Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday's Briefing: OPD Kills Man in North Oakland; Authorities Have No Idea How Many Homeless People Die on the Streets

Plus, Oakland bans cannabis businesses from displacing tenants.

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 10:19 AM


Stories you shouldn't miss for March 12, 2018:

1. Oakland police shot and killed a man whom officers said was armed in North Oakland on Sunday, KTVU reports. The fatal shooting occurred at a home in the 900 block of 40th Street near MacArthur BART. Police said firefighters first responded to the scene and then called OPD when they said a person in the home had a gun. Police said the man refused to drop his weapon before cops killed him.

2. Local and state authorities have no idea how many homeless people die on the streets every year, because they don't keep track of the information, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Because of the lack of data, officials not have no clue as to the extent of the dangers of living on the street. "Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said if more people knew how dire homelessness is - by way of mortality statistics, for instance - there might be a heightened sense of urgency."

3. The Oakland City Council approved a new law that prohibits cannabis businesses from receiving permits if they displace people from their homes, reports Ali Tadayon of the East Bay Times$. "The legislation came after residents and business owners at The Oakland Cannery, a live/work space in East Oakland, urged city officials to protect their spaces after a cannabis business purchased the building and expressed intentions to turn it into a commercial cannabis facility."

4. Despite this winter's dry weather, Californians have increased their water use to pre-drought levels, reports Paul Rogers of the Mercury News$, citing new data from the State Water Resources Control Board. Southern California residents, in particular, have started using more water, despite the fact that nearly half of the state is considered to be back in a drought.

5. Northern California authorities have been tight-lipped about why a former Army rifleman killed three female health care workers at a veterans' home in Yountville, the Associated Press reports. The shooter, Albert Wong, 36, "was enrolled in The Pathway Home's veteran treatment program until he was recently expelled, according to a relative of one of the women."

6. ICYMI: In a surprise move, the Alameda City Council voted unanimously to place City Manager Jill Keimach on paid administrative leave. The announcement followed a closed-door meeting during which councilmembers were scheduled to discuss the results of an internal City Hall probe. Keimach had alleged that councilmembers interfered in her selection of a fire chief last year.

7. And Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio, who has served for 25 years on the council, has decided to retire at the end of this year and will not seek reelection, reports Frances Dinkelspiel of Berkeleyside.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Alameda City Manager Placed on Paid Leave

The usually divided Alameda City Council voted unanimously to sideline Jill Keimach.

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 9:25 PM

  • File photo by D. Ross Cameron
  • Jill Keimach.

Following a nearly five-hour closed session meeting Friday evening, the Alameda City Council, in a surprise move, unanimously voted to place City Manager Jill Keimach on paid administrative leave.

The topic of Friday’s special closed session is believed to have been the results of an independent investigation into allegations made by Keimach that councilmembers violated the Alameda City Charter by interfering in her selection of a new fire chief. Keimach made the claims in a memorandum she sent to the council last October.

Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer declined to comment on Friday’s announcement or offer a reason for placing Keimach on leave. But the post-closed-door meeting statement read by Spencer suggests that the city's investigation into Keimach's claims may have uncovered new information.

“The report includes confidential advice regarding potential litigation given to the council, which the council is currently assessing in conjunction with its attorneys. The city will release the actual findings of the investigative report as soon as possible after the requisite legal analysis has been completed and delivered to the city council,” according to the statement.

“The city manager has been place on paid administrative leave with full salary and benefits during this assessment by unanimous vote of the city council.”

The unanimity by the council is highly unusual. The council often is deeply divided on issues.

Friday is not the first time councilmembers have discussed the independent investigator’s report. They also met in a special closed session on Jan. 27 that also lasted five hours, but without any reportable action. Keimach was not seen at either closed session.

