Thursday, January 31, 2008

Salmon, Waxing & Waning

A good look at the situation, though neglecting to note the difficulty of providing the right balance of cold water and proper river flow in the American for spawning, which the Auburn Dam would probably correct, but it is a correct call for much more study prior to a huge outlay of funds.

A new Auburn Dam report may address this issue in the coming months.

Editorial: Our shrinking salmon
Answer to 'unprecedented collapse' needed
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 31, 2008

Throughout the ages, salmon populations have been known to gyrate from year to year.

Newborn salmon that enjoy a perfect combination of river and ocean conditions come swimming back in huge numbers three or four years later. Lousy environmental conditions lead to a salmon decline.

Apparently, life for Central Valley salmon was pretty lousy four years ago. The current fall run of fish is at near-record lows. A preliminary count suggests that the 2007 class of Valley salmon will consist of a mere 90,000 fish, compared to more than 250,000 in 2006 and 800,000 in 2002.

Federal fishery regulators are calling the downturn an "unprecedented collapse," meaning that commercial fishermen can expect to see fishing restrictions beyond those that are already hurting this industry. Gone are the days when consumers could easily find fresh, locally caught salmon for less than $10 a pound.

If only it were easy to understand what is driving this downturn. Dams, water diversions, pollution and loss of shady river habitat clearly are hurting the effort to rebuild numbers of natural spawners.

But water diversions have spiked steadily since the 1990s in the Central Valley, and salmon nonetheless had impressive runs from 2001 to 2003. That suggests that stresses on salmon go beyond the Valley's water projects and extend far out into the ocean.

Climate Change Forum Announcement

Forum on climate change today
By Chris Bowman -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 31, 2008

Locally elected officials throughout the six-county Sacramento region plan to meet today for the first time about global climate change, focusing on its potential economic, political and air-quality effects on the area.

More than 30 city council members and county supervisors are expected to attend the public forum.

The gathering is fueled as much by politics as the environment, said Larry Greene, a lead organizer and executive officer of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

Local officials, he said, are increasingly concerned about encroachment on their land use authority as state and federal lawmakers call for tougher energy efficiency standards and other measures to reduce emissions of climate-altering or "greenhouse" gases.

"When the state or federal government develops targets, mandates and funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need a strong, unified voice to make sure local interests are recognized and not preempted," Greene said.

Regulators at the state Air Resources Board are expanding their reach for emission reductions from vehicles to communities as a whole.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has threatened to sue counties that ignore global warming in long-term building and transportation plans.

Speakers scheduled for today's forum include Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo.

The conference runs from 4 to 9 p.m. in Alumni Center on the California State University, Sacramento, campus. Because of limited seating, those wishing to attend should contact organizer Erin Hauge at (916) 448-1198, ext. 323, or

Dueling Law Suits

An excellent strategy by the farmers, imitating that used by the environmental community for many years, and if nothing else, will continue the discussion about what really is causing the problems around the fishery.

Farmers sue in fight over water
State fish policy ruining the Delta, they claim.
By Denny Walsh and Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 31, 2008

After months of losing fights over how much water can be pumped to farms from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a coalition of farm groups is striking back with a federal lawsuit blaming state agencies for endangering native fish in the Delta.

In a suit filed in Sacramento federal court, the groups ask for a halt to California's practice of maintaining predatory, nonnative striped bass in the Delta for the benefit of fishermen, claiming the policy violates the Endangered Species Act.

The bass feed on spring- and winter-run chinook salmon, steelhead and Delta smelt – all protected by the Endangered Species Act – and their dwindling populations harm the overall health of the estuary, ultimately resulting in reduced water deliveries to farmers, the lawsuit charges.

"Allowing this destruction to continue when the populations of several of these species – including the Delta smelt – are crashing is outrageous," said Michael Boccadoro, spokesman for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, the lead plaintiff in the suit filed late Tuesday.

Biologists already are concerned about drastic reductions in the Sacramento River's fall chinook salmon run, saying it is near collapse.

Sport fishermen, however, scoffed Wednesday at the lawsuit's thesis, saying the real threat to the Delta is all the water channeled to farmers through the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project.

The Homeless

The most effective way to help the homeless is to first acknowledge that they have proven they are unable to help themselves, and conduct periodic sweeps by police, accompanied by homeless service providers, to mandate people move into whatever type of programs are required.

To continue to feed and provide support services for the homeless to remain homeless is cruelty disguised as compassion, a huge waste of money, and a great disservice to the community who has to deal with the trash, crime, and aggressive panhandling characteristic of the homeless community.

Tough love is certainly the answer.

Homeless tally: A wake-up call
Volunteers help conduct a one-night survey to support county services.
By Jocelyn Wiener -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 31, 2008

The volunteers shone flashlights into car windows steamed by the breath of sleeping occupants. They called out to figures huddled in thin sleeping bags, and approached shabby shelters cobbled together from tarps and old blankets.

"It's the homeless survey," Sacramento Police Officer Mark Zoulas called out.

"A survey? At this time of night?" one tent dweller called back, incredulous.

For volunteers and homeless both, Tuesday evening was filled with awakenings.

For Bruce Wagstaff, the director of the county agency that oversees most county-run homeless services, the night would prove particularly illuminating. This year, for the first time, he joined Officer Zoulas and other volunteers in tallying and surveying the county's homeless.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to conduct a "point-in-time" survey every other January, as a condition of receiving federal money for housing and homeless programs. The county Department of Human Assistance, which Wagstaff runs, receives some $13.5 million annually from HUD.

Last year, volunteers tallied some 1,005 individuals living on the streets of Sacramento, with an additional 1,447 in shelters and transitional programs. County officials decided to gather data again this year to help supplement the city and county's 16-month-old 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

New Auburn Dam Report

This is extremely good news that this project is proceeding with additional information being developed.

The report has been commissioned by the American River Authority and the link goes to the presentation outlining what the report will consist of

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Parkway Tax Plan Announcement

Supervisors favor new parkway plan
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SACRAMENTO – County supervisors provisionally approved a plan Tuesday to ask property owners near the American River Parkway to kick in up to $30 annually to help fund the regional park.

Residents of the cities of Sacramento and Citrus Heights would not be asked to participate.

The plan, which could raise more than $2 million, calls for creation of a joint powers authority – Sacramento County, Rancho Cordova and Folsom – that could ask property owners to agree to an assessment. Property owners within a half mile of the parkway would be assessed $30 annually, while those half a mile to three miles away would pay $15.

The supervisors voted 5-0, but a second vote is needed. Rancho Cordova and Folsom are expected to take up the matter in February.

Some residents have argued that rather than a vote-by-mail assessment, any plan to increase parkway funding should be appear on a ballot and face a two-thirds approval requirement.

– Ed Fletcher

For More Information Read our Press Release on this issue.

Salmon Run in Trouble

Let’s hope this is just a natural aberration.

Salmon run verges on a collapse
Sport and commercial fishing are in jeopardy.
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:11 am PST Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Sacramento River's fall chinook salmon population is headed for a collapse, according to new federal data, threatening the upcoming commercial and recreational fishing season on one of the country's most important runs.

The fall chinook run in the Central Valley has long been touted as a conservation success story. As many other species declined, fall salmon spawning in the Sacramento River and its tributaries held reliably above 200,000 fish for 15 years.

But in fall 2007, the number of spawners suddenly fell to just 90,414 fish, the second-lowest total since 1973. That includes wild and hatchery-raised fish.

The news came in a memo e-mailed Monday from the director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council to council board members.

The numbers are preliminary and normally are not made public until February. But they represent a steep drop from the 2006 return of about 270,000 chinook.

"It's frightening to think how far we've fallen so quickly," said J.D. Richey, a salmon fishing guide on the American River, a key tributary that contributes to the Valley's chinook run. "It's pretty bleak."

Robert Moses

A strong proponent of suburban sprawl and urban renewal, this article is a great historical overview of his New York work.

The Godfather of Sprawl

In 1929, when Long Island celebrated the opening of Jones Beach—the 2,413-acre recreation area carved out of a remote sandbar—the spot was instantly popular as a summer escape for New York City's sweltering masses. It has remained so—but in many ways the beach and the access road, built by the New York uber-planner Robert Moses, inaugurated a troubling era of urban sprawl.

Moses isn't just known for Jones Beach, of course—it's not much of an exaggeration to say that if you can name it in New York, Moses built it. There are the Long Island Expressway, the Harlem River Drive, the Triborough and Verrazano bridges (to name just a few of his contributions), the patchwork of state parks, the masses of housing developments, the legacy of two World's Fairs (1939 and 1964)—not to mention Shea Stadium, the United Nations, Lincoln Center, and the New York Coliseum. It's a staggering legacy for one man—and an increasingly unpopular one in some circles. This seems a fitting time, therefore, to look back at some of the writing in The Atlantic by and about Robert Moses.

