Friday, February 29, 2008

Peripheral Canal Leadership

This report exhibits excellent leadership being shown by the governor to deal with a huge problem.

Schwarzenegger to move ahead on Delta canal study
He also will call for 20% per capita cut in state water use.
By Kevin Yamamura -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 29, 2008

Despite stalled negotiations with Democrats on a comprehensive water plan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to move forward on studies of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, including a controversial canal, as well as call for a 20 percent per capita reduction in statewide water use, according to a letter he sent Thursday to Senate Democrats.

Department of Water Re- sources Director Lester Snow compared the water conservation proposal to a 2006 law that requires the state to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

The Republican governor's four-page letter came after leading Democrats alleged Wednesday that he was working "unilaterally" to pursue a canal that would move water around the Delta, a sensitive ecosystem that provides water to 25 million California residents and 2 million acres of farmland.

In a copy of the letter obtained by The Bee, Schwar-zenegger wrote that he intends to direct DWR to begin federal and state environmental reviews on at least four Delta canal alternatives. Those include no new Delta transfer system, a two-part system with a canal and pumps, a stand-alone canal and substantial improvements to the existing pumps.

The studies could take two to three years and cost more than $100 million, paid for by water users under existing contracts, Snow said.

Lawmakers and California governors have long sought a permanent solution that could protect the Delta and provide reliable water transfers. The Delta remains at risk for disruptions because its pumps are viewed as harmful to the ecosystem. State and federal officials had the pumps shut off last summer because they harmed the protected Delta smelt.

Snow said the environmental studies do not predetermine which project would be best. He said Schwarzenegger believes it necessary to have the environmental reviews in place so work can begin quickly when the governor, lawmakers and voters determine which Delta option is best.

"We need to move forward," Snow said. "The history of the Delta being broken is a history of inaction."


While local public leadership appears happy about the homeless situation, the folks long suffering from illegal camping in the North Sacramento Parkway area, are not.

They report a major illegal encampment (20-25 tents) under Highway 160 at the Northgate exit into North Sacramento, continuing the long history of illegal camping in the area, a situation magnified by the destructiveness being caused to the Parkway and the increased burden on an already poor community.

City, county laud homeless program start
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 29, 2008

SACRAMENTO – City and county officials spoke glowingly Thursday about progress made in the first year of a regionwide effort to end chronic homelessness.

Mayor Heather Fargo, county Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Bruce Wagstaff, director of the county Department of Human Assistance, announced at a news conference in front of City Hall that 171 people were placed in permanent housing during the first year of the 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness program.

The plan was adopted by the City Council and county supervisors in 2006. A formal report will be presented to those agencies Tuesday.

"We are not done but we've had a great start," Fargo said, to applause.

William Schield, a formerly homeless man now residing in permanent housing, told those gathered: "Today I'm being my own person again."

Snowpack Announcement

Sierra snowpack above normal, but reservoirs are low
By Bill Lindelof -
Published 7:33 am PST Friday, February 29, 2008

Recent storms in the mountains have kept snowpack levels above normal, according to the latest Sierra snow survey.

Results of a survey conducted Thursday by the California Department of Water Rescources showed that the Sierra snowpack is at 118 percent of normal for this time of year.

"California's snow pack is in good shape with statewide average water content just over the normal April 1 peak," said DWR Hydrology Branch Chief Arthur Hinojosa. "Nevertheless, additional precipitation is still needed to alleviate the deficits to water supply conditions that existed at the start of the season."

Meanwhile, Northern California lakes and reservoirs are low with storage levels at 30percent to 60 percent of capacity. DWR officials hope that a big spring snowmelt will replenish Folsom Lake and other reservoirs to help meet the demand for water this summer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leidesdorff Park

The name sounds great and it honors a real pioneer in the area whose historical contributions to California and our region have been somewhat overlooked.

Oak Park artist wants Leidesdorff to replace Goethe as park name
By Blair Anthony Robertson -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 28, 2008

Michael Harris has never been a farmer. In fact, he grew up in Sacramento and spent part of his youth living in public housing.

At 44, he is an artist with a studio in Oak Park. Yet, somewhere along the way, he became fascinated with the history he was not learning in school.

As an African American, he eventually wondered why he had never heard of the 19th century California pioneer William Alexander Leidesdorff Jr.

Leidesdorff (pronounced LEED-as-dorf) is suddenly a hot name in Sacramento – there is talk that Sacramento County's former Goethe Park could be renamed after the wealthy landowner and farmer who played a key role in preparing California to join the Union.

Leidesdorff, who was of Danish and Afro-Cuban heritage, owned thousands of acres of farmland near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. Part of the farm included the 444-acre parcel that is now Goethe Park, the popular recreation area named for Charles M. Goethe, a local philanthropist who also embraced eugenics and white supremacy.

While Goethe's name soon will be wiped from county maps and brochures, thanks to a recent Board of Supervisors vote, Leidesdorff's is a leading candidate to take its place. Some advocates of the American River Parkway have pushed for something more contemporary, such as naming the park for former Supervisor Illa Collin.

California & Natomas Flooding

Mentioned in a New York Times article.

February 27, 2008
There Will Be Floods

LAST month, a 30-foot section of levee ruptured in Fernley, Nev. While the cause of the breach, which swamped 450 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate, is unknown, anyone familiar with the drowning of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina will tell you this: Levees fail.

Indeed, there are more than 100 antiquated earthen berms across the country in danger of collapsing. What happened in Nevada is a harbinger of a much larger problem nationwide.

In Texas City, Tex., for instance, levees protect 50,000 residents and $6 billion worth of property, including almost 5 percent of the nation’s oil-refining capacity. Imagine the consequences, in this day of $100-a-barrel oil, if those defenses fail.

Even more vulnerable are the 1,100 miles of levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, north of San Francisco. Cobbled together 150 years ago to provide farmland, they are now part of an intricate, fragile system that supplies fresh water to California, the eighth-largest economy in the world.

On a recent visit, I noticed that the water had risen nearly to the top of the levee on one side, while the land had subsided at least 30 feet below on the other side. The water pressure against the decrepit berm was palpable. Should the levee crack, be overtopped by a storm or liquefied by an earthquake, saltwater will surge inland, destroying lives, perhaps flooding Sacramento and paralyzing California.

A year ago the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which builds and maintains many of these levees, admitted that 122 are at risk of failure. California, with 37 at-risk levees, and Washington State, with 19, are the worst off. But the list includes levees near Albuquerque, Detroit, Hartford, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Omaha and Washington.

These levees were designed poorly and built of whatever material was close at hand — clay, soft soil, sand mixed with seashells. Tree roots, shifting stones and rodents weaken them further. The land the berms are built on often subsides, while the waters they restrain constantly probe for weak spots.

Delta Canal Follow Up

A very interesting development that bears watching.

By Hank Shaw
February 27, 2008
Capitol Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO - A state Senate panel ripped Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's secretary for resources Tuesday in the wake of a Record story revealing that the governor may jump-start work on a peripheral canal around the Delta without the Legislature's approval.

Lawmakers also are questioning whether the administration has the legal power to ultimately build a canal without them.

The idea of a peripheral canal shunting water from the Sacramento River around the Delta to the giant pumps near Tracy has been anathema to San Joaquin County officials since before voters soundly defeated a similar proposal in 1982.

They fear a canal would shut off their part of the estuary's source of fresh water, turning it into a backwater. Supporters say the estuary is so fragile the state must find a stable way to get water from Northern California to Southern California.

Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman faced an angry Sen. Michael Machado on Tuesday morning during a meeting of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Machado, a Linden Democrat who represents much of the Delta, suggested that issuing an executive order starting environmental analysis of potential canal routes was tantamount to a declaration of war against the Legislature.

Chrisman declined to comment on the possibility that Schwarzenegger could issue such an order, which was first reported in The Record on Tuesday.

"I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals," Chrisman said.

…"The governor can do what he wants in this particular area."

That is debatable. No one disputes Schwarzenegger's power to begin analysis of a peripheral canal; whether he can build it without the Legislature may be a question answered in the courts.

Both sides are leaning on a 1984 advisory opinion from then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp.

Van de Kamp's opinion was that the state Department of Water Resources could build a canal "across" the Delta, even if it included a short portion of a newly dug canal south of Hood, known as "Duke's Ditch" for then-Gov. George Deukmejian.

But Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee Chairwoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, questions whether the state could unilaterally build a canal "around" the Delta.

DWR Chief Lester Snow thinks he can. He responded in a letter back to Wolk that he interprets Van de Kamp's opinion to mean that he can indeed build a canal around the Delta. Snow also cited favorable opinions in 1981 and 1982 by the Legislature's counsel and its analyst.

