growing communities that ring the city -- Rocklin, Folsom, Elk Grove, etc. -- that lean to the right as they grow big enough to have their own identities and economies. Each has local leaders, with their own ideas and agendas.

But regardless of partisan or philosophical beliefs, they find themselves forced together to solve the same set of problems: flood control, transportation, air pollution -- the list goes on.

There is no shortage of challenges awaiting the region in 2007, all with one underlying theme -- a political quest to find common ground. And to find the money from somewhere, anywhere, to tackle the list of challenges. Here is a brief tour of the political landscape ahead, and an example of how a fight over one problem can spill into another if leaders forget the big picture and the need to think of the overall good of the region.

Tahoe Piers

In what could be a forerunner of the eventual problems along the Parkway, the struggle between public and private use along the shores of one of the most beautiful lakes in the country continue, with the proposed plan, developed after many years of legal struggles, appearing to be a pretty good and balanced solution.

Pressure builds on Tahoe pier plan
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 31, 2006

The fate of Lake Tahoe's priceless shoreline could be decided in January, when planners consider a bid to allow construction of 230 new piers, most of them private.

A so-called shorezone plan will regulate not just piers but all development along the waterline of North America's largest mountain lake, including boat slips and launching ramps, floating docks and fences.

The plan also may allow 1,862 new boat buoys, a 42 percent increase over the existing 4,454.

Critics fear the plan will harm scenery and beach access at the popular lake.
"There's already enough hindrances to public access and more piers will certainly add to that," said Kevin Hickey, owner of Tahoe Adventure Co., which offers kayak tours at the lake. "Anything that limits public access on the beach or by water should be kept to a minimum or avoided."

The controversy over the past two decades has delayed writing of an overall plan for shoreline development.

Many lakefront property owners insist they have a right to build piers and control access to the shore. Environmentalists want regulations to protect scenery, habitat and public access.


In a continuing sad story the folks in Woodside deal with periodic flooding and every winter brings sleepless nights. It is a problem with no clear answer presented in this story, though a good overview and history is presented.

Still a nightmare
One year ago, the Woodside condominiums were flooded by a creek that time and again has been a source of high anxiety to residents. As they watch another rainy season begin, it's ...
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 31, 2006

Judy Lambert's flood dreams began last month: She walks downstairs and water is rising outside, murky and pressing against the sliding glass doors in her living room.

She wakes as it starts to force its way in -- just as it did on the final day of 2005.

One year ago today, Northern California was blasted by a storm that threatened levees from Woodland to the Delta and swelled the Sacramento River to heights not seen in years.

The 11-day pounding spread misery from the wine country to the Sierra as the Napa and Russian rivers overflowed, a massive mudslide closed Interstate 80, and flood officials scrambled to shore up levees against boils, seepage and wind-driven waves.

Yet all in all, the Sacramento region escaped largely unscathed from one of its wettest Decembers on record.

The Woodside condominiums were an exception, flooded by a creek that time and again has hit the overwhelmed neighborhood, where Lambert and her husband, John Locke, make their home.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alexander von Humboldt

A new book about the great natural historian and explorer of the 19th century.

The Dawn of Ecology

Two centuries ago Alexander von Humboldt set out to grasp the interconnectedness of nature. In the process he sowed the seeds of today’s environmentalism.

By Kathleen McGowan
The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism
By Aaron Sachs
Viking, 496 pages, $25.95

Besides the cowboy, the frontiersman, the fur trapper, and the forty-niner, the American 19th century gave rise to another strange and colorful character: the environmental scientist. In a century largely dominated by relentless individualism and the belief that animals and water and land were there for the taking, the first intellectual shoots of the environmental movement were nonetheless beginning to sprout. More than 100 years before the idea of an ecosystem caught on in the popular imagination, many of America’s first naturalists and scientists were laying the groundwork for the new science of ecology, argues Cornell University historian Aaron Sachs in The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism. Their unlikely inspiration: an aristocratic Prussian by the name of Alexander von Humboldt.

All but forgotten today, Humboldt in the early 19th century was a scientific rock star. By the time he returned to Europe in 1804 after years exploring such wild territories as the Orinoco River in Venezuela and the volcanoes of the Andes, he was a continental celebrity, second in fame only to Napoleon. In the Americas, too, Humboldt cast a long shadow—even though he was a “foreign, aristocratic intellectual who visited the United States exactly once,” as Sachs writes. His ideas inspired a generation of quintessentially American naturalists and intellectuals, among them Thoreau, Poe, Emerson, Whitman, and the Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. The centennial of Humboldt’s birth, in 1869, was “proclaimed across the whole North American continent,” writes Sachs. “It is possible that no other European had as great an impact on the intellectual culture of nineteenth-century America.”

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rail Yards Deal Closes!!!

Wonderful news.

Railyard deal completed
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 10:29 am PST Friday, December 29, 2006

The purchase of the downtown Sacramento railyard by a Georgia developer was completed today, despite a last minute dispute with Union Pacific that stalled the transaction yesterday, a spokeswoman for the developer said.

Shortly before noon, Deborah Pacyna, a spokeswoman for developer Thomas Enterprises, said it had been given the "green light" from Union Pacific to close escrow on the downtown railyard, and was wiring money to Omaha. A formal announcement is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Sacramento City Councilman Rob Fong said a disagreement between UP and the development firm over which of them would move a pipe on the property got in the way of the complicated transaction closing Thursday.

"It's a $750,000 issue," he said. "It's literally like if you were buying a house and you suddenly said, 'Whose moving the washer and dryer?'"

When Thomas Enterprises takes possession of the railyard --ending almost 150 years of railroad ownership -- the city of Sacramento will simultaneously get ownership of the historic train station on I Street and the surrounding parking lots. City employees are standing buy to take over the much criticized parking operation from a private operator.

Judeo-Christianity’s Environmental Perspective

The religious tradition of our country has been and remains concerned about the environment, as it is the creation of God, and the Cornwall Declaration of 2000 is an excellent representation of that concern.

Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship
By the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship

The past millennium brought unprecedented improvements in human health, nutrition, and life expectancy, especially among those most blessed by political and economic liberty and advances in science and technology. At the dawn of a new millennium, the opportunity exists to build on these advances and to extend them to more of the earth's people.

At the same time, many are concerned that liberty, science, and technology are more a threat to the environment than a blessing to humanity and nature. Out of shared reverence for God and His creation and love for our neighbors, we Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, speaking for ourselves and not officially on behalf of our respective communities, joined by others of good will, and committed to justice and compassion, unite in this declaration of our common concerns, beliefs, and aspirations.

Our Concerns

Human understanding and control of natural processes empower people not only to improve the human condition but also to do great harm to each other, to the earth, and to other creatures. As concerns about the environment have grown in recent decades, the moral necessity of ecological stewardship has become increasingly clear. At the same time, however, certain misconceptions about nature and science, coupled with erroneous theological and anthropological positions, impede the advancement of a sound environmental ethic. In the midst of controversy over such matters, it is critically important to remember that while passion may energize environmental activism, it is reason – including sound theology and sound science – that must guide the decision-making process. We identify three areas of common misunderstanding:

1. Many people mistakenly view humans as principally consumers and polluters rather than producers and stewards. Consequently, they ignore our potential, as bearers of God's image, to add to the earth's abundance. The increasing realization of this potential has enabled people in societies blessed with an advanced economy not only to reduce pollution, while producing more of the goods and services responsible for the great improvements in the human condition, but also to alleviate the negative effects of much past pollution. A clean environment is a costly good; consequently, growing affluence, technological innovation, and the application of human and material capital are integral to environmental improvement. The tendency among some to oppose economic progress in the name of environmental stewardship is often sadly self-defeating.

2. Many people believe that "nature knows best," or that the earth–untouched by human hands–is the ideal. Such romanticism leads some to deify nature or oppose human dominion over creation. Our position, informed by revelation and confirmed by reason and experience, views human stewardship that unlocks the potential in creation for all the earth's inhabitants as good. Humanity alone of all the created order is capable of developing other resources and can thus enrich creation, so it can properly be said that the human person is the most valuable resource on earth. Human life, therefore, must be cherished and allowed to flourish. The alternative–denying the possibility of beneficial human management of the earth–removes all rationale for environmental stewardship.

