Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Charges against CoCo assessor will be dropped if he wins supe race; Coronavirus fears grow in Alameda County

Berkeley cell meat company gets funding boost

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jan 24, 2020 at 4:00 AM

The coronavirus under magnification.
  • The coronavirus under magnification.


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 24-26:

1. A Contra Costa County Superior Court judge said Gus Kramer, the county assessor accused of workplace misconduct, would have his charges dropped if he wins his race for county supervisor next March, East Bay Times reports. The trial to remove Kramer as assessor would be moot if he moves to another elected office, the judge explained.

2. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup raised the possibility that PG&E executives could have their bonuses withheld if the struggling utilities fails to measure up to safety targets, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Russell is looking for a plea deal from prosecutors for allegedly recording attorneys and their clients at the Eden Township Substation in San Leandro, the East Bay Times reports. $$

4. As fears about the coronavirus being carried to Alameda County by recent visitors from Wuhan, China grow, county health officials said less than 10 people have been screened for the virus that causes high fever and possibly death, KRON reports. No cases have been found in Alameda County.

5. Berkeley’s Memphis Meats received $161 million in funding recent for its burgeoning method for creating meat from cells, SFGate reports. The new round of funding will allow the company to expand its factory in the East Bay and hire more workers.

6. Oh-la-la! Here’s an only in Northern California story for you: A leak at the Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg resulted in possibly one-quarter of a 97,000-gallon tank of Cabernet Sauvignon flowing into the Russian River, KGO-TV reports.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday's Briefing: Berkeley approves homeless encampment under the freeway; Robbery video rattles Oakland Hills

Raiders officially drop Oakland

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Tuff Shed homeless encampment in Oakland. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Tuff Shed homeless encampment in Oakland.


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 23:

1. The Berkeley City Council approved a plan Tuesday night for a homeless encampment pilot program under the freeway at University Avenue, Berkeleyside reports. Some questions remain, though, and work on the encampment will not begin until city staff further studies the plan.

2. In a letter to the Trump administration, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked for the use of federal surplus land to house the homeless, Politico reports. Newsom also again asked for 50,000 federal housing vouchers for low-income residents and veterans.

3. A Ring doorbell camera captured an Oakland woman being robbed at gunpoint, KTVU reports. The attempted armed robbery occurred on Canyon Oaks Drive in the Oakland Hills at comes at a time when concerns over robberies is becoming a major concern in the city.

4. Fewer Bay Area residents are using public transit at the same time traffic woes are common all over the region, the East Bay Times report. $$

5. The University of California Board of Regents postponed a vote on Wednesday for a pair of proposals to raise tuition, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, California State University trustees postponed a discussion for requiring a fourth year of high school math for admissions, EdSource reports.

6. The U.C. ended a lengthy stand-off with union custodians, truck drivers and cooks on Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reports. More than 8,000 members of the AFSCME union had been working without a new contract since 2017.

7. This may come as a surprise to the Raiders fan passed out in Section 125 at the Coliseum since 2015 home opener, but the team was officially renamed the Las Vegas Raiders during a press conference in Nevada Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Oakland bans criminal background checks for tenants; Howard Terminal ballpark inches forward

Piedmont complies with new ADU state law

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 4:00 AM

A bay view rendering of the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark in downtown Oakland. - OAKLAND ATHLETICS
  • Oakland Athletics
  • A bay view rendering of the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark in downtown Oakland.


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 22:

1. Oakland became the first city in the state to prohibit landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Oakland City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to approve the ordinance, which was praised by advocates of the previously incarcerated. Berkeley will take up a similar items next month.$$

2. The Oakland City Council also moved slightly closer to a new ballpark for the A's at Howard Terminal on Tuesday night, KCBS reports. The council and Port of Oakland, owners of the land at Howard Terminal, agreed to release the proposed ballpark's environmental review plan.

3. A new state law that streamlines the process for building Accessory Dwelling Units had received push back in Piedmont. But the Piedmont City Council relented, despite lamenting the loss of local control in its zoning process, and approved changes to its ordinances in order to the comply with the state law, the East Bay Times reports.

