Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Must Reads: Oakland-East Bay Housing Market Is the Hottest Nationwide; The Future of First Fridays Is in Doubt

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 7, 2013 at 6:49 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A new report reveals that the Oakland-East Bay area is the hottest housing market in the country, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Home prices skyrocketed by 31.2 percent here in the past year — by far the largest increase nationwide. Real estate experts attribute the huge jump to a lack of inventory: There just aren’t enough homes for sale to meet the demand. San Jose ranked second in the nation with a 23.2 percent increase in home prices and San Francisco ranked fourth with a 19.6 percent jump.

2. Oakland’s wildly popular First Fridays event — which will take place tonight — is in jeopardy of shutting down later this summer because of financial problems, the Tribune reports. The city has decided to stop funding the monthly event, even though it attracts more than 10,000 visitors to downtown Oakland, produces substantial tax revenues, and is a boon to many bars and restaurants in the area. The volunteer group that has stepped up to run First Fridays has had difficulty raising the $20,000 it costs to put on the event each month.

3. A judge has ruled that the embattled American Indian charter schools in Oakland can remain open while they appeal a decision by the Oakland school board that revoked their license to operate because of a financial scandal, SFGate reports. The charter schools have appealed to the county Board of Education, and can ultimately appeal to the state Board of Education.

4. An attorney who was investigating PG&E for the California Public Utilities Commission said he was reassigned because he believed the CPUC’s decision to not fine PG&E for the deadly San Bruno blast was “unlawful,” SFGate reports. The attorney was one of four lawyers who were reassigned from the PG&E investigation because they disagreed with the PUC decision to not fine PG&E and instead only require that the utility upgrade its natural gas pipelines.

5. And the National Security Agency isn’t just collecting phone data from all Americans — it’s also tapping directly into the servers of major Internet providers, including Google and Facebook, extracting emails, chats, and other information, the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers report, citing a secret memo. The Internet companies deny knowledge of the sweeping surveillance program, and the NSA contends that it only targets foreign terror suspects.

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