3. While some environmental concerns are well founded and serious, others are without foundation or greatly exaggerated. Some well-founded concerns focus on human health problems in the developing world arising from inadequate sanitation, widespread use of primitive biomass fuels like wood and dung, and primitive agricultural, industrial, and commercial practices; distorted resource consumption patterns driven by perverse economic incentives; and improper disposal of nuclear and other hazardous wastes in nations lacking adequate regulatory and legal safeguards. Some unfounded or undue concerns include fears of destructive manmade global warming, overpopulation, and rampant species loss. The real and merely alleged problems differ in the following ways:

a. The former are proven and well understood, while the latter tend to be speculative.

b. The former are often localized, while the latter are said to be global and cataclysmic in scope.

c. The former are of concern to people in developing nations especially, while the latter are of concern mainly to environmentalists in wealthy nations.

d. The former are of high and firmly established risk to human life and health, while the latter are of very low and largely hypothetical risk.

e. Solutions proposed to the former are cost effective and maintain proven benefit, while solutions to the latter are unjustifiably costly and of dubious benefit.

Public policies to combat exaggerated risks can dangerously delay or reverse the economic development necessary to improve not only human life but also human stewardship of the environment. The poor, who are most often citizens of developing nations, are often forced to suffer longer in poverty with its attendant high rates of malnutrition, disease, and mortality; as a consequence, they are often the most injured by such misguided, though well-intended, policies.

Our Beliefs

Our common Judeo-Christian heritage teaches that the following theological and anthropological principles are the foundation of environmental stewardship:

1. God, the Creator of all things, rules over all and deserves our worship and adoration.

2. The earth, and with it all the cosmos, reveals its Creator's wisdom and is sustained and governed by His power and loving kindness.

3. Men and women were created in the image of God, given a privileged place among creatures, and commanded to exercise stewardship over the earth. Human persons are moral agents for whom freedom is an essential condition of responsible action. Sound environmental stewardship must attend both to the demands of human well being and to a divine call for human beings to exercise caring dominion over the earth. It affirms that human well being and the integrity of creation are not only compatible but also dynamically interdependent realities.

4. God's Law–summarized in the Decalogue and the two Great Commandments (to love God and neighbor), which are written on the human heart, thus revealing His own righteous character to the human person–represents God's design for shalom, or peace, and is the supreme rule of all conduct, for which personal or social prejudices must not be substituted.

5. By disobeying God's Law, humankind brought on itself moral and physical corruption as well as divine condemnation in the form of a curse on the earth. Since the fall into sin people have often ignored their Creator, harmed their neighbors, and defiled the good creation.

6. God in His mercy has not abandoned sinful people or the created order but has acted throughout history to restore men and women to fellowship with Him and through their stewardship to enhance the beauty and fertility of the earth.

7. Human beings are called to be fruitful, to bring forth good things from the earth, to join with God in making provision for our temporal well being, and to enhance the beauty and fruitfulness of the rest of the earth. Our call to fruitfulness, therefore, is not contrary to but mutually complementary with our call to steward God's gifts. This call implies a serious commitment to fostering the intellectual, moral, and religious habits and practices needed for free economies and genuine care for the environment.

Our Aspirations

In light of these beliefs and concerns, we declare the following principled aspirations:

1. We aspire to a world in which human beings care wisely and humbly for all creatures, first and foremost for their fellow human beings, recognizing their proper place in the created order.

2. We aspire to a world in which objective moral principles–not personal prejudices–guide moral action.

3. We aspire to a world in which right reason (including sound theology and the careful use of scientific methods) guides the stewardship of human and ecological relationships.

4. We aspire to a world in which liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals.

5. We aspire to a world in which the relationships between stewardship and private property are fully appreciated, allowing people's natural incentive to care for their own property to reduce the need for collective ownership and control of resources and enterprises, and in which collective action, when deemed necessary, takes place at the most local level possible.

6. We aspire to a world in which widespread economic freedom–which is integral to private, market economies–makes sound ecological stewardship available to ever greater numbers.

7. We aspire to a world in which advancements in agriculture, industry, and commerce not only minimize pollution and transform most waste products into efficiently used resources but also improve the material conditions of life for people everywhere.

Environmentalism as Religion

This article is a good companion read to our water supply report on our website , particularly pages 19 – 32.

January I February 2007

BY Matt Rasmussen

Green Rage

Radical Environmentalists are caught between their love of the earth, trespass of the law, and the U.S. Government’s war on terror.

PEOPLE LIKE TO THINK of the courtroom as a crucible of justice, but to me it's always seemed a diluter of passions. The atmosphere is restrained, so respectful and genteel it's easy to forget that people's lives hang in the balance. The system has a way of straining out emotion. It is designed to objectify, to control the soaring passions that created the need for the courtroom in the first place. The perpetrators and thevictims pour their passions into the settling ponds of the attorneys, and the attorneys, in turn, pour the diluted stuff into the deep vessel of the judge, and, by extension, into the even deeper water of The System.

If you sat in the gallery of a federal courtroom in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon, last summer and watched as six young men and women entered guilty pleas in a string of environmentally motivated arsons—crimes that the federal government describes as the most egregious environmental terrorism in the nation's history—you might have wondered where the passion had gone. One by one, in a windowless chamber, the defendants answered perfunctory questions posed by Judge Ann Aiken, who sat Oz-like in the highest chair. One by one, they listened to descriptions of the crimes they were accused of committing. One by one, they accepted the government's offer of plea bargains, and one by one, they said the word.


Kevin Tubbs, thirty-seven, an animal rights activist who migrated to Eugene from Nebraska, mumbled the word and shook his head. Kendall Tankersley, twenty-nine, who holds a degree in molecular biology, choked it out through a gathering sob.

Stanislas Meyerhoff, twenty-nine, who wants to study auto mechanics, said it with an odd sort of let's-get-this-over-with politeness. They addressed Judge Aiken as "your honor" and "ma'am."

In the gallery, reporters scribbled. Federal prosecutors with American flag pins affixed to somber blue suits looked on dispassionately. Sentencing dates were set, and the prosecutors, seeking lengthy terms, asked the judge to employ guidelines issued under counter-terrorism laws when considering how much time each should serve.

The crimes to which the six confessed included seventeen attacks, all but one of them arson or attempted arson. The actions took place in five western states between 1996 and 2001. No one was injured. Sport utility vehicles were burned at a Eugene car dealership. So was a meat-packing plant in Redmond, Oregon. Other targets included federal facilities in Wyoming and California and Oregon, where wild horses and burros were let loose and buildings burned down. And in the most notorious action, a spectacular nighttime blaze high in the Rockies destroyed several structures at the Vail ski area. Many of the attacks were followed by communiqu├ęs issued under the banner of the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy, leaderless offshoot of the group Earth First!, and by its sister group, the Animal Liberation Front.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dams Pollute?

Interesting perspective that needs to be factored in on any major dam project and one assumes the new research around the viability of the Auburn Dam is doing so.

Patrick McCully: Hydropower reservoirs might add to global warming
By Patrick McCully -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 28, 2006

Except for a handful of fossil-fuel-funded lobbyists who deny the reality of global warming, we all agree that we urgently need to "green" our energy sources. The big-hydropower industry -- under fire for harm to river ecology and the eviction of communities in the way of its reservoirs -- has seized the opportunity to reposition itself as climate-friendly. The problem is, big hydro is nowhere near as climate-friendly as the industry claims.

Although few people are aware of it, the reservoirs behind the world's dams are likely a major source of global-warming pollution. Investors in electricity generation with low greenhouse-gas emissions stand to make a lot of money in the coming green economy. In the case of big reservoirs in the tropics -- where most dams are proposed -- hydropower can emit more greenhouse gases per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels, including the dirtiest coal plants.

Eminent climate-change scientist Philip Fearnside estimates that hydro projects in the Brazilian Amazon emit at least twice as much as coal plants. The worst example studied, Balbina dam, had a climate effect in 1990 equal to 54 natural gas plants generating the same amount of power.

How is this possible? When a big dam is built, its reservoir floods vegetation and soils that contain vast amounts of carbon. This organic matter rots underwater, creating carbon dioxide, methane and, in at least some cases, the extremely potent global warming gas nitrous oxide. While emissions are particularly high in the first few years after a reservoir is created, they can remain significant for many decades.

This is because the river that feeds the reservoir, and the plants and plankton that grow in it, will continue to provide more organic matter to fuel greenhouse gas production.

Some of the emissions bubble up from the reservoir surface. The rest occur at the dam: When methane-rich water jets out from turbines and spillways, it releases most of its methane, just like the fizz from an opened bottle of soda. Although the scientists working in the field agree that emissions are released from reservoir surfaces, there is a heated dispute between industry-backed and independent researchers on the amount of gases released at dams. Accounting for these "fizz" emissions greatly increases estimates of the global-warming impact of hydropower. (Research published in November by a team of French scientists indicates that conventional estimates of "fizz" emissions understate the problem.)

Although reservoirs in all climate zones emit greenhouse gases, it is only in the tropics that these emissions are likely often to be worse than fossil-fuel pollution. No comprehensive studies have been done on this issue in the United States, but it is likely that the many thousands of U.S. reservoirs cumulatively emit significant greenhouse gases.

