California's new plan to deal with climate change, sea-level rise OKd
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "A bold new plan to protect California’s ocean ecosystem from climate change and prepare for sea-level rise was approved Wednesday, setting the stage for sweeping coastal restoration, trash cleanup, research and rule-making involving numerous state agencies.
The strategic plan, adopted unanimously by the state’s Ocean Protection Council, is a blueprint for how state agencies should collaborate over the next five years with tribal groups, research organizations and underserved communities to prepare for ocean warming, acidification, rising seas and plastic pollution."
“We are really at a crisis point globally,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the state secretary for environmental protection and one of six members of the Ocean Protection Council board. “We want to be a model for the rest of the world and give them hope about what we can do.”"
California health authorities eye coronavirus threat
From LISA RENNER in Capitol Weekly: "California public health officials are doing their best to calm fears about COVID-19, the disease causing the global outbreak of coronavirus."
There have been 15 confirmed cases of the disease in the state as of Feb. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a figure that includes five cases linked to a cruise ship. However, the health risk to the general public here remains low, the California Department of Public Health reported.
Dr. Sara Cody, the director of public health in Santa Clara County, which has two of the cases, said her department has added extra staff to deal with the issue."
Coronavirus uncontained: First case in US from unknown source is from Bay Area
The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY: "A Solano County resident has tested positive for the new coronavirus but had not recently traveled to any foreign country where the virus is spreading and had not had contact with any people with confirmed cases, public health officials said Wednesday.
The case marks the first time that U.S. authorities have not been able to determine the source of a coronavirus infection, and suggests that the virus may be spreading in the community. The patient is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, UC Davis confirmed late Wednesday evening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new case of COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon."
READ MORE related to Coronavirus: Bay Area education officials start prepping for coronavirus, including school closures -- The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY/JILL TUCKER; California coronavirus case could be first spread within US community, CDC says -- LA Times's SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA/JACLYN COSGROVE; Trump, seeking to tamp down fears of coronavirus, names Pence to lead response -- LA Times's NOAH BIERMAN/JENNIFER HABERKORN/NOAM N LEVEY
California gas prices might rise due to Carson oil refinery fire
LA Times's SUHAUNA HUSSAIN: "California motorists may see gasoline prices rise modestly as a result of the fire that erupted at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Carson on Tuesday night.
Within a week or two, prices at the pump could inch up by 10 to 15 cents per gallon, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, a company that tracks real-time gas prices. California has already seen an initial effect, with wholesale prices in Los Angeles and San Francisco up about 7 and 12 cents, respectively, on Wednesday morning.
The Marathon refinery is the largest on the West Coast, able to process 350,000 barrels a day. It’s one of the refineries that produces the gasoline blend required by the California Air Resources Board to reduce pollution."
Congress is ready to help California eradicate everyone one of these swamp rats by 2025
Sac Bee's KATE IRBY: "A California Democrat trying to eradicate invasive swamp rats from his state highly recommends using an animal carcass to get action in a typically deadlocked Congress.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, again hauled the large, stuffed rodent — which Harder’s spokesman has affectionately named “Nellie” — onto the House floor Wednesday before the House unanimously approved his bill granting millions of dollars to California officials trying to eliminate nutria from California.
“Especially on agriculture issues, the biggest problem we have in Congress is getting awareness and understanding, so Nellie has been a great spokesperson,” Harder said. “Having something people can see and look at and know the scale of the problem is hugely helpful.”"
Dozens of high-risk Bay Area dams lack required emergency plans
The Chronicle's JOAQUIN PALOMINO: "The Bay Area is dotted with at least 145 dams where failure or misoperation could result in death or property destruction, yet many lack required emergency plans, according to an analysis of state data.
Most of these “high-hazard” dams were built before 1960. While not at a higher risk of failure, they could endanger countless homes and businesses that rest below the aging facilities, making emergency planning and maintenance increasingly important, experts said.
Yet at least 47 of the risky dams in the Bay Area — nearly a third — reported no formal procedures for warning downstream residents of a breach or set up other plans for reducing loss of life and property damage in an emergency, according to data analyzed by the Associated Press and reviewed by The Chronicle. The figures came from state inspections between 2015 and 2018."
