Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday’s Daily Briefing: Brown’s Tunnels Plan Suffers Big Setback; East Bay Housing Prices Soar Even Higher

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 10:17 AM

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Stories you shouldn’t miss for Sept. 20, 2017

1. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to build two giant water tunnels suffered a serious setback when the state’s largest irrigation district voted to oppose the plan, saying it would cost too much, reports Bettina Boxall of the LA Times$. The influential Westlands Water District, which includes large agribusinesses in the dry western San Joaquin Valley and would be one of the main beneficiaries of the tunnels project, voted 7-1 against it. Environmentalists who oppose the tunnels hope the Westlands' decision will kill the project, but the Brown administration says it plans to still push forward with it.

2. East Bay housing prices continued to skyrocket in August, with the median home price in Alameda County reaching $867,500—11.9 percent higher than last year, reports Richard Scheinin of the Mercury News$, citing a new report from the California Association of Realtors. The median price in Contra Costa County jumped 10.2 percent to $627,860. Experts blamed the out-of-control prices on the extreme housing shortage in the region.

3. A 7.1 earthquake in central Mexico has killed more than 200 people and leveled buildings in Mexico City, the LA Times$ reports. The big quake struck 32 years to the day after another major temblor devastated Mexico City in 1985.

4. Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico early today as a powerful Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, The New York Times$ reports. Maria is expected to inflict severe damage on the U.S. territory.

5. ICYMI: The Alameda County Superior Court has reversed its controversial decision to force north county defendants to be arraigned in Dublin and instead will reinstitute arraignments in Oakland, reports Jessica Lynn of the Express.

6. California organized labor has emerged as a powerful force against environmental legislation that is designed to address climate change, reports Chris Megerian of the LA Times$. Labor has defeated several pieces of climate change legislation this year, contending that it would harm union jobs.

7. Alameda Unified School District may sell Lum Elementary School, which closed earlier this year because of earthquake safety risks, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The district has assembled a panel to decide Lum’s future.

8. And the latest version of Trumpcare would severely punish Democratic states like California and New York, while financially rewarding Republican ones, the Washington Post$ reports.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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