California’s Bullet Train

This was a project we supported, but unfortunately, like most of what state and local government in California manages lately, it is becoming a tragic joke, as reported by City Journal.

An excerpt.

“California’s bullet train has become a nearly forgotten source of trouble, eclipsed in the public eye by Covid-19, a gubernatorial recall, and out-migration from the Golden State. But it’s still out there, sucking up time and money, and as empty as it ever was.

“The California High Speed Rail, its formal name, was a hobby-ego project for former governor Jerry Brown that was supposed to move passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco at 220 mph by 2020. Instead, the project is moving at the speed of the museum piece it sometimes appears destined to be. Not a single train has run, with train testing still six to seven years away, amid seemingly never-ending delays.

“The news regarding the project is, as usual, dismal. As the Los Angeles Times reported in January, Ghassan Ariqat, vice president of operations at bullet-train contractor Tutor Perini, sent a “scorching” letter to California officials criticizing persistent construction delays, “contradicting state claims that the line’s construction pace is on target,” and warning that the project could miss “a key 2022 federal deadline.” “It is beyond comprehension that as of this day, more than two thousand and six hundred calendar days after [official approval to start construction], the authority has not obtained all of the right of way,” Ariqat wrote. Because of the sluggish construction pace, he added, his company “will have to lay off a significant number of its field workers in the very near future” after already letting 73 walk.

“Ariqat has good reason to be agitated. If there’s been a more poorly run public works project in California history, nobody can remember it. Two years ago, a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan think tank, called California’s high-speed rail an outright “failure” that has “suffered from at least seven identifiable ‘worst practices,’” causing it “to be indefinitely delayed.”

“Confidence in the original timeline was once high, but setbacks have mounted. One high-speed rail blogger wondered in 2009 if the state itself should make a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, since California was “on track” for “fast, high-capacity public transportation” that would allow events and venues easily to be “spread out over a much wider area.” Twelve years later, as the Los Angeles Times has noted, the project “may run out of money” before the “171-mile starter system between Bakersfield and Merced” can be completed. And this month, rising costs forced the High Speed Rail Authority to reduce the planned pair of tracks between Bakersfield and Merced to a single track, saving $1.1 billion but likely coming at the expense of train speeds.

“The project, which has gone through at least a half-dozen business plans, is the definition of a money pit. When voters approved it via 2008’s Proposition 1A, they were told it would cost $33 billion. The Los Angeles Times editorialized that the cost was “not too much to wager on a visionary leap that would cement California’s place as the nation’s most forward-thinking state.” Several other newspapers favored the train, but a few came out against it, with the Orange County Register warning that Prop 1A was “a fast track to bankruptcy” and a “boondoggle.”

“The original projection has proved far too optimistic. Cost estimates have bounced around since 2008, landing at various times at $64 billion, $77 billion, $98 billion, and $117 billion before settling, for now, at $100 billion for a scaled-back version that links Los Angeles and San Francisco. That’s $20 billion more than the price tag of a year ago when Governor Gavin Newsom, in one of the political understatements of the year, said that “the current project, as planned, would cost too much and take too long.”

Retrieved February 26, 2021 from High Costs & Construction Delays Plague Cali. High Speed Rail (city-journal.org)

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Parks are Good, Yes?

Not to some folks, as this story from City Journal reports.

An excerpt.

“Following World War II, American cities launched an ambitious agenda, aided by federal legislation and funding, to revive declining neighborhoods. Accelerating during the 1960s and continuing today, the movement has embraced multiple strategies to upgrade struggling communities, including tearing down “slums” and erasing older commercial districts and replacing them with newer developments. Many of these projects—exemplified by New York “master builder” Robert Moses’s obliteration of whole neighborhoods to create superhighways—proved controversial, even misbegotten. Others, which replaced fading residential or business districts with ambitious government-directed developments like downtown sports arenas or new public administration buildings, failed to generate much new economic activity. Cities often wound up worse off than before.

