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Latest Statewide Snow Survey Shows Plenty of Snow Still in Sierra Nevada

The state’s latest snowpack measurements are in and the results won’t shock anyone who spent the winter in storm-wracked California this year — there’s still a huge amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada. The California Department of Water Resources released its snow survey data Monday after conducting a manual measurement at Phillips Station in El Dorado County and compiling information from its network of 130 snow sensors throughout the state.

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Sean de Guzman, Manager of the California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, and Anthony Burdock, Department of Water Resources engineer in the Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, examine the aluminum survey pole during the final snow survey of the 2023 season on May 1, 2023 at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in El Dorado County, Calif. (Ken James/California Department of Water Resources via Bay City News)
Sean de Guzman, Manager of the California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, and Anthony Burdock, Department of Water Resources engineer in the Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, examine the aluminum survey pole during the final snow survey of the 2023 season on May 1, 2023 at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in El Dorado County, Calif. (Ken James/California Department of Water Resources via Bay City News)

By Bay City News

The state’s latest snowpack measurements are in and the results won’t shock anyone who spent the winter in storm-wracked California this year — there’s still a huge amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

The California Department of Water Resources released its snow survey data Monday after conducting a manual measurement at Phillips Station in El Dorado County and compiling information from its network of 130 snow sensors throughout the state.

The manual measurement shows 59 inches of snow with a snow-water equivalent of 30 inches, which is 241 percent of average for Phillips Station on May 1, according to DWR.

The sensors show the statewide snowpack’s snow-water equivalent at 49.2 inches, or 254 percent of average for this date.

“The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water still contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply run-off forecast,” DWR officials said in a news release Monday.

According to DWR, only three other times in history have the survey results eclipsed 200 percent, in 1952, 1969 and 1983, although data from those years isn’t as comprehensive as the current numbers.

The statewide number released Monday reflects an average snow melt of about 12 inches over the past month, which is a slower pace than normal for April and is attributable to below average temperatures earlier in the month as well as increased cloud cover during that period, according to DWR.

The data will help water managers and reservoir operators anticipate the amount of spring and summer runoff they can expect to move through the state’s massive water storage and delivery systems as temperatures warm and cloudy skies give way to sunshine.

The information is vital to drinking water districts, farmers, cities and flood control systems, especially in vulnerable and already flooded regions like the San Joaquin Valley and communities along the Central Coast like Pajaro.

“The snowpack will not disappear in one week or one month but will lead to sustained high flows across the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins over the next several months and this data will help us inform water managers and ultimately help protect communities in these regions,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.

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Bay Area

Arrests Made at People’s Park as Preparations For Construction on Site Begin Again

Seven people were arrested early Thursday morning at Berkeley’s People’s Park as fencing was put up in preparation for a controversial construction project to build housing for students and formerly unhoused people on the public park.

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Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley's plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.
Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley's plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.

By Bay City News

Seven people were arrested early Thursday morning at Berkeley’s People’s Park as fencing was put up in preparation for a controversial construction project to build housing for students and formerly unhoused people on the public park.

Fencing and double-stacked shipping containers will continue to be installed over the next three to four days and surrounding streets will be closed off for about six days, according to a university spokesperson.

Opponents fought the University of California, Berkeley’s plan to build on the site when construction began in August 2022, but they were dealt a setback when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that was unanimously backed by the state Legislature to exempt the university from a requirement to consider alternative sites for the project.

The arrests Thursday morning were for trespassing, with two also arrested for failure to disperse, according to the university. They were cited and released after being booked into jail.

An appeal on the university’s construction project is still being heard by the state Supreme Court, but the university said it has the legal right to close off the construction zone while the case is litigated.

“Given that the existing legal issues will inevitably be resolved, we decided to take this necessary step now in order to minimize disruption for the public and our students when we are eventually cleared to resume construction,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, our planning and actions must take into account that some of the project’s opponents have previously resorted to violence and vandalism, despite strong support for the project on the part of students, community members, advocates for unhoused people, the elected leadership of the City of Berkeley, as well as the Legislature and governor of the state of California,” Christ said.

The plan calls for building housing for 1,100 students and a separate building with 100 apartments for low-income, formerly unhoused people, but activists have fought against the displacement of unhoused people currently living in the park and development on a green space.

The plan would preserve 60% of the 2.8-acre park’s green space and the park would remain open to the public. People living in the park have been offered transitional housing.

Video posted to social media showed trees being cut down and carried by heavy machinery overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Copyright © 2024 Bay City News, Inc.  All rights reserved.  Republication, rebroadcast or redistribution without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. Bay City News is a 24/7 news service covering the greater Bay Area.

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Bay Area

Appeals Court Denies Request to Revisit Berkeley’s Natural Gas Ban

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled against Berkeley’s pioneering natural gas ban. In a majority decision filed Tuesday, the court said Berkeley’s ordinance banning gas pipelines in new construction runs afoul of the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

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The act "expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens," Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the majority opinion.
The act "expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens," Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the majority opinion.