In February of 1939, at the height of Moses's popularity, Cleveland Rodgers painted a glowing and comprehensive portrait of the man as an adept and sacrificing public servant with a remarkable ability to get the job done ("Robert Moses: An Atlantic Portrait")"In a period of prodigious public expenditures," Rodgers wrote, "Robert Moses emerges as the most farsighted and constructive of public spenders. He has demonstrated in brilliant fashion that democracy can be made to work by skillful, resolute handling, and that 'public improvements' can be given a surprising amount of beauty." (Although his tone was adulatory throughout, Rodgers did recognize Moses's tendency to irk his fellow bureaucrats, noting at one point that "Mr. Moses frequently finishes and dedicates parks before submitting his plans for ... approval.")

Six years later, in January of 1945, Moses himself contributed to The Atlantic, attacking New York City's real estate operators for the perpetuation of slum conditions ("Slums and City Planning") Oozing contempt for any opinion but his own, and in a style as purposeful and relentless as one of his bulldozers, Moses blamed the shortage of decent low-cost housing on real estate developers' disregard for zoning and safety regulations—and on "misguided" investment in public transportation. "If in New York City," he wrote, "we had refrained from building so many miles of subways at twenty million dollars a mile and had put some of this money into rehabilitating and making livable and attractive the older and central parts of town, millions of people would not today be crowded like cattle into hurtling trains during the rush hours."

Free Muni?

San Francisco explored it and the results are very interesting, one being that other cities that have done it have seen ridership increase by 50%, indicating the desire is there, but the cost is too high.

Public leadership needs to weigh those tradeoffs.

Free ride? Fat chance: Muni fares will stay
Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eliminating fares on San Francisco's Municipal Railway - an idea Mayor Gavin Newsom wanted explored - would worsen delays, overcrowding and financial burdens on the already strained transit system.

That bleak assessment by private consultants who evaluated the free-rides idea has led Newsom to quietly abandon the concept, top administration aides told The Chronicle on Monday.

"It's not something that we plan to pursue at this time," said Stuart Sunshine, the mayor's top transportation aide.

Newsom asked transit officials in March to study a no-fare system, saying at the time, "If it could happen here, it could happen anywhere." His suggestion was aimed at luring people out of their cars to reduce air pollution and traffic.

The consulting team hired by the city, led by Sharon Greene & Associates, looked at what happened when other jurisdictions adopted free transit programs. In larger cities, such as Austin, Texas, Trenton, N.J., and Denver, ridership increased by nearly 50 percent.

If that happened to Muni, which now provides nearly 700,000 trips on an average day, the annual operating and maintenance costs would rise by nearly $69 million. Muni's annual budget is about $670 million.

The extra costs would come from paying more drivers, maintenance and cleaning crews, supervisors and security guards.

In addition, the city would have to add an estimated 267 buses and streetcars to its fleet of about 1,000 at a cost of approximately $537 million. New storage and maintenance yards also would be needed to accommodate the new vehicles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Goethe to Leidesdorff

There are many good historical reasons to rename the park after Leisdesdorff as he was one of our region's pioneers, receiving a 35,000 acre land grant from Mexico encompassing what is now Rancho Cordova and Folsom, and connecting current projects to their historical roots is a very good thing.

Supervisors set to debate possible Goethe Park name change
By Ed Fletcher -
Published 6:00 am PST Tuesday, January 29, 2008

As the debate on whether to rename C.M. Goethe Park nears, the push to rename the popular Sacramento County recreation site in honor of William Alexander Leidesdorff Jr. is gaining momentum.

At 3 p.m. today, county's supervisors are set to discuss renaming Goethe Park, which was named after Charles Goethe in 1965.

In addition to Leidesdorff Ranch, other names being discussed include Nisek'aw Park, Live Oak Park, River Bend Park and Willow Bar Park. More could be added to the mix. Supervisor Roger Dickinson said he might support naming the park in honor of longtime county Supervisor Illa Collin.

If they do decide to change the name, the supervisors are not expected to settle on a new one today.

Gold in the Hills

The article makes a good point that the best place to find gold might be in a gold mine, now that the price has skyrocketed, but will it stay there?

Golden opportunity in Grass Valley?
Thanks to precious metal's big price jump, a foothills town that's rooted in mining sees a push to reopen long-shut shafts.
By Todd Milbourn -
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, January 29, 2008

GRASS VALLEY – Open the rusted door to an abandoned gold mine on the outskirts of this tourist-rich Sierra Nevada town and it's a 3,500-foot drop straight down – and straight back to the days of California's Gold Rush.

This is where David Watkinson wants to start.

Watkinson is a mining engineer whose company wants to revive the historic Idaho-Maryland mine in Grass Valley, once one of California's biggest gold producers, but sealed shut for 52 years.

"The best place to look for gold," Watkinson said, "is an old gold mine."

That notion is spreading throughout the western United States, as prices for the precious metal pass $900 an ounce. From Nevada to Alaska, mining companies are dusting off mining maps and using computers to explore old tunnels in search of fresh scores. The price spike stems from growing worldwide demand for jewelry and a weakening U.S. dollar, which makes gold an appealing investment, said John Dobra, a gold researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Entrepreneurs & Public Policy

Undergirding the ability of public revenue to fund the basics, including public natural recreational areas like the Parkway, are the actions of entrepreneurs (inside and outside of government) and this book about those being born in China and India is very enlightening.

Billions of Entrepreneurs in China and India
Q&A with: Tarun Khanna
Published: January 28, 2008
Author: Martha Lagace

Entrepreneurship in the world's 2 most populous nations, China and India, has through modern times been somewhat asleep. But now, says HBS professor Tarun Khanna in a new book, both societies "have woken up," and the results could reshape business, politics, and society worldwide.

"In some sense people in these societies are running faster than their rules and laws can keep up. So they are creating the rules as they go along. And entrepreneurship is, after all, doing things in new ways, ahead of social norms and customs, and establishing the rules and laws. In both countries, these processes are unfolding not just in the mainstream business sector but in society writ large and even in politics and civil society," says Khanna.

Khanna's book Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours will be published by Harvard Business School Press on February 1. Each chapter compares China and India on a broad range of factors in entrepreneurship, including access to capital, freedom and reliability of information, governmental involvement, and infrastructure. Khanna examines the landscape of big, medium, and small entrepreneurship, including rural health-care initiatives and even Bollywood.

As Khanna explained to HBS Working Knowledge, "One can see China clearly when juxtaposed against India, a neighbor that, like China, is a large, populous, and ancient country that chose a different path. The difference is stark. The same is true when we look at India with China as a backdrop. That's why I wrote a comparative book."

In our interview Khanna outlines the business landscape in both countries. He also describes how indigenous and foreign entrepreneurs could get a foothold, how China and India relate to their own diasporas, and how entrepreneurial activity is reshaping both countries for the better.

Martha Lagace: Why did you choose the title Billions of Entrepreneurs?

Tarun Khanna: The title captures the ferment that is taking place in both China and India. Entrepreneurship is not only about hotshots taking companies public. A lot of entrepreneurial activity in these countries is in the exercise of getting things done more efficiently and creatively in response to constraints that people find themselves immersed in. Some of these constraints are societal; some are political. And so this book is full of stories about social entrepreneurs, political entrepreneurs, and others whom we study in business schools—investors, capitalists, and so on.

Q: What's different about entrepreneurship in both countries?

A: The extent and type of government involvement and the nature of openness are 2 dimensions in which the countries are different. These dimensions pervade all aspects of societal existence, whether that means raising capital to start a new business, the nature of markets, copyrights, the media, movies, and religion, as well as the ways in which both countries themselves project their power, the way they deal with each other, and the way the village economy works.

In China, the government is often the entrepreneur. It is in many instances a very efficient entrepreneur. Of course there are bankrupt state-owned enterprises, but there are equally dynamic companies starting out in villages, small towns, and major cities, often with a sizable amount of investment or involvement by local government authorities. It is hard to find any reasonably sized Chinese company in which government authorities do not have input.

Determining Flood Risk

Considering that Folsom Dam was designed as the permanent solution for flooding on the American River (using the old system) yet Folsom Lake was filled within a few weeks from an unforeseen storm, it is good a new method has been developed for use.

Why Natomas levees flunked
U.S. agency used a new type of flood-risk analysis; critics fear faulty premises could distort the results.
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, January 28, 2008

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers two weeks ago revealed that Natomas levees are not tall enough to contain even a modest storm, it wasn't because the levees had shrunk overnight or because someone misread the yardstick.

Instead, the corps applied a new yardstick.

But the new method is so complex that many flood-control experts are struggling to understand it – even some within the corps itself, said Joe Countryman, former chief of civil works design in the corps' Sacramento District and now president of MBK Engineers, a flood-control consultancy.

"It's not being demeaning to say a lot of people at the corps do not understand this," he said. "It is extremely complex."

Still, the corps intends to use its more complex yardstick to certify all new Central Valley levees. So billions of dollars and thousands of lives may be at stake.

Known as "risk analysis," the new method uses statistical modeling to estimate the range of uncertainty behind water surface calculations. The results may require not just taller levees, but ones that come with a greater assurance of safety.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

City Leadership

Competition is the hallmark of sustained public leadership and we look forward to strenuous competition among the talented and committed in our community to move into executive positions to address the many obvious issues requiring strong leadership.

From the long drama that is K Street, to the simple acknowledgement that Sacramento is no longer a small government town, the gulf between what Sacramento needs from its public leadership and what it has had, has often been large.