Railyard Work on Track

This will be truly magnificent if this could be done for the New Year.

Railyard sale picks up speed
Amid flurry of last-minute details, developer hopes to close the deal today.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 28, 2006

The city of Sacramento's longtime quest to revitalize its urban core is expected to hit a major milestone today when the shuttered downtown railyard passes into the hands of a private developer -- ending nearly 150 years of railroad ownership.

Representatives of Thomas Enterprises, a Georgia development firm, were working furiously Wednesday to nail down the final details of the purchase of the 240-acre property from Union Pacific.

Even after an escrow that lasted more than two years, the closing was coming down to the wire. Members of the Sacramento City Council were called back from vacation for a special meeting today to deal with a last-minute hiccup.

"There's all kinds of paperwork flying back and forth that has to come together in the next 24 hours," said Suheil Totah, vice president of development for Thomas Enterprises. "Until it's done, there won't be any announcements."

In its meeting today, the City Council will deal with a request from the Bank of America, Thomas Enterprises' lender, that the council be more specific about the sources of repayment for a $25 million note that the city is issuing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Natural Flood Barriers May Increase Danger of Flooding

This is not the only case of a perceived solution actually creating more of a problem and it reminds us once again, of the importance of allowing all of the ideas to be on the table, with solid representation, before public leadership commits pulic money to a course that may not work.

This, unfortunately, is what is happening in Sacramento, the most flood threatened major city in the country, where local public leadership appears to have taken the Auburn Dam off the table and the small voices heard in its defense, such as ours, the Auburn Dam Council, Sacramento County Taxpayers League, and a few political leaders, sadly watch as the most effective method of preventing large scale flooding is bypassed in favor of settling for the 200 year level of flood protection increased levees might add instead of the 500 year level the dam would give us.

None of us wants to see our community the subject of some future report of how failing to act on the obvious solution created a larger problem.

Andrew Baird: False hopes and natural disasters
By Andrew Baird -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 27, 2006

TOWNSVILLE, Australia -- Since the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago today that killed more than 200,000 people, governments, donors and experts have embraced the idea that healthy mangrove forests and coral reefs could reduce the death toll from a giant wave.

Former President Bill Clinton, in his role as the United Nations special envoy for tsunami recovery, recently endorsed a program that will allocate $62 million to preserve such natural barriers in 12 Asian and African countries.

But the $62 million question is, will these barriers work? Research suggests that the level of protection offered by greenbelts has been exaggerated. And by diverting resources from more effective measures like education campaigns and evacuation plans to well-meaning but misguided reforestation, we may even contribute to a greater loss of life in future tsunamis.

There have been few scientific studies about the protective role of coastal vegetation. And while one study did suggest that a shield of mangrove forest managed to reduce tsunami damage in three villages in Tamil Nadu State in India, the forest was not the only difference between these coastal villages and those nearby that suffered major destruction.

Indeed, when my colleagues and I re-analyzed the data, we found no relationship between the death toll in each village and the area of forest in front of each one.
What actually saved these villages was being further from the coast or built on relatively high land. It was only a coincidence that they also had more forest between themselves and the ocean (of course, the further a village is from the coast, the greater potential area of forest).

Indeed, a recent paper in the journal Natural Hazards that surveyed more than 50 sites in affected regions found that coastal vegetation did not reduce tsunami damage, and that damage was actually greater in areas fronted by coral reefs.

Charities Probe Closed

This case reminds us of the importance of providing detailed information, on an organization’s website, as we do in our annual report, of the organization’s financial statement and, a link to the income tax return if raising more than $25,000 and required to file a return.

It protects the organization and the public who after all, provide the funding to support the good work of nonprofit organizations.

UFW charities probe is closed
Attorney general says dealings had appearance of impropriety, but no laws were broken.
By Judy Lin - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced Tuesday that he has closed an investigation of charities related to the United Farm Workers of America after finding the organizations broke no laws.

The state, however, recommended the nonprofits make changes to avoid future appearances of impropriety.

Lockyer's office launched a probe into UFW-related nonprofits after the Los Angeles Times published a series of articles in January raising allegations of misuse and waste of charitable assets by UFW insiders.

The Times reported that the union's philanthropies enriched one another, soliciting money on behalf of each other and steering business, such as loans and radio airtime, to other UFW-related organizations. The stories said many key UFW members served on the boards of these charitable organizations.

"We found no basis to any of the allegations that we investigated under our charitable trust enforcement authority," Lockyer said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

"While we concluded none of the questioned transactions violated the law, the appearance of impropriety existed."

Parkway Attacker in Court

This case is one of many that increase the obvious call we make continually for a much greater park ranger presence along the Parkway, which offers ample places of concealment for this type of attack to occur.

Suspect in parkway assault on jogger back in custody
A judge delays a decision on raising the man's bail.
By Ramon Coronado - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A 26-year-old man was taken into custody Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court after he was arraigned on felony charges of attempting to rape a 63-year-old jogger on the American River Parkway.

Bradley Michael Gray is charged with assault with the intent to commit rape and false imprisonment of the jogger, who was attacked Aug. 11, 2005, near Illinois Avenue and Sailor Bar Park.

If convicted as charged, Gray could be sentenced to nine years in prison.

Due to the seriousness of the crime and because Gray was on felony probation for 2003 and 2006 drug convictions, Deputy District Attorney Lani Biafore asked that Gray's $65,000 bail be increased to $1 million.

Judge Patrick Marlette declined to raise the bail. He set that issue for another judge to decide today.

In the meantime, Marlette ordered Gray, who was free after his parents posted bail, to be placed in custody for violating the terms of his felony probation.

According to detective reports, the suspect ran up behind the woman and knocked her to the ground when she was jogging about 8 a.m.

When the woman began to scream, the suspect put his hand over her mouth and attempted to sexually assault her. The woman was able to fight off her attacker and get away.

National Model Developed Here

Gauging the rivers takes smart folks and brawny bytes
Flood forecasts rely on powerful computer models to crunch data for rain and snow.
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Twice a day all winter, and more often when it's raining hard, the pulse of California's rivers is plotted on the Internet, posted there in colored charts that foretell flood or safety for anxious river watchers.

The data are used by everyone from emergency officials who help make evacuation decisions to homeowners wondering when to move their lawn furniture to higher ground.

Those who rely on the river forecasts, though, might not realize the computing brawn and human ingenuity that go into predicting river rises that are still hours or days away.

At the heart of the process is a cadre of forecasters and a pair of computer models, one developed more than three decades ago by a now retired Sacramento hydrologist who still remembers it as a career highlight.

"We weren't supposed to be involved in this task. It was supposed to be on a national basis," said Robert Burnash, who recalls sneaking the model into an international competition in Switzerland to help win the recognition he felt it deserved.

Today, the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting Model that Burnash and two colleagues created remains a keystone of river forecasting nationwide, said Eric Strem of the National Weather Service's California Nevada River Forecast Center.

It is one of four main ingredients that weather forecasters and hydrologists use each day to produce predictions for more than 80 locations along rivers large and small. Their work begins with two sets of information. There are rain and snowfall predictions for watersheds in three states, produced by the center's weather forecasters. And there are readings from about 600 river and rain gauges.

Christmas Week Storm

Storm packing a big wallop
Fast-moving system expected to bring heavy snow in Sierra, up to 50 mph winds in the Valley.
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A powerful winter storm is expected to leave California an early New Year's gift today: up to 2 feet of fresh snow on Sierra Nevada peaks.

The National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning in the Sierra through 4 p.m. today, with at least a foot of snow expected above 5,000 feet and 2 feet or more at higher elevations. A heavy snow warning was also in effect in the vicinity of Mount Shasta and the Oregon border.

The fast-moving storm, the biggest of the winter so far, was also predicted to drop up to an inch of rain in Sacramento, with wind gusts up to 50 mph in the northern Sacramento Valley.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Parks in Baghdad

This puts the managing of parks in our town somewhat in perspective, and deepens the realization that for many people, this is work that has a value much beyond that of a simple job.

An incredible man, doing incredible work, in impossible circumstances in one of the most glorious of park history nations where once existed the great hanging gardens of Babylon.

In Baghdad, a quest for a green zone
City's parks supervisor plants an arsenal of trees and flowers to soothe the scars of war.
By Hannah Allam - McClatchy Newspapers
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, December 26, 2006

BAGHDAD -- The flowers appear overnight, and in the unlikeliest of places: carnations near a checkpoint, roses behind razor wire and gardenias in a square known for suicide bombings.