“Yet, after countless ineffective efforts, one modest strategy seems to have worked: building new parks, or fixing up those that already exist, making them safer and cleaner. Creating or reviving urban oases has turned out to be money in the bank for struggling cities, improving the quality of life and boosting property values in the parks’ vicinity—and the real-estate taxes that accompany them. Grand efforts to create new parks, sometimes in abandoned and once-polluted industrial areas, have been particularly fruitful. Innovative projects like the High Line in New York City and other so-called beltways and greenways have improved gritty neighborhoods from Chelsea in Manhattan to Humboldt Park in Chicago, attracting billions of dollars of new investment.

“Parks have proved so successful that activists in some urban neighborhoods now oppose them, fearing that they will thoroughly transform their communities and displace current residents. The phenomenon even has a name: green gentrification. Though studies consistently show that gentrification rarely crowds out current residents, the evolution that does occur in these improving neighborhoods is still anathema to many activists and politicians; low-income neighborhoods must not change too much, they maintain, even when the changes benefit those who remain.

“To forestall green gentrification, some politicians and activists are seeking to establish trusts to buy up land near city parks, so that for-profit interests can’t redevelop it. This opposition has added a new level of complexity to neighborhood revival, and it risks locking certain areas into inexorable decline.”

Retrieved February 25, 2021 from Just Say No . . . to Parks?! | City Journal (city-journal.org)

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Back to the City??

Maybe not—at least not just yet—as this article from American Affairs reports.

An excerpt.

“Even before 2020, America’s great cities faced a tide that threatened to overwhelm them. In 2020, the tsunami rose sud­denly, inundating the cities in ways that will prove both troubling and trans­formative, but which could mark the return toward a more hu­mane, and sustainable, urbanity. The two shocks—the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring, followed by a summer punctuated by massive social un­rest—have undermined persistent fantasies of an inevitable “back to the city” migration.

“Before the pandemic, cities were already experiencing a huge class divide, slackening population growthrising crime, and dysfunctional schools. Their white-collar-dominated economies were clearly vul­nerable to technological changes, and they were presided over by a political class increasingly out of touch with reality and often hostile to middle-class concerns. Now, the urban white-collar employment and tourism economies have been devastated, while other sectors such as manufacturing, port development, and logistics had already de­parted.

“The weeks, even months, of civil disorders occurring after the death of George Floyd may prove even more consequential. Cities were already facing rising crime before the Floyd incident. Last year, New York’s bodegas experienced a 222 percent increase in burglaries, while brick-and-mortar chains like Walgreens were shutting down locations in San Francisco due to “rampant burglaries.”

“More middle-class families appear happy to have relocated to the suburbs, or to places even far­ther away, where houses are less expen­sive. One in five Americans, according to Pew, knows someone who has moved due to Covid.

“The Pandemic Impact

“The pandemic exposed what has long been an urban weakness. Since ancient Greece, crowded conditions, combined with intense poverty and connections to distant marketplaces—often the seedbeds of novel diseases—have made cities naturally more susceptible to pandemics than the countryside.

“In his brilliant history of Rome, Kyle Harper describes how the thriving but very dense cities of the precociously urbanized Empire became “victims of the urban graveyard effect.” Attracting migrants from across the empire, fetid cities served as “petri dishes” for parasites and viral infection. Similarly, the Black Death in the Middle Ages spread throughout Europe, but it was poor urban dwellers who suffered most, notes historian Barbara Tuchman. Cities eventually recovered, but remained constrained and many communities actually disappeared.