A hotly contested mayoral race is just the ticket to possibly bridge that gulf.

Editorial: An opponent would benefit city � and its mayor
Sacramento faces many challenges; what is the next mayor's vision for its future?
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 27, 2008

No matter who ends up serving as the next mayor of Sacramento, there's no doubt the city would benefit from a competitive mayoral race – one that forces contenders to address the tough challenges this city faces.

The next mayor will have to confront a prolonged housing slump, declining city tax revenues and the uncompleted work of turning the K Street mall into a place that inspires pride instead of frustration.

She or he will have to push hard for levee improvements in Natomas and bond dollars to redevelop the railyard, Township 9 and other projects.

The next mayor will inherit problems that have plagued the city for years, such as street crime and homelessness. Finally, the next mayor will have to collaborate with Sacramento's neighboring jurisdictions on transportation and other regional projects, and lay the groundwork for the city's rejuvenation once the housing market eventually rebounds.

Until last week, it appeared that Mayor Heather Fargo would sail into a third term with no serious competition. March 7 is the last day for filing for the June 3 ballot, and as of Friday, no one with a chance of challenging the incumbent had thrown his or her hat into the ring.

There are, however, stirrings of competition. Those stirrings should be encouraged.

The Homeless

It is clear the homeless need help and providing housing is the first step, but services designed to end their homelessness need to be aggressively offered, as people who cannot help themselves need to be helped vigorously.

Part of the problem, particularly among the chronic homeless who camp in the Parkway (two died there recently) and obtain food and other basics from homeless advocates in the Richards Boulevard area, is that local public leadership remains conflicted about the need for being aggressive, often preferring to leave the decision about being helped to those who need help, even after they have exhibited a clear incapacity to help themselves.

Sometimes an intervention is necessary to save a life.

The homeless deserve shelter and our help
By Joan Burke - Special to The Bee
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 27, 2008

When I began volunteering at Maryhouse, the daytime drop-in center for homeless women and children, the sheer number of women who turned to Loaves & Fishes for help was stunning. Single mothers, women so paranoid they were afraid to come for breakfast lest we poison them, street women, young runaways, older displaced homemakers, women whose strength was inspiring, women so fragile I feared for their survival.

Maryhouse welcomed 586 women in 1987, my first year as a volunteer. Today, it serves more than 2,000 women a year. And the barriers they face are overwhelming: homelessness, childhood abuse and neglect, domestic violence, addiction, early pregnancy, interrupted education, poverty. As we sat down individually with each woman, we reassured her to take things one step at a time and that Maryhouse would always be there to help them.

In 15 years of working at Maryhouse I realized that homeless women were wonderful, imperfect human beings just like the rest of us, and that if you were able to help one of these women in desperate need, she would be immensely grateful and empowered.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lake Davis Open Announcement

Lake Davis opened for ice fishing
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, January 26, 2008

PORTOLA – Anglers are welcome to drop their lines into frozen Lake Davis after the Plumas County reservoir was reopened Friday by California Department of Fish and Game.

More than 31,000 Eagle Lake trout, planted last month, are there for the catching, said Randy Kelly, acting manager of the Lake Davis project.

The reservoir, which was poisoned in September to eradicate non-native northern pike, is still not safe for drinking, but state health officials expect to lift that restriction next week, said David Spath, who has been testing the water since the chemical treatment.

Spath's analyses found no detectable chemicals in samples taken Jan. 14-15. He said Friday that he is analyzing a third sample taken Tuesday to comply with state law requiring three consecutive findings of no chemicals before certifying the water as safe for drinking.

The standards for drinking water do not apply to fishing, said Kelly, who approved opening the reservoir to anglers with the support of Plumas County and state health officials.

The bag limit for trout in Lake Davis is five a day and 10 in possession, said Kelly. He plans to add a million trout to the reservoir in a fish planting later this year.

– Jane Braxton Little

Mayoral Race

Already getting interesting.

Johnson vs. Fargo? Speculation swirls
Ex-NBA star's possible challenge to mayor gets lots of abrupt attention.
By Terri Hardy -
Published 12:08 am PST Saturday, January 26, 2008

Nothing electrifies a political town like the abrupt possibility of a high-profile figure entering a race once thought to be locked down by the incumbent.

And so it was in certain circles in Sacramento on Friday as chat sites, cell phones and a great many lunch conversations swirled with the news that former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson is "seriously considering" a challenge to Mayor Heather Fargo in the June mayoral primary.

Suddenly, a campaign that had been shaping up as a dull, by-the-numbers re-coronation of Fargo had become very interesting indeed.

"Everybody's talking about it," said Shawn Eldridge, a contractor and midtown activist. "Kevin Johnson has money, he's articulate and he has power, so this is a real challenge. Fargo's vulnerable."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mayor’s Race

Anytime political races are competitive, the public benefits; and this potential mayoral race will be of great benefit to Sacramento, raising the conversation around public issues substantially, a very good thing.

Marcos Bretón: Ex-NBA star could rev up mayor's race
By Marcos Bretón -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star and arguably the capital city's most famous native son, is seriously considering a run for mayor.

On Thursday, Johnson confirmed his "strong" interest in challenging incumbent Heather Fargo in the June 3 election. David Townsend, a local political consultant, commissioned a recent poll gauging voter interest in a Johnson candidacy and claims the excitement was high.

"We're confident he would win," said Townsend, while declining to reveal the numbers tabulated by pollster Jim Moore.

Johnson has not made a final decision on a possible run, but said he would make an announcement soon.

Whether or not this city would elect Johnson, it could only be a good thing for Sacramento if someone jumped in to challenge Fargo, who is seeking a third term.

"It's always good for a city to have a competitive mayor's race," said Robert Waste, professor of public policy administration at California State University, Sacramento. "If it happens, I expect (a Johnson-Fargo) race to be a barnburner."

Homeless Camping

It is dangerous for the homeless and as we noted in our 2005 report on the Lower Reach area of the Parkway where most of the camping by the homeless occurs and where two men died this year, that danger can be reduced substantially through using the Housing First approach (which Sacramento has partially adopted) and police sweeps accompanied by homeless service organizations to mandate help for those who cannot help themselves.

Winter weather, meaner streets plague homeless
In recent weeks, at least six have died due to cold, attacks or accidents.
By Ryan Lillis -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

Life outside can be cold. It can be wet and dirty and, many times, dangerous.

"People die," said Alise Evans, homeless for the past 12 years, "but people die a lot more out here than they do inside, and you can't stop it."

A recent spate of homeless deaths in Sacramento is being blamed mostly on a stretch of cold and damp weather. However, three homeless men have been attacked in the city in the past two weeks – one of them fatally – and another was struck and killed by a train in West Sacramento.

No one in Sacramento formally tracks the number of attacks on the homeless or keeps complete records of homeless deaths, but police officers, homeless advocates and the homeless themselves say such reports had been rare in recent months.

"Things have been really good lately," said Sacramento Police Officer Mark Zoulas, a veteran cop who works closely with the city's homeless population.

No arrests have been made in the recent attacks, which police said appear to be unrelated.

The acts of violence are not the only tragedies to have struck the city's homeless population. The winter has been tough, with frigid nights and more rain than most years, conditions that were highlighted by the storms that hit the area earlier this month.

So far, the weather is believed to have played a role in the deaths of at least four homeless people, officials said.

A man and woman were found dead behind a Gardenland business in December after a night in which the temperature dipped to the freezing mark. The following week, during the winter storms that struck the area, two men were found dead in a flooded homeless camp along the American River.

Parkway Funding

There is a better way to provide for long term and dedicated Parkway funding than raising taxes, which we addressed in a recent Press Release

Capital bailing out of parkway fund plan
By Ed Fletcher -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

In a blow to American River Parkway advocates, the city of Sacramento has backed away from a plan to boost parkway spending through a property-owner paid benefit assessment district.

City representatives, along with those from Rancho Cordova, Folsom and Sacramento County, have been meeting and talking for months about the plan to increase funding for the care and maintenance of the parkway.

While parkway advocates are miffed at the capital's decision, it isn't a fatal blow to the effort. The proposal can move forward without Sacramento, and the city could join at a later date.

"We're disappointed," Warren Truitt said on behalf of parkway advocacy groups. He said the capital isn't "paying enough attention to the parkway."

Even with property owners in the city of Sacramento's portion of the parkway out of the program, the assessment still could add about $2.2 million annually to the $6.2 million the county already spends on maintaining the recreational trail and wildlife habitat.

Under the plan, property owners within a half mile of the parkway would be assessed $30 annually, and property owners between a half mile and three miles away would pay half of that.

Some residents have objected to the idea that folks closest to the parkway should pay more than other county residents.

The plan will get its first public vetting next week when the county supervisors take up the issue at their Tuesday meeting.

Fishing Ban

Sometimes it is very wise to conserve a resource by not using it for awhile, and restraining from enjoyment for a relatively brief period for an obvious enhancement of future enjoyment seems a small price to pay.

Fishing ban sought on river
Two-month lull on American would help steelhead, group says.
By M.S. Enkoji -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

The state Fish and Game Commission is set to consider a two-month fishing ban on the lower American River as a way to ward off poaching and preserve the steelhead trout population.

