Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Car Use Slows in California As Walking and Biking Accelerates; Court Deals Major Blow to Brown’s Tunnels Plan

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Californians, especially young people, are driving less, and instead are walking, biking, or taking mass transit more often, the LA Times$ reports, citing a new study commissioned by Caltrans. The rate of Californians driving slowed by 12 percent in the past decade, as the rate of residents who walk, bike, or take transit accelerated to 22 percent. The percentage of households that reported not having a car also increased 8 percent. Nationwide, the percentage of teens and people in their twenties and thirties who have chosen not to get driver’s licenses also has been growing.

Brown wants to build tunnels underneath the delta.
  • Brown wants to build tunnels underneath the delta.
2. Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta suffered a significant setback when a state appeals court issued a key ruling that could make it impossible for the state to complete the project, the SacBee$ reports. The three-judge panel ruled that state officials can’t enter private property to drill deep holes in the ground — unless the state purchases the property first through eminent domain. The decision is pivotal because the state says it needs to be able to drill deep holes to determine the best route for the tunnels, and it would be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming to have to buy property first. The governor is expected to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

3. A proposal to reinstate affirmative action in UC admissions is now in serious jeopardy because three Asian-American legislators are attempting to block the measure from going on this year’s ballot, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The legislators say Asian-American parents are upset because the proposal could make it tougher for their children to attend UC schools.

4. Oakland Interim Police Chief Sean Whent wants to kill the city’s gunshot detection system because he believes the money used to operate it would be better spent on other technology, including a police helicopter, the Chron reports. ShotSpotter costs OPD about $264,000 a year, and Whent said the system is redundant because residents already call police when they hear shots fired.

5. The developers of the massive Brooklyn Basin housing project on Oakland’s waterfront broke ground yesterday, the Trib$ reports. The first phase of the $1.5 billion project features about 1,200 homes, one-third of which will be affordable housing.

6. The Berkeley City Council blocked a Starbucks from opening at the corner of Telegraph and Ashby avenues, after local residents complained that the chain would harm a nearby mom-and-pop café and would create too much traffic in the neighborhood, Berkeleyside reports.

7. And home prices continued to rise in the Bay Area last month as the number of homes on the market declined, the Mercury News$ reports. The median home sales price in Alameda County was $500,000, up 24 percent from last year. The number of homes for sale in the county, however, plummeted 20 percent.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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