4. Is Hayward the next millennial haven? A survey found the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Bay" is one of the most popular cities for millennial homebuyers in the country, Curbed SF reports. The median home price in Hayward is under $650,000, but that's a pretty good deal in the Bay Area.

5. No. Your other left! A BART train from San Francisco heading toward Pleasant Hill inexplicably made a right turn and ended up at the Lake Merritt station on Tuesday, SFGate reports. BART officials said the mistake is system-related and not driver error.

6. Former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno borrowed Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's favorite snail car for an episode of his CNBC program, SFGate reports. You may recall Schaaf famously rode the fire-breathing metal snail car during the Warriors' championship parades in Oakland.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Moms 4 Housing property to be sold to non-profit; Berkeley eyes encampment under the freeway

Oakland High's Lillard drops 61 on the Warriors

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Portland Trailblazer guard Damian Lillard. - NBA
  • NBA
  • Portland Trailblazer guard Damian Lillard.


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 21:

1. Moms 4 Housing: The home at 2928 Magnolia Street in Oakland will be sold at its appraised value by the investment group that owns it to the Oakland Community Land Trust, the San Francisco Chronicle. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor Libby Schaaf, and Councilmember Larry Reid negotiated the deal, but notably not the city officials who supported the homeless women's cause. $$

2. Berkeley councilmembers will decide tonight whether to approve the creation of a homeless encampment under the freeway at University Avenue and Second Street, Berkeleyside reports. The proposed encampment could house about 120 tents.

3. Berkeley is facing a rash of catalytic converter thefts, the Bay City News reports. About two dozen thefts have occurred this month.

4. Legislation could be on the horizon for holding California school districts accountable for their spending, EdSource reports. A recent state auditor found spending for some programs by school districts is too hard to track. Oakland Unified was named as one of the culprits in the state auditor's report last year.

5. East Bay residents celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at events across Oakland on Monday, KPIX reports. Cat Brooks, an Oakland police accountability activist and potential city council candidate this year in District 3, said MLK has been "whitewashed."

6. Oakland's own Damian Lillard dropped league-high 61 points on the Warriors last night in Portland, ESPN reports. Despite the effort by the Oakland High grad, the Warriors took the game to overtime before losing, 129-124.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Tiny Home encampment pops up in Oakland; Bay Area median home prices fall

Berkeley man says Tesla cars accelerate on their own

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 4:00 AM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 20:

1. An unpermitted tiny house encampment popped up at a median on East 12th Street near Burger King, the East Bay Times reports. The 11 tiny homes were built on Sunday by a group calling itself the "Right to Exist Curbside Community." $$

2. Median housing prices in the Bay Area dropped by 2.3 percent in 2019 to $928,000, the first decline in eight years, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Although median housing prices in Oakland and Berkeley are still robust, overall, they also dropped in Alameda County last year. $$

3. "A state appeals court says a woman who was robbed at a BART station in Oakland can’t hold the transit agency legally responsible because she was on the platform, not the train," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The lawsuit stemmed from a theft that occurred at the Coliseum BART station in Oakland.

4. Last month, the developer behind a 300-unit housing project on Harold Way in Berkeley said their proposal would no longer "pencil out." Last week, Berkeley leaders told the developer it would not give them more time to make it work, Berkeleyside reports.

5. A Berkeley man filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging Tesla cars can accelerate on their own, the Associated Press reports. Tesla denies the claim.

6. Those Tesla and hybrid car drivers may be saving the planet, but they're hurting the state's bottom line, the Los Angeles Times reports. Highways, roads, and bridges in California are in bad shape, and additional funding through gasoline taxes is increasingly being stymied by the rise of electric cars, which avoid the tax at the pump. $$

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Alameda County gets $38 million to help homeless; Bloomberg has coffee with Schaaf

JetBlue ends service at Oakland Airport

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jan 17, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg met with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Friday. Did they talk about endorsements? - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg met with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Friday. Did they talk about endorsements?