The ban for February and March, if approved, would be the first in years along a 26-mile section of the river from Nimbus Dam to the Sacramento River. That stretch is one of the region's most popular, meandering through the American River Parkway, where anglers logged 265,000 hours fishing in 2007.

A fly-fishing organization representing 7,000 Northern California anglers is asking the state commission for the ban, which would interrupt the steelhead trout season.

Unusually low river levels below Nimbus Dam make fish more susceptible to "snagging," an illegal method that is difficult to prevent, a branch of the Federation of Fly Fishers said in a letter to the commission.

"We make this request with a heavy heart," the letter said.

As popular as the American River is, flush with fish and within easy reach of nearly 2 million people, continuing dry conditions warrant extreme measures, said Fair Oaks resident David Ford, who wrote the letter.

"They're not going to be happy," he said of anglers, "me included. But if we're ever going to save the wild fish, we have to do it."

The commission will consider the proposal when it meets Feb. 7-8 in San Diego. The panel could deny the request, adopt an emergency measure effective immediately, or ask for more discussion, including a public hearing, said Jon Fischer, deputy executive director of the commission.

The commission's staff has not made a recommendation on the request. Commission members couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

River levels so low that people can stroll across the American give fish less room to spread out, which makes it easier for snaggers to spot them, Ford said. Steelhead spawn during February and March, another condition that makes them easier snagging targets, he said.

Natural Rivers

After thousands of years of human habitation and rearrangement of the land to better serve human needs and interests, it is very difficult to actually determine what is really natural and what is not (very true of our rivers and Parkway).

Study: Are River Restoration Efforts Misguided?
by John Nielsen
All Things Considered, January 19, 2008 •

Billions of dollars have been spent in the United States on river restoration projects.

In many cases, the goal of these projects is a so-called "natural" river that curves broadly back and forth across a landscape.

But if a new paper in the journal Science is correct, there's not much that's natural about some of the curving rivers used as models for this restoration work.

The authors of the paper say that's because many eastern U.S. rivers weren't created by the forces of nature, but by Colonial farmers who built thousands of small dams across wetland areas in New England and the Middle Atlantic States. Geologists Robert Walter and Dorothy Merritts of Franklin and Marshall University in Lancaster, Pa., wrote the paper.

Walter says they first began to wonder five years ago whether winding creeks in the area were really all that natural. Merritts and some of her graduate students started pulling strange objects out of the bottoms of ancient-looking dirt embankments near the edges of the creeks.

"We found the stumps of giant trees that had been sawed down by European settlers," she says. "We found Indian artifacts and logged roads that the early settlers used to get across some of these marshy bottomlands."

Those finds made it look like the creeks had changed a lot over the past few hundred years. They also raised questions about whether the dirt embankments were really all that ancient.

These questions were answered by geologist Robert Walter, who is married to Merritts. He says tests on soil samples taken from the flood plain that surrounded the creeks showed that the riverbanks were hundreds, not thousands of years old.

Standing at the foot of a 20-foot tall embankment, he says, "basically everything you see above my ankles was deposited from 1730 to 1850 — 120 years."

In other words, the stream that had been here when European farmers first arrived is now buried underneath roughly 20 feet of mud. In retrospect, Walter says it's obvious where the mud came from.

He thinks it started washing down out of deforested areas and farm fields roughly 300years ago. Then it started pooling up behind small dams the colonists built all over the region. More than 60,000 of these dams had been built by the end of the 1840s, Walter says, and, at one point, giant mill ponds formed behind all of them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

San Francisco Visions

Interesting visions, but not sure I’d want to live there then, but I don’t now, (love the Sacramento suburbs) so…go figure.

Local architects offer their visions of S.F. 100 years hence in a competition
John King, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2008

The jury has spoken - and it wants San Francisco in 2108 to be a place where forests of towers grow algae as well as house people, and where geothermal steam baths sprout atop Twin Peaks.

Those elements are part of the proposal by IwamotoScott Architecture, selected Sunday as the winner of an eight-team competition to imagine how San Francisco could change during a century likely to be defined by global warming and the search for new forms of energy.

In addition to a $10,000 prize, architects Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott received the satisfaction of triumphing over rivals who offered such visions as an offshore island housing 250,000 people and 40-story towers used for commercial farming.

The selection was made by a six-member jury that placed more emphasis on originality than practicality. Nonetheless, the winners said a city that produces its own energy - such as the hydrogen that would be generated by vast vertical fields of algae - and moves most travel underground shouldn't be all that far-fetched.

"We were thinking of the city as an evolutionary beast," said Iwamoto, a design lecturer at UC Berkeley as well as the operator, with Scott, her husband, of a four-person firm based in the couple's Mission District loft. "You create certain conditions, and that allows other things to happen."

Festivities kicked off at 10 a.m. on the second floor of the Ferry Building with each team having three hours to assemble their model of the city to be. Milling among them were design junkies and their families, augmented by Ferry Building visitors drawn upstairs by banners and announcements.

Often, the different visions overlapped. Most consigned private cars to the dustbin of history. At least four incorporated fog-harvesting machines to pull water from air and put it to use.

But if the details were similar, the designs were all over the map. Fougeron Architecture focused on self-reliant sustainability by lining the bay with agricultural towers that would grow the region's food - "we checked, and they could also be used to raise chickens and pigs," said architect Anne Fougeron. "Cows would still need to graze somewhere else."

Shrinking Salmon Runs

Quite a few less salmon this year than in years past, not a good thing.

Posted on Wed, Jan. 23, 2008
Here’s the catch: fewer salmon
David Sneed

For the first time in its 25-year history, Central Coast Salmon Enhancement will not raise and release Chinook salmon into the ocean at Port San Luis this year.

The Grover Beach-based fisheries conservation group endured a series of setbacks last month, including its four rearing pens washing up on the beach during heavy swells.

But the biggest problem facing the group is the state’s collapsing salmon fishery.While volunteers were working to salvage the pens, word came from the Department of Fish and Game’s Mokelumne River Hatchery in San Joaquin County that so few fish migrated upstream from the ocean last year that no fish will be available for any pen-rearing programs.

“It’s not going to happen this year — maybe 2009,” said Thorv Hessellund, president of the group’s board of directors.

Although the group does habitat restoration and public education work, pen-rearing as many as 140,000 small fish each year is Central Coast Salmon Enhancement’s cornerstone activity.

Over the years, the group has released more than 1.5 million salmon into the ocean, where they are caught by recreational and commercial anglers.

“This is a big loss in terms of the mission of the program,” Hessellund said.

The group has also lost two of its 20-by-40-foot rearing pens. Unusually large swells in December ripped all four of the pens out of their moorings and washed them onto the beach at Port San Luis.

Panhandling & the Parkway

Police say that the reason the homeless congregate in camps in the lower part of the Parkway is that it is close to the services they need in the Richards Blvd area and close to their major panhandling venue, the K Street Mall.

Other cities have downtown panhandling problems and they are responding.

Cities crack down on panhandling
By Tracy Loew, USA TODAY

Panhandling on public transportation can get you a year in jail in Medford, Ore. Telling a lie while asking for money in Macon, Ga., is against the law. In Minneapolis, begging in groups has been banned.

Cities across the USA are stepping up efforts to restrict panhandling, especially in downtown shopping areas.

In the past year, more than a dozen municipalities — from Olympia, Wash., to Orlando — have passed or strengthened such ordinances.

At least four more are close to adoption in Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina and Washington state.

Cities have enacted laws targeting the homeless for two decades, including bans on sleeping outdoors or loitering. In the past few years, the focus has turned to panhandling restrictions, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

That's partly because more cities are trying to redevelop their downtowns, Foscarinis said.

"No one likes to see destitute people in the city center. No one likes to walk down the street and be asked for change," she said.

That was the case in Louisville, which passed a panhandling ordinance last month.

"We've really been revitalizing downtown," city spokesman Chris Poynter said. "We have new restaurants, especially with outdoor seating. People were just over and over panhandling patrons as they sat outside."

Other cities, such as Honolulu, are worried about tourism.

"I'm trying to make sure tourists are comfortable visiting Hawaii and are not constantly accosted for money," said Honolulu City Council member Charles K. Djou, who is pushing a ban on panhandling near ATMs.

Homeless advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union consider begging to be free speech, protected by the First Amendment.

"The purpose of the laws is to drive the visible homeless out of the downtown areas," said Michael Stoops, acting director of the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. "We believe that people have a right to beg, and citizens have a right to give or not to give."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nuclear Power

It is what will address global warming most effectively as dams will most address our local flooding and water storage issues, and it appears wise leadership is beginning to act on that knowledge, in both cases.

Technology works.
Power Surge
By Duncan Currie
From the January/February 2008 Issue

Thanks to worries about climate change and energy security, politicians across the spectrum are warming to nuclear power, says DUNCAN CURRIE.

President Bush is often met with cynicism when he cites nuclear energy as a way to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But what about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat, who says nuclear power “has to be on the table” in any discussion of climate change policy? Or Senator Hillary Clinton, who says it “has to be part of our energy solution”?