Friday's Briefing: Berkeley Housing Project Is First to Use New State Rules; Oakland Cafe Refuses to Serve Cops

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 10:24 AM

  • Photo West Berkeley Investments

Stories you shouldn't miss for Mach 9, 2018:

1. A Berkeley housing project that will create 260 new units of housing is becoming the first in the state to take advantage of new streamlining rules that allow developments to avoid bureaucratic hassles if they include 50 percent affordable housing, reports Frances Dinkelspiel of Berkeleyside. The project, which is to be built on Fourth Street on the old Spenger's restaurant parking lot, has been bogged down in Berkeley's Byzantine housing approval process. The new state rules, under SB 35 by state Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, allows zoning-compliant housing projects to avoid public hearings if half of the development is affordable housing.

2. An Oakland cafe — Hasta Muerte Coffee — in the city's Fruitvale district is refusing to serve police officers, reports Henry Lee of KTVU. Cafe managers declined to comment, but "Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale District, spoke to cafe managers Thursday and confirmed it's still the business' unwritten policy not to serve the men and women in blue." The cafe's decision has angered the Oakland police union.

3. A Kensington couple has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the small town's police department, alleging that the "police chief once asked for a child abuse complaint to be dropped 'as a personal favor' and then placed a gun on a table and told the father, 'this can end one of two ways,'" the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The Kensington Police Department has been mired in repeated scandals during the past few years.

4. President Trump called Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf a "disgrace" during a diatribe that was riddled with false and incorrect statements, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle. Trump, for example, falsely asserted that Schaaf told undocumented immigrants to "scatter" and "flee," when, in fact, she informed people about their legal rights.

5. So many people have been fleeing the Bay Area because of out-of-control housing costs that U-Haul is running out of moving vans and is charging up to 10 times more to those leaving the region, reports Maris Kendall of the Bay Area News Group$. U-Haul is also giving discounts to people who move to the Bay Area in order to refill its truck fleet here.

6. Delaine Eastin is the only California gubernatorial candidate to support a repeal of Costa Hawkins, a statewide law that limits the ability of cities to establish strict rent control laws, reports Angela Hart of the Sacramento Bee$. Eastin called Costa Hawkins a failure, but the other candidates vying to replace Jerry Brown say they would prefer that the law be reformed and not overturned, fearing that cities will place rent control on new housing, thus stifling the creation of it.

7. State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, has introduced legislation that would raise the age that people can buy rifles and shotguns in California from 18 to 21 — the same as it is for handguns, reports John Woolfolk of the Mercury News$. The co-authors of Bonta's bill, AB 3, are state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco.

8. Home Depot has agreed to pay a $27.84 million legal settlement for unlawfully dumping toxic waste from stores throughout California, including Alameda County, reports Angela Ruggiero of the East Bay Times$. Home Depot was illegally dumping "pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants, solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste, key shavings, and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials" into local landfills.

9. State and federal wildlife officials are releasing 200,000 hatchery-bred salmon into a high Sierra creek in an effort to stave off extinction of a key salmon run in California — winter-run Chinook, reports Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The project is on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near Mount Shasta.

10. And Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay, who was credited with restoring the city's fiscal health and implementing a series of progressive reforms, plans to retire in June, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

One Oakland Cop Was Fired and Another Was Put on Leave After Their Guns Were Used by Civilians

OPD has kept the cases secret, but the department’s independent monitor mentioned one of them in a report filed in federal court last month.

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 3:02 PM

Two Oakland cops recently had their guns taken by civilians and potentially used in violent crimes. One of the officers has been fired from the department after providing his gun to a friend and then obstructing a police investigation into the friend's actions. The other officer's gun was allegedly taken by a family member and used in a shooting.

Sources said that the second case involves a sergeant who has worked at the department since 2008.

The sergeant's gun was taken by the son of her boyfriend and used in a shooting somewhere in Contra Costa County last year, sources said. Sources also said that an outside police agency located the shooting suspect shortly after the incident and questioned him and the sergeant, but they found inconsistencies in their stories. Investigators later suspected the sergeant harbored the suspect and coached him on how to talk to the police. OPD opened an internal affairs investigation into the sergeant's actions, and the sergeant was subsequently placed on administrated leave, sources said. Meanwhile, the Oakland Police Department has released no information about the shooting or what they believe the sergeant may have done afterward.