Sometimes, U.S. armored vehicles hop a median and mow down the myrtle, leaving Baghdad parks workers to fume and reach for their trowels. When insurgents poured kerosene over freshly planted seedlings, landscapers swore a revenge of ficus trees and olive groves.

It's all part of a stealthy campaign to turn the entire capital into a green zone.

Jaafar Hamid al Ali, the Baghdad parks supervisor, leads the offensive. He's got a multi-million-dollar budget, along with 1,500 intrepid employees and a host of formidable enemies. There's the fussy climate, salty soil and nonstop violence that killed 30 of his workers in 2006. Every fallen gardener, Ali said, is a martyr in the struggle to beautify Baghdad.

"My principle is, for every drop of Iraqi blood, we must plant something green," he said. "One gives disappointment, the other gives hope."

Ali, 62, cuts a dapper figure among Iraqi bureaucrats. One recent chilly afternoon at his headquarters at Zawraa Park, the only operating park in Baghdad, he wore a knee-length houndstooth overcoat, a navy Yves Saint Laurent jacket and spit-shined shoes.

Someone had scribbled a flower on the nameplate that hangs on his office door.
Ali is a French-educated former professor who can recount by memory the history of flora in Iraq. The supposed site of the fabled hanging gardens of Babylon lies just 50 miles south of where he works.

Ottoman rulers established the first official public parks, some of which remained open well into the 1920s, Ali said. In the 1930s, the Baghdad city council built a few more parks and for the next four decades worked toward a goal of allotting 160 square feet of green space for each resident. By the 1970s, they'd reached 85 square feet per person.

City of Hospitals

The city of trees is becoming the city of hospitals, with the medical field becoming, along with government, the regions largest employer.

But in terms of upgrading neighborhoods through the concentration of good salaries with homebuyers and apartment renters living within walking distance (in many cases) of their work, a good thing.

More hospital growing pains
Mercy General's plan to expand facilities again draws ire of nearby residents.
By Todd Milbourn - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Sisters of Mercy founded east Sacramento's Mercy General Hospital in 1925. In the last half-century, the hospital's growth has generated a good deal of controversy.

That growth has allowed Mercy to become a leader in heart care and a vital resource to a growing region. It's also forced the destruction of dozens of homes, bungalows and apartments, making one of Sacramento's older and better-heeled neighborhoods less residential and more prone to traffic jams.

The decades-old fight is heating up again.

Mercy wants to build a five-story, 120-bed heart center on its campus at 40th and J streets.

To do that it plans to relocate a nearby school and remove some 17 apartment units and homes, some of which are nearly 100 years old.

Monday, December 25, 2006



Nice Development

Looks like this will be a beautiful place to live, and its arrival precludes, hopefully, more of the same.

Bob Shallit: Some horses, but of course
Sierra de Montserrat puts livestock amid luxury housing at Loomis project.
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 25, 2006

Curt Westwood's dream of bringing a bit of Napa Valley to rural Placer County is getting closer.

Having recently settled a yearlong legal dispute with Loomis officials, he's begun construction on the first of 62 luxury homes that will be sprinkled amid 320 acres of terraced vineyards and oak trees.

The dispute was over livestock. Town leaders insisted on allowing horses at each of Westwood's home sites. Westwood said animals would be incompatible with his vision of an unfenced pastoral setting.

The compromise: Livestock will be allowed on four of the home sites within the development, called Sierra de Montserrat.

"Sure I'm happy with it," Westwood says. "It's what I agreed to a year ago."
Town manager Perry Beck agrees that little was changed -- except the minds of some Loomis council members who initially insisted on animal-friendly zoning to preserve the town's agricultural heritage.

In the end, a majority agreed that the project's special character would be undermined if "fenced-out corrals" were allowed on each of the 5-acre parcels, Beck says.
Now that an agreement is in place, Westwood is busily paving roads, staking out vineyards and starting work on the first homes.

They'll be finished in about a year, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 square feet and priced between $3 million and $4 million. Custom homes built by others could be "several million more," he says.

That's a lot of money for a home, especially now when, as Westwood says, the housing market "stinks."

But he's convinced it will rebound by the time his project is completed.

"Downturns come," he says, "and downturns turn around."

Tahoe Fault

The technology that discovers these cracks in the earth and provides the means to perhaps do something about protecting ourselves from their rupture, is a real blessing, if used to properly to plan mitigation rather than making decisions in panic mode.

Tahoe fault raises red flag
Potential for a lake tsunami discovered with aid of UCD research sub
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 25, 2006

The biggest fault beneath Lake Tahoe could be due to rupture any time, according to a new evaluation being prepared by researchers who probed Tahoe and nearby Fallen Leaf Lake earlier this year.

The preliminary conclusions, outlined last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, help sharpen a still blurry picture of potentially tsunami-spawning faults that lurk beneath the lake.

Ultimately, the findings will make their way into federal earthquake hazard maps that help determine building codes and set insurance rates.

"We have been looking at Tahoe as one of the biggest changes for California" in new maps due out in late 2007, said Mark Petersen, chief of the national seismic hazard project at the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado.

What's become clearer with the latest Tahoe expeditions, supported by a UC Davis research vessel and led by scientists from three universities, is both the size and the potential of the West Tahoe Fault.

The fault, which skirts the lake's west shore, runs all the way through Fallen Leaf Lake and beyond to the south, said Graham Kent, a research geophysicist at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

While that didn't surprise Kent, it confirms that the fault is Tahoe's "800 pound gorilla," long enough to deliver a big jolt, magnitude 7 or more.

Such a quake could trigger an underwater landslide that quickly displaces huge amounts of water, potentially sending giant waves surging into parks, campgrounds, homes and marinas along the lake's shore, and possibly overtopping a dam that regulates flow into the Truckee River.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Community Advocates

They are rare when they are effective and this is one of the best in Sacramento, a city blessed with its share of folks who are willing to put in the hours, bring the passion and the knowledge, to really do some good for all of us.

Personality in the news: Gadfly has a genial side
When he's not fighting proposed taxes, Joe Sullivan might surprise you.
By Blair Anthony Robertson - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 24, 2006

Will Rogers never met a man he didn't like.

Joe Sullivan? He almost never met a new tax he didn't want to place under the heel of his shoe and squash like a cockroach.

Surely, he hates everything. He has to. He's the point man for the Sacramento County Taxpayers League.

He's the guy who helped shoot down the recent drive for a taxpayer-funded arena, the one several years back who pummeled the proposed tax increase to put more sheriff's deputies on the streets. He doesn't even have much sympathy for Mother Earth -- he thinks the planet can fend for itself without new taxes to combat global warming.

This guy probably would be against a new tax devoted to giving balloons to children.
So much for preconceived notions. The real Joe Sullivan who answers the door at his modest home in the suburbs is a different story.

At 81, he's upbeat and energetic. With a head of thick white hair and neatly trimmed mustache, he looks like a matinee idol of a certain vintage. And that's not a scowl on his face but a smile. His bright blue eyes appear to twinkle.

Everyone’s Doing It

At some point this does begin to make sense.

Editorial: Sac goes global
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sacramento County is mulling whether to concern itself with climate change.

It should, as should everyone. The challenge is to make the most of any effort, even if the contribution is admittedly small in a global context.

The county's proposed first foray is to join a national "climate exchange" and to contractually commit to lowering the emissions of county government functions, such as deputy patrols or shuttles at the airport.

The aim -- for the county to follow the goals of an international treaty to lower emissions over time -- seems achievable. And the county may make a little money by being a good global citizen, as part of this climate exchange.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Public Parks & Nonprofits

Though a few years old, this interview reveals the great benefits parks partnering with nonprofits can have.

One of our goals is to see the American River Parkway managed by a nonprofit, in partnership with local government, and we would see many of the benefits mentioned in this interview, a great change from the chronically under-funded and mismanaged situation we now have with our Parkway.

Shared Leadership, Shared Responsibility: Partnerships in Golden Gate National Parks

An interview with Brian O'Neill, Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Greg Moore, Executive Director of the Golden Gate National Parks Association, moderated by Jane Rogers, Program Executive at the San Francisco Foundation.

From Parks as Community Places: San Francisco, 1998, a publication on the Urban Parks Institute's annual conference..

As superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Brian O'Neill oversees an annual operating budget of $29 million, a staff of 470 employees, and a volunteer force of over 6,000. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses 76,000 acres of land within Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. It is the most visited unit of the National Park System in America, receiving over 20 million visitors annually, and is perhaps the largest national park area adjacent to any major city in the world. The recreation area encompasses 22 different sites, including 10 forts, over 100 gun batteries, and over 700 historic sites or buildings, including Alcatraz, the Presidio, Muir Woods, and Fort Point.