Klamath Agreement Not too Agreeable

The consequences of the agreement, which excluded many, are not so good.

Irrigators clash over proposed Klamath deal
Issue Date: February 27, 2008
By Christine Souza
Assistant Editor

Irrigators who once stood alongside one another and protested the Klamath Basin water shut-off in 2001 are now at odds over a proposed settlement agreement that would potentially benefit one group of irrigators and may cause problems for others.

"The proposed settlement was a tough choice for Klamath irrigators," said Chris Scheuring, managing counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation's National Resources and Environmental Division. "At the same time, folks on the Shasta and Scott rivers have concerns about the blowback. All of it shows that species laws, in their current form, are pitting the human species against itself in a way that perhaps was not contemplated when they were enacted."

The proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, released to the public by Klamath River Basin stakeholders in January, is a $985 million plan that would ensure irrigation water and affordable power for irrigators of the Klamath Water Project and revive the river's salmon populations. The deal, developed by an assortment of groups and agencies including farmers, tribes, fishermen and environmentalists, is contingent upon the removal of four dams on the Klamath River.

"This proposed agreement would implement a true watershed-wide approach to Klamath issues, something we have stressed since 2001," said Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), one of 26 stakeholders involved in the negotiations. "This is a product of more than two years of blood, sweat and tears. We believe, given the range of alternatives and needs of Klamath irrigators, that we have negotiated a successful package that secures our future as a viable agricultural economy."

For Klamath Basin irrigators, Addington said the KWUA did make some compromises in its water allotment, but said the association has tools that can help work with those and keep communities sustainable and keep agriculture in production for future generations.

"The agreement is multifaceted and will not be without some controversy," Addington said. "We have to look at what the alternatives are for us. For some groups, status quo is OK. If you are an irrigator in the Klamath Reclamation Project, the status quo is a frightening place to be where assurances related to water deliveries are year to year, month to month."

However, downstream Scott River and Shasta River valley irrigators, who were not at the table during settlement negotiations, are concerned about what this plan could mean for their farming operations.

"Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is concerned that during dry years, with no minimum flow established on the Klamath River, they will look to the Shasta and Scott rivers to make up the flow in times of drought and during dry summer months," said Siskiyou County Farm Bureau President Mike Luiz. "That would be detrimental to irrigators, striking a blow to Scott and Shasta valley agriculture."

Other areas of concern include higher power rates, encroachment of private property rights, a reduction in funding for restoration projects, increased regulations and water quality issues.

"The loss of the power generation capabilities of those dams is something that needs to be addressed," said Luiz, a Montague sheep rancher. "In California and across the West we are still bordering on a power crisis. Every summer we receive warnings of a power shortage and this is good green power that we will be pulling out, so how will they replace that?"

The removal of dams, Luiz said, will also reduce the value of homes located on the region's lakes and the Klamath River.

"If the dams are removed the value of these people's properties is going to be severely impacted. These homeowners are going to go from having lakefront property to desolation-front property," Luiz said. "People have purchased these properties to be next to the lakes and to take advantage of the recreation opportunities so the value of that property is going to be severely impacted."

Retired rancher Ernie Wilkinson, who serves as an associate director for the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, estimates that over the course of the last 20 years, nearly $15 million has been spent on recovery projects in the Scott River valley. He is worried that these recovery dollars that have been spent on projects such as installing fish screens and riparian plantings, may be directed to other projects.

Public Policy & Goals

Setting goals to drive public policy is a traditional method of creating and sustaining innovative change and this article focuses on that.

February 27, 2008
Goal Power
By Shelley Metzenbaum

John F. Kennedy understood it in 1961 when he announced a goal of landing a man on the moon in a decade and returning him safely back to earth, a goal met in 1969. New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton understood it in 1994 when he set a goal, also subsequently met, of reducing violent crime by 25 percent in two years. What did these two government leaders understand? They understood the tremendous power of a well-framed goal for driving government accomplishments to new heights.

Goals, of course, do not always lead to performance gains. Targets can be missed, and more often, ignored. So, what makes some goals effective performance drivers and others ineffective? Understanding the answer to this question can help government managers use goals as a power tool.

How Goals Work

Goals work in two distinct ways: They motivate and they communicate. A well-framed goal unleashes people's instincts to do well and to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Kennedy did not need to threaten penalties or promise rewards when he announced his ambitious vision. The goal itself inspired. It invited and challenged people to achieve the objective.

Goals also drive performance because they communicate. Goals that are specific and clearly defined serve as a sort of shorthand language. They inexpensively and concisely communicate to the people in an agency where to concentrate their efforts and intelligence. Goals support alignment across government organizations, as well.

Sometimes, goals communicate to other organizations within the same jurisdiction. When Dubai established a strategic goal of sustaining an annual GDP growth rate of 11percent for 10 years through 2015, it sent a strong message to the Dubai Electric and Water Authority: Deliver the needed water and power capacity to support this goal, or risk jeopardizing the whole strategy.

Goals can prompt effective action that crosses jurisdictional lines, and they can encourage other levels of government and other organizations to contribute ideas, expertise and resources. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene uses the infant-mortality goal of the federal Healthy People 2010 framework as a target in its annual performance report to the public, showing how a well-framed goal can influence intergovernmental action.

Furthermore, specific targets are a great way to support cooperative efforts and sustain political pressure to attain a shared objective. For example, the numerous, but discrete, goals set for the restoration of Chesapeake Bay sea grasses, blue crabs, oysters and bass serve to heighten the political pressure on local elected officials to adopt regulatory and other practices to meet these goals. For over a decade, Kyoto Protocol targets have stimulated continuous public debate to reduce greenhouse gases. Frustrated by federal failure to ratify the Kyoto protocol by 2005, 500 American cities have signed up to try to meet the Kyoto targets on their own (i.e., cutting greenhouse gases by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012).

Global Cooling

The reports are in and it was a very cool year:

“The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.”

Blog: Science
Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling
Michael Asher (Blog) - February 26, 2008 12:55 PM

World Temperatures according to the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction. Note the steep drop over the last year.

Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

Let's hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans -- and most of the crops and animals we depend on -- prefer a temperature closer to 70.

Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Green Garbage

This appears to be a wonderful project for Sacramento, but obviously needs more research.

City sees green in garbage proposal
By Terri Hardy and Chris Bowman -
Published 12:07 am PST Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It sounds too good to be true:

A garbage-to-energy plant that produces clean fuel, reduces global warming gases and leaves nary a toxic trace.

Yet "plasma gasification" is a real, albeit emerging, technology being considered by Sacramento as an alternative to its daily trans-Sierra hauling of waste to a Nevada landfill.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the project in concept on an 8-0 vote and authorized nonbinding negotiations for up to 90 days exclusively with U.S. Science & Technology of Sacramento and its affiliated companies.

The approval was given even though some council members and members of the public expressed concerns about the lack of information about how the technology works and the speed with which the decision was being made.

"I've got a lot of interest in moving forward with something," Mayor Heather Fargo said. She said she would put together a working group that included some council members to inform them and keep them abreast of negotiations.

In a report to the council, city officials tout the high-tech waste treatment as environmentally superior to using landfills.

Others, however, question its energy efficiency and environmental benefits.

"It takes a lot of electricity," Jim Shetler, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's assistant general manger for energy supply, said in an interview. "Do you use more electricity in the process than you gain from the gas stream that you use to burn and generate electricity?"

Nuclear Power

A great overview of the current state of nuclear power in the country, in a very readable, first person account of a visit to the Three Mile Island plant, that covers all the bases.

What went wrong with nuclear power? How did the cleanest, cheapest solution to our oil dependence become the stuff of apocalyptic nightmares? Where does the myth end and the truth begin?

…The inside [of the nuclear plant at Three Mile Island] was like nowhere else in the world. It is tempting to say that if you were to wake up inside, without ever having seen a power plant, you would know instantly where you were. Pipes the diameter of a Volkswagen bus and painted in glossy primary colors stretched along the walls and the ceiling, springing into the room at ninety-degree elbows before shooting upward to the floor above or down to the one below. Hoses the size of anacondas coiled their way around corners and over door headers, and stop valves that looked like nautical steering wheels were strapped to the walls with tags to identify them. Everything was polished and reflective under bright lights, and the air seemed to shiver from the pipes’ vibrations. It was like being trapped inside a giant air conditioner.

We climbed an open metal staircase that stretched between the pipes and machinery and followed catwalks to look around. Virtually everything around us related to water: tanks so enormous that the curve of the cylinder was nearly imperceptible, filters capable of purifying thousands of gallons at once. If the Hollywood depiction of a nuclear plant involves zones of exposure and pervasive risk, where workers live in fear of radiation—think The China Syndrome or Silkwood—life inside a real power plant was startling proof of what actually drives a nuclear plant: water. Except for the presence of uranium in a single room, the rest of a nuclear compound is essentially a giant steam engine, with three circuits of water doing virtually all the work.