The other firearms case, which the department also has kept secret, was mentioned publicly for the first time last month when OPD's independent monitor described allegations in a report filed in federal court: “[A]n officer was sustained for improperly providing a firearm to an acquaintance and then obstructing the investigation into his actions,” wrote Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw in the Feb. 23 report.

It's unclear whether the person who took the officer's gun committed a crime with it or whether anyone was injured.

Warshaw wrote in his report, however, that OPD internal affairs investigators recommended that the unnamed officer be fired from the department for allowing his firearm to end up in someone else's hands.

OPD spokesperson Officer Johnna Watson confirmed in an email to the Express that the case referred to by Warshaw in his report resulted in the officer's termination. Watson did not provide any comment about the allegations against the sergeant in the other case, however, but she did confirm that the sergeant is still employed by OPD.

Police officials in Oakland and other agencies would not say on-the-record whether there are any criminal investigations into what happened with the OPD officers' guns when they were taken by civilians. But several sources said they believed that the sergeant's gun and car were used in a shooting that took place in Richmond last year and that a criminal investigation is ongoing.

Richmond police declined to confirm or deny the existence of any case. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office said they were unaware of any cases involving an Oakland police officer’s gun.

Thursday's Briefing: California Jobless Rates Reaches Lowest on Record; Oakland to Consider Taxing Vacant Property

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 10:26 AM

Stories you shouldn't miss for March 8, 2018:

1. California's jobless rate reached its lowest level — 4.4 percent — on record in January as the Bay Area employment market continued to surge, reports George Avalos of the Bay Area News Group$. The Bay Area added 11,900 jobs in January — one third of all jobs gained in the state. The East Bay added 3,800 jobs in the month, and "the January jobless rates in the South Bay, East Bay, and the San Francisco metro area all improved to their lowest levels since December 1999, according to Beacon Economics."

2. The Oakland City Council plans to consider a ballot measure that would establish a tax on vacant property and buildings in the city, reports Ali Tadayon of the East Bay Times$. The plan by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan would earmark the tax proceeds to help homeless people in the city. "Kaplan said in an interview she is proposing to tax vacant lots, industrial buildings, and multi-unit buildings $6,000 a year, and vacant apartments $3,000 a year." The tax would generate about $20 million annually, Kaplan said, and would incentivize property owners to make use of their land rather than allowing it to remain vacant.

3. The Alameda City Council voted 4-1 to greenlight changes to a massive housing development slated for Alameda Point, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The council's vote eased financing rules for the 800-unit housing project, thereby allowing the proposal to break ground in April. The project also includes a proposed new ferry terminal.

4. El Cerrito is in the middle of a historic housing boom, with more than 1,300 units of housing proposed or under construction, reports Chris Treadway of the East Bay Times$. The housing projects, many of them along the city's San Pablo Avenue corridor, include 220 affordable units.

5. Land around San Francisco Bay that was built on fill that was not densely compacted — such as San Francisco International Airport, Treasure Island, and Foster City — is sinking at a rate of about a half-inch per year, reports Paul Rogers of the Mercury News$, citing a new study from researchers at UC Berkeley and Arizona State University. These areas are at a greater risk of flooding in the decades ahead as sea levels rise due to climate change.

6. Many motorists who live in low-income areas are paying higher auto insurance rates in California — some are paying up to $1,000 a year more, reports Erin Baldassari of the East Bay Times$, citing new data from the auto insurance comparison company, Gabi. The disparity in insurance rates means that many Black and Latino drivers must pay higher rates for the same insurance as whites.

7. President Trump's recently enacted tax plan will deliver a serious financial blow to millions of California homeowners and could exacerbate the state's housing shortage, reports Louis Hansen of the Bay Area News Group$. "Economists expect the tax changes to drive up overall home ownership costs in California and decrease the inventory of homes for sale."