A new lawsuit wants to undo 'gag clause'
Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "Two libertarian think tanks have filed a lawsuit challenging a California law that says public employers shall not “deter or discourage” workers from joining unions.
Orange County-based California Policy Center and the Washington-based Center for Individual Rights filed the lawsuit last week on behalf of seven local elected officials who say the law has come to function as a broad blanket on discussing unions at all.
The officials, who represent school boards, city councils and a community service district, say they no longer feel they can mention unions during discussions of pay, benefits and policies for fear of triggering complaints under the law, according to the California Policy Center."
FEMA wants billions for helping after California wildfires. Victims plead with judge to stop them
Sac Bee's DALE KASLER: "PG&E Corp. and lawyers for wildfire victims Wednesday urged a bankruptcy judge Wednesday to reject FEMA’s demand for a $3.9 billion reimbursement from the troubled utility, saying the government’s claim could undermine a carefully crafted plan to compensate victims and exit bankruptcy.
“There’s no question this is a cloud over the entire case,” said Eric Goodman, a lawyer representing victims of the 2017 wine country fires and 2018 Camp Fire.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency filed a $3.9 billion claim in PG&E’s bankruptcy, saying taxpayers deserve to be reimbursed for the assistance the government provided after a succession of fires caused by PG&E’s faulty equipment. California’s Office of Emergency Services has a claim of its own, for $290 million it spent coordinating cleanup and other activities after the wildfires."
Trial begins for two Bay Area students accused of killing Italian policeman
LA Times's TOM KINGTON: "Two California students went on trial in Italy on Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a Rome police officer during a brawl that shocked Italy.
Finnegan Lee Elder, 20, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 19, high school classmates from Mill Valley, near San Francisco, could face life sentences for the killing last July of Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, a member of Italy’s paramilitary Carabinieri police.
Cerciello Rega and a fellow officer, Andrea Varriale, were in plainclothes when they stopped the California men after a drug deal went wrong in the early hours of July 26."
Bayview business owners push back on SF plan to limit housing in dilapidated indusdtrial stretch
The Chronicle's J.K. DINEEN: "The Shamrock Moving and Storage warehouse in the Bayview district is so close to the T-Third Muni streetcar stop that owner Bobby Fallon can see the faces of commuters waiting for the train from the entrance.
For the past few years, Fallon and his three siblings have been quietly working on a housing proposal there. The warehouse site in San Francisco, which could accomodate up to 100 homes, is now used for storage and has just one employee. Building housing would bring people and activity to the property and take advantage of the $660 million T-Third Muni line. Bayview residents were promised new housing and shops when officials were selling the light rail years ago.
But building homes on the Shamrock site and in parts of a six-block area next to the T-Third would be illegal under a zoning change the Planning Commission approved unanimously last week. The Shamrock property is one of dozens of lots in the Bayview Industrial Triangle that would be restricted to industrial uses under the plan, which the Board of Supervisors will vote on next month."
Next Oakland police chief must be progressive and community-minded, says commission chair
The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "As the search for a new Oakland police chief gets under way, the focus won’t simply be on finding someone who can cut crime and get along with the cops in the ranks, according to the chair of the panel tasked with leading the hunt. A top priority will be hiring a progressive leader who engages the community through living room chats, church visits, barbecues and sports games, for example.
And unlike the last hire, that leader might be someone already working in the Oakland Police Department — which is where the search is starting, city Police Commission Chairwoman Regina Jackson told The Chronicle.
The appointment of a new chief is largely in the hands of the commission, which last week unanimously voted to dismiss Anne Kirkpatrick, who had led the department since 2017, without cause. Kirkpatrick is weighing her legal options and plans to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a federal court’s oversight of the city’s force."
Critics say airlines' proposed rule on unfair practices would make regulation harder
LA Times's HUGO MARTIN: "Consumer advocates are complaining that a regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation — at the airline industry’s urging — would make it harder to penalize airlines for bad behavior and to adopt new rules that protect travelers.
The rule would require the Transportation Department to apply a new standard when considering civil penalties or new regulations on air carriers: whether the actions in question meet a specific definition of “unfair and deceptive practices.” The new policy would also allow airlines to request hearings before new regulations are imposed.
In documents describing the proposed rule, the Transportation Department acknowledged that it “could translate into the department performing fewer enforcement and rule-making actions” against airlines and could “lengthen the time needed to complete the actions."