The first of these water circuits, known as the primary, is the only one that actually touches radioactive fuel. In the earliest stage of the process, this water is channeled through a series of tall, thin tubes of uranium known as fuel rods, which are extremely hot from their natural decay process. It takes only a few seconds for the heat from the uranium to make the water hot, too. Once the water reaches 212 degrees, it must be pressurized to avoid boiling; at 600 degrees, under 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, it is ready to be pumped into the next stage of the process, known as the steam generator.

Here, the superheated primary water is brought into contact with a secondary circuit of cooler water. Since the pipes of the two circuits are allowed to touch but the water inside them is not, only the heat can be transferred, and none of the radioactivity. As the secondary circuit absorbs this heat, it boils into steam, which is piped into a series of giant fan blades known as turbines. The force of the steam blowing through those fans causes the blades to spin. If Three Mile Island were a steamboat, this would be the final result—the spinning fans would rotate a paddle wheel and push the boat across the water. Instead, at a power plant, the spinning motion is used to rotate a giant coil of wire inside a magnetic field, creating a current of loose electrons.

Presto: nuclear power.

All that remains is to cool the water and start over. For this, a third circuit of water is pumped into the plant directly from the Susquehanna River, absorbing heat and then flowing back outside to the cooling towers and into the river below. Since, at least in theory, this water never comes into contact with anything inside the plant except its own pipes, the warm water returning to the river should be no more or less polluted than when it was first pumped out. Likewise, the evaporative clouds billowing from the tops of the cooling towers, which appear so grimy in photographs, are actually no different from the clouds forming naturally above the river. In fact, those billowing clouds, which even some nuclear workers casually refer to as “smoke” or “steam,” are actually neither. Like a man’s breath on a cold day, they’re mostly water vapor and tend to fade or even disappear in warm weather. True steam, by comparison, is the more sophisticated substance—entirely gaseous and devoid of humidity—that powers a plant’s turbines, and this almost never stops blowing, especially at TMI. Over the past ten years, the plant has become famous for its constancy, setting records for continuous operation. The latest, among more than 250 similar reactors worldwide, was 689 days without pause or fail.

What all this amounts to, in a typical year, is about 7.2 million megawatt hours of electricity, or enough to satisfy the needs of 800,000 homes. By way of comparison, to produce the same amount of electricity, a coal-fired power plant would have to incinerate more than 3 million metric tons of fuel, producing 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per second, as well as 1,200 pounds of ash per minute and 750 pounds of sulfur dioxide every five minutes. Looking at the cooling towers with that in mind, where a smokestack would be at any of the nation’s 600 coal plants, it is easy to appreciate the lure of nuclear power: The carbon footprint of a nuclear plant is precisely…nothing.

Incorrect Narratives

Sometimes they are just wrong, but spoken enough take the form of dogma, and regarding the environmental record of the US, they are just wrong.

The United States and the Environment: Laggard or Leader?
By Steven F. Hayward
Publication Date: February 21, 2008

If there is one country that bears the most responsibility for the lack of progress on international environmental issues, it is the United States.
--Gus Speth, Red Sky at Dawn[1]

Sadly, our nation is also at present the biggest engine of ecological destruction on Earth, the chief (but by no means only) force keeping humanity on collision course with the natural world.
--Paul and Anne Ehrlich, One with Nineveh[2]

U.S. Given Poor Marks on the Environment
--New York Times headline, January 23, 2008

To borrow the blunt language of Generation X and the "Millennials," does the United States suck when it comes to the environment? Contrary to the perception expressed in the epigraphs above, the answer turns out to be a resounding No; the United States remains the world's environmental leader and is likely to continue as such. But to paraphrase the old slogan of the propagandist, if a misperception is repeated long enough, it will become an unshakeable belief.

Environmental improvement in the United States has been substantial and dramatic almost across the board, as my annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators and other books and reports like it have shown for more than a decade.[3] The chief drivers of this improvement are economic growth, constantly increasing resource efficiency, innovation in pollution control technology, and the deepening of environmental values among the American public that have translated into changed behavior and consumer preferences. Government regulation has played a vital role to be sure, but in the grand scheme of things, regulation can be understood as a lagging indicator that often achieves results at needlessly high cost. Were it not for rising affluence and technological innovation, regulation would have much the same effect as King Canute commanding the tides.

But in a variation of the old complaint "what have you done for me lately?" there is widespread perception that the United States lags behind Europe and other leading nations on environmental performance. This perception is more strongly held abroad than here in the United States.

Yale University's Daniel Esty, the chief author of the World Economic Forum's very useful Environmental Performance Index (EPI)--a new iteration of which appeared in January of this year[4]--notes an interesting irony on this point. In the EPI's 2006 ranking of 133 nations, the United States ranked twenty-eighth, based on the study's comparison of sixteen key indicators. When he presents these findings in the United States, Esty reports, some audiences often ask how it is that the United States scores so poorly on the rankings, Americans being used to appearing near the very top of all international rankings of good things. In Europe, Esty says, audiences wonder how it is possible that the United States scores so high in the rankings--surely there must be some dreadful mistake in the methodology that gives the United States the unjustified high rank of twenty-eighth place![5]

Indian Water Rights

It is especially heartening, though it may obviously cause some problems, to see rights that have been so long abrogated, again begin to be empowered.

Indian tribes exercising water rights
By Karl Puckett, USA TODAY

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — For decades, ranchers and farmers across the West have tapped into rivers and streams on or near Indian reservations. Now, as drought conditions plague big parts of the region, they're concerned their access to those sources could dry up.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court gave tribes the primary rights to streams on their reservations in 1908, until recently, 19 tribes in the West had not exercised those rights. This year, tribes in Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Nevada and California are on the verge of securing their claims.

That could result in less water, or higher water prices, for non-Indian agricultural producers and communities downstream, according to Victor Marshall, an attorney who represents irrigators in New Mexico's San Juan Valley.

Marshall acknowledges that Indian tribes have more water coming to them. But he argues the amounts they are seeking are more than they can realistically use on the reservation.

Rivers, streams redirected

David Gover, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colo., argues that the diversion of Indian waters by non-Indians was "a direct attack on their resources."

"It's one of the most important resources we have available for the development of our economies," Gover said.

Because rainfall is so meager in much of the West, huge distribution systems made up of dams, reservoirs and canals, both privately and publicly constructed, redirect rivers and streams. This allows residents miles away to have water for drinking, fire protection, growing crops and raising livestock.

Delta Canal

Good news if it proves to be true.

By Hank Shaw
February 26, 2008
Capitol Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may issue an executive order jump-starting a controversial plan to build a canal around the Delta, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

Doing so would bypass the Legislature, which is divided over whether such a canal should be built.

Schwarzenegger supports the idea of a new way to ship water from the Sacramento River to the giant pumps near Tracy that supply roughly 25 million Californians with their drinking water.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Bill Maile neither confirmed nor denied that an executive order is in the works.

Opponents, such as Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, say a canal around the Delta would divert the flow of fresh water away from the area of the estuary near Stockton, turning it into a fetid backwater.

"I don't think this is helpful at all," said Machado, who represents the part of the Delta that would be affected. "This executive order is a presumption of a direction without any determination that it is the right direction to go.

"It could be a disaster for San Joaquin County."

No argument from Dante Nomellini, a Stockton attorney who represents central Delta farmers.

Nomellini said Monday he's heard whisperings about an impending executive order.
"We'll have to see what it says," he said.

He calls the governor's entire Delta Vision process a "sham," saying that state officials have long known they wanted to build a canal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Builder Fees Proposed

At some point it would be hoped that local public leadership realizes that the optimal long term goal to establish concerning flooding is that of reaching a 500 year level of flood protection—comparable to most other major river cities in the nation—rather than the 100 and 200 year level (New Orleans had a 250 year level when it flooded) now being reached for.

The only options able to attain this goal for Sacramento include the building of Auburn Dam, which we discussed in our 2006 report, "The American River Parkway: Protecting its Integrity & Providing Water for the River Running Through It: A Report on the Auburn Dam Policy Environment"

Flood agency urges new fee
Developers and remodelers face extra cost if plan is approved to help finance stronger levees.
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A plan to double the city's flood protection could add $5,000 to the price of an average new home in Sacramento.

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency proposes a development fee to pay for a host of projects to achieve greater flood protection throughout the city.

The fee was first discussed last year as a companion to a property tax increase adopted by voters for flood control projects. Details were unveiled at a meeting of the SAFCA board last week.