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 17-19:

1. Fifteen FEMA trailers to house up to 70 people rolled into Oakland on Thursday. In addition to the temporary housing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Alameda County is receiving $38 million in state aid for the homeless, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Oakland is receiving $19.7 million of the total. $$

2. Housing advocate's hopes were buoyed on Thursday when Senate Bill 50, the high-profile and controversial legislation that aims to increase housing density around transit centers, was approved by a committee that voted against a similar version of the bill last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

3. In the aftermath of "Moms 4 Housing," Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan thinks the city should purchase a number of properties in Oakland that will soon be going to auction for non-payment of county property taxes, the East Bay Citizen reports.

4. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg visited downtown Oakland on Friday morning and had coffee with Mayor Libby Schaaf, the East Bay Times reports. Bloomberg then headed to a fundraiser at Everett & Jones BBQ near Jack London Square. Was Bloomberg trying to nab an endorsement from Schaaf? She's a free-agent after being an early endorser of Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign. $$

5. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the Trump administration in an effort to stop the issuance of new permits for oil and gas production in the state, including fracking, the Associated Press reports. On Wednesday, some Alameda County elected officials urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban all oil and gas production in the state, the East Bay Citizen reports.

6. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority voted early Friday morning to rescind its $1 million a year stadium naming-rights deal with RingCentral, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The move comes after former JPA Executive Director Scott McKibben was charged with felony conflict-of-interest when he sought $50,000 from the company to negotiate the contract. The JPA is now negotiating a new contract with RingCentral. $$

7. Another airline carrier is ditching the Oakland Airport. JetBlue announced it will end service at the airport on April 29, SFGate reports. The loss of JetBlue means the Oakland Airport will no longer have a direct flight available to New York City.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thursday's Briefing: FEMA trailers coming to Oakland to help homeless; Skinner bill to limit excessive CEO pay moves forward

Fake parking tickets in Alameda

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 4:00 AM

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, center. - STATE SENATE
  • State Senate
  • State Sen. Nancy Skinner, center.


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 16:

1. A few dozen FEMA trailers are heading to East Oakland as Gov. Gavin Newsom visits the city to talk more about his plan for combating homelessness in the state, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The trailers are coming to Hegenberger Road in Oakland near the Coliseum. $$

2. A state Senate committee moved forward legislation that would tax some of the state's largest companies. But the amount of the tax would be commensurate with how much the chief executive makes, the Associated Press reports. The bill is authored by East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner.

3. Student teachers at U.C. Berkeley asserted they were illegally underpaid. Backed by the union, they won an arbitration decision that forces the university to pay them back retroactively, KQED reports. The total amount of wages could be "several million dollars."

4. PG&E was successful in clearing only 60 percent of the brush and other debris from its system, Bloomberg News reports. The disclosure was revealed in federal bankruptcy court. Trees and other dry vegetation is believed to have caused several large and devastating wildfires in Northern California over the past few years.

5. A prankster is putting fake parking citations on cars in Alameda that look like the real thing, SFGate reports. Alameda Police alerted the public to fake tickets on Twitter. The fine print of the citation reads, "This ticket was issued by a concerned citizen and is not an actual fine. This ticket is for entertainment purposes only."

6. Following the New Year's Eve homicide in Oakland's Montclair District that was precipitated by a laptop computer being stolen from Starbucks, Bay Area "laptop hobos" are on high alert. Local police said the rise in laptop thefts is related to a booming black market in Asia, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Richmond bans coal shipments; House to vote on Barbara Lee's repeal of 'endless war' authorization

Swalwell passed over as impeachment manager in the Senate

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Rep. Barbara Lee during a House floor speech to oppose the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee during a House floor speech to oppose the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 15.

1. The Richmond City Council voted Tuesday night to ban the shipment of coal through its Levin Terminal, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The action comes amid legal threats.

2. The last Democratic presidential debate before the Iowa Caucus was surprisingly devoid of conflict among the virtually even field of candidates, The New York Times reports. Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee, meanwhile, was again name-dropped by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer for her famous lone vote against authorizing war in 2001.

3. About that 2001 vote against the Authorization of Use for Military Force: The House will vote on a bill introduced by Lee to repeal the AUMF sometime next week, Politico reports.

4. Speaker Nancy Pelosi choose South Bay Rep. Zoe Lofgren among seven impeachment managers as the Senate moves closer to a trial for President Trump, Politicoreports. Somewhat surprisingly, Pelosi passed over East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, a former Alameda County prosecutor and vociferous opponent of Trump.