“The association of urban density, poverty, and disease persisted through the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution—its pandemics were well chronicled by Engels—to the Spanish flu a century ago. This association has continued to hold in the case of Covid-19, despite the pandemic’s relentless spread. Indeed, even after the surge of cases in more rural areas, fatality rates in counties with the highest urban densities—particularly those which have greater overcrowding in housing, the greatest mass transit dependency, and deepest pockets of poverty—have seen the most fatalities. In the United States, at the end of 2020, counties with urban densities greater than ten thousand people per square mile constitute 3 percent of the nation’s population but have suffered 8.8 percent of deaths associated with the pandemic, 2.5 times their proportional share. By comparison, in typical suburban areas (urban densities of one thousand to five thousand per square mile), where 81 percent of the population lives, the COVID fatality rate is 60 percent lower.”

Retrieved February 22, 2021 from The American City’s Long Road to Recovery – American Affairs Journal

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Steelhead are Running

Hatcheries release them, according to this report from KCRA 3.

An excerpt.

“GOLD RIVER, Calif. —

“Steelhead season is underway in the Central Valley as three major hatcheries are set to release over 1.1 million fish into the Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers later this month.

“Steelhead are the migratory form of rainbow trout that make their journey to the Pacific Ocean and return to freshwater streams.

“Unlike salmon, steelhead don’t die after spawning and can make the journey from freshwater to saltwater and back multiple times in their lives, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Three CDFW-operated fish hatcheries in the Central Valley are set to release the next generation of steelhead later this month. More than 1.1 million fish combined will be released into the American, Feather and Mokelumne rivers.

“The year-old steelhead may travel more than 100 miles to reach the Pacific Ocean, returning in two to three years to spawn in the rivers from which they were released.

“Fish biologists with the department say other steelhead may spend their entire lives in the rivers much like the resident rainbow trout.

“The Feather River and Mokelumne River hatcheries release a much smaller Central Valley species of steelhead that can reach up to seven pounds. The Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Gold River release a coastal species of steelhead that can grow to 20 pounds in size.”

Retrieved February 19, 2021 from Millions of steelhead to be released throughout Central Valley (kcra.com)

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State Audit of California’s Homelessness Programs

Audit reveals what most everyone already knows, big failure in addressing homelessness throughout state, from California Globe.

Some excerpts.

California State Auditor Elaine Howle recently released a rather scathing audit of the management or mismanagement of Homelessness in California. She said that the state continues to have the largest homeless population in the nation “likely in part because its approach to addressing homelessness has been disjointed.”

“In her cover letter to the Governor, President pro Tempore of the Senate, and Speaker of the Assembly, Howle said “At least nine state agencies administer and oversee 41 different programs that provide funding to mitigate homelessness, yet no single entity oversees the State’s efforts or is responsible for developing a statewide strategic plan.”

The state’s plan to mitigate homelessness is not designed to achieve this, as the audit shows. Because if the 9 agencies and 41 different programs were, they would no longer be needed, the federal and state funding would dry up, and public employee union jobs would be lost. In California, no program ever sunsets.

“The State continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of its spending to address homelessness, the specific services the programs provide, or the individuals who receive those services.”

“Our audit found three additional factors that make state guidance to coordinate efforts to address homelessness especially necessary:

  • CoCs do not always employ best practices related to identifying, planning for, and providing services for those experiencing homelessness.
  • None of the five CoCs we reviewed has adequately determined whether it has enough service providers to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness.
  • Two of the five CoCs we assessed do not have current comprehensive plans.”

In May 2019, Gov. Newsom announced the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force and its co-chairs Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, “two city leaders from cities ravaged by homelessness, filth, and disease,” the Globe reported.

“Just the year before in 2018, a United Nations expert on housing singled out Oakland and San Francisco in a report as the only two U.S. cities which are part of a “global scandal,” saying the homeless encampments are “cruel and inhumane,” after visiting the Bay Area in January, KTVU Fox reported. In the same report the Special Rapporteur says “residents of informal settlements affirm humanity in the most inhumane circumstances. The Special Rapporteur has visited many informal settlements in the global North and South. She has found the severity of the living conditions and the failure of States to respond to them profoundly disturbing.”