8. California health officials are warning residents of "Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties to refrain from harvesting and consuming mussels, clams, oysters and other bivalve shellfish due to harmful levels of paralytic shellfish poison," reports Annie Ma of the San Francisco Chronicle. The warning only applies to shellfish caught recreationally, and the toxin is being blamed on this winter's unusually warm weather.

9. And California's cannabis czar has issued a cease and desist order to Weedmaps, directing "the internet company that maps marijuana dispensaries to immediately stop promoting businesses that don't have state licenses," reports Brooke Staggs of the Orange County Register (h/t Rough & Tumble).

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag Is Providing Legal Firepower for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in Dispute with AG Jeff Sessions

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 2:48 PM

Melinda Haag.
  • Melinda Haag.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made clear what he thinks about Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's recent decision to warn of an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation in the Bay Area. Sessions said in a Sacramento speech earlier today that "the mayor of Oakland has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens avoid apprehension by ICE," and he accused Schaaf and other California officials of "bragging about and encouraging the obstruction of our law enforcement."

It's an unusually sharp criticism from the top federal law enforcement official that may foreshadow an investigation or legal fight with Schaaf. The Trump White House has also called for the DOJ to investigate whether Oakland's mayor obstructed justice.

In response, Schaaf appears to be preparing for the worst. She told reporters at a City Hall press conference today that Melinda Haag, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, has now offered to represent her in what's become an open feud with Sessions and Trump.

Haag is a formidable legal force.

She was appointed U.S. attorney for Northern California by President Barack Obama in 2010 after being nominated by California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. She was a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe since 2003. Before that, she worked as a white collar crimes prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

Haag also has close ties to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of Russia-Trump collusion in the 2016 federal elections.

Mueller was U.S. attorney for Northern California from 1998 to 2001, serving under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Mueller recruited Haag to supervise white collar crime and corruption cases. Mueller later left to lead the FBI under Bush, and Haag eventually took his job leading the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Haag is now back at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where she represents high-profile corporate clients, including former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

But Haag appears to have kept a close eye on Mueller's investigation into the Trump administration. She's been tapped as an expert source over the past year by several magazines and legal publications for comment on the Russia probe.

Last October, Haag told a reporter with Law360 that the indictment of Trump campaign manager Paul Manifort, and guilty plea of of campaign aide George Papadopoulos, meant that her former boss Mueller was "one step from the question of whether there was collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

She's also been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration's alleged efforts to meddle in the Department of Justice and FBI, especially following the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Last year, Haag told KQED that Comey's firing had "a strong smell of political interference" from Trump and his associates, who fear where the Russia investigation might lead.

Sessions, who is now attacking Schaaf over immigration policy, had recommended firing Comey to Trump.

Schaaf declined to give any details about her conversations with Haag, but said the former U.S. attorney is working on a pro-bono basis. Haag did not return a phone call made earlier today seeking comment.

Wednesday's Briefing: Trump Administration Sues California Over Sanctuary Laws; AG Sessions Blasts Oakland Mayor

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 10:19 AM

Jeff Sessions
  • Jeff Sessions

Stories you shouldn't miss for March 7, 2018:

1. The Trump Justice Department sued the state of California in an attempt to overturn three sanctuary laws enacted last year, alleging that they unlawfully interfere with federal efforts on immigration, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Legal experts, however, expressed skepticism about the DOJ's lawsuit, noting that previous court decisions have ruled that states are not required under the constitution to enforce federal immigration laws.

2. While announcing the DOJ's lawsuit against California, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also singled out Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, blasting her decision last month to warn people about impending immigration sweeps and alleging that she put law enforcement officers in danger. In a statement on Tuesday, Schaaf condemned the Trump administration's approach to immigration enforcement. "This administration has tried to portray all immigrants as villains. We know that is a racist lie, and we will shed light on that myth every day."

3. Architect KTGY has submitted a proposal to build a 267-unit apartment building in Oakland's red-hot Uptown district, reports Roland Li of the San Francisco Business Times$. The project, which includes affordable housing, would be built at 50 Grand Ave.