A fee on new development is seen as a way to ensure urban growth does not increase the area's flood risk. It would amount to about $2 per square foot for one-story, single-family homes, which in Sacramento average about 2,500 square feet.

Industrial projects would pay about the same rate, two-story multifamily housing would pay $1.20 per square foot, and commercial development would pay about $3.

New construction and remodeling that increases an existing building's footprint would be subject to the fees.

A New Ice Age?

Just when we got settled into the warming planet narrative, here comes another just beginning that tells a different story.

What’s a person to do?

Keep a warm coat by the swimming pool I guess
:) !

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age
Lorne Gunter, National Post Published: Monday, February 25, 2008
Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.

In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.

And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.

OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades.

But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature.

And it's not just anecdotal evidence that is piling up against the climate-change dogma.

According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.

"We missed what was right in front of our eyes," says Prof. Russell. It's not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind's effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.

But when Profs. Toggweiler and Russell rejigged their model to include the 40-year cycle of winds away from the equator (then back towards it again), the role of ocean currents bringing warm southern waters to the north was obvious in the current Arctic warming.

Last month, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, shrugged off manmade climate change as "a drop in the bucket." Showing that solar activity has entered an inactive phase, Prof. Sorokhtin advised people to "stock up on fur coats."

Mayoral Innovation, (Part Three)


John Hickenlooper
Applying Business Know-How
to Early Childhood Education

As we continue our examination of city hall leadership, this week's focus is on a mayor who has adopted a project not normally under his jurisdiction and who has driven it to completion based on his understanding of its importance to his city.

We are speaking of Mayor John Hickenlooper of Denver, who recently launched a Pre-K Stipend Program aimed not only at improving Denver's education system but also at benefiting the city as a whole. In 2003, Hickenlooper campaigned with the rallying cry: "Because all kids deserve an equal start in life." Once elected, he delivered on the promise by applying his leadership talents and political capital to improving childhood education.

"Education is absolutely the key to our future," explains Hickenlooper. "Ensuring that Denver parents have access to quality affordable preschool for their children is a critical part of improving our public schools, increasing economic opportunity, and reducing burdens on our public safety and criminal justice systems."

Despite supporting research on preschool's importance in closing income gaps and its potential to solve other urban challenges, two ballot initiatives introduced by Hickenlooper's mayoral predecessors did not pass. Voters did not view such initiatives as falling under the purview of city responsibilities. Hickenlooper decided to take an alternative approach, which involved the business community in the very first steps of the program's development. An entrepreneur himself with experience creating a successful restaurant chain, Hickenlooper understood that these leaders could create the strongest business case for improving childhood education that would in turn garner Denver citizen approval.

From a list of more than 300 names, Hickenlooper recruited 40 civic and business leaders who would champion improving early childhood education and who represented diverse industries and backgrounds. Many of the team members had strong relationships with the Denver community, including the Chamber of Commerce and the state legislature. The Mayor's Leadership Team first convened in January 2004 at a summit on early childhood education, and continued to meet for monthly breakfast sessions for over two years. From the start, Hickenlooper established clear objectives for his team:

• Groundwork: Develop a strong economic rationale for advancing early childhood education programs in Denver and delineate the range of potential benefits to the city.

• Scope: Unlike the failed programs of the past, whose goals were too broad, create a narrowly defined program with pre-established goals.

• Timing: This was to be a marathon, not a speed race. Members were to provide meticulous evaluation of possible programs and answer to any holes in the plan.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Government and Builders

As builders are the primary force behind creating communities, it would seem logical that government work with developers rather than against them, an adversarial position that fortunately, most local governments don’t adhere to.

Editorial: Protect Natomas quickly, yes – but wisely, too
Declaring emergency won't speed levee work and could hurt flood control efforts
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 25, 2008

To bring Natomas' levees back up to snuff, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency is set to embark on a colossal amount of levee work in a very short time.

In roughly two years, SAFCA plans to strengthen 25 miles of levee and move 5 million cubic yards of dirt, while keeping open a Garden Highway that is lined with houses.

Some agencies would spend five to 10 years securing permits and funding for such a $400 million project, but SAFCA is pursuing a timeline unprecedented in Central Valley history, juggling 850 separate tasks to move the project forward.

You'd think that Natomas developers, whose properties will be protected by this work, would be grateful. Alas, they are not.

Focused solely on their own financial bottom lines, Natomas developers and some city officials – including City Manager Ray Kerridge – have been disparaging SAFCA and the state and federal agencies that are partnering on the Natomas work.

Kerridge and development lawyer Greg Thatch have effectively accused SAFCA of dragging its feet, claiming its two-year schedule could be halved by a year. Both want Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and federal officials to declare a state of emergency for Natomas, which supposedly would cut through red tape.

County Bond Costs

They just went up substantially on bonds covering retirement costs, and effectively shrinks funds available for, among other things, the Parkway, which is unfortunately way down on the list of funding priorities.

Bob Shallit: County's bond costs shoot up
By Bob Shallit -
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 25, 2008

Sacramento County's financial officials got a huge shock last month.

Their monthly interest payment on a single bond increased by more than $500,000.

The hit is fallout from continuing turmoil in the nation's credit markets and specifically nervousness affecting a class of variable-rate bonds called auction-rate securities.

Long known for low rates and stability, these securities have turned highly volatile in the past couple of months, dramatically increasing interest obligations for municipalities and other big borrowers across the country.

In the case of Sacramento County, the interest rate climbed in one month to 8.5 percent from 6.5 percent on the $346 million still owed on a pension obligation bond. The county's monthly interest payment climbed to $2.29 million from $1.77 million.

"That was too much of a jump to sit back and see what happens," says Chris Marx, the county's debt officer.

As a result, she and other officials are racing to "re-fund" that obligation – and another smaller one for airport expansion – by obtaining another kind of bond and paying off the old ones.

"There are less volatile products out there, absolutely," Marx says.

An underwriter has been hired to look at those alternatives and a proposal for new financing will be presented to the Board of Supervisors at its March 4 meeting, Marx says.

(The city of Sacramento does not have any auction-rate securities, says interim Treasurer Tom Berke.)

The rising bond costs here show just how widespread the ripples are from a crisis tied partly to the collapse of the housing market.

Worries have been particularly acute in the auction-rate market, where municipalities obtain long-term loans that have rates dictated by what investors are willing to pay for them at weekly and monthly auctions.

In some recent cases, there have been no buyers at all for the securities, causing interest rates to "default" to extremely high rates. That hasn't happened with Sacramento County's obligations, Marx says, and the higher payments so far have been "within budget parameters."

But it's clear the county isn't waiting around to see if that might change.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Public Leadership & the Public Purse

The travels of public leaders to premier vacation destinations a long way from home, have long been a source of criticism and the weighing of results, along with the lack of focus on local issues, are legitimate concerns that deserve study.

Mayor's travels draw criticism
Far-flung trips called unneeded, unfruitful
By Terri Hardy -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 24, 2008

As part of her quest to make Sacramento the greenest city in the country, Mayor Heather Fargo has seen the world, traveling to London, Alaska, Paris and other far-flung locations to study the impacts of global warming.

Since October 2005, she's traveled nearly 124,000 miles on 25 trips – 20 of them to climate change conferences or meetings where the environment was prominent on the agendas, city records show.

Though many of those miles were traveled in the name of conservation, Fargo's journeys created about 25 tons of carbon emissions, based on Sacramento Municipal Utility District estimates – only a small portion of which were offset by sponsoring organizations.

And while Fargo said she sought out sponsored trips, the travel nonetheless cost taxpayers at least $44,000, for Fargo and occasionally for accompanying city staff members. It took Fargo out of Sacramento 135 days, causing her to miss 16 of 113 council meetings – 14 percent.

Some environmental experts question the necessity for journeying so far afield. And while some of Fargo's peers say she's emerged as a leader in the push toward a more environmentally conscious Sacramento, local environmentalists complain that Fargo hasn't shared innovative ideas culled from her trips and has failed to show leadership on some key local environmental and land use decisions.

Graham Brownstein, executive director of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, said disillusionment among local environmentalists grew after the mayor's recent State of the Downtown address on greening the central city. In her comments, Fargo advised citizens to lower their carbon emissions by walking more and getting rid of incandescent light bulbs.

"She seemed so completely detached about the reality of the scope of challenges we face with global warming, that it was almost beyond comprehension," Brownstein said. "Is that all she learned at those conferences? What else is there other than light bulbs?"

Fargo said her trips have resulted in important local environmental advances, including the creation of a city blueprint to cut energy use and greenhouse gases, called the Sustainability Master Plan.

And she said the conferences have allowed her to gather information, fight for funds and advocate on important issues, such as flood control and eminent domain. They also allow her to make and maintain relationships and raise her profile, she said, including on environmental issues.