“California has spent $13 billion in just the last three years on the massive homelessness problem. The auditor said the approach to dealing with homelessness is so fragmented and incomplete it actually hinders efforts at getting people into stable housing.

“Last year, Newsom vetoed a bill that would have created a uniform data-collection system on homelessness spending, saying the measure was duplicative and would create additional and unnecessary data collection costs,” KCRA Channel 3 reported. However, the auditor found a lack of coordination between agencies, and largely, no accountability by any agency our the task force.

“Some highlights from the audit:

  • In recent years, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in California has soared. More than 151,000 Californians were homeless in 2019, an increase of 15 percent from 2017.
  • Unlike in some other states, no single state entity in California oversees efforts to address homelessness or is responsible for developing a statewide strategic plan. Instead, at least nine state agencies administer and oversee 41 different programs that provide funding for purposes related to homelessness.
  • Despite creating the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council in 2017, homeless council staff stated that the council has not set priorities or timelines for achieving all 18 statutory goals (below). Further, the homeless council still has not finalized an action plan that homeless council staff believe will serve as the council’s strategic plan, and has yet to fulfill some of its most critical goals.
  • Council staff said they can request information from state agencies, but it does not currently have the authority to require this information from other state agencies and has not been able to track program spending to date.

“In September 2019, the Governor signed a package of 13 bills addressing homelessness, including Senate Bill 211, which authorizes the California Department of Transportation to lease certain property to local governments for temporary emergency shelters or feeding programs, and Senate Bill 450, which exempts certain hotels converted to supportive or transitional housing from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act until January 1, 2025,” the Auditor reported. “In January 2020, the Governor signed an executive order that focuses on preventing homelessness, providing shelter and services to people experiencing homelessness, and creating new temporary housing to reduce unsheltered homelessness. This executive order calls for, among other things, a multiagency state strike team to provide technical assistance and direct support to counties, cities, and public transit agencies seeking to bring people experiencing homelessness indoors and connect them with appropriate health, human, and social services.”…

“The auditor said her office reviewed a number of other states which have charged a single agency with addressing homelessness statewide and tracking funding information centrally. “These other states have fared better than California in stemming the number of people who experience homelessness.”

“The second part of the audit focused on the Continuum of Care organizations (CoCs), which “do not consistently employ best practices to improve homeless services in their areas.”

“The five CoCs we reviewed do not adequately conduct a comprehensive annual gaps analysis,” the Auditor reported. And two of the CoCs don’t even have current comprehensive plans. “Federal regulations require each CoC to have a plan in place to conduct an annual gaps analysis to determine whether the number and type of current services and service providers in its area are adequate to meet the needs of all the people it has identified as experiencing homelessness.”

Retrieved February 19, 2021 from State Auditor Releases Scathing Audit of the Failure to Mitigate Homelessness in California – California Globe

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Illegal Camping in the Parkway

Save the American River Association (SARA) has an excellent page on their website about the illegal camping issue in the Parkway—which also includes a video from a year or so ago—and though somewhat dated at this point, it is still a powerful reminder of the work we still have to do to protect our Parkway.

The page is at https://www.sarariverwatch.org/illegal_camping_homeless

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Americans Love Suburbs

And, during a time such as now, the movement there from the big cities is accelerating an already existing trend, as reported by American Enterprise Institute.

An excerpt.

“America’s urban leaders seem to prepare for the post-pandemic future with delusions that everything will go back to the way before the COVID-19 pandemic set in. Nothing can be more dangerous to the prospects for cities; the pandemic and recent rise in crime have created a vastly different prospect for cities, necessitating serious reconfiguration.

“Typical of the new urban hype was a recent Bloomberg report, which proudly declared “Why We Don’t Believe the Big City Obituary” and proceeded to share statistics of a national survey of 1,200 residents of the nation’s six largest metropolitan areas — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, and Philadelphia — about their attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report made numerous strong conclusions in support of city life, including that the bulk of residents in big cities “say they want to live in the type of community in which they currently reside.”