By Kiley Russell
Bay City News
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled against Berkeley’s pioneering natural gas ban.
In a majority decision filed Tuesday, the court said Berkeley’s ordinance banning gas pipelines in new construction runs afoul of the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

The act “expressly preempts state and local regulations concerning the energy use of many natural gas appliances, including those used in household and restaurant kitchens,” Judge Patrick Bumatay wrote in the majority opinion.
“Instead of directly banning those appliances in new buildings, Berkeley took a more circuitous route to the same result,” Bumatay wrote. “It enacted a building code that prohibits natural gas piping in those buildings from the point of delivery at a gas meter, rendering the gas appliances useless.”

The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the first-of-its-kind ordinance in July 2019.
It was designed to combat climate change by reducing natural gas emissions throughout the city by encouraging the use of more ecologically friendly electrical hookups.

“Climate change is an existential threat to our city, our homes, and our future,” Councilmember Kate Harrison, who authored the ordinance, said at the time. “It is time to take aggressive action to reduce our emissions across all sectors.”
The California Restaurant Association sued the city in November 2019, and in 2021 a lower court ruled against the restaurant organization.
In that ruling, the court found that the local ordinance didn’t conflict with federal regulations because it indirectly applied to appliances covered by federal law and that the federal rules should be interpreted so as not to “sweep into areas that are historically the province of state and local regulation.”

Last year, a panel of the 9th Circuit disagreed and ruled that federal law preempted the city’s new ordinance and on Tuesday, the full panel of judges denied a request to rehear the case.

Judge Michelle Friedland, writing the dissenting opinion for the 9th Circuit, said the majority opinion “misinterprets the statute’s key terms” and “needlessly blocks Berkeley’s effort to combat climate change, along with the equivalent laws passed by other local governments. Our system of federalism requires much more respect for state and local autonomy.”

Copyright © 2024 Bay City News, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication, rebroadcast or redistribution without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. Bay City News is a 24/7 news service covering the greater Bay Area.

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Activism

Newsom Signs 56 Housing Bills to Boost Affordability, Help Tenants

Housing developments will now be more streamlined with less red tape, density laws can be overruled in the interest of housing, and institutions like colleges or religious organizations can now use portions of their property to build housing. Newsom also signed a bill that will please anyone who has tried to rent in California on a limited income: Landlords can now only collect one months’ rent as a security deposit instead of two.

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State Sen. Scott Wiener wants a streamlined approval process for all mixed-income housing projects in California, he said at a San Francisco press conference on Feb. 13, 2023. (Olivia Wynkoop / Bay City News)
State Sen. Scott Wiener wants a streamlined approval process for all mixed-income housing projects in California, he said at a San Francisco press conference on Feb. 13, 2023. (Olivia Wynkoop / Bay City News)

By Katy St. Clair | Bay City News

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed multiple housing bills aimed at tackling the state’s lack of affordable housing and making it easier for tenants to rent a home in the first place.

Newsom signed a whopping 56 bills into law which he said, “incentivize and reduce barriers to housing and support the development of more affordable homes.”

Housing developments will now be more streamlined with less red tape, density laws can be overruled in the interest of housing, and institutions like colleges or religious organizations can now use portions of their property to build housing. Newsom also signed a bill that will please anyone who has tried to rent in California on a limited income: Landlords can now only collect one months’ rent as a security deposit instead of two.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is especially pleased with the signings, as several of the bills were his, including creating a tax increment financing structure to replace 5,800 affordable homes in San Francisco that have been lost to redevelopment.

“California desperately needs to ramp up housing production and the Governor’s action today helps put us on a path to that goal,” said Wiener in a statement Wednesday.

Of Wiener’s bills, Newsom signed Senate Bill 423, which accelerates the development of affordable housing by strengthening the provisions of SB 35, which will sunset at the end of 2025. SB 35, another bill from Wiener back in 2016, allows projects to go through a simplified and expedited housing approval process in areas that are not on track to meet their housing production goals.

SB 423 continues the momentum of 35, but also includes “strong new labor standards,” such as higher wages and health benefits for workers on housing developments.

Wiener also put forth the San Francisco Replacement Housing Act, or Senate Bill 593, which aims to mend the mistakes of the past by adding affordable housing to neighborhoods that were demolished for growth, displacing their lower-income residents. According to Wiener, examples of these neighborhoods are Japantown, SoMA, and the Western Addition. SB 593 will create 5,800 affordable homes in the city, Wiener said.

Assembly Bill 12 was signed by the governor as well. Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) backed the bill, which expands tenant protections by limiting security deposits to one month’s rent in instead of up to three times the rent.

“Massive security deposits can create insurmountable barriers to housing affordability and accessibility for millions of Californians,” said Haney on social media Wednesday. “Despite skyrocketing rents, laws on ensuring affordable security deposits haven’t changed substantially since the 1970s. The result is that landlords lose out on good tenants and tenants stay in homes that are too crowded, unsafe or far from work.”

Other bills signed by Newsom establish penalties for CEQA abuse, allowing affordable accessory dwelling unit (ADU) condos, and expanding density bonuses, which give developers the ability to increase density above the maximum allowed in a municipality’s General Plan.

“It’s simple math,” said Newsom in a statement released by his office. “California needs to build more housing and ensure the housing we have is affordable.”

For a full list of all the housing-related bills signed by Gov. Newsom, go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

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