"When I evaluate whether or not to travel, I look at what's good for the city and whether there's a benefit that makes sense, both in (terms of) my time and city resources," Fargo said. "I meet other mayors and talk about what cities need to do and can do."

Watching State Budgets

You’ve heard the old saying that the best way to quit eating sausage is to see it being made, and that can also apply to state budgets, of which this one in New Jersey is a sad example.

Toll and Spend
February 23, 2008; Page A8

The slow economy is hurting state tax revenues around the country. But look on the bright side: You could live in New Jersey, where decades of tax and spend politics is reaching its logical conclusion.

"We have a serious structural financial problem," the state's liberal Democratic Governor Jon Corzine told us on a recent visit. "You better address these problems or you will put yourself in a 1970s-style New York City situation, where you get a control board telling you what to do." Mr. Corzine is promoting his own solution, but he's also tacitly admitting that the state's politicians have been sucking the place dry for decades. If you want to know where a state dominated by public-employee unions ends up, Trenton is it.

Mr. Corzine spent 25 years at Goldman Sachs and is fluent with numbers, most of them harrowing if you're a New Jersey taxpayer. In 1990 the state was $3 billion in debt. Borrowing has since grown at a compound annual rate of about 13%, and now the state is $32 billion in the red. Throw in unfunded pensions and health benefits for retirees, and that number swells to $113 billion, or $3,400 for every man, woman and child in the state. That's three times per capita higher than the national average, making New Jersey the nation's fourth-most indebted state.

Public workers and teachers can retire at age 55 after 25 years with a pension of 60% of salary -- indexed to inflation. Police and firefighters can retire at 65% of salary at any age after 25 years of service and 70% after 30 years. With such generous benefits, you might think funding pensions would be a priority. Ah, no. Last summer the state disclosed it had used accounting tricks to skip more than $7 billion in pension payments over 15 years. That money went to current spending to buy votes.

Mr. Corzine is like a new homeowner who finds rotting floorboards once he moves in. And he deserves credit for acknowledging the problem. He's raised the retirement age to 60 for new state hires, instituted defined-contribution plans for elected officials, and insisted that state employees contribute at least something for health insurance. He's also pushing a spending freeze, but that would only stop the accumulation of new debt.

To pay off the old debt, he's literally proposing to mortgage the state's best cash-producing assets -- its roads. Under his plan, the state would create a new quasi-independent agency that would borrow about $38 billion. The bonds would be financed through steep, inflation-adjusted toll road increases -- 50% each in 2010, 2014, 2018and 2022, followed by an increase every four years based on the consumer price index.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Breakfast in Oak Park

Sounds like a great new place planned for one of Sacramento's oldest neighborhoods!

Bob Shallit: Breakfast restaurant planned in Oak Park
By Bob Shallit -
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 23, 2008

A local coffee shop owner is bringing to Oak Park what he boasts will be "hands down, the best breakfast restaurant in Sacramento."

Chris Pendarvis expects to begin construction this spring on the 35-seat eatery inside a 1920s-era, concrete building at 36th and Broadway, where he now roasts coffee for his three cafes – Naked Lounge and Tupelo Coffee House in Sacramento, and Habit in El Dorado Hills.

The coffee roasting operation will share space with the new restaurant he's calling Orphan Breakfast and Coffee House.

Why Orphan? "Because it sounds cool," says Pendarvis, who is 38.

Orphan will be similar to a Chico eatery, Sin of Cortez, that Pendarvis opened in 1999 and later sold. The concept: all-fresh foods, no preservatives and creative presentations, he says.

With an emphasis on breakfast, the cafe will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. most days once the place is completed later this year, a block from Kevin Johnson's 40 Acres retail project.

"Hopefully, this will be an anchor for that corner – a 'destination' that attracts people" from nearby neighborhoods, as well as Oak Park, he says.

Pendarvis says he's convinced a restaurant will succeed in the low-income neighborhood that's seen hit-and-miss revitalization efforts in recent years.

Oak Park "just needs a standout product," and diners will flock there, he says.

Hurricanes and Global Warming

It has been reported that the increased destruction caused by hurricanes in the United States over the past several years was connected to global warming, but a recent report says not so.

NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction
Original Message —–
From: “NOAA News Releases”
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2008 12:27 PM
Subject: NOAA: Increased Hurricane Losses Due to More People, Wealth Along Coastlines, Not Stronger Storms
Contact: Dennis Feltgen, NOAA 305-229-4404Increased Hurricane Losses Due to More People,
Wealth Along Coastlines, Not Stronger Storms, New Study Says

A team of scientists have found that the economic damages from hurricanes have increased in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S. coastlines, and not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes.

“We found that although some decades were quieter and less damaging in the U.S. and others had more land-falling hurricanes and more damage, the economic costs of land-falling hurricanes have steadily increased over time,” said Chris Landsea, one of the researchers as well as the science and operations officer at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami. “There is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record that indicates global warming has caused a significant increase in destruction along our coasts.”

Police on Horseback

We have long advocated for mounted patrols in the Parkway, particularly in the dangerous downtown/midtown adjacent area, and it appears they are a good investment, financial as well as in public safety.

Bridgeport police horsing around

Bridgeport Police Officer Edgar Perez and his partner are behind bars. Perez, the stocky, jovial rookie of his unit, calls his partner a nightmare to work with - and she is. Six feet tall, black and muscular, the officer sports a thick mohawk on her well-coiffed head, which she has a habit of tossing haphazardly when bored.

But despite her overbearing appearance, this Nightmare is more approachable than most officers. She's one of six horses in the Bridgeport mounted police unit, and earns her keep through public relations, patrol and crowd control.

"They're like the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders," says Sgt. John Cueto, the unit's supervising officer. "They know how to promote the police. Honestly, they're out putting their best foot forward."

It may seem like a relic of the past, but the Bridgeport mounted police unit is the largest and, arguably, the most active of two in the state. Mounted police officers work in pairs and are stationed throughout the city, in all weather, year-round.

In the summer, the officers focus on "quality of life" problems at Seaside Park, issuing traffic tickets or enforcing open container laws, Cueto says. After Labor Day, the unit patrols city streets, much as an officer in a squad car does.

Large-scale events at Seaside Park, like last summer's Gathering of the Vibes, which can draw up to 30,000 people, or basketball tournaments at the Arena at Harbor Yard, are when the horses really pull their weight, Cueto says. At the Vibes last year, the unit assisted in finding missing children on a daily basis. "We're able to do a large field search" and can see above the masses, Cueto says. "It just makes sense. It's better to see one cop on a horse than 20 in riot gear."

Perez agrees.

"You're going to be able to move a crowd of people a lot quicker with these huge horses than you would with 50 officers," he says. "It's a good show of force. It's non-confrontational, also, which is good. Look at a lot of the bigger towns, the bigger cities - New York City, New Orleans. It's a lot of departments going to the mounted unit, utilizing the horses, because they can replace 50 officers."

New York City's mounted police unit, the oldest in the country, founded in 1871, boasts more than 100 horses. Bridgeport's division dates to at least 1918, but the present six-horse unit has an off-and-on history, according to the will of the government and the availability of funds.

… It costs about $50,000 a year in veterinary and food bills to support the six horses, Cueto says. A horse can cost $5,000 to $8,000 to purchase, and can be on active duty for 10 or more years, he says.

In contrast, a new police cruiser costs about $30,000. This year, the city budgeted $450,000 for gas for the fleet of about 150 vehicles, says Lt. James Viadero, Bridgeport Police spokesman.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dams in Policy are Possibility

The Senator and the Governor work together to ensure California comes up with a comprehensive water policy that includes dams.

Feinstein, governor push for water bond
Dams still a deal breaker, but legislative leaders from both parties agree to meet again in two weeks.
By E.J. Schultz -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 22, 2008

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met privately with state lawmakers Thursday in an effort to jump-start stalled negotiations on a state water bond.

There were no major breakthroughs and significant hurdles remain. But legislative leaders from both parties agreed to meet again in two weeks, the governor said.

Feinstein, who was invited to the Capitol by the governor, said, "I found it very productive and very constructive and I think the key is … to keep these people together."

She and the governor pressed for a legislative deal to get a measure on the November ballot, rather than relying on an outside ballot initiative.

Legislative water solutions have proved elusive due to the partisan divide over dams. Talks collapsed last year and lawmakers from both parties had put the issue aside this year as they wrestle with the state budget crisis.

But Feinstein said "the window of opportunity is on us now." If no deal is reached for this year's ballot, lawmakers would probably have to wait until 2012, she said.

That's because reaching a deal for the 2010 ballot might prove to be politically impossible because it is a gubernatorial election year, she said.