While questions about the safety of nuclear power persist, the big change is that nuclear is now seen as a way to reduce the threat of global warming and the threat that countries with an animus toward the United States will exploit their oil reserves for political advantage. A new study by the National Petroleum Council, titled “Hard Truths,” points out that nuclear currently represents only about 6 percent of the total energy mix globally. That won’t change over the next 20 years “unless nuclear generation is promoted for policy objectives such as limiting carbon dioxide emissions or enhancing energy security.” It seems that those policy objectives are becoming more and more enticing.

At a hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology last February, Pelosi assured Republican lawmakers that she would not be an “active opponent” of nuclear energy. “I have a different view on nuclear than I did 20 years ago,” she said. “The technology has changed and I bring a more open mind to that subject now.” Similarly, during a February campaign stop in South Carolina, Mrs. Clinton denied any “preconceived opposition” to nuclear power. “It doesn’t put greenhouse gas emissions into the air,” she said.

More and more Democrats and ardent environmentalists are now rethinking the nuclear option. They have been joined in Europe by politicians anxious to meet their emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol and wary of their vulnerability to energy blackmail by unpredictable or hostile governments in nations like Russia and Iran. “It is impossible to fulfill the Kyoto objectives without using nuclear energy,” Michael Glos, the German economics minister, said in early 2007.

This year, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expects to field a raft of building applications for new nuclear plants. China, India, and other Asian countries are already moving ahead with blueprints for more reactors. In late November, China’s top nuclear company signed an $11.9 billion agreement with the French nuclear firm Areva. As The New York Times reported, this marked “the largest deal in the industry’s history.” The paper quoted John B. Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association, saying, “A nuclear renaissance is now gearing up everywhere in the world.”

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), commercial nuclear power currently provides nearly 20 percent of America’s electricity, with just over 100 operating reactors in 31 states. In 2006, the states most dependent on nuclear power for their electricity needs included Vermont (75 percent), New Jersey (53 percent), and South Carolina (52 percent). Nuclear also accounted for the largest portion of electricity generation in Illinois, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York.

One of the most prominent supporters of nuclear energy is a Prius driving Republican who also supports a cap-and-trade regime for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and who left the Bush administration partly because she felt it was insufficiently green. Christine Todd Whitman, governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, spent a turbulent two and a half years as director of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Bush’s opponents cast her 2003 departure as further evidence of the president’s baleful record on global warming. In 2006, Whitman became co-chair of an industry-backed pro-nuclear group known as the Clean and Safe Energy (“CASEnergy”) coalition.

Flood Solution

Sure would be cheaper than dams or levees! :)

Greenbrae fighting water with water
John Dugan
Article Launched: 01/18/2008 11:30:13 PM PST

Residents of the Greenbrae Boardwalk kept dry this winter for the first time in years, and they can thank Peter Hogg, Jack Curley and a big plastic bag for it.

Hogg, a boardwalk resident, and Curley, an assistant civil engineer for the Marin County Public Works Department, have resolved a flooding problem that plagued the Greenbrae Boardwalk for years. Thanks to Hogg's deployment of a tubular bag filled with water, the boardwalk and Redwood Highway stayed dry this year despite a high tide and severe storm Jan. 4.

The device - a large, waterbed-like bag called the "Water-Inflated Property Protector" that blocks flooding at the source - is filled with water at a fire hydrant near the entrance to the boardwalk.

Hogg said the bag got its first real test during the storm and performed perfectly.

"There was no flooding on Redwood Highway," Hogg said. "The trailer park would have flooded; it didn't. There are some water pumps to control the flooding that usually get overwhelmed by the water; they didn't.

"We basically solved the flooding issue."

Natomas Drama, Act 23

In what is becoming a long drawn out tragedy—for all of the folks who built, bought and sold houses there— with comedic overtones from the leadership struggling to figure out what happens next, the audience awaits the next act, thankful to have another play to attend when K Street slows down.

City moves annex along
Sacramento weighs a big development in Natomas amid concerns about flood risks there.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Despite the federal government's announcement last week that it would designate North Natomas a flood hazard zone, the Sacramento City Council pressed ahead Tuesday with a plan to build more houses behind Natomas levees.

Council members voted unanimously to support annexation of 577 acres of Natomas just outside the city limits, and allow construction of 3,500 houses and apartments in the proposed Greenbriar development. Mayor Heather Fargo was absent.

Technically, the council's action was an "intent" vote, with final action scheduled for Jan. 29.

Building is unlikely to begin before 2010, however. That's when the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency expects to complete sufficient levee improvements to persuade the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency to once again remove Natomas from the official flood hazard zone.

In order to be considered safe for building, Natomas must have levees that meet the minimum federal standard of providing protection against a 100-year storm, the type with a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. Otherwise, residences would have to be elevated above potential flood levels, which in the case of Natomas could be 20 feet or more.

"Our intent is not to pursue vertical construction until and unless there is 100-year protection," Greenbriar spokesman Phillip R. Serna said Tuesday.

City officials said it was important to approve the project now so that it is ready for construction to start once adequate flood protection is achieved.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Environmental Perspective

The optimal and positive approach is slowly winning out over the “everything is terrible” perspective and that is certainly much closer to the visionary America of high potential and ever increasing prosperity and social success that draws the world to our shores and makes us the happiest people on the planet.

Breathe Easier-

The other day, someone at a Christmas party mentioned off-handedly how "the air keeps getting worse and worse... with no end in sight" in America. It wasn't a preachy point, and it was entirely peripheral to the conversation, but it was out there, nevertheless.

I usually let comments like that go in casual conversation, especially when it's a stranger, since correcting facts like that inevitably puts the individual on the defensive. Then it's awkward. So it's usually best to just let it go.

This time, though, I had to interject. The air is not getting worse and worse. At all. Not even close. The very worst cities today are still better than the average cities of the 1970s. The air continues to get better. Things will continue to get better, too, even as we build new power plants and drive more cars and engage in more commerce.

For example, although (relative to 1980) we use more coal, drive more miles, have bigger houses with more and better appliances, and our economy is larger, the air has improved in a major way:

Credit where credit is due. Some of the improvement, the environmental movement can certainly claim. That's-- ostensibly-- their entire purpose. Some of the improvements, though, are just the result of consumers opting for more efficient vehicles and household apparatuses. And sometimes the regulations and taxes and prohibitions meant to help the environment only result in red tape and bureaucracy (and economic costs), all while the real environmental gains come from millions of individuals making millions of individual choices.

Back to the Christmas party comment: I really don't understand the pessimism that pervades today's thinking. As long as we create the conditions for vibrant economic growth, people will solve our supposed environmental problems. That's what rich societies do-- they move from mere survival mode into problem-solving mode. Eventually, instead of solving things like "we need fewer people with polio," they start solving things like "we need more bike paths in our town." The problems of substantial gravitas begin melting into lifestyle and aesthetic problems. What seems to have happened in the environmental movement is a recognition that the environment is not on the verge of collapse, and because big problems remain in our world (to name one, terrorism), environmentalists grudgingly realize their concerns are at the bottom of the "to do" list. So, what do they do? They say the world is on the verge of collapse. Global warming will destroy civilization, flooding our coasts and drying up our plains. Our air is making us all sick. There will be no water left to drink in a few years. It will be Mad Max. A post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare.

It's just not true.

I tend to think of myself as an environmentalist, but completely removed from today's movement. I reject the Marxism that pervades the modern environmental movement. On the contrary, the way we can best improve our environment is to make everyone rich enough to afford it (something that is already happening); once enough people have enough dough, they move into the next phase of human actualization. Sure, we still have to cross a few priorities off the top of the ole "to do" list, but once a critical mass of people can afford a cleaner environment, they'll go ahead and buy it.

The answer to future environmental problems will be found in the minds and efforts of entrepreneurs, who can only succeed if there are plenty of yuppies wealthy enough to afford to become early adopters for various green ideas. Sometimes I wonder how much healthier our environment would be if we had seen a GDP growth rate of just 1 or 2% higher each year, over the course of the 20th century. The U.S. could easily have a 30 or 40 trillion dollar-per-year economy, instead of a 14 trillion dollar one. Then I start thinking of how 1 or 2% each year over the next century could mean the difference of hundreds of trillions of dollars of wealth, yet how we're not always maximizing our pro-growth policies. Those hundreds of trillions in potentially-lost dollars are precisely what could produce the brilliant breakthroughs that will improve our planet.

Profit & Environment

This corporate leader sees a compatibility of interests in being a good businessman and caring for the environment, and he speaks for more than not.

Blow Your Own Horn
By THE AMERICAN From the January/February 2008 Issue

There’s no contradiction between making profits and respecting the environment, says David DeLorenzo.

As he tells it, David DeLorenzo became CEO of Dole Food Company Inc. the “old-fashioned way.” He joined the company straight out of business school 37 years ago and worked his way up to the top posi¬tion last June. He moved 13 times with Dole and spent 10 years in Central America. Dole, based in Westlake Village, near Los Angeles, has $6 billion in annual sales and 75,000 employees around the world. It is privately owned by David Murdock.

David, Dole was taken private in March 2003. How has that changed the company?

