California’s Demographics

They ae changing as this article from New Geography notes.

An excerpt.

“We have previously shown that California is the least sprawling state, with an urban population density of 4,304 per square mile of land in 2010 (the last year for which such data is available — new data will be reported in the 2020 census). This is slightly higher than New York, at 4,181, with its large lot New York City suburbs and low density urbanization upstate. This more than dilutes the effect of the nation’s densest large municipality (New York), which has more than 27,000 per square mile.

“California’s urban densification between 2000 and 2010 was simply above and beyond that of any other state. The density of new urban development was 11,100 per square mile. (See: State Urban Density: 2000-2010 and below). This is nearly as dense as the city of Chicago, yet is spread all over the state, from Siskiyou County to Imperial — and thus includes a lot of areas that can hardly be considered dense urban.

“California’s density of new urban development was more than double that of number two — Oregon, with its tough urban planning law. It is more than five times that of urbanization in the nation.

“California has some of the most restrictive land use policies in the nation and there has been much analysis of the relationship between these and rising house prices. With California’s growth rate having dropped by 40% in the 2010s from the 2000s, and now losing population, these contrasts could be shown to be even greater when new data is released.”

Retrieved June 22, 2021 from California: Densifying Like No Other | Newgeography.com

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Dangerous E Coli Levels Near Discovery Park

As reported by KCRA 3.

This is pretty much a yearly occurrence in the ground central area (Discovery Park to Cal Expo) of the illegal homeless encampments.

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

“Several locations along the American River north of Sacramento are showing above-average levels of E. coli, according to the Central Valley Water Board.

“KCRA 3 spoke with health officials in Sacramento County on Friday about the concerning levels of E. coli.

“Q: Are you advising people not to swim or recreate in Discovery Park or any locations along north Sacramento that are showing concerning levels of E. coli?

“County Health Official: Every natural water body can be a conduit for pollution, trash, bacteria, algae and microorganisms. Sacramento County and the Sacramento Area Sewer District have collaborated with the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) to fund the State Water Board’s E. coli water sampling at nine sites on the American River to determine the primary sources of E. coli.

“Most E. coli strains are harmless and do not cause human illness. They are the helpful bacteria found in the intestines of mammals – humans, pets, wildlife and birds. Increased levels of E. coli does not necessarily equate to an increased exposure risk for swimmers. E. coli are generally found in all recreational waters.

“The County Public Health Officer is the local authority in determining if a recreational area needs to be closed. Closures would be considered for a known communicable disease outbreak or a known sewage release. County Public Health investigates every reported case of E. coli-related illness to identify the source and stop the spread of the disease.

“It is important that anyone enjoying public waterways should always follow healthy swimming habits:

  • Do not drink recreational water or use the water for cooking.
  • Do not enter the water if you have cuts or open sores, as these are pathways for bacteria to enter your body.
  • Avoid algae blooms (brightly colored water) and trash in the water.
  • Wash your hands and/or shower after swimming.
  • Pay attention and follow any warning signs and postings. Do not access a water body if posted warnings indicate it is not safe to do so.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding your health after swimming in recreational waters.

“The public can learn about E. coli, healthy swimming habits and monitor the American River testing results on the Sacramento County Regional Parks website.

“Q: In a general sense, what are the (safe) levels of E. coli readings?

“County Health Official: The E. coli levels fluctuate hourly. The State Water Board provides data parameters for sampling.

  • E. coli levels are above the average bacteria objective if they are > 320 MPN/100 ml.
  • Average E. coli levels are considered > 100 MPN/100 ml.

“On June 8, a round of testing indicated that several locations along the Sacramento River were substantially above safe levels of the “bacteria objective” that the state goes by.

“Discovery Park had the highest levels of E. coli at that time, testing well above 900 MPN/100 ml.”

Retrieved June 18, 2021 from River along north Sacramento showing above average amounts of E. coli (kcra.com)

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Suburbs are Social

This article from New Geography refutes the misconception that suburbs are sterile.

An excerpt.

“Popular culture and academia alike are quick to celebrate the vibrant social life of urban spaces while lamenting the sprawling emptiness and privacy of rural and suburban America. Take Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights, a vibrant depiction of bustling life in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, in contrast to the solemn words of historian Kenneth T Jackson: “There are few places as desolate and lonely as a suburban street on a hot afternoon.” And, like Miranda, the band Green Day chronicled the opposite facet of American life in its musical, American Idiot, which focuses on the empty life of suburbia and stifling suburban wastelands.

“Of course, there are just as many urban areas devoid of street life as there are intensely social suburbs. Still, many believe there are meaningful differences in sociability based on where Americans reside. New data from AEI’s Survey Center on American Life and its new report, “The State of American Friendship,” counters this narrative and finds little difference in the social lives of urbanites, suburbanites, and their rural counterparts.

“The data from the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey reveals few differences in the socialization and friendship habits of those living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Fifty-one percent of Americans who live in urban areas and suburban areas say they are completely or very satisfied with the number of friends that they have. Rural-dwelling Americans are not far behind their more densely packed counterparts, with 50 percent stating they are satisfied with their number of friends.

“Feelings of loneliness and isolation can manifest as easily in dense cities as in sprawling suburban and rural areas. About a quarter of urbanites, suburbanites, and rural Americans reported feeling lonely or isolated at least a few times in the past year (27 percent, 25 percent, and 26 percent respectively). Approximately two-thirds of each residential type report the past year was more difficult to manage than usual. Urban, suburban, and rural Americans all struggled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — no one location was a panacea.

“Differences in friendship across urban areas are minor to non-existent. Thirty-seven percent of Americans who live in urban, suburban, and rural conurbations all report having one to three close friends. Ten percent of urbanites report having no close friends compared 14 percent of those in suburban and rural areas. Despite prolonged periods of social isolation and quarantine that characterized much of American life over the past year, nearly half (46 percent) of Americans report having made a new friend within the past 12 months — again, with no appreciable variance by urban form.