Feinstein has long pushed for state money for dams, parting ways with other leading Democrats who have strongly opposed using public money to pay for surface water storage. On Thursday, Feinstein called for a "comprehensive solution" that would include money for dams and groundwater storage, as well as for repairs to the deteriorating Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Water Plan Update

The process is continuing and available for public comment.

State Study Forecasts Water Supply Shortfall

(February 21, 2008) The reliability of water deliveries through the State Water Project is eroding rapidly and will continue to do so unless the state takes action, according to a newly released report.

Delta pumping restrictions and climate change are two of the most significant changes facing the system, according to the draft report from the state Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Last spring, State Water Project pumps in the Delta were shut down for the first time to protect the Delta smelt. In December 2007, a federal court ruling restricted operations of both the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project while a new federal biological study for the Delta smelt is written this year.

The report notes that the reduced pumping did not result in an increase in the number of Delta smelt last fall and that another open water fish, the long-fin smelt, also is being considered for listing under the state Endangered Species Act.

The two factors mean “a more comprehensive approach to address the decline” in open water fish is needed, according to the report.

Since the DWR report was released, the California Fish and Game Commission has voted to limit pumping from the Delta to protect the long-fin smelt as an endangered species. The commission’s February 8 action takes effect later this month and will be in place through August. After then, the limit most likely will be extended until the adoption of new state/federal rules for pump operation that will incorporate the limits.

A blue-ribbon task force appointed by the Governor has recommended a significant increase in conservation and water efficiency, new facilities to move and store water and likely reductions in the amount of water taken out of the Delta watershed.

The Delta is the source of drinking water for two-thirds of Californians and irrigation water for millions of acres of crops. It also offers vital flood protection for the California Central Valley plains.

DWR is accepting comments on its draft report until March 13. For more information

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tree Loss, Safety Gain

While the loss of heritage trees and Parkway is tragic, the increased safety from flooding is a very good thing, but for the long term, leadership needs to consider the Auburn Dam to provide protection from the ongoing bank scouring that high water in the river causes, discussed in our 2006 report: (The American River Parkway: Protecting its Integrity & Providing Water for the River Running Through It A Report on the Auburn Dam Policy Environment)

Neighbors welcome levee work, lament loss of trees
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 21, 2008

Work on one of the most vulnerable levees on the American River will start as soon as next week.

The long-awaited project is welcome, but it's a mixed blessing for those in the neighborhood who could not save several major trees that must be felled or moved in the process.

The Mayhew levee, as it is known, protects about 300 homes in the Butterfield-Riviera East neighborhood in Sacramento's Rosemont area. The 4,300-foot-long levee was built decades ago by the neighborhood's developer. It's never been federally certified.

The levee is not tall enough to contain a 100-year flood, which has a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year. Only the immediate neighborhood would flood in such a storm.

A bigger storm could overwhelm the neighborhood and flood more of Sacramento.

The $9.5 million project will raise the levee 3 feet and install a slurry wall up to 60 feet deep to prevent underseepage.

"Nowhere else in the American River system do we need to raise the levee that much," said Pete Ghelfi, director of engineering at the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.

The levee's deficiencies have been known for decades, and repairs were federally approved in 1999.

The design also requires the levee to be widened as much as 30 feet, narrowing the natural parkway enjoyed by residents and requiring thousands of trees and shrubs to be removed. Some trees may be transplanted to locations away from the levee. Among them are three heritage oaks more than 100 years old.

Transportation Infrastructure

Great overview brief.

America’s aging and congested road, rail, and air networks are threatening its economic health.
Clogged Arteries

Transportation spending is spread around the United States like peanut butter, and while it’s spread pretty thick—nearly $50 billion last year in federal dollars for surface transportation alone—the places that are most critical to the country’s economic competitiveness don’t get what they need. The nation’s 100 largest metropolitan regions generate 75 percent of its economic output. They also handle 75 percent of its foreign sea cargo, 79 percent of its air cargo, and 92 percent of its air-passenger traffic. Yet of the 6,373 earmarked projects that dominate the current federal transportation law, only half are targeted at these metro areas.

In the past, strategic investments in the nation’s connective tissue—to develop railroads in the 19th century and the highway system in the 20th—turbocharged growth and transformed the country. But more recently, America’s transportation infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth and evolution of the economy. As earmarks have proliferated, the government’s infrastructure investment has lost focus. A recent academic study shows that public investment in transportation in the 1970s generated a return approaching 20 percent, mostly in the form of higher productivity. Investments in the 1980s generated only a 5 percent return; in the 1990s, the return was just 1 percent.

The map above shows an estimate of road-traffic congestion in 2010. In most major metro areas, it is steadily worsening. The cost of congestion, including added freight cost and lost productivity for commuters, reached $78 billion in 2005. Half of that occurred in just 10 metro areas.

America’s biggest and most productive metro regions gather and strengthen the assets that drive the country’s prosperity—innovative firms, highly productive and creative workers, institutions of advanced research. And the attributes of some cities are not easily replicated elsewhere in the U.S. The most highly skilled financial professionals, for instance, do not choose between New York and Phoenix. They choose between New York and London—or Shanghai. While many factors affect that choice, over time, the accretion of delays and travel hassles can sap cities of their vigor and appeal. Arriving at Shanghai’s modern Pudong airport, you can hop aboard a maglev train that gets you downtown in eight minutes, at speeds approaching 300 miles an hour. When you land at JFK, on the other hand, you’ll have to take a train to Queens, walk over an indoor bridge, and then transfer to the antiquated Long Island Rail Road; from there, downtown Manhattan is another 35 minutes away.

To power our metropolitan engines, we need to make big, well-targeted investments that improve transportation within and around them. Above all else, that means taking a less egalitarian approach to our infrastructure: there is little justification for making small improvements all over the place.

In a post-agricultural, postindustrial, innovation-dependent economy, the roads to prosperity inevitably pass through a few essential cities. We should make sure they’re well maintained.

Global Warming Cooling Down?

Appears so, for the past year anyway.

January 2008 - 4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months
19 02 2008

January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet. While January 2007 started out well above normal.

January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators. I have reported in the past two weeks that HadCRUT, RSS, UAH, and GISS global temperature sets all show sharp drops in the last year.

… For all four metrics the global average ∆T for January 2007 to January 2008 is: - 0.6405°C

This represents an average between the two lower troposphere satellite metrics (RSS and UAH) and the two land-ocean metrics (GISS and HadCRUT). While some may argue that they are not compatible data-sets, since they are derived by different methods (Satellite -Microwave Sounder Unit and direct surface temperature measurements) I would argue that the average of these four metrics is a measure of temperature, nearest where we live, the surface and near surface atmosphere.

The Nuclear Outlook

The one technology proven to reduce pollution and increase power capability is nuclear power and the current issue of "Nuclear Policy Outlook" is out.

Cap & Trade, the Downside

There is no doubt cap and trade hurts those living around polluting enterprises, and perhaps carbon fees are a better way to go in this type of case.

Groups vow to fight carbon emissions cap-and-trade plan
By Margot Roosevelt
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 20, 2008

Low-income community groups in five California cities launched a statewide campaign Tuesday to "fight at every turn" any global-warming regulation that allows industries to trade carbon emissions, saying it would amount to "gambling on public health."

The 21-point "Environmental Justice Movement Declaration" challenges the stance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a national advocate of a cap-and-trade program that would allow heavy polluters, often located in poor neighborhoods, to partly buy their way out of lowering their emissions.

"Under a trading scheme, 11 power plants to be built around Los Angeles could offset emissions by extracting methane from coal seams in Utah or planting trees in Manitoba," said Jane Williams of the California Communities Against Toxics, which fights pollution in low-income areas.

The defiant tone of news conferences in Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego indicated that political turbulence might be ahead as the state Air Resources Board hammers out a strategy to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as required under a 2006 law.

Until now, the debates over how to implement the law have been conducted in polite workshops with industry and environmental groups offering technical testimony to state air board officials. The agency must design a plan, due at the end of this year, to ratchet down emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, an effort that is likely to affect virtually every industry in the state.

"Cap and trade is a charade to continue business as usual," said Angela Johnson Meszaros, director of the California Environmental Rights Alliance.

Environmental justice groups instead favor carbon fees on polluting industries, a strategy endorsed by many economists as simpler and more transparent, although politically tough to enact.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bridges Across the Rivers

Well said, well said, well said!

Editorial: Proposed Broadway bridge brings out Stoppers
Why are some elected officials so eager to block a needed span over the Sacramento?
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Well versed in the laws and procedures of government, the citizens of California's capital have long been adept at stopping things from happening. That is why it sometimes seems tough for Sacramento to mature as a city.

The latest target of The Stoppers is a bridge that would span the Sacramento River, extending Broadway in Sacramento into West Sacramento.