4. Oakland-based Signature Development Group is proposing to construct 100,000 square feet of office and retail at 465 25th St. in Uptown as well, reports Blanca Torres of the San Francisco Business Times$. Signature has built numerous housing and commercial projects in Oakland over the years, including the Hive.

5. The percentage of carpool decals issued for clean autos in California soared by 35 percent last year, increasing to 302,453 from 223,651, reports Gary Richards of the Mercury News$. But the rapid expansion of green cars in the state is choking HOV lanes.

6. A San Francisco judge ruled that "California elections officials must notify voters before rejecting their mail-in ballots over concerns that the signature is not authentic," reports Billy Kobin of the Sacramento Bee$. "Current California election law allows officials to toss out vote-by-mail ballots if they suspect the signature on the envelope does not match the signature on file for the voter, without giving the voter a chance to respond."

7. The stock market plunged this morning in the wake of the resignation of President Trump's top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, who quit over the White House's plans to launch trade wars against steel and aluminum producing countries, the Washington Post$ reports.

8. And porn star Stormy Daniels sued President Trump alleging that a 2016 legal settlement concerning their months-long affair 10 years earlier is invalid because he failed to sign it, The New York Times$ reports.

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Attorney General Sessions Blasts Libby Schaaf, Accusing Oakland's Mayor of Endangering Police to Promote 'Radical Open Border Agenda'

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 9:04 AM

  • California Peace Officers Association
At a speech before a state law enforcement lobbying group in Sacramento this morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, accusing her of endangering the lives of police officers to advance a "radical open border agenda."

He told members of the California Peace Officers' Association, which includes police leaders from departments around the state, that the federal justice department will use all of its powers to dismantle California's sanctuary state policies.

"California absolutely appears to me to be using every power it has, and powers it doesn’t have, to frustrate federal law enforcement," Sessions told the gathering. "I’m going to use every power I have to fight that."

In his speech, coming the day after Sessions filed suit against California in federal court over several state sanctuary laws, Sessions struck an outraged and condemnatory tone. But he told the California police officials at the conference that he and the Trump administration "have got your back."

He singled out Schaaf for her warning earlier this month of an impending ICE operation in the Bay Area. "For example, the mayor of Oakland has been actively seeking to help illegal aliens evade apprehension by ICE," Sessions told the police. "Her actions aid those who openly flout the law.

"Here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf," Sessions added. "How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open border agenda."

Schaaf issued a statement yesterday in advance of Session's appearance in Sacramento. "Oakland is a city of immigrants," Schaaf said. "We will continue to exercise our legal right to exist as a sanctuary city."

She condemned the Trump administration's approach to immigration enforcement. "This administration has tried to portray all immigrants as villains. We know that is a racist lie, and we will shed light on that myth every day."

The California Peace Officers' Association is one of several large law enforcement advocacy groups in the state. It's gathering in Sacramento today is part of its annual "legislative day" in which its membership lobbies state lawmakers.

The group tends to oppose criminal justice reform measures and actively opposed SB 54, the bill approved last year that prohibits state and local police from helping ICE enforce civil immigration law.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

State Auditor to Review 'Gassing' Attacks at Alameda County Jail

Sheriffs' deputies use a plexiglass shield to ward off urine and feces thrown at them by detainees.

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 10:52 AM

A plexiglass shield used to protect jail staff from "gassing" attacks. - COURTESY OF ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE.
  • Courtesy of Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
  • A plexiglass shield used to protect jail staff from "gassing" attacks.
It's called "gassing," and it's gotten a lot worse over the past several years inside Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail. Gassing is prison slang for using feces, urine, bile, and other forms of excrement, as biological projectile weapons. Inmates collect waste matter in bags, trays, or just their hands, and fling it at guards or other detainees.

Gassing can result in the transmission of dangerous diseases like Hepatitis. It's gotten so bad in Santa Rita Jail that staffers have to use a large plexiglass shield to protect themselves against known gassers.