Greg Moore is the Executive Director of the Golden Gate National Parks Association. He has held this position for over ten years. The Association works in partnership with the National Park Service to preserve and enhance parklands in the San Francisco Bay area. Since its inception, the association has provided close to $25 million in support to park planning, improvement and education programs. The association emphasizes linking community resources to the park and expanding public stewardship of these parklands.

Brian and Greg have a decade-long collaboration on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In many ways their partnership has a great deal more in common with those working in urban parks than they have with most of their colleagues in the national parks system.

Jane Rogers is the Program Executive for Environment at the San Francisco Foundation, which is the local community foundation for the city and county of San Francisco and the regional community foundation for the Bay Area. She also supervises the Foundation's Awards and Fellowships Program. She has managed the San Francisco Foundation's Environment Program for 13 years, focusing on the livability and sustainability of the Bay Area's urban environment and natural ecosystems.

The interview took place on April 5, 1998 at the St. Francis Marina in San Francisco, California.

ROGERS: Let's begin at the beginning. How did the Golden Gate National Parks Association arise?

MOORE: How did the Parks Association begin? We began out of a very simple recognition that in an urban setting there were many, many ways to connect the Golden Gate National Parks to the community that would add value to what the Park Service was already doing. In an area of 5 million people, the opportunities for volunteer service are incredible, and the benefits of community engagement are truly remarkable.

"The National Park Service needed one non-profit partner whose sole purpose would be to look at the big picture with us."

O'NEILL: Since the park extends almost 80 miles north and south -- and included within its boundaries are ten former military installations, with over 1,250 buildings -- it was clear to us from the very beginning that we neither could nor should do it all ourselves. We knew that we were going to have literally hundreds of different partners -- partners that joined with us to carry out programs, facilities and operations within those buildings.

But our vision was that the National Park Service needed one non-profit partner whose sole purpose would be to look at the big picture with us. To be able to set a clear vision and help us mobilize the community to have a sense of ownership of a park in a way that would translate into support, and bring the individual pieces together into a unified whole.

ROGERS: Let's hear about some of the advantages that the two institutions brought to the formation of this partnership.

O'NEILL: I love the fact that the National Park Service has a deep keel and is an agency that is in business in perpetuity. But with that comes all sorts of issues. So when we were selecting a partner and determining the advantages of having that kind of partner, the ability to be fluid and flexible was a great interest to us.

For example, at the National Park Service, we have our own policies and procedures, and of course we want to respect those. But we also want to have the ability to find ways to tap into the genius of the communities around the park. A non-profit can engage the community in ways that is difficult for the government to do, and that is a very, very important element of advantage in the partnership.

Additionally, as a public agency, a lot of our money is appropriated by Congress in one-year allocations. So the ability to leverage money and put larger projects together was clearly an advantage of a non-profit partner, as we saw it. And let's face it, people are skeptical about government today even under our best attempt to be good public servants -- but they are able to translate their passion and commitment to a cause with a non-profit in a way that's very difficult for them to do with a government agency.

MOORE: From my perspective, I have always respected the challenging job the National Park Service faces in operating the park on a daily basis -- after all, over 20 million people visit these parklands each year. At the Association, we are not as immersed in daily operations and therefore have more time to look ahead and forecast how to best position the park and its future. We also have the advantage of volunteers who can be more objective in their views and offer unique expertise to our mission.

Another advantage we obviously gained is the positive reputation of the National Park Service. It has a wonderful public image. People love the national parks. We clearly could work from the basically good reputation of the organization and people's associations with national parks around the country.

"A non-profit can engage the community in ways that is difficult for the government to do, and that is a very, very important element of advantage in the partnership."
Finally, we have the opportunity for collaboration and teamwork with a federal entity -- the ability to forecast where the resources are coming from, and when they are threatened. To take advantage of what the public agency can bring to the table staff-wise, resource-wise, and community relations-wise, has been fundamental to our growth as a non-profit.

Water Supply

Another reason, besides the huge one of protecting Sacramento and the integrity of the Parkway, that building the Auburn Dam is the optimal public policy concerning water.

Water supply tops Christmas wish list
Western Farm Press Daily
Dec 22, 2006 9:53 AM

An adequate and dependable water supply tops the Christmas wish list for farmers and water district members of the California Farm Water Coalition, the state’s largest farm water organization.

A recent mailed survey asked Coalition members, representing nearly 5 million irrigated acres in California, to identify water issues according to: important, somewhat important, least important, or not important.

“Rather than forcing our members to rank the issues according to one, two or three, our survey allowed them to place multiple issues as most important if they could not decide between one or more issues,” explained Mike Wade, executive director.

An “adequate and dependable water supply” received a “most important” or “somewhat important” designation from 87 percent of the Coalition’s water district members and 85 percent from its farmer members.

Storage was the second leading issue for members with 78 percent of responding water districts saying it was “most important” or “somewhat important” while farmer members selected it 72 percent of the time. Protection and operation of the Delta was in the third spot for water districts and farmers opted for water quality issues as number three.

“It is not surprising that an adequate and dependable supply of water is the number one issue for those involved in farming,” Wade said. “Without water there is no farming and without farming there are no food and fiber products that California residents have come to rely upon.

Subsidize Off Road Also

Aren’t most recreational activities on public land subsidized to some point?

Off-road formula skewed
Survey: Spending exceeds what sport nets, raising doubts about park funding.
By M.S. Enkoji - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

A new survey shows state spending on off-road vehicle recreation is double what the sport contributes, which could mean cutbacks at off-road parks such as Prairie City near Rancho Cordova.

The survey for the state Department of Parks and Recreation concludes that the state has been relying on a skewed formula to collect a share of the state gasoline tax reserved for off-road vehicle recreation.

The 16-year-old formula used an estimate of five illegal, unregistered off-road vehicles for every registered one. That would have meant 202 million gallons of gasoline every year would be consumed by unregistered vehicles. But the new survey puts the ratio far below one unregistered vehicle for every legal one.

"It's a $56 million program and we're looking at a reduction of more than $29 million," said Daphne Green, a deputy director with the department.

Private Road Builders

Great idea, gets done what the public sector often takes way too long to complete (remember the job our own CC Myers did down south after the earthquake?), but is more a comment on the poor public leadership on infrastructure over the past several decades than anything else.

Governor wants private deals to aid road projects
By Kevin Yamamura - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

Voters approved the largest public works bonds in state history last month, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants even more money for roads and public buildings in California.

The Republican governor is searching for ways to enlist private firms to help build projects throughout the state, leveraging $37.3 billion in voter-approved bonds to generate billions of dollars more in private investments.

The most recognizable forms of such agreements, known as public-private partnerships, occur in the form of toll roads such as those constructed in Southern California to relieve freeway congestion. The partnerships have been used more commonly in other states and in Europe.

Private companies, however, require a profitable rate of return for their construction investment. That means users or the state would have to pay fees over time as compensation.

"California's infrastructure is so broken and so dilapidated that the need is obviously in the billions of dollars," said Schwarzenegger communications director Adam Mendelsohn. "There have to be innovative ways to go out and repair this crumbling infrastructure, and public-private partnerships are an opportunity to create market-based solutions to meet this critical infrastructure need."

Parks Reorganization

Hard to tell yet if this is for the good or not, but further stories will tell us.

BLM reorganization plan sparks wilderness alarm
Diverse group of activists, lawmakers worries Bureau of Land Management will have less control over 26 million acres, more than half of which are in California. BLM hasn't publicly detailed its intentions.
By David Whitney - Bee Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Bureau of Land Management is considering a reorganization that environmentalists and a bipartisan group of House of Representatives members worry could dilute the agency's protection of millions of acres of conservation lands in the West.

The BLM manages about 258 million acres, and among its traditional workload are mining, grazing and timber programs. But it also maintains about 26 million acres under its National Landscape Conservation System. Much of that is in wilderness or national monuments and conservation areas, with more than half the total acreage in California.

The proposal would bring under the umbrella of the NLCS a variety of unrelated programs that, on paper, could make it seem as though substantially more money is being spent on conservation when on-the-ground spending is actually shrinking.

Southside Park B & B

Nice turn around story in town.

Bob Shallit: More room at the boutique inn soon
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

Will Sawyer and Bill Swenson took a risk four years ago, buying a historic mansion across from troubled Southside Park.

The park, Sawyer says, "was where you went to get drugs and prostitutes."

But their gamble at Sixth and V streets is paying off. The park is family-friendly now, thanks to a communitywide effort. And the pair's "Inn and Spa at Parkside" is a hit.

The residence -- owned by China's U.S. ambassador back in the 1930s -- was generating about $80,000 annually as a bed-and-breakfast inn when Sawyer and Swenson bought it. The former San Franciscans say it's now bringing in almost that much -- monthly.