Not much in terms of the outside world. Internally, going private helps in the sense that we are focused on the long term. We are not worried about a stock price or the quarterly reports. It released some of the external pressures that other CEOs feel about the short-term results.

What sectors is Dole involved in?

We have three primary industries. One we call fresh tropical fruits. The banana business is actually our largest. Another business is packaged foods. The base of that is our canned pineapple business. Third is the fresh vegetable industry, which is based in Salinas, California. We’re in the packaged salads business. We helped begin that whole industry.

And you are a global company?

We’re in about 93 different countries. We source a lot of our fruit in the tropical world, and we are in the more remote sections of developing countries.

As a result, you provide services and infrastructure that most businesses do not.

Can you explain?

Many of our divisions are quite old, and a lot of the places we’ve gone to had hardly any roads, let alone any big infrastructure. So we have a heritage of pioneering. We not only go into remote areas, but we go on a large scale.

For example, when we went into Honduras over 100 years ago, we built a port there. We put in all the schools in the area. We brought in a whole order of Catholic nuns, actually. They were missionaries, but they acted as nurses and schoolteachers. We founded the first bank, the largest bank in Honduras today. We put in dairies because there was no milk. We know it is important to be not only a good corporate citizen but a lead corporate citizen. We joke sometimes that we’re working where other people are fighting or afraid to go, yet we seem to survive and thrive in those areas.

Where exactly?

I just got back from the Philippines, down in Southern Mindanao. I took four days flying around the island in a helicopter. We have about 30,000 people working there. We have an operation that is almost completely self-sufficient, from nurseries where we are growing seeds for agriculture, to farms spread all over the countryside, to packing plants. We have two big industrial complexes for box manufacturing. We make our own plastics. We have a big printing company for labels for our boxes. We have schools, hospitals, and ports.

What about labor standards?

Whatever standards we put on ourselves—employment, child labor, sanitation—we enforce the same conditions with our associate growers. We teach them the right way to do things.

In Ecuador, for example, when we got there 40 years ago, it was mostly small banana growers. And it was pretty primitive—very small packing houses, unsanitary conditions. So we went in over the years and cleaned everything up, brought up all the environmental standards, and basically raised the standards of an entire industry. Even these small growers have places where the employees have dining rooms, where there are proper toilets and washrooms, where their packing plants are as clean as a whistle.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Climate Controls

It is good to be prepared, something business does particularly well and something government does rather poorly, reminding us that, too often, profits spur action rather than the needs of people.

Climate controls gaining support
But U.S. firms differ on how to fund a cap and trade system.
By Renee Schoof - McClatchy Newspapers
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, January 21, 2008

WASHINGTON – U.S. businesses are betting that the federal government soon will put mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and they're making sure they have a say in shaping a vast new regulatory system.

Some of the country's biggest businesses support a cap and trade system, the approach that Congress is considering. Under cap and trade, the government gives or sells companies allowances to emit certain amounts of greenhouse gases, and companies may sell unused allowances to other companies.

While it may sound simple, the details would be complex and the plan would affect the entire economy and require monitoring for decades.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership – which includes U.S. automakers, other big manufacturers such as Alcoa and Caterpillar Inc. and energy companies such as FPL Group, Duke Energy and PG&E Corp. – supports a cap and trade system, but its members have questions about key elements, such as how emissions could be offset and how much they'd have to pay for the allowances.

"In the last year there's been a sea change" in business thinking on a mandatory federal emissions policy, said Truman Semans, the director for marketing and business strategy for a group of large U.S. companies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change's Business Environmental Leadership Council.

The council comprises 44 companies with $2.8 trillion in market capitalization, a sizable chunk of the world economy. Most favor a mandatory market-based emissions policy, Semans said.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Amity Beach, Natomas

A rather scary comparison that rings a little bit too true.

Marcos Bretón: Leadership's key on flood hazard zone
By Marcos Bretón -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 20, 2008

In the film "Jaws," Roy Scheider played a police chief desperately trying to close the beaches of his town after a great white shark devoured a resident.

But the conniving mayor overruled him. The economic necessity of beaches jammed with consumers trumped public safety. And it was fine, until the water ran red, people died and public outrage followed.

Welcome to Sacramento's worst nightmare.

The city depends on North Natomas as a revenue generator like the beaches of fictional Amity Island. Commercial and residential real estate mean big money for city budgets.

But the federal government says levees protecting North Natomas are weaker than anyone thought. And the looming shark is a catastrophic flood akin to what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans.

There is no American city more in danger of massive flooding than Sacramento.

Consequently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said this week that it would designate Natomas as a flood hazard zone, essentially placing a moratorium on all building there until the levees are fortified.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sacramento Budget Shrinking

One of the reasons we call for a nonprofit dedicated to the management and fund raising for the Parkway is to protect from this type of up and down government budget process that always winds up cutting parks and other items deemed (though we know better) nonessential the most.

City service cuts 'inevitable'
As budget red ink grows, Sacramento officials say layoffs are also likely.
By Terri Hardy -
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, January 19, 2008

Brace yourself. Sacramento's rocky financial picture is getting worse and cuts in services are now "inevitable," city budget officials said Friday.

Each city department is now analyzing how services would be impacted if they cut their bottom line by 10 percent and by 20 percent, said Russ Fehr, the city's finance director.

Layoffs are looming too – a handful of part-time employees have already been let go – although the city's budget and finance directors said they don't know at this point the total number of workers who could lose their jobs.

They acknowledge that the worst-case scenario is now reality: The projected deficit for 2008-09 is $55 million, the high end of the $35 million to $55 million estimated in October.

"Things keep getting worse," Fehr said. "We have no sense that things have bottomed out and no idea when we'll have significant financial growth again.

"It's inevitable that service levels will be lower, but it's not like we're going out of business," he said. "About 85 percent of what we do will continue."

The city's general fund budget is about $450 million.

Lake Davis Update Announcement

Lake Davis closures lifted Friday
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, January 19, 2008

PORTOLA – The temporary public safety closure of Lake Davis land, trails and waterways related to the northern pike eradication project was lifted Friday, officials with the California Department of Fish and Game said.

In mid-December, 33,000 pounds of Eagle Lake trout from the American River Hatchery were planted in the Plumas Lake reservoir, but the lake remained closed to fishing due to the continued presence of Fennedefo 99, one of several chemicals used to disperse poisons applied in September to eradicate the non-native fish.

While saying the chemical poses no human health issues, state officials agreed in December to continue the closure until Lake Davis showed no signs of toxins for three consecutive tests.

Randy Kelly, Lake Davis pike coordinator for Fish and Game, said at the time that Fennedefo 99 is commonly used as a food additive in gum and several soft drinks.

– Christine Vovakes

Friday, January 18, 2008

Plan for 500 Years

A core principle of our organization is that the Auburn Dam should be built as it will protect the Parkway from the degradation high waters cause along the Parkway and will provide a 500 year level of flood protection to the region.

It is good to see public leadership reaching the same conclusion after so long being satisfied with 200 or even a 100 year level of flood protection when New Orleans had a 250 year level prior to Katrina hitting.

Study: Plan for bigger floods
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 18, 2008

A major new study of flood risk in California's Central Valley urges communities to use worst-case scenarios to build up their levees, rather than setting arbitrary targets based on flood probability.

Sacramento, known to have the worst flood risk of any major metropolitan area in the nation, is working to erect levees strong enough to withstand a 200-year flood, a catastrophic flood predicted to have a half-percent chance of striking in a given year.

The plans to fortify citywide levees by 2015 have ignited a levee war between local and federal officials because they call for restrictions that could result in a building moratorium in the city's fast-growing Natomas basin.

But instead of setting 200-year safety goals, the new study suggests even stronger flood-protection measures – guidelines that may invite even more controversy in the future.

Citing the Valley's "severe" flood risk, the report by a national panel of experts urges California to go further than the legislative steps taken last year to control floodplain development and improve levees.

One of those new laws pushes communities toward that 200-year flood protection, or about double what exists today in most of the Sacramento region.

The report released Thursday instead urges California communities to prepare for the "probable maximum flood," which defines a worst-case storm using historical weather records, storm behavior and runoff intensity.

This would result in protection that exceeds the 200-year threshold and may reach 500-year protection, said the panel's chairman, Gerald Galloway, a former brigadier general at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

JPA & Benefit District Taxation



For Immediate Release
January 18, 2008
Sacramento, California


Some public resources are so valuable, like the Parkway, that they lend themselves more to acquiring a permanent and dedicated source of supplemental funding through philanthropy rather than taxation.

In light of a new tax being proposed on Parkway adjacent property owners to help fund the Parkway,it is a good time to reiterate our position on Parkway funding.

We have advocated that baseline Parkway funding come initially through a Joint Power Authority (JPA) of the local government entities with an interest in the Parkway and that the JPA contract with a nonprofit organization to provide daily management and supplemental funding for the Parkway through philanthropic efforts rather than taxation.

This method has proven successful with valuable public resources like Central Park in New York and the Sacramento Zoo.

The formation of a JPA as part of the new tax proposal is also being discussed and the JPA model to involve Parkway interested government entities is a very important step in reaching the level of regional involvement with the Parkway necessary for long term stability and we support this effort.