5. Alameda County supervisors approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol, in the unincorporated areas, the East Bay Citizen reports. The ordinance also enacts a tobacco licensing fee on retailers, which may end up to be around $800 a year.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Sheriff evicts Moms 4 Housing members, arrests made; A constitutional amendment to end homelessness?

Lee: Democratic debate rules discriminate against candidates of color

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 4:00 AM

A homeless encampment in Oakland. - HAYDEN BRITTON
  • Hayden Britton
  • A homeless encampment in Oakland.


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 14:

1. Moms 4 Housing members were evicted by Alameda County sheriff's deputies early Tuesday morning from the West Oakland home they were occupying without permission of its owners, a Southern California investment group, the East Bay Times reports. Four arrests were made. $$

2. An advisory panel on homelessness, created by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is floating the possibility of a state constitutional amendment to end homelessness, the Associated Press reports. The proposal would legally force cities to work toward ending homelessness within one year. It should be noted, Newsom did not include the advisory panel's recommendation in his budget proposal last week.

3. Rep. Barbara Lee believes the Democratic Party's rules for qualifying for its presidential debates is "systematically discriminatory" against candidates of color, she told the San Francisco Chronicle. People of color may not be able to afford to give contributions to candidates, nor are they widely polled as much as other groups, two main prerequisite for candidates to qualify for the debates. Tonight's debate includes no candidates of color. $$

4. Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading in a new California Democratic primary poll, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sanders' 27 percent tops a tight pack of rivals just a few points behind him in advance of the Mar. 3 primary. Joe Biden follows with 24 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 23 percent. $$

5. The East Bay's biggest local political race is heating up. Retiring Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty had previously endorsed state Sen. Bob Wieckowski to replace him the Tri-Valley and Fremont seat. Now, Haggerty is splitting his endorsement to include Dublin Vice Mayor Melissa Hernandez, the East Bay Citizen reports.

6. Installation of the roof for the Raiders new stadium in Las Vegas will be delayed, NBC Sports reports. The roof will not be installed until May. The stadium is set to open on July 31. The uncertainty raises the possibility there might be a few more games left for the team in Oakland, although still remote. But the team's lease at the Coliseum includes an option for the 2020 season if any problems arise with the stadium in Las Vegas.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday's Briefing: 'We're not leaving,' homeless moms said after court ruling; Newsom wants to expand state parks system

Bonta wants to add bus-only lane to the Bay Bridge

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 12:47 PM

A portion of the N3 Ranch that could become part of the state parks system, running through Livermore in Alameda County. - REALTOR.COM
  • Realtor.com
  • A portion of the N3 Ranch that could become part of the state parks system, running through Livermore in Alameda County.


News you don't want to miss for Jan. 13:

1. Hours after an Alameda County Superior Court judge said the women that form the Moms 4 Housing coalition must leave the dwelling on Magnolia Street in Oakland, they remained defiant. “We are here. And we’re not leaving,” Dominique Walker, one of the homeless mothers said, according to KQED. On Friday, the judge said the women had no legal right to stay in the vacant house owned by a Southern California investment group.

2. The California state parks system could be significantly expanding for the first-time since the 1940s. The N3 Ranch, an 80 square-mile piece of ranch land that includes four counties, including Alameda County, is up for sale, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Gov. Gavin Newsom's state budget proposal includes funding to buy the land. $$

3. Elizabeth Echols was appointed to replace East Bay Regional Parks District Board Director Whitney Dotson, who retired last December and passed away last week, the East Bay Citizen reports.

4. A California appeals court judge ruled charter cities do not have autonomy to opt-out of the state's sanctuary city law, the Associated Press reports. A number of charter cities in Alameda County, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, have sanctuary city laws on the books.

5. Assemblymember Rob Bonta wants to add a bus-only lane to the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But the plan could be expensive and complicated to design. $$

6. Fears about rising crime are becoming palpable in a number of Alameda County cities recently, despite homicides dropping. On of the reason is a spike in auto burglaries in cities all over the East Bay, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

7. The flow of Californians moving to others states, along with declining birth rates could mean the Golden State's population growth will stop for the first time by 2060, Politico reports.

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