With their seven guest rooms averaging 85 percent occupancy -- and a steady clientele for their day spa -- the owners a year ago decided to add an adjacent three-story building. The addition, with living quarters for the owners on the first floor and four new guest rooms upstairs, opens next month.

The new place won't have all the character of the Asian-themed main building, with its ceiling murals, ornate woodwork and grand bedrooms that run between $169 and $309 a night. (The inn will be open for public tours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday).

The new guest rooms will be plenty upscale, with bright, colored walls, oversize Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations and Kashwere cashmere-like bedding.

The goal, Sawyer says, is to "bring some of that cool factor" to Sacramento's hotel scene.

Sawyer notes that several big players (like Joie de Vivre and the Intercontinental Hotel chain) are planning moves into Sacramento with high-end boutique-style lodging, aided with significant amounts of public money.

"The small guys beat them to it," he says of the hot property he and Swenson have created in an unlikely locale. And, he adds, "we did it without any subsidies."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Humanity's Growth & The Wild

While there is much to lament in the rapidly growing human population on our planet, there is much more to be joyful about as the increase in population brings with it an increase in creativity, technology, and human inventiveness that enhances our lives and increases our health and longevity.

We continue to struggle with the problems created by our own human growth and it is good there are many who continue to remind us of them, and of our responsibilities to grow as much in solidarity with all living creatures and habitat as possible.

Jeremy Rifkin: Mushrooming megacities overtaking what's wild
By Jeremy Rifkin -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, December 22, 2006

The coming year marks a great milestone in the human saga, a development similar in magnitude to the agricultural era and the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, a majority of human beings will be living in vast urban areas, many in megacities and suburban extensions with populations of 10 million or more, according to the United Nations. We have become "Homo urbanus."

Two hundred years ago, the average person on Earth might meet 200 to 300 people in a lifetime. Today a resident of New York City can live and work among 220,000 people within a 10-minute radius of his home or office in midtown Manhattan.

Only one city in all of history -- ancient Rome -- boasted a population of more than a million before the 19th century. London became the first modern city with a population over 1 million in 1820. Today 414 cities boast populations of a million or more, and there's no end in sight.

As long as the human race had to rely on solar flow, the winds and currents, and animal and human power to sustain life, the human population remained relatively low to accommodate nature's carrying capacity: the biosphere's ability to recycle waste and replenish resources. The tipping point was the exhuming of large amounts of stored sun, first in the form of coal deposits, then oil and natural gas.

Harnessed by the steam engine and later the internal combustion engine, and converted to electricity and distributed across power lines, fossil fuels allowed humanity to create new technologies that dramatically increased food production and manufactured goods and services. The unprecedented increase in productivity led to runaway population growth and the urbanization of the world.

No one is really sure whether this turning point in human living arrangements ought to be celebrated, lamented or merely acknowledged. That's because our burgeoning population and urban way of life have been purchased at the expense of vast ecosystems and habitats.

Town Mall

It is an unusual response to the community need for town like shopping experiences but does seem to be taking off, and the success of several around the area, the Pavilions, Lohmanns Square, etc, indicate it works.

In suburbia's malls, it takes a village
'Lifestyle centers' mimic urban shopping districts.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, December 22, 2006

Ron Rojo racked his brain, trying to recall the place that reminded him of the new North Natomas shopping "village" he was visiting this week with his two teenage daughters.

"Universal Studios," he finally said.

"This is really nice," added the firefighter from West Sacramento. "I like the little town environment. The girls can shop over here and I can go over there. I can just let them go."

Surrounded by a ring of big-box stores such as Old Navy, Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, the newly opened Village at Sacramento Gateway off Truxel Road and Interstate 80 represents the latest trend in the retail industry: re-creating downtown shopping districts in the midst of suburbia.

Developers all over the country have been ditching plans for enclosed shopping malls in favor of such outdoor shopping districts, which the industry has labeled "lifestyle centers."

There are now 144 of them around the country, said Patrice Duker, spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.

"It's not a stagnant industry," Duker said. "You're constantly seeing new formats come to life based on what consumers are looking for."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

California’s Growth Rate Slows

Still a big state with a whole lot of people and growing at a pretty good clip, but a slow down might be good to consolidate what is here, and grow the infrastructure to accommodate existing population.

Other states siphon growth
California's population increase slows, despite immigration, births.
By Clea Benson - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 21, 2006

California continues to lose residents to other states, one factor driving a slowing population growth rate, the state Department of Finance reported Wednesday.

Overall, the state gained a net 462,000 residents in the fiscal year that ended June 30, bringing the total population to 37.4 million.

California lost a net of about 67,000 people to other states, the report said, but gained about 213,000 foreign immigrants. Those people, combined with hundreds of thousands of babies born to California residents, accounted for the growth.

The relatively high cost of living in California is both keeping people from moving here and encouraging some to move away, said Hans Johnson, a demographics expert at the Public Policy Institute of California.

"A lot of people who are choosing to leave this state are what has been called equity refugees," Johnson said. "Californians have a lot of equity to buy a less expensive, larger house in another state."

High costs are also slowing the rate of foreign migration to California, Johnson said, as immigrants increasingly are moving to states with cheaper housing.

Collaboration Makes Sense

Having developers, those who build the communities commuters live in, working alongside government who builds the transportation system commuters need, makes perfect sense; but so does having the public involved, through informed organized associations.

Traffic group lauded, faulted
Bid to ease congestion on Highway 50 lacks public input, some contend.
By Tony Bizjak - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 21, 2006

Several local governments and developers have joined in an unusual partnership to design and promote what they say is a $2.4 billion transportation plan to ease congestion in the fast-growing reaches of Sacramento and El Dorado counties.

The unprecedented joint venture has been hailed an innovative approach to transportation planning, but it's also raised concerns about a lack of public input during a yearlong series of meetings among the partners.

The group, calling itself the Highway 50 Corridor Mobility Partnership, includes officials from Sacramento and El Dorado counties, the cities of Rancho Cordova and Folsom, and landowners and developers GenCorp, AKT Properties, Elliott Homes and Carpenter Ranch.

The public-private partnership wants a network of new roadways south of Highway 50, coupled with new freeway interchanges and greater light-rail service into Folsom.
The aim, officials said, is to keep already congested Highway 50 and side roads from getting worse as developers build an expected 78,000 more housing units in the next 25 years between Rancho Cordova and El Dorado Hills.

Group members met weekly for nearly a year prior to unveiling a plan in recent weeks they believe will position themselves to qualify for new state transportation bonds available in the spring and other financing in the future.

But biking advocate Walt Seifert contended the effort "represents disproportionate private influence in public transportation planning" and questions why members of the general public were not included.

Rebecca Garrison of the separate 50 Corridor Transportation Management Association applauds the attempt at cooperation but said she wants to see more public input. She cautioned, though, that public participation is more likely to happen if elected officials hold the sole leadership role.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Parkway Assault Arrest

Good News!

Suspect arrested in American River Parkway sex assault
By David Richie - Bee Staff Writer
Published 4:26 pm PST Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sacramento County sheriff's sexual assault investigators say they finally have tracked down the man who attacked a 63-year-old woman along the American River Parkway in August 2005.

DNA evidence was used to link Bradley Michael Gray, 26, to the crime, investigators said. He was arrested about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday.

The assault allegedly occurred about 8 a.m. Aug. 11, 2005 as the woman was jogging along the bike trail near the Illinois Avenue entrance to the Sailor Bar recreation area. The woman told police that her attacker ran up behind her, knocked her down and attempted to sexually assault her before she fought him off and escaped.

Gray was arrested on one count of suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape and one count of suspicion of false imprisonment.

The same area of Sailor Bar was the scene of a major incident in August when a county parks ranger shot a car burglary suspect who allegedly attacked the ranger during a traffic stop. Despite his wound, the man managed to drive up the hill and crash into several cars at the intersection of Illinois Avenue and Winding Way. He then allegedly stole another car but crashed it into a ditch about a block away.

Since then local community activists have praised county officials for implementing numerous safety measures in the Sailor Bar access to the American River.

Flood Control Bond Spending

A timely reminder on what the recent bond funding could become, unless we keep an eye out and unless our public leadership acts responsibly.

Levees Versus Levies
How to make Proposition 1E work best for flood-control in California
by Amy Kaleita, Public Policy Fellow, Environmental Studies

In the recent election, a full 64 percent of California voters approved Proposition 1E, a flood-control measure that will allocate $4.1 billion in state bonds for the repair and fortification of levees and hydraulic structures. The wide margin of victory confirms that Californians value such projects to protect lives and property.

A potential pitfall involves the costs. To repay these bonds over 30 years will cost an estimated $8 billion. That hefty amount will be paid by all California taxpayers rather than those directly receiving the benefits of the flood-control projects.