“Of course, this report made no mention of the movements within urban areas before COVID-19, where the population was already leaving core cities for suburbs and exurbs. Indeed, well over four-fifths of all job and population growth over the past decade took place in suburbs. And since the pandemic gripped the nation, there’s been accelerating movement of city residents to suburbs — Manhattan and San Francisco rents are falling, but those in the periphery have been rising.

“Indeed, the cities that have recovered fastest from COVID-19 — Denver, Charlotte, Nashville, and Dallas — are themselves overwhelmingly suburban. This fits well with the latest reading from a new Los Angeles Times/Reality Check Insights national poll, which was taken after the November 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This national sample presents a slightly different, less rosy picture. In fact, when residents of big cities were asked about the ideal setting of their next home, a majority of big city dwellers said something other than their current situation. Just 44 percent would pick a big city once again, with significant numbers preferring a small city (9 percent), rural areas and towns (17 percent), or the suburbs (25 percent). Small cities did not fare much better either; only 38 percent of small city dwellers claim that their ideal location is another small city.

“Moreover, those most willing to leave are precisely those who cities need to stay. Only 35 percent of those with incomes over $100K would ideally remain in a big city, compared to 44 percent of those with incomes under $50K and 54 percent for those between $50K and $100K.

“The survey also directly asks respondents whether they would move away from their current community if they could, and Americans who live in big cities are the most likely to strongly state that they want to leave for somewhere else. Thirty-two percent of big city dwellers state that they would definitely move away from big cities if they could; this is notably greater than the quarter of those who live in suburbs of big cities and small cities who feel the same way, as well as under a fifth of all residents in suburbs of small cities (17 percent), rural areas (18 percent), and small towns (17 percent).

“Perhaps surprisingly, younger Americans are notably more interested in leaving big cities if they could. While 22 percent of Boomers state that they definitely would move elsewhere, more than a third of Gen Xers (36 percent) and Millennials (37 percent) definitely would leave big cities if they could. This lends credence to many other reports which have found that younger Americans are happy in areas outside big cities but may be anchored to them for career opportunities.

“Finally, relationship status — where one is married, single, or living with a partner — has no real impact on leaving, as about a third of each group state that they would definitely leave the big city. But having children makes a big difference; having children under the age of 18 makes one twice as likely to claim that one would definitely leave a big city if one could do so.

“Rather than act as if nothing has changed, city leaders need to adjust to a new reality, where more people will choose to live not simply for employment but also for personal preferences. This should make them re-think pushing high-density housing and instead place more emphasis on things that might persuade them to stay like safe streets, strong neighborhoods, safer alternatives to transit, and better schools.”

Retrieved February 15, 2021 from Despite wishful thinking, cities won’t come back without major reform | American Enterprise Institute – AEI

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California & Homelessness

Insightful article from Newsweek.

An excerpt.

“President Joe Biden appears to be looking to California for policy inspiration. This bodes ill for Americans.

“California, a beautiful land graced by mild weather, lost population last year for the first time in its 170-year history as a state.

“That 80,000 residents are fleeing annually to Texas, where summers are markedly less enjoyable, speaks volumes about California’s craptacular governance.

“Corporations are also leaving in droves. Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise packed their bags for Texas late last year, and Tesla is building its newest Gigafactory outside of Austin. They follow on the heels of Charles Schwab, Toyota and McKesson.

“California’s lawmakers remain unperturbed by the effects to the state coffers, squandering ungodly amounts of taxpayer money on ineffectual programs like it is their birthright.

“One such area of conspicuous failure is homelessness. It torments nearly every region throughout the state.

“California’s homeless population exploded over the past five years. Yet the state continues to double down on its one-size-fits-all policy approach—Housing First—that was instituted in 2016 based on the theory that housing alone will heal the ills of those struggling with homelessness.