Now the state auditor's office is studying the problem. In January, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (Chino) asked the auditor to examine how jail staff in Alameda and Los Angeles counties handle gassing attacks and whether there are prevention methods.
In a letter to the auditor's office, Rodriguez called gassing "a phenomenon that plagues both state prisons and county jails."

"We have always had gassing incident in my 22 years here," Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda Sheriff's Office explained in an email. "But they were very random and sporadic. Maybe 1-2 a year. In the more recent 1-2 years, there has been a dramatic increase."

According to Rodriguez, since 2011, numerous state prison inmates have been transferred into county jails to serve out their sentences under the California's realignment policy. One question he wants to the auditor to answer is whether this influx of prisoners from state penitentiaries into county custody has correlated with the increased number of gassing attacks in jails.

Sgt. Kelly said several Santa Rita Jail staffers have already been gassed this year. In addition to the plexiglass shield, which can be wheeled in front of doors to shield staff, guards are also outfitted with protective face shields and special clothing when interacting with inmates known to carry out the attacks.

"It's a very disgusting type of assault that in many ways is more dangerous than a typical physical assault," wrote Kelly.

Rodriguez also wants to the auditor to study whether jail designs, overcrowding, or other factors are helping facilitate gassing attacks.

In a small number of cases, jail guards have been complicit in the gassing of inmates. Last year, the Alameda Sheriff's office arrested four of its own deputies — Erik McDermott, Justin Linn, Stephen Sarcos, and Sarah Krause — for helping inmates gain access to other inmates' cells to throw urine and feces on them. The four former-deputies appeared in court last week and are being charged with multiple felonies, including assaulting inmates, threatening witnesses, and conspiracy.

The inmates who carry out gassing attacks also face felony assault charges, but it's unclear just how many of these incidents have happened in recent years at Santa Rita Jail. The auditor is tasked with counting the number of gassing incidents in Santa Rita Jail since 2009, including the number that were charged as a crime. The auditor's office will also examine what kinds of aftercare jail staff receive following an assault.

Tuesday's Briefing: Bill Calls for 20,000 New Homes Next to BART Stations; Sierra Snowpack Still Only at 37% of Normal

Plus, 94-unit affordable housing project breaks ground at Fruitvale BART.

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn't miss for March 6, 2018:

1. New legislation in Sacramento calls for the construction of 20,000 new homes to be built on BART property next to train stations, reports Katy Murphy of the Bay Area News Group$. The bill, AB 2923, by Assemblymembers David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Tim Grayson, D-Concord, would require cities to allow the new housing on BART land. "You'll see around many BART stations acres of asphalt filled with cars during the day and empty at night," Chiu said. "It's a terrible use of the areas around major transportation hubs."

2. Last week's big storms boosted the Sierra snowpack by 80 percent, but it's still only 37 percent of normal, reports Paul Rogers of the Mercury News$. Climate experts say for the state to reach normal snowpack levels by April 1, California would need four or five more big storms in March.

3. A 94-unit affordable housing project broke ground at the Oakland Fruitvale Transit Village next to BART, reports J.K. Dineen of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The project, developed by the Unity Council and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp., will be affordable to households with incomes in the extremely low and very-low categories. Twenty units will be reserved for formerly homeless veterans."

4. Wells Fargo is selling vacant land near the San Leandro BART station to a housing developer, reports Roland Li of the San Francisco Business Times$. The five-acre property at 915 Antonio St. is zoned for 400 to 500 homes and is being purchased by San Francisco developer Maximus Real Estate Partners.

5. The Stanford researcher of an MIT study that revealed Uber and Lyft drivers are poorly paid has adjusted his report following criticism of it, reports Levi Sumagaysay of the Bay Area News Group$. Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, says his research recalculated shows that Uber and Lyft drivers net $8.55 an hour, not $3.37.

6. Of the six crash reports involving robot cars this year two involved humans who attacked the vehicles, reports Russ Mitchell of the LA Times$. One of the incidents involved an irate taxicab driver attacking a driverless vehicle. No injuries were involved in any of the incidents.

7. And former longtime Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer has died at the age of 87.

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