Another potential problem involves control. Political forces, rather than engineers and hydrologists, will be in charge of the decisions on which projects get funded and why. Such projects could be based on politics rather than need or soundness. Rural communities, or those lacking political clout, may wind up disadvantaged. What's more, the government may not be the best entity to provide this sort of protection.

Energy Good News

Let’s hope this results in lower energy prices for everyone.

State wins new look at power contracts
By Dale Kasler - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 20, 2006

State officials won another legal battle over the California energy crisis Tuesday when the courts ordered U.S. regulators to take a fresh look at long-term electricity contracts signed at the height of the crisis.

The decision gives the state another crack at an estimated $1.4 billion in refunds, according to the decision by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

"This is a very important decision," said Erik Saltmarsh, executive director of the California Electricity Oversight Board.

For years California has been tangling with power generators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over $8.9 billion in alleged overcharges for electricity purchased by the state on the spot market. The state has recovered about $5.5 billion.

Tuesday's decision, by contrast, involves the huge volumes of electricity the state bought under long-term contract. Then-Gov. Gray Davis signed the contracts during the spring of 2001, when prices were soaring and Californians were enduring rolling blackouts. The contracts were designed to calm the market and ensure a reliable flow of electricity.

In all, the state signed more than $40 billion worth of contracts, said Gary Ackerman of the Western Power Trading Forum, an association of electricity sellers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

E Coli & Environmentalism

This could be a devastating side effect of environmental regulation when it conflicts with clean farming technology.

Farms may cut habitat renewal over E. coli fears
Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The recent scares over deadly bacteria in California produce may hurt farm programs aimed at restoring wildlife habitat and cutting water pollution.

Such environmental programs could be at odds with "clean farming techniques" promoted by food processors. Those techniques encourage growers to remove grassy areas that are planted to reduce erosion and trap pesticides before they reach waterways. The practices also discourage habitat zones that might attract animals that carry bacteria like E. coli or salmonella.

Some farmers say they must opt out of wildlife habitat and water-quality programs: If they don't follow processor guidelines, they won't be able to sell their crops.

"The processors have been putting some pressure on growers for the past couple of years over vegetated corridors because of worries that they may be sources of animal contamination," said John Anderson, a Yolo County farmer who grows native grass seed for use in restoration projects.

"But then the E. coli thing happened, and they went from concerned to panic," he said.

Right now, the trend mainly has implications for produce growers in Central California -- where E. coli is the worry -- and for the almond industry in the Central Valley, where concerns over salmonella contamination are high.

E. coli-tainted spinach from Central California was blamed for killing three people and sickening about 200 others in late August and September. Most recently, about 70 people became ill with the bacteria after eating at East Coast Taco Bell restaurants.

Animal feces can contain the bacteria, which is difficult to wash off produce.

Environmental Reviews

There is so much that goes on in these reviews that many professional foresters feel is very unnecessary and vastly increases the costs of them doing their job (which they have traditionally done in a responsible manner) that it is easy to see why the reviews would be stopped for routine projects, which master planning essentially is, a routine part of running an agency.

Editorial: A clear-cut outrage
Congress must reinstate forest plan rules
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The U.S. Forest Service has announced a final rule, which takes effect Jan. 31, eliminating environmental analysis from 15-year master plans for each of the nation's 155 forests.

For the last 24 years, forest master plans have undergone rigorous scientific and environmental review under the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Protection Act. But not anymore.

Instead of presenting various alternatives for public comment, as in the past, the Forest Service in the future will be required to present only one option. And no environmental analysis of that option is required. For example, there will be no estimate of changes in fish or elk populations under various scenarios, as was done in the past. In fact, the new rule contains no requirements for monitoring any resource. Nor will the agency analyze cumulative effects of various proposed land uses -- such as logging, grazing, off-road vehicle use and recreational activities -- on forests.

The thinking (if that's the right word) behind this change is the forest service's belief that land management plans "do not individually or cumulatively result in significant effects" on the environment and, thus, continuing the practice of doing environmental analysis for plans is "not needed." With this so-called "categorical exclusion" of environmental analysis, the agency expects forest plan revisions to be speedier -- taking two or three years instead of five years. But speed is not of the essence when dealing with 15-year master plans for the forests.

Flood Control Tools

All excellent additions to the existing technologies, but one hopes that the eventual conclusion of public leadership is that, for Sacramento, the only serious option for reducing the threat of major flooding is with the construction of the Auburn Dam.

High-tech sensors help study storms that unleash floods
Capital region often in direct path of massive 'Pineapple Express.'
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A new network of high-tech weather sensors is making the streams, tributaries and dams of the American River the country's most closely monitored water system.

The goal of the ambitious effort is to learn more about massive "Pineapple Express" storms that originate in the Pacific Ocean beyond Hawaii -- and can trigger deadly floods in Sacramento.

The American River cuts through the Sacramento metropolitan region and is often directly in the path of Pacific storms. Because of that, the region faces the greatest urban flooding risk in the country.

The more they know about the impact of these storms on the river system, researchers said, the better prepared officials will be to manage flood-control dams and deploy emergency-response teams.

Salmon & Water Flavor

So that’s the secret…it’s the taste of the water…

Low runoff blamed for scant salmon sightings in Putah Creek
By ERIN PURSELL, The Reporter, Vacaville
Article Launched: 12/18/2006 07:00:12 AM PST

It appears it may not be a very good year for salmon in Solano County.

The window for the fish to return to their native Putah Creek watershed to spawn is coming to a close, and with only one confirmed sighting so far.

Biologists and those who maintain the creek say they might have to wait until next year to see the record numbers they had hoped for.

"I think what may have happened is we haven't had enough runoff," said Rich Marovich, of the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee.

Every watershed has a different mineral content, Marovich explained, and when it rains, the runoff gives the water a certain "flavor" that helps the adult chinook salmon find their way back from the Sacramento Delta through Rio Vista to the streams where they were spawned.

Putah Creek runs from the Monticello Dam at Lake Berryessa , into Lake Solano, and on into Winters and Davis.

"The fish coming back to Putah Creek are looking for that Putah Creek-flavored water," Marovich said. "We think that's because there has been less rain and runoff, and that's probably why we haven't seen as many salmon."

While researchers aren't exactly sure what conditions foster an ideal salmon run, they suspect the runoff has a lot to do with a successful year, given that the record 70 fish counted in 2003 came just after heavy November rains.

"It's kind of a no-brainer that more water is better," Marovich said.

This year is the first year that salmon spawned in 2003 would return to do their own spawning. And if significant numbers return, it could prove that Putah Creek supports a self-sustaining salmon run.

"There's fish biologists we contract every year to canoe and survey egg nests," Marovich said.

This is done the first week after the annual salmon attraction flows, which occur for about five days during the first week of December. Heavy flows of water are released from Lake Berryessa by way of the Putah Diversion Dam for five consecutive days.

"Typically, what they do is survey Putah Diversion Dam to Winters," Marovich said. "It's 4.5 miles of the best salmon spawning ground on the creek."
The surveys are a very reliable method for counting salmon, he added.

"In 2003, every place that they approached that they thought looked like good spawning habitat there was a nest," he said.

As of Friday, however, there had only been one confirmed salmon sighting.
The next few weeks will be critical if the salmon are to find their way into their native streams and then die.

But researchers remain optimistic.

"We're more interested in long-term trends than we are in the results in any one year," Marovich said. "The big question is, does Putah Creek have a self-sustaining salmon run?"

Napa Flood Control Problems

We aren’t the only community with issues around flood control, but we’re still the least protected of any major city in the country.

Flood control end date up in the air
By KEVIN COURTNEY, Register Staff Writer
Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:12 AM PST

When will the Napa River flood control project be finished? It's anyone's guess.

When county voters passed a half-cent sales tax in 1998 to fund the local share of flood control, officials predicted that central Napa would be fully protected by this year.

It hasn't happened. Only 40 to 50 percent of the project's flood benefits are in place, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just beginning serious work on flood defenses in downtown Napa.

Officially, the flood project's completion date is now 2011, but no one believes it. Some say 2014 is more realistic. Pessimists like In Harm's Way, the Napa Creek neighborhood group, say it could be more than a decade away unless the federal government dramatically increases Corps of Engineers funding.

The project's financial situation is acute this year. Chronic federal underfunding threatened to leave the Corps with insufficient money to tackle any new projects in the 2007 construction season, Heather Stanton, local project manager, said. At the same time, the state was running millions of dollars behind in paying its share of local costs.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Public Service Academy

As our government becomes ever more complicated, and the strong role of the other public sector organizations—nonprofits—becomes more pronounced, the need for a national academy of public service education has become more evident.