“A recent study by the UCLA Policy Lab shows that 75 percent of the homeless struggle with Substance Abuse Disorders (SUDs) while 78 percent suffer from mental illness. It is no surprise that homelessness increased by 16.4 percent under Housing First given that three-quarters of the homeless have issues that cannot be addressed by a mere roof.

“Still, “more affordable housing” is the sole cry of California policy makers who, ironically, have unsuccessfully struggled for two years on how to best address the cost and regulatory barriers to its increased production. They blame a lack of affordable housing as the primary reason for the dramatic increase in homelessness in California (and throughout the nation).

“Given that rural homelessness has also soared throughout the country—National Public Radio cited an 11 percent increase in the number of homeless children and their families, in the 2016-17 school year (over the 2013-14 school year)— it simply doesn’t hold up.

“Some believe the explosion in homelessness is weather-driven. The sidewalk in Los Angeles over the winter months is more tenable than a sidewalk in New York City. However, this theory is easily debunked as NYC is ranked No. 1 in homeless Americans.

“And some believe it is a lack of government spending. Funding has more than doubled in both New York and California over the past five years, while the ranks of homeless have continued to swell.

“California’s struggle with homelessness is, foremost, a policy issue. Not only has overall homelessness increased under Housing First, 70 percent of California’s homeless are now unsheltered—the highest percentage in the nation. The sad but familiar irony is that Housing First was established to specifically address “the street homeless.”

“In government, nothing succeeds like failure.

“Viewing housing as the primary solution to homelessness is akin to building a hospital, then removing the doctors, then removing the medicine, until all you have left is beds. This is the essence, and failure, of the Housing First approach.

“The materialistic focus on a roof also means that taxpayers underwrite subsidized-for-life housing for tens of thousands of Californians who, once healed and provided with proper tools and incentives, could provide for themselves. Many programs across the country have proven this to be possible.

“Not to be deterred by continued failure, California lawmakers have now introduced a bill, AB 71, a corporate income tax to raise an additional $2.4 billion Housing First funding for homelessness. This is in addition to Governor Gavin Newsom‘s recent request of President Biden to supplement his latest Housing First initiative called Project Homekey. If approved, this additional corporate tax will not only accelerate the flight of California employers, even more billions of dollars will be spent to fund failure.”

Retrieved February 10, 2021 from The ‘Inspirational’ Golden State | Opinion (newsweek.com)

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Forest Management

Excellent article from the Public Policy Institute of California.

An excerpt.

“Forests in the Sierra‒Cascade headwater region have dramatically changed over the past 150 years. The prohibition of Indigenous burning, aggressive wildfire suppression, and early timber harvest practices made these forests denser over time, increasing their vulnerability to catastrophic wildfires and widespread tree-die off. These forests are a dominant feature on the landscape, occupying nearly 40% of the 15 million acre headwater region overall and well over half of some northern watersheds (Figure 1a).

Changing the way we manage these forests can improve their health and make them more resilient to wildfire, drought, and disease. Healthier forests provide a host of important benefits. To get there, we’ll need to greatly increase the pace and scale of forest management on public and private lands. Federal agencies are major players; they own two-thirds of these forests—and even higher shares in the southern part of the region (Figure 1b).

“Improving the health of the state’s forests has become a pressing issue. Last summer, California and the US Forest Service (USFS) jointly agreed to significantly increase two important management approaches—mechanical thinning and prescribed fire—over the next five years. In January, the Forest Management Task Force released California’s first action plan for forest health. State funding for improving forest health has increased since 2019, and the governor’s 2021‒22 budget proposes to continue this trend.

“As policymakers and forest managers take steps to accelerate the pace, understanding the scale and scope of recent management efforts can provide useful guidance. Yet until now there hasn’t been a comprehensive picture of how private, state, and federal entities have managed forests. To fill this gap, we did a basic accounting of management efforts in mixed-conifer forests in the Sierra‒Cascade region over the past decade.

