Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Must Reads: Dems Blast Brown’s Giant Water Tunnels Plan; High-Speed Rail Hits Road Block

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 31, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Several Congressional Democrats from California strongly criticized Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the Trib reports. The Democrats contend that Brown’s $25 billion plan will harm the fragile Delta and local fisheries, and will devastate small farms in the region. Democratic Congress members George Miller, Martinez; Mike Thompson, Napa; Jerry McNerney, Stockton; John Garamendi, Fairfield; Ami Bera, Rancho Cordova; and Doris Matsui, Sacramento, all criticized the governor’s proposal.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Rising Sea Levels Could Mean for the Bay Area — and What's Being Done About It

by Aaron Mendelson
Thu, May 30, 2013 at 11:40 AM

In 1995, the movie Waterworld predicted catastrophic changes to the earth’s sea levels, and painted a picture of the chaos that resulted when the water rose and society collapsed.

The movie was a flop. But it got one thing right: scientists say melting glaciers are already contributing to rising sea levels, and that they’ll melt faster in the next century. Changes in the Bay Area — which has over a thousand miles of shoreline — could be dramatic.

In San Francisco, some scientists say the Bay could rise as much as five feet. That would put the water line in the middle of the financial district. In Oakland, Jack London Square could be more like an aquarium. Cities around the Bay are trying to figure out how to avoid catastrophic changes, and they’ve got some novel ideas.

Last year, Superstorm Sandy opened the eyes of many on the East Coast to the dangers of a rising ocean. Here in California, we haven’t had an event quite like that. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking about it.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Best of the East Bay Voting is Now Open

by Ellen Cushing
Wed, May 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Well, dear readers, the time has come yet again for you wax rhapsodic/philosophical/funny about all your favorite local businesses, people, places, trends, and more as part of our annual Best of the East Bay poll. This year's theme is (the new) Authentic, by which we mean to highlight all the people, products, and services that are considered “authentically” East Bay, perhaps in a new way. Votes will be tabulated by our crack team of elite statistical analysts* and winners announced online and wherever fine newspapers are sold given away for free on July 17. The poll closes at midnight on June 27, so scoot on over here to cast your votes.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hub Oakland's 'We Did It' Party Is Tonight

by Vanessa Rancaño
Tue, May 28, 2013 at 6:35 PM

HUB Oakland’s founders surpassed their Kickstarter goal earlier this month and they’re throwing a party tonight to celebrate. With funds secured, the new co-working space is on track to open later this year. The design for the two-floor, 16,000-foot space on Broadway between 23rd and 24th streets includes worktables and conference rooms, a full kitchen, a “living lounge” (aka library) plus a “hammock sanctuary” to sling your limp bod when you’re done using the yoga space. There will also be plenty of coffee and WiFi.

Loosecubes co-working space in Brooklyn
  • Inhabitat
  • Loosecubes co-working space in Brooklyn

The party’s tonight at Era Art Bar and Lounge from 6 to 9:30pm. Those who backed the campaign at $25 or more get in free; tickets are $25 at the door for everyone else.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s recent coverage of HUB Oakland here.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Streetcars Might Make a Comeback in Oakland

by Vanessa Rancaño
Fri, May 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Until 1958, Oakland had a system of streetcars that shuttled passengers from across the city to its Western edge, where they could catch ferries or commuter rail to San Francisco. Half a century later, streetcars may be coming back to Oakland.

On Tuesday, the Oakland City Council approved a consultant contract for a study into the viability of an extended “Free B” Shuttle route and electric streetcar system. The goal is to facilitate connections between transit hubs and commercial centers along Broadway, from the Jack London District’s Amtrak station to MacArthur BART, said Zach Seal, economic development specialist for the city. “We really see this as an opportunity to solidify Broadway as a corridor that’s a major destination for shopping and retail,” he said, “and a place where major development activity is happening.”

Seattle streetcar
  • Ian Fisher
  • Seattle streetcar

For Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, the project is also about elevating the city’s regional presence. “Transportation tends to be San Francisco-centric,” she said. “The reality is that Oakland is the center.” She believes the city’s central location makes it a natural transportation hub for the Bay Area.

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Friday Must Reads: State Orders Oakland to Pay $32.5 Million; Bay Area Activist Medea Benjamin Heckles Obama Over Guantanamo and Drones

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 24, 2013 at 7:12 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland officials announced that the state Department of Finance has ordered the city to hand over $32.5 million in proceeds from last-minute real estate deals that Oakland made just before the state killed redevelopment, SFGate reports. Oakland officials had expected the move and had set aside the money in a separate account. However, the state’s decision means that Oakland’s finances are much tighter than hoped as the city council decides in the next month whether to spend millions of additional dollars on the police department or restore cuts to public services over the next two years.

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Protesting City Workers Turn to YouTube

by Vanessa Rancaño
Fri, May 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Local unions are pissed at the city and they want you to know about it. One of them, IFPTE Local 21, the public-sector professional and technical engineers' union, even made a set of videos to get you to pay attention. They showed the first one at an Oakland City Council meeting earlier this month:

And they just came out with a second called "Enough is Enough," named for the chant they've used to bring City Council meetings to a standstill more than once in the past couple months.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Council Adopts Transparency Rules for Budget; Berkeley Picks Hayward Supe to be Its New Schools Chief

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 23, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council has adopted new rules that would prohibit last-minute budget proposals that the public has not had a chance to review, the Trib reports. The new rules are designed to improve transparency for the city’s budget approval process, and prevent a repeat of recent years in which councilmembers introduced major budget revisions on the night they needed to be approved under city law, thereby giving the public no chance to analyze them. Under the new regulations, proposals must be made at least three days before the meeting in which the budget must be adopted. Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks voted against the new rules.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: Badly Designed Bolts on Richmond Bridge, Too; Santa Clara to Host Super Bowl

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 22, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Caltrans used the same type of badly designed steel rods that have snapped on the new Bay Bridge in its retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge a decade ago, the Chron$ reports, citing newly released agency documents. Two years before the Richmond Bridge project, Caltrans had banned the use of such high-strength rods on bridges because the bolts can become brittle and snap in an earthquake. But the agency decided to use the bolts anyway on the Bay Bridge, too, after its main supplier, Dyson Corporation, pointed to their use on the Richmond Bridge. However, experts note that the bolts on the Richmond Bridge are much less likely to fail because they are not under the same intense pressure as they are the new Bay Bridge.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Must Reads: Bridge Expert Says Bad Bolts Should Be Replaced; State Control of Oakland Schools Failed to Fix Financial Problems

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 21, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A leading engineering expert who is also an advisor to Caltrans said the agency should replace as many defective bolts on the new Bay Bridge as possible, SFGate reports. The bolts were designed to be too hard and brittle and could snap in an earthquake; 32 of the rods have broken already. Meanwhile, many elected officials are calling for a comprehensive investigation into the Bay Bridge scandal in the wake of the bolt problems and a recent report that the new eastern span appears to be riddled with corrosion problems as well, the SacBee$ reports. And, finally, Governor Jerry Brown acknowledged yesterday that the new $6.3 billion bridge may not be able to open as planned on Labor Day.

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