Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Beaches were closed throughout the Bay Area and Northern California this morning because of a tsunami warning, the Chron reports. Waves generated by a huge earthquake in Japan are expected to hit the West Coast between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Coastal, low-lying areas are the most at risk. Officials are particularly concerned about the northern section of Monterey Bay near the Santa Cruz Harbor.
2. At least forty people died in Japan as a result of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 23-foot-tall tsunami waves that struck the country’s coast, AP reports. The tsunami then began to race across the Pacific Ocean at 500 miles per hour, roughly the speed of a jet airliner. Waves of three to five feet struck Hawaii, flooding coastal areas.
3. Slow population growth in the East Bay during the past decade could cause the area to lose Congressional and legislative seats, the CoCo Times reports. The district of Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland is one of the most at risk of being eliminated. Oakland lost more than 2 percent of its population during the past decade. Other districts in danger of elimination include that of state Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley and state Assemblyman Sandré Swanson of Alameda. Their districts could be consolidated with others. California’s Central Valley, which grew at a much faster rate than the urban East Bay, could pick up districts.
4. Governor Jerry Brown is running out of time for his budget plan that includes tax measures for the June ballot, the SacBee reports. Election officials say they need enough time to prepare for an election, and each day that goes by without a budget deal puts any chance of a June election in doubt. Brown continues to meet with five centrist Republicans in an effort to hammer out a compromise.
5. Census figures, meanwhile, show that Brown’s 10K plan for downtown Oakland during his time as mayor turned out to be more like a 5K plan. The Trib reports that Oakland’s downtown area, including Uptown, Chinatown, and Jack London Square, added a little more than 5,000 residents last decade.
6. Emeryville’s Oaks Card Club got the greenlight to reopen today, provided that it keeps its Asian gaming section closed, Bay Area News Group reports. Federal authorities raided the club last week and it closed after investigators found evidence of loan sharking in its Asian gaming section.
7. State regulators have given PG&E two weeks to begin offering its customers the ability to opt out of the utility’s controversial SmartMeters program, the Chron reports. The opt-out would allow consumers to reject SmartMeters for their homes.
8. And BART’s finances are in such good shape that the transit agency may be able to replace those nasty seat covers on trains — the ones covered with all kinds of bacteria, the Chron reports.