A JPA is being used for similar purposes very successfully in Southern California:

“The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was formed as a separate agency on June 12, 1989, by the County of San Diego and the Cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach. It was empowered to acquire, plan, design, improve, operate and maintain the San Dieguito River Park. The vision of the River Park is to preserve and interpret the natural and cultural resources of the river valley from the river's source on Volcan Mountain, north of Julian, to the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar”

An additional two points regarding any new taxes being imposed for the Parkway:

1) Sacramento County residents are already being taxed for parks and any new taxes providing service for the county should be approached in the appropriate way, through a county-wide tax proposal which requires a 2/3 vote.

2) The Parkway adjacent property tax is essentially unfair as it taxes some property owners for a regional resource benefiting all residents and the Parkway is a regional resource, as reflected in virtually all of the reports about it, and certainly in our membership which includes members from Auburn, Davis, Elk Grove, Folsom, Gold River, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville and Sacramento.

The American River Parkway is an absolutely wonderful resource, and even with the many problems it has, it is treasured by the regional community.

With this deep well of support, it would seem that structuring the opportunity for long-term philanthropic support solely dedicated to the Parkway through a nonprofit organization partnering with a JPA, would be the approach most embraced by the community.

Organizational Leadership
American River Parkway Preservation Society
Sacramento, California
January 18, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Arden Cityhood

It appears the new city (Arden is the name I like best) will become a reality as the folks working on it are doing their homework, sticking to the basics and following through, all needed to ensure success, and that is a very good thing.

It helps that the logic of cityhood, based on the successful experiences of our new cities vs the old, is so solidly in favor of it.

Parks join cityhood fight
The Arden Manor district endorses Arden Arcade push.
By Ramon Coronado -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Arden Manor Recreation and Park District is small, but advocates pushing for cityhood for the Arden Arcade area hope the district's recent endorsement will bring about a big change to the otherwise lackluster campaign.

"It is always an uphill battle, but we are still on track," said Joel Archer, who is leading the charge to turn the 13 square miles into a city of 78,000.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the advisory board of the Arden Manor park district not only voted to support putting the issue on the November ballot, but also approved wording that supports incorporation as the only viable alternative for the area.

Board member Warren Harding said the park district opposes remaining an unincorporated area of Sacramento Coun- ty and is against being annexed by the city of Sacramento.

"They have a $55 million deficit, and they have higher taxes. We want to keep our parks and fire stations the way they are. We don't want any part of being absorbed by the city," Harding said.

"We see parts of Sacramento that are pretty neglected, and we don't want to be another neglected area."

Representation under the county Board of Supervisors is currently one supervisor for every 270,000 residents. With a mayor and five council members, the representation would be one elected official for each 17,000 residents, Harding said.

Harding said three of the five elected board members to the independent park district voted unanimously for cityhood.

The park district, which has three parks, is a mile long and a mile wide. It is bounded by Watt and Fulton avenues and Arden Way and Fair Oaks Boulevard.

Advocates for cityhood say they have already raised more than half of the $250,000 needed to pay for environmental and fiscal studies before the measure can be put on the November ballot.

The campaign also has been able to get the organizational backing of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and its union, which claim they will lose millions in funding and be forced to close fire stations should the Arden area be annexed by Sacramento.

Public Safety First Priority

It is the first priority of government in free societies, and public leadership, to protect the public from floods in Sacramento needs to adopt the gold standard of safety adopted by most other major river cities in the nation, a 500 year level of flood protection and that will be accomplished only with the construction of the Auburn Dam.

Editorial: Safety, not revenue, must come first in Natomas

FEMA is right: The risk of flooding is too great to allow unrestricted development
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 17, 2008

A great hue and cry rose forth from Sacramento City Hall on Tuesday. The reason? Two years after Hurricane Katrina, the federal government is tightly enforcing the nation's laws that restrict building in dangerous floodplains.

Armed with new studies that examine the threat of water seeping under levees in Natomas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would place this area in a zone that limits construction of any new structures lower than the expected flood level.

In Natomas, that level could reach 20 feet or more.

This decision by the federal government wasn't unexpected. In October, FEMA officials made clear they wouldn't allow unrestricted building in Natomas as the basin's levees are being upgraded. FEMA held out the possibility of allowing infill development for structures elevated three feet, but has now decided the flood risk in Natomas requires a more restrictive designation.

To hear Mayor Heather Fargo and County Supervisor Roger Dickinson tell it, the federal government is unfairly picking on Natomas, basing its decisions on suspect methodologies. Fargo says that Tuesday she was "very angry with the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA." One hopes that Fargo and Dickinson can demonstrate how the corps and FEMA are abusing their authority. Otherwise, they risk leaving the impression they care more about tax revenue than the need to limit risk to life and property.

Eminent Domain Initiative Announcement

Land-transfer issue on ballot
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 17, 2008

An initiative that would prohibit governments from using eminent domain to transfer property to private developers qualified for the June ballot Wednesday.

The measure would still allow state and local governments to condemn land for traditional public uses, such as roads and parks, though the owner must receive "just compensation."

In 2006, another initiative, Proposition 90, fell short with 48 percent of the vote. It would have barred governments from using eminent domain to take property for use by a private developer.

But it also contained a more controversial provision requiring governments to compensate property owners when regulations and laws resulted in "substantial" economic losses.

Signatures are still being verified for a competing initiative sponsored by local governments. It would prohibit taking an "owner-occupied residence" for private purposes.

– John Hill, Bee Capitol Bureau

River Styx

A very nice story of an urban waterway being brought back to life through a community wide effort.

Pittsburgh's Nine Mile Run: An Urban Stream Comes Back to Life

Pittsburgh was called "hell with the lid off" during its industrial heyday, and its River Styx during that period was surely Nine Mile Run. Polluted into lifelessness, buried in culverts, insulted with trash, gouged by flash floods, and stripped of its floodplain by vast piles of slag, Nine Mile Run was as close to biological death as a stream could get. Today it is the site of the largest urban stream revitalization project ever undertaken by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Read about the stream's comeback to life in an article by Peter Harnik, director of TPL's Center for City Park Excellence Director. The article originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Landscape Architecture magazine.

American River Work

Agency to put $5.7 million in river project this year
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Placer County Water Agency is planning to spend $5.7 million on its Middle Fork American River Project relicensing efforts this year.

Entering the fourth year of a an eight-year, $30 million administrative-and-environmental review, the agency is moving toward a 2013 renewal of its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit.

The agency's board of directors approved task orders at a recent meeting to continue work of six environmental consulting firms through the coming year. The 2008 task orders total $5.7 million.

"There is going to be a lot of intensive field work this year," said Mal Toy, director of resource development.

The middle fork project combines reservoirs, powerhouses and water conveyance facilities on the middle fork American River watershed in the Sierra. The network stores water, produces hydroelectricity and provides public recreational facilities.

The Auburn-based water agency built the project under a federal power license granted in 1963. It's up for renewal in five years.

A Klamath Deal?

Calling a done deal when the most important parties to it were not involved in shaping it, would appear to be an example of how best not to actually reach agreement, with everyone, on a real Klamath River deal.

Klamath water deal reached
Tribes, farmers and others draw up a plan to remove dams and revive dwindling salmon populations.
By Eric Bailey
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 16, 2008

SACRAMENTO -- After more than three years of negotiations, a collection of long-quarreling Klamath Basin farmers, fishermen and tribes announced a breakthrough agreement Tuesday that they said could lead to the nation's most extensive dam-removal project.

The $1-billion plan proposes to end one of the West's fiercest water wars by reviving the Klamath River's flagging salmon population while ensuring irrigation water and cheap power for farmers in the basin, which straddles the Oregon-California state line.

The company that owns the four dams in the basin -- billionaire Warren Buffett's PacifiCorp -- was excluded from negotiations and did not sign on. But participants heralded the hard-fought agreement as a sprawling, basin-wide solution that united factions long at odds over the fate of the troubled river.

"Never has the basin been so unified around the necessity for removal of those dams," said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Assns.

Two environmental groups and a Northern California tribe balked at the blueprint, calling it a Bush administration sellout to agribusiness allies. Clifford Lyle Marshall, chairman of the holdout Hoopa Valley Tribe, said the proposal favors farmers over the river's fish and labeled it "an Old West irrigation deal: guarantees for irrigators, empty promises for the Indians."

"The ironic thing is there's not even dam removal in this dam-removal deal," said Bob Hunter of WaterWatch of Oregon, one of the two dissenting environmental groups, both of which were excluded from the negotiations last year. "It seems they released it now because time is running out for the Bush administration to deliver to its political allies in the Klamath farm community."

PacifiCorp officials also took exception to the proposal.

Paul Vogel, a PacifiCorp spokesman, said the company initiated the talks as part of its bid for a new federal operating license for the dams. But he said PacifiCorp was "shut out of the room" for most of the last year as the final plan was cobbled together by more than two dozen state, federal and local government agencies, tribes and other groups.