Like the military, public service is vital to our country and encouraging specific academies to address it makes as much sense now as establishing the military academies was in the past.

The website has more information about this important public venture and you can also contact Chris Myers Asch at for more information.

CSUS New Program

A new—unique in the nation—program, Collaborative Governance Program, developed with the Center for Collaborative Policy and connected to CSUS’s Department of Public Policy and Administration’s master’s degree program, has awarded its first certificates to graduate students, reported by Ted DeAdwyler, news writer in the Sacramento State Public Affairs Office in the November issue of PA Times, the newspaper of the American Society for Public Administration.

Freeway Building

In urban areas where growth is a constant, like Sacramento, building roads to keep up with growth is an appropriate strategy as the public vastly prefers using their cars to get places than any other mode of transportation, none of which has the ease, portability, carrying capacity and speed of cars.

Back-seat driver: Freeways top county list in state traffic proposals
By Tony Bizjak - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 18, 2006

Call it a road builders' Gold Rush. The first $4.5 billion of last month's monumental $20 billion statewide transportation bond is now up for grabs to counties and regions that prove they can use it fast to build projects that will reduce congestion.

Sacramento area leaders entered the fray last week by submitting more than a dozen projects they think meet the state's criteria for funding from the new Corridor Mobility Improvement Act. The Sacramento list is mainly focused on freeways, and that has caused some advocates for trains, transit, and pedestrian- and bike-supportive land-use lamenting what they say is short-sighted planning.

However, state transportation officials have made it clear their goal with the new corridor mobility program is to ease congestion on major vehicle routes, such as freeways.

Bicycle Lanes

The bill is a good idea (there does need to be much more room between bikes and cars) but it appears to ignore the reality of the size of the existing roads, which preclude a three foot buffer.

Wider berth for bicyclists sought to cut road deaths
By Jim Sanders - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 18, 2006

A Santa Barbara assemblyman is fighting to change state law -- by 36 inches.

Democrat Pedro Nava, in memory of a 21-year-old bicyclist struck and killed by a trailer truck on a narrow Santa Barbara road, is pushing for a 3-foot buffer zone for bicycles that are passed by cars or other motor vehicles.

"It's from your nose to the end of your fingertip," Nava said. "It's an easy distance to remember. And I think it's the least we can do for bicycle safety."

Violators would be subject to base fines of $250, rising to about $875 once local fees are tacked on. Motorists could be charged criminally if a bicyclist were killed or seriously injured.

Nava is pushing his measure, Assembly Bill 60, in honor of Kendra Chiota Payne, a triathlete for the University of California, Santa Barbara, who died in a morning training run last January.

Richard Payne, Kendra's father, applauds Nava's proposal but says nobody knows whether the collision that killed Kendra would have been avoided if AB 60 had been in effect.

"I'm not saying it would have saved her life, I'm saying that it could save future lives in terms of raising awareness and consciousness," said Payne, of San Francisco.
"I think (Kendra) certainly would be happy to see that other people were benefiting from an action taken because of her death."

Statewide, bicycle collisions killed an average of 123 people and injured 11,101 annually from 2000 to 2005, according to the California Highway Patrol, which does not keep tabs on how many crashes stemmed from an unsafe pass.

Current California law does not specify a minimum clearance but says motorists must pass to the left at a "safe distance without interfering with the safe operation" of a bicycle.

Opponents argue AB 60 would create unintended consequences in a state stretching hundreds of miles, with roads generally 11 or 12 feet wide, not counting shoulders or parking slots.

"I think the objective is admirable," said Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. "But I just don't think our roads are wide enough to accommodate what they're trying to do."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sprawl is Good: Common Sense Validated by Studies

There are many things in life that are so obvious, that we are surprised when others dispute them or feel compelled to conduct studies to determine what our senses and reason tell us; and so it is with suburban living, which its detractors call sprawl.

Living in a spacious home, with a little land around it, close but not too close to the neighbors, is just how most families—still the predominant form of social construct (though a study may be available saying otherwise) blessing our society—really want to live.

All of the other connected public facilities that help make this way of living possible are also publicly craved, such as expansive freeways, the water storage and flood control large dams provide; and is so often the case, the common sense of the public is very often correct.

Daniel Weintraub: Suburbs may be more friendly than you thought
By Daniel Weintraub -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 17, 2006

It is conventional wisdom in America that the suburbs are soulless places where people lack the kind of intense connections with one another that are almost inevitable in a vibrant, densely populated city center. Gated or not, the suburbs conjure up an image of bedroom communities vacant by day and filled at night with families locked behind their doors or in their own back yards, distant from their neighbors in both a physical and social sense.

That view has helped inform government policies that push for more housing density, public transit and centralization, while shunning what has become known as sprawl.

Now comes a University of California, Irvine, professor with research that casts doubt on that wisdom, suggesting that people who live in the suburbs are actually more likely than their urban counterparts to spend time with others.

"Social interaction is higher, not lower, in the suburbs," says Jan Brueckner, an economics professor and editor of the Journal of Urban Economics.

Brueckner and his co-author, Ann Largey, took data from a survey of 15,000 Americans and examined the responses through the prism of housing density. What they found surprised them.

The results showed that, other things being equal, suburban residents have more friends and confidants, invite friends into their homes more often and have greater involvement in community groups. People who live in less-densely populated areas, Brueckner says, are more likely to join a hobby-oriented club, attend club meetings and belong to a nonchurch related group.

Protecting and Advancing Our Golden Heritage

What is being done here on a small scale can be considered on a larger one embracing the American River Watershed, the natural heart of the gold discovery area, through the National Heritage Area program, a part of National Parks we have suggested as a way to preserve and protect the Parkway, through designation of the watershed as the Rivers of Gold National Heritage Area.

One example of it working is the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area at

Sierra gem's all aglow
Once a rough-hewn mining town, Nevada City has prospered by preserving and polishing its past.
By Dorothy Korber - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nevada City is so quaint, so picturesque, so absolutely charming in its Victorian delectability, that it doesn't look quite real. It looks like the set for a Hallmark holiday special.

Actually, it is.

The TV movie, called "A Christmas Card," is airing this month on the Hallmark Channel, and Nevada City plays a starring role as itself.

Because, actually, Nevada City is quite real.

You can savor it yourself today and Wednesday evening during the town's Victorian Christmas festivities. Strolling under the flickering gaslight along the historic streets, with carolers warbling and chestnuts roasting, it's easy to fall under the spell of "the Queen City of the Northern Mines."

"It's like a postcard, but it's real," says Beryl Robinson. "It's simply real."

Flood Insurance

Another round in the continuing effort to get everyone to protect themselves from personal catastrophe because public leadership hasn’t protected them from the public one.

Flood insurance a tough sell
Despite levee worries, few have policies in Natomas and West Sacramento.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 17, 2006

With the rainy season looming, and memories of local levee emergencies and Hurricane Katrina still fresh, flood awareness has never been higher in the Sacramento region.
Yet getting people to buy flood insurance remains a tough sell for local flood control officials.

In Natomas, a low-lying community with nearly 80,000 people, the number of homeowners with flood insurance policies is rising. Still, three-quarters of property owners in this vulnerable region do not carry flood insurance, according to the most recent statistics from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Those records also show that residents of West Sacramento, a growing city of 45,000 people surrounded by levees, had just 1,859 flood insurance policies in force as of Oct. 31.

Even in areas where voluntary flood insurance has been widely embraced, such as downtown Sacramento and neighboring areas including east Sacramento and Land Park, insurance numbers slipped slightly in recent months.

Infill is Good

Though calling it smart growth by the standard definition of the term, is stretching words a bit the infill building occurring in the south area is good for all.

No land left behind
'Smart growth' helps cut sprawl, revive area
By Jim Wasserman - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 17, 2006

Five years after Phat Khong moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento, he roams the upstairs floor of a south Sacramento model home that he, his wife and family members have already visited twice.

It's a ritual that plays out daily across the region, a family's repeat inspection of a home being considered by relatives. In Khong's case, it's his wife's parents who are the potential buyers.

What's different this time is the location.

The new two-story house built by Calabasas-based Ryland Homes near the corner of Mack Road and Franklin Boulevard occupies an older city neighborhood suddenly booming with new choices for homebuyers. In a part of Sacramento that hasn't seen a residential housing boom in decades, builders are in varying stages of building and selling 872 singlefamily detached houses in eight new neighborhoods. Their sales prices range from the low $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s for houses on small lots.

Area builders, city officials and business leaders say the new subdivisions sprouting six and seven miles south of downtown Sacramento along the Franklin Boulevard, Mack and Meadowview roads corridors can bring fresh growth to an area that's rich in transit options while spurring added retail development.