This bridge would give residents in both cities a convenient way to cross the river, whether by car, foot, bicycle or – in the future – a possible streetcar system. It would allow motorists to avoid congestion on the Capital City Freeway bridge, and it would be a lifesaver if a levee break or other disaster forced residents in either city to quickly evacuate.

Yet despite all the sensible arguments in favor of a new bridge, The Stoppers are determined to stop it. Activists in Land Park and Southside Park fear a bridge would send too much traffic into their neighborhoods. They are pressuring the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to drop the bridge from the region's Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which the SACOG board is scheduled to finalize next month.

While it's hardly a stunner that neighborhood leaders would oppose a new Sacramento River bridge – Land Park activists previously killed a proposal to build one at Sutterville Road – the reaction of several elected leaders is more surprising, and lamentable.

City Councilman Rob Fong – not normally known as a "cancel man" – has come out against the bridge. Determined to put a final stopper on it, he has enlisted the help of Assemblyman Dave Jones and State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, who wrote a letter opposing inclusion of the bridge in the MTP.

That's disappointing. The proposed bridge needs a thoughtful response.

Throughout history, bridges have defined the character of river cities. Well-designed bridges can be architectural landmarks that inspire civic pride. Portland, a city that many Sacramento leaders and environmentalists would like to emulate, boasts eight bridges over the Willamette River. Sacramento, by comparison, seems to be bridge-phobic, judging by the three that now span the Sacramento River and the ones residents have opposed crossing the American River.

Loft Development in Midtown

The one urban area of town that really appears on a continuously productive development roll, keeps rolling with news of some very cool loft space coming online.

Bob Shallit: Lofts, eateries may rise at old bread warehouse
By Bob Shallit -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The housing downturn isn't slowing D&S Development Inc., a Folsom company that's marching ahead with new residential projects.

The latest: loft dwellings, eateries and possibly an art gallery in what was once a Wonder Bread bakery warehouse at 14th and R streets in downtown Sacramento.

The local firm is in escrow to buy the vacant, 95-year-old brick building and plans to start construction next month on what will be 12 residential units sitting above five or six restaurants and retail shops – just down the block from Randy Paragary's R15 nightclub.

"These will be true lofts," Steve Lebastchi, a D&S partner, says of the 600- to 900-square-foot housing units. "We're keeping all the brick … the 15-foot ceilings with exposed ducts and beams." And, he says, these lofts will be in former industrial space, "just like in New York."

The developers, who last year completed a similar-sized condo project in Old Sac, haven't decided on pricing or whether the R Street housing will be for sale or lease. But they say the units, which come with a parking space, will be built to "condo standards," with energy-saving elements that will qualify for LEED certification.

Among the potential tenants being considered for the 12,000 square feet of ground level space are a Japanese restaurant, a "hof brau" and an art gallery.

David Miry, another D&S partner, says the partners "fell in love" with the building, which they're buying from Owens Financial Group, a Walnut Creek commercial lender. "It's got a lot of character. There's a lot of light. You get a really good feeling when you walk in."

Adds D&S associate Bay Miry, who is David's son: "We think this (part of town) will be the top entertainment, mixed-use stretch for midtown and downtown. It's ready to blossom."

Development Proceeds

In the city leadership said needs to find other ways of funding itself than development, new ways to develop are created.

Sheraton Grand deal is in works
The city hopes for a 'win-win' sale to spur further revitalization.
By Terri Hardy -
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The city of Sacramento is considering selling the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel on J Street and pouring at least $23 million of the proceeds into new revitalization projects downtown.

Under a deal still being negotiated with two developers – the CIM group and David Taylor – the city would net between $45 million and $47 million after the sale of the 503-room hotel and a nearby parking garage, said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg.

Part of the package also would require the city to set aside $23 million to $24 million from the proceeds to be used for future downtown projects proposed by Taylor and CIM, Dangberg said.

The sale price is still under discussion, Dangberg said.

Taylor said the unusual deal was conceived as a way to keep revitalization going downtown, even in the economic downturn.

"We've been struggling to get projects done," Taylor said. "We started looking at how we can help the city help us, and how we can help downtown."

Mayor Heather Fargo said the agreement would provide a win-win for the city and the development companies.

"When the deal was presented, it was hard to say anything but 'let's keep working on this,' " Fargo said. "It sounds like a great deal for Sacramento."

Fuel Efficiency & The Market

The latter solves the former much better than government regulation, underlining a fundamental truth, human beings will (mostly) move to their self-interest faster and more effectively voluntarily rather than coercively.

Detroit's (Long) Quest for Fuel Efficiency
February 19, 2008;

"Our cities have been straining at their seams," declares a full-page newspaper automotive advertisement. "Traffic is jam-packed. Parking space is at a premium. And our suburbs have spread like wildfire. People are living farther from their work, driving more miles on crowded streets."

Were these words touting a new, fuel-efficient small car, such as the Toyota Prius or maybe the tiny Smart Fortwo? Not exactly. They appeared in newspapers across America on Sept. 27, 1959. The ad -- preserved in the National Automotive History Collection archives at the Detroit Public Library -- came from the Chevrolet division of General Motors, which was heralding a revolutionary new compact called the Corvair. If nothing else, it proves that the quest for small, practical, fuel-efficient and non-polluting cars isn't exactly new.

But now, with gasoline over $3 a gallon, this effort is gaining new urgency. You know things are changing when Automobile magazine, a lover of all things fast and fuel-thirsty, puts the battery-powered Tesla roadster -- produced by a Silicon Valley startup company -- on its cover. The Tesla, which is just now going on sale, surges from zero to 60 miles an hour in a neck-snapping 4.7 seconds, about the same as the fastest Corvette. In this atmosphere, it's useful to glean some lessons from a half century of efforts to revolutionize the automobile.

- Lesson One: Incremental progress shouldn't be dismissed. The Corvair was one of a new generation of compacts, which included the Ford Falcon and the Plymouth Valiant, that were launched in late 1959 and early 1960. The other two were essentially smaller versions of full-sized cars. But the Corvair used a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, like that in the Volkswagen Beetle -- though the Corvair was longer and bigger. This design produced enormous weight savings by eliminating the need for a radiator, coolant and the drive shaft that connected the front engine to the rear drive wheels in conventional cars of the day. Corvairs got about 29 miles per gallon on the highway, incredible back then and not bad even today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bridge the Community

The inability of local public leadership to construct adequate bridges across the two rivers separating much of our community from itself is a festering sore that, while perhaps benefiting the few residents who understandably do not want more traffic in their neighborhoods, causes long-term harm to those many more who want effective traffic patterns and a more cohesive community.

The once envisioned but never birthed renewal of Carmichael, and the long trek between Watt and Sunrise due to a past group of local leaders unable to build the necessary bridge across the American should not be replicated on the Sacramento.

Build the bridge, create the community.

A fourth bridge to West Sac? Not from Broadway, locals say
Drive to develop waterfront clashes with growing concerns over traffic
By Deb Kollars -
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bridges, by nature, bring people together.

But a proposed new bridge over the Sacramento River – one designed to connect two cities and help bring life to the region's underachieving waterfront – is having the opposite effect.

The proposed bridge south of downtown has become a flash point as the Sacramento Area Council of Governments prepares to approve a new transportation plan for the region next month.

The bridge would stretch west from Broadway, the well-known commercial strip in Sacramento anchored by the Tower Theatre, to South River Road, which serves the growing city of West Sacramento.

Many residents in Land Park, Southside Park and other areas near Broadway fear the bridge would bring waves of unwanted traffic. They are fighting hard against it.

"We already have people racing through our streets getting in and out of downtown," said Paul Trudeau, who works for a wheelchair dealer and heads the Southside Park Neighborhood Association. "This will just make things worse."

To regional transportation planners, the bridge is critical for relieving congestion on Interstate 5, the Capital City Freeway and Highway 50 in the downtown area.

It also could have a splashier role to play in the emerging waterfront scene.

According to urban planners, architects and riverfront developers, the additional crossing would draw more people to the water's edge, where new neighborhoods with shops, parks, restaurants, piers and modern housing are being planned on both sides of the river.

Sacramento has three bridge crossings over the Sacramento River in the downtown core (the I Street, Tower and Pioneer bridges). That is far fewer than other cities with successful waterfronts, such as Portland, Ore., and Pittsburgh.

"For places to be revitalized, they have to be easy to get to," said Jim Stickley, a principal with Wallace Roberts & Todd, a national design and planning firm that is working on the Sacramento waterfront in the Docks area north of Broadway. "The idea is to get synergy going."

Indian Heritage Center

Though the originally approved plan for the entire facility to be built along the Parkway was superior, this is also a great siting, and though the split in sites will be problematic, reducing the necessary synergy, it is truly wonderful to see this project proceed.