"You really have to question if there's enough substance there to be worth the paper it's printed on," he said.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Natomas Building, Sacramento Flooding

Though it is good to be concerned about Natomas flooding, it is not so good to be running low on water in a state where north-state rainfall, if captured, can supply Central and Northern California.

Two projects would reduce both worries in Sacramento “considered the urban area most vulnerable to catastrophic flooding in the nation”.

In addition to building the Auburn Dam, which we have long advocated, raising Shasta Dam to the original height it was engineered for, would, as noted in a 2004 Sacramento Bee article:

“From an engineering standpoint, it's [raising the dam] a piece of cake. The dam, built between 1938 and 1945, was originally planned to be 200 feet taller. At 800 feet, it would have been the highest and biggest in the world.

“Sheri Harral, public affairs officer at the dam, said World War II and materials shortages associated with the war effort led to a decision to stop construction at 602 feet.

"The thinking was to come back and add on to it if ever there was a need to," Harral said. "They started looking at raising it in 1978."

“If Shasta Dam had been built up to its engineering limit in 1945, it is arguable that Northern and Central California would not be facing a critical water shortage now.

“According to a 1999 Bureau of Reclamation study, a dam 200 feet taller would be able to triple storage to 13.89 million acre-feet of water.

“Still, tripling the size of Shasta Lake, on paper at least, would store nine times the projected 2020 water deficit for the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Tulare Lake basins during normal water years.”

It is not to late to rectify the mistakes of the past and encourage public leadership to respond to the serious need to address catastrophic flooding through adoption of a 500 year level of flood protection for our community, and the need for more water in the growing Sacramento region, by raising Shasta Dam and building Auburn Dam.

Levee report shocks city
Feds plan tough restrictions that could halt building in Natomas and require flood insurance.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga And Matt Weiser -
Published 12:18 am PST Wednesday, January 16, 2008

After years of post-Hurricane Katrina pressure to improve the nation's defenses against catastrophic flooding, the federal government took a drastic step Tuesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would place Sacramento's fast-growing Natomas in a flood hazard zone, essentially halting construction of homes, offices and stores until the levees are improved.

The FEMA announcement sets a long-awaited deadline for homeowners to buy flood insurance before rates rise.

The designation was greeted with anger and shock by Sacramento city officials who have supported bold levee repair plans but oppose restrictions on building.

City leaders questioned the evaluation conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They said they would seek "an act of Congress" to stop the federal action. And they said the new rules could cripple Sacramento's economy.

"I am very frustrated and very angry with the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA because Sacramento has really become the poster child of what to do right in flood protection," Mayor Heather Fargo said at a hastily called news conference.

Natomas is a major economic driver for the city, which is facing a significant budget crisis. "I'm totally outraged," City Manager Ray Kerridge said Tuesday. "I don't know how the federal government can do this to this city."

North Natomas today accounts for 47 percent of the development in the city of Sacramento.

Fargo said she wasn't sure the city would appeal, but it would seek help from U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui. "The one solution left that I'm aware of is an act of Congress," she said.

Unlike her late husband, however, it doesn't look as if Matsui will lead a charge to make FEMA back off. In the 1980s, U.S. Reps. Robert Matsui and Vic Fazio pushed through legislation that prevented FEMA from slapping building restrictions on much of Sacramento. But that was before Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans.

"Public safety is No. 1," Matsui spokeswoman Lauren Smith said Tuesday. She said the congresswoman was "exploring avenues" that would allow critical projects, such as a planned North Natomas fire station, to proceed.

Sacramento is considered the urban area most vulnerable to catastrophic flooding in the nation.

Owens River is Back

A very good thing!

January 12, 2008
A Long-Dry California River Gets, and Gives, New Life

INDEPENDENCE, Calif. — What Los Angeles took a century ago — a 62-mile stretch of river here in the parched Owens Valley — it is now giving back.

One of the largest river-restoration projects in the country has sent a gentle current of water meandering through what just a year ago was largely a sandy, rocky bed best used as a horse trail and barely distinguishable from the surrounding high desert scrub.

Mud hens dive for food. A blue heron sweeps overhead. Bass, carp and catfish patrol deep below. Some local residents swear they have even seen river otters.

So much reedy tule has sprouted along the banks, like bushy tufts of hair, that officials have called in a huge floating weed whacker, nicknamed the Terminator, to cut through it and help keep the water flowing — a problem inconceivable in years past.

The river, 2 to 3 feet deep and 15 to 20 feet across, will not be mistaken for the mighty Mississippi. And an economic boon promised to accompany the restoration has yet to materialize.

Yet the mere fact that water is present and flowing in the Lower Owens River enthralls residents nearly 100 years after Los Angeles diverted the river into an aqueduct and sent it 200 miles south to slake its growing thirst.

“This is infinitely better than before,” said Keith Franson, a kayaker pumping up his boat on the banks this week and preparing to explore a stretch of the renewed river. “You got birds, herons, terns, all sorts of wildlife coming back in because life is coming back in the river.”

Francis Pedneau, a lifelong Owens Valley resident who had sparred with Los Angeles city officials over access to fishing sites, said word was spreading among fishing enthusiasts about new spots along the river. Mr. Pedneau said he had actually caught fewer bass this past season, “probably because the schools are more spread out now.”

But Mr. Pedneau, 69, has praise for the project, even though he, like many old-timers, is generally suspicious of Los Angeles, given the tension-filled history behind its acquiring water and land here (the inspiration for the 1974 movie “Chinatown”).

Gas Tax

Hopefully, this tax increase will not happen. That could put some gas above $4.00 a gallon.

Congressional commission recommends 25-cent gas tax hike
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A congressional committee will recommend an increase of at least 25 cents in the federal gas tax Tuesday as part of a complete overhaul of the way the federal government plans and funds the nation's transportation system.

The 12-member National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission was assembled by Congress in 2005 to come up with a vision for how to preserve and enhance the nation's roads, highways, railroads and transit systems. Over 20 months, the committee held dozens of meetings and 10 hearings at sites around the country.

The panel's recommendations call for reforming and restructuring the way the federal government selects, funds and constructs projects - currently a disjointed process that committee member Steve Heminger, executive director of the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said lacks direction.

"We're trying to focus the federal effort in areas where there is a national interest at stake," he said.

Federal transportation programs number more than 100, Heminger said, and the committee is recommending they be cut to 10 focused on clear objectives, including restoring the nation's transportation infrastructure, improving mobility in metropolitan areas and speeding the movement of goods to and from the nation's ports.

But such improvements will be costly. The nation spends about $85 billion a year on transportation at the federal, state and local levels, but needs to spend about $225 billion, the committee concluded.

To foot the bill, the committee is suggesting an increase in the federal gas tax. The tax of 18.4 cents per gallon hasn't been raised since 1983, despite an increasing number of cars and drivers and the resulting huge increase in congestion.

The committee recommends a 5-cents-per-gallon increase in the tax for each of the next five years along with per-container freight fees at ports, ticket taxes for passenger rail systems and the ability for state and local officials to impose congestion tolls and enter private-public partnerships. Absent those other sources, Heminger said, the gas tax would need to rise 8 cents per gallon for each of the next five years.

While the committee's members agreed on the need for change, Heminger said, three members appointed by the Bush administration - including Transportation Secretary Mary Peters - oppose raising the gasoline tax. But the other nine members - five appointed by Republicans in Congress, four by Democrats - concur with the increase.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sacramento Biofuel Plant

This is very good news!

Biofuel plant to be built in Sacramento
By Kimberly Horg-Webb

Primafuel, a biofuel production plant based in Long Beach, Calif., recently was awarded the largest grant in history from the California Air Resources Board for biodiesel production, which the company will use to build Sacramento’s first biofuel production plant.

Primafuel’s mission is to produce zero-carbon fuels to reduce the world’s dependence on petroleum.

“The ultimate goal for us is to have a totally sustainable supply chain, resulting in no net increase in carbon dioxide, or in other words ‘zero-carbon fuels.’ We want to ensure that the end product isn’t just clean-burning, but that the entire supply chain behind it is equally sustainable,” said Doug Heckman, public information officer for Primafuel.

The $640,000 grant will fund the development of a 60 million-gallon biodiesel manufacturing facility at the North Terminal facility in West Sacramento. The project, which is still in the developmental stages, will be the first of this scale, but there are others under development in California and in strategic markets around the world. Since 2005, when the company first opened its doors, Primafuel’s founders and senior-management team have commercialized low-carbon-fuel technology and infrastructure projects on five continents through partnerships with agencies such as the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The World Economic Forum just named Primafuel a 2008 Technology Pioneer for innovative approach to biofuels production and distribution infrastructure.

“We’ve been working at a frantic pace and it’s fulfilling to see our technologies and innovative concepts brought into the market space,” Heckman said. “It’s been a high-paced ride and we pride ourselves in not only being a thinking company but also a working company.”

Heckman says there will certainly be better fuels and technologies in the future, but we can’t get there without first improving the technologies of today. One concept is a bolt-on technology for biodiesel plants that converts the byproduct glycerin into a higher-value chemical. The company has also developed a similar technology for corn-ethanol plants, which improves the overall energy output of an ethanol plant by more than 10 percent, dramatically improving the economics and productivity, resulting in a lower-carbon fuel.