“Here are four takeaways:

  • Forest management is not scaling fast enough to meet forest health objectives. Experts suggest that reducing the spread of severe wildfires requires strategically treating and maintaining approximately 20‒30% of forests on the landscape. Forest managers have treated around 16% of the region’s mixed-conifer forests over the past decade. Management levels vary across the region, with only 8 of the 24 watersheds meeting or exceeding this target (Figure 1c). The pace has been considerably faster on lands owned by the private sector and non-federal agencies (28%) than on federally owned lands (11%).
  • Timber harvest has been the main management approach. Though its primary purpose is to harvest logs, some timber harvest techniques also reduce wildfire risk and improve resilience to drought and pests. More than two-thirds of the 912,000 acres managed over the past decade used timber harvesting (Figure 2). The practice was more prevalent in northern watersheds, where private forest ownership is more common. The costs and benefits of different management approaches—timber harvest, mechanical thinning, and prescribed burning—should be at the center of discussions about which to use where.
  • Management approaches vary based on ownership. Nearly 90% of acres managed on private forests were harvested (Figure 3). By contrast, federal forests had a more diversified management portfolio, and timber harvest accounts for less than half of managed acres on these lands. In absolute terms, USFS carried out three times more mechanical and prescribed burning treatments compared to private and other public landowners in the region.
  • The pace of management has been flat. Although the share of non-timber management has increased, the overall pace of management has remained relatively stable over the past decade—at around 90,000 acres annually (Figure 4). One likely explanation: public funding sources that support management have also been stagnant over this period. The pace should pick up once new state funds for forests reach the ground.”

Retrieved February 9, 2021 from Accounting for a Decade of Headwater Forest Management – Public Policy Institute of California (ppic.org)

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Homeless Issue Heating Up

As reported by KCRA.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is assessing the damage outside his home after a few dozen protestors staged a demonstration Saturday night that got to a level the likes of which he’s never seen in his front yard.

“Mary Lynne Vellinga, the mayor’s communications director, explained that Steinberg’s home has seen its share of demonstrations outside, but until Saturday, his home had never seen property damage.

“The idea that people would come terrorize his street, intimidate his family, damage his home is beyond the pale and he was quite upset about it,” Vellinga said.

“Along with breaking lights, dinging up siding, busting a yard sculpture and writing inflammatory words in chalk on his front walkway, the demonstrators, according to Vellinga, shouted and chanted threatening phrases toward the mayor and other city leaders over a loudspeaker during the protest.

“The Sacramento Police Department told KCRA 3 there have been no arrests in connection to the damage at the mayor’s home, but that it is still investigating the incident to which 80 officers and the department’s helicopter were assigned to monitor.

“It’s not immediately clear if any one group has or will claim responsibility for the demonstration or vandalism caused to Stenberg’s home during the course of the protest.

“They were using the homeless issue, certainly, saying, ‘no more homeless deaths,’ ‘recall Steinberg,’ ‘f-word Steinberg,'” Vellinga said. “Whether they were actually homeless advocates…? If they were homeless advocates, they’d be helping the homeless.”

“The mayor and other local officials have received harsh criticism in recent weeks over the handling of Sacramento’s unhoused population, not only during the pandemic, but also during bouts of severe winter weather.

“Steinberg’s critics say he should have demanded the opening of warming centers the night of the Jan. 26 storm. The storm and the lack of shelter from it, homeless advocates said, led to the deaths of six people — a statistic that hasn’t yet been confirmed by county health officials.

“KCRA 3 contacted the Sacramento Homeless Union for its reaction to the protest at Steinberg’s home, in light of its demand last week that Steinberg resign or face a recall effort for what the group said he hasn’t accomplished for the homeless.”

Retrieved February 8, 2021 from Protesters cause damage to Sacramento Mayor Steinberg’s home (kcra.com)

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