Editorial: Plan for Indian museum was worth waiting for
Sites in West Sacramento and along the American will become regional landmark
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, February 19, 2008

California finally is about to get an Indian Heritage Center worthy of the historical and contemporary contributions of more than 150 Indian tribes. The tiny 4,000-square-foot California State Indian Museum at Sutter's Fort can house only a fraction of the basketry, beadwork, clothing and exhibits needed to tell the story of California's Indians.

A major plus is that that the new center will remain in the Sacramento region, to become an attraction that will draw visitors on the scale of the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.

It will be located on a 43-acre site in West Sacramento, across from the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers. The joint Sacramento/West Sacramento Riverfront Master Plan (adopted in 2003) recognized that this land on the levee side of the Sacramento River would have limited commercial and residential potential, but would be ideal for a state park.

Only 10 acres of the site, atop the levee at the level of the 200-year floodplain, is developable. It's perfect for the Indian Heritage Center – large enough to accommodate exhibits, as well as a library, preservation lab, store and restaurant.

A large pond on the site can be used for reed basket-weaving demonstrations.

Outdoors, the site will connect with the planned bike/walking trail along the Sacramento River and have space for small gatherings and special events. Parking will be off-site, with State Parks operating shuttles to the center.

The operating model is the State Railroad Museum. The land and buildings will be owned by California State Parks. A private foundation will do fundraising and offer help with programming and interpretive services. On-site security will be provided by State Parks contract security personnel and rangers, as in Old Sacramento, in cooperation with city police.

As a state park, the 43-acre site cannot ever be used to develop a casino (a persistent and mean-spirited rumor than needs to be dispelled now).

Across the river in Sacramento, the American River Parkway between Northgate and Discovery Park will be used for outdoor interpretive exhibits (with the potential for large festival gatherings at the Boy Scouts' Camp Pollock).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ice Increase in Greenland

This wonderful website providing great information regarding the as yet unsettled research around justifying too much global warming policy; though continuing to develop green technology by cleaning our air, water, and generally improving the quality of our lives is always a very good thing.

Ice between Canada and SW Greenland: highest level in 15 years.
16 02 2008

As yet another indicator of the impact January 2008 has had on the Northern Hemisphere, we find this story from Greenland’s Sermitsiaq News:

‘Minus 30 degrees Celsius. That’s how cold it’s been in large parts of western Greenland where the population has been bundling up in hats and scarves. At the same time, Denmark’s Meteorological Institute states that the ice between Canada and southwest Greenland right now has reached its greatest extent in 15 years.

‘Satellite pictures show that the ice expansion has extended farther south this year. In fact, it’s a bit past the Nuuk area. We have to go back 15 years to find ice expansion so far south. On the eastern coast it hasn’t been colder than normal, but there has been a good amount of snow.’

And on the front page, a story about that other “indicator of climate”, the polar bear:

More polar bears seen at Sisimiut.

Apparently, they don’t have the same affinity for them as some others do.

Finally we have this latest Arctic sea ice graph from Cryosphere Today:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Parkway Redemption: A Pathway

Protecting the Parkway requires, based on past local protection experience and best practices around the country, forming a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of Parkway governmental stakeholders and the JPA then contracts with a nonprofit organization to provide daily management and philanthropic fund raising capability.

This would result in the type of dedicated—rather than diffused—management this jewel of our region requires, and is the type of arrangement preferred by some of the nation’s premier parks like Central Park in New York, and treasured local public resources such as the Sacramento Zoo.

We addressed this in our 2007 report "Governance, Ecoregionalism, & Heritage" (pp. 9-16)

Editorial: Parkway redemption?
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 17, 2008

The conflict along the American River Parkway is fairly easy to summarize:

People fortunate enough to own property along the river bluff want to build houses with unobstructed views of the parkway.

Members of the public who invested in the purchase and upkeep of this multimillion-dollar scenery don't want it marred by the visual blight of intruding homes.

On Wednesday, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors again sided with a bluff owner and against the broader public interest. That's not surprising. This board and previous boards have a lousy record of protecting the scenic values of the American River Parkway, easily the region's most cherished natural asset.

Green Technology

Here is some more innovation from another local entrepreneur.

'Green' rice on menu
Farmers could profit from carbon offsets
By Jim Downing -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 17, 2008

The war on global warming has entrepreneurs racing to find new ways to trim the carbon emissions linked to everything from wine to washing machines.

But Eric Rey was the first to see the promise of low-emissions rice.

In Davis, Rey's Arcadia Biosciences is crafting genetically modified rice that thrives on just half the typical dose of nitrogen fertilizer – a source of greenhouse emissions on a par with all the world's passenger vehicles.

By growing rice that needs less nitrogen, farmers would save money on fertilizer and plug into the booming global market in carbon offsets. Rey would be able to price his rice seed the same as conventional varieties and make a profit by taking a share of the carbon-credit revenue.

The environmental benefits of the rice would be enough to win over biotech skeptics, said Rey, a life member of the Sierra Club. In addition to cutting greenhouse gases, the rice has the potential to reduce nitrate pollution, a scourge of rivers and aquifers worldwide.

On the farms in rural China where he hopes to launch the plan and where he is focusing his efforts, Rey figures each acre planted with Arcadia's rice could yield close to one metric ton of carbon offsets, now trading at $22 a ton on European markets and expected to climb in the future. Even at current rates, the offsets alone would boost farmers' profits by as much as 25 percent.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

ARPPS Letter Published

Letters: American River Parkway…

A good plan can deal with this

Re "Supervisors OK homes on bluff above parkway," Feb. 14

The project on the bluff in Carmichael was correctly approved under the current regulations governing development adjacent to the American River Parkway; but we suggest the regulations could be changed to a more sanctuary-protecting position congruent with our guiding principle: If it can be seen from the parkway, it shouldn't be built along the parkway.

One of the reasons for litigious building regulations is that the 1985 Parkway Plan – the management guidance document ratified by local and state government – was not properly updated every five years as called for in the 1985 plan to keep up with changing development patterns along the parkway.

Consequently, the updating of building rules and regulations needed to help guide public leadership in the awarding of building permits was also not done every five years in tandem with the parkway plan update, helping create the current, litigious-generating confusion.

An update process was finally begun in 2004 (almost 20 years behind schedule) and is due for completion in 2008.

We hope this case will guide public leadership to ensure the new parkway plan update does include clear guidelines for protection of the public sanctuary as well as providing guidance for those private property owners adjacent to the parkway.

- David H. Lukenbill, Sacramento
Senior Policy Director,
American River Parkway Preservation Society

K Street Drama, Act 337

And the beat goes on!

City files eminent domain suit over Mohanna's K Street sites
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 16, 2008

The city of Sacramento headed to court Friday to wrest control of two key blocks of the K Street Mall from property owner Moe Mohanna.

Even though the eminent domain filing was authorized by the City Council in December, Mohanna said Friday he was shocked that the city followed through on the threat to force him to sell his properties.

Mohanna said he has been meeting with City Manager Ray Kerridge in recent weeks in an effort to reach an amicable settlement on the fate of the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street, the pedestrian mall's most run-down stretch.

"They've destroyed any hope of progress," he said.

City leaders said they plan to continue negotiating with Mohanna, but decided to move forward with the court action in case those negotiations don't produce an accord.

Sacramento Biking

Surely some of the best in the country and we need to do all we can to make it better to the point folks can literally bike around the county and all the way up the American River to Coloma someday, which we wrote about in our 2007 report Governance, Ecoregionalism, & Heritage, page 17-28

Round and round they go: Region's bicyclers
Sacramento ranks high in terms of commutes; other reasons to pedal around abound.
By M.S. Enkoji -
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, February 16, 2008

The forgiving terrain and climate create the perfect storm for a love affair with the bike in the Sacramento region.

No better backdrop for the Amgen Tour of California, a 600-mile race that passes through Sacramento on Tuesday.

"This is a great cycling region," said John McCasey, executive director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. "They clearly recognize that."

According to one survey, Sacramento ranked sixth nationally in cyclers who commute to work. Accounting for all the people who just get out and ride is not as easy, but the numbers are believed to be equally impressive.

Advocates who push for amenities such as bike lanes and racks make a difference, and so do cities and counties that hire people primarily to be responsible for bike issues, said Walt Seifert, executive director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

Charlie Archuleta, 65, rides 50 miles a week and is vice president of the Sacramento Bike Hikers. He carries rain ponchos and bike lights in his car trunk and hands them out when he sees cyclists who need them.

The bike trail through the American River Parkway, the region's premier bicycling asset, invites tentative beginners or pros such as Chris Horner, a Tour de France competitor.