“Across cities, suburbs, and rural communities, Americans are making friends in similar ways.  Fifty-five percent of suburban and rural respondents have made close friends through employment or career channels, while urbanites are somewhat less likely to do so (52 percent). Almost half have met close friends through their own educational paths. Roughly a third of Americans in each urban form report meeting close friends in their neighborhood. Rural and suburban Americans are not lacking in social connection compared to those living in urban areas; equal numbers of neighbors become close and intimate friends regardless of spatial order.”

Retrieved June 16, 2021 from Suburbs Are Not Less Social Than Cities | Newgeography.com

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Dams & Desalinization

Yes, we need both, as this great article from California Globe explains.

An excerpt.

“When Californians can take showers, without flow restrictors, for as long as they want, and when Californians can have lawns again instead of rocks and cacti in their front yards, water infrastructure in California will once again be adequate.

“When California’s farmers can get enough water to grow food, instead of watching their suddenly useless holdings of dead orchards and parched furrows get sold for next to nothing to corporate speculators and subsidized solar farm developers, water infrastructure in California will once again be adequate.

“One of the difficulties in forming a coalition powerful enough to stand up to the corporate environmentalist lobby in California is the perception, widely shared among the more activist farming lobby, that desalination is more expensive than dams.

“That’s not true. It depends on the desalination, and even more so, it depends on the dam.

“As a baseline, consider the cost of desalination in California’s lone large scale operating plant in Carlsbad north of San Diego. The total project costs for this plant, including the related pipes to convey the desalinated water to storage reservoirs, was just over $1.0 billion. At a capacity to produce 56,000 acre feet per year, the construction cost per acre foot of annual capacity comes in just over $17,000.

“When it comes to the price of desalinated water, payments on the bond that financed the construction costs form the overwhelming share of the cost per acre foot.

“For example, California’s second major desalination project, the proposed plant in Huntington Beach, will have a total project cost of $1.3 billion. Similar to Carlsbad, this plant will produce 50 million gallons of fresh water per day. A 20 year bond paying 7 percent will require annual payments of $122 million. That payment, applied to the hundred cubic foot increments, or CCF, that typically appear on a consumer’s water bill to measure their consumption, comes up to $5.03. By contrast, the cost per CCF for the desalination plant’s operating expenses is only $0.41, and the price per CCF for a desalination plant’s electricity consumption (at $0.10 per kilowatt-hour) is only $1.08. Initial construction costs, comprising 77 percent of the price of desalinated water, are the only reason desalination is considered expensive.

“Compare this to the price of water from reservoirs, keeping in mind that paying off the construction costs for the dams are also the biggest variable in determining how much consumers have to pay for that water. With dams, unlike desalination plants, two factors come into play: the storage capacity, and the annual yield. With desalination plants the yield is up to the managers. Run the plant, out comes fresh water. With dams, how much water is released from the reservoir to downstream consumers in any given year depends on rainfall.

“For this reason, the average annual yield of the reservoir is the most accurate way to measure its cost effectiveness. And this amount can vary widely. One of California’s biggest proposed new projects is the Sites Reservoir. It would be situated in a valley west of the Sacramento River, north of the Delta. As an off-stream reservoir, it would have water pumped into it when storm runoff is causing flooding. A twin to the already existing San Luis Reservoir, located west of the California Aqueduct south of the Delta, the Sites would have a capacity to store 2.0 million acre feet. But its yield is estimated at 500,000 acre feet per year.

“In the case of the Sites Reservoir, this compares favorably to desalination. The Sites project is estimated to cost $5.0 billion, so the construction cost per acre foot of annual capacity comes in at $10,000, better than desalination at $17,000.

“On the other hand, the case of the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir is not so clear. The estimated cost for this dam is $2.6 billion and the planned storage capacity is 1.3 million acre feet. So far so good. But while estimates vary, the most optimistic projected average annual yield is around 100,000 acre feet per year. This equates to a construction cost of $26,000 per acre foot of annual capacity, considerably worse than desalination.

“Does the fact that desalination yields a better return on construction costs than Temperance Flat mean that the Temperance Flat Reservoir project should be abandoned? Not necessarily. Back in 2017, during record rains, the San Joaquin River flooded, and that water – desperately needed by San Joaquin Valley farmers – could have still been in that reservoir and available for use today. The advantage of big surface storage reservoirs is not their return on capital investment, it’s that they can prevent flooding in wet years, and hold massive quantities of water in reserve for dry years.

“Similarly, foes of desalination point to the more cost-effective Sites Reservoir proposal as evidence that desalination is too expensive. But the productivity of desalination is impervious to droughts; the water just keeps coming, year after year, no matter what. And the electricity required to run desalination, while significant, is no greater than the electricity currently used by a series of massive pumping stations necessary to transport water from north to south, over the mountains, and into the Los Angeles Basin – over 2.5 million acre feet per year.

“Infrastructure development in California has been paralyzed by litigation and legislation. The result is a self-imposed scarcity of water that can be solved by an all-of-the-above strategy to develop new dams and desalination plants. Civilization requires a footprint, a plain fact that wasn’t lost on previous generations. We’ve learned how to mitigate the worst impact of new infrastructure, but cannot let the ideals of ecological perfection be an excuse to impoverish ourselves.”

Retrieved June 7, 2021 from Dams and Desalination – California Needs Both – California Globe

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Lake Mead, Lowest Ever

As long as we fail to act on common sense and store more water from wet years to counter the dry ones, this situation will continue to occur.

Story from MSN News.

An excerpt.

“Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has hit its lowest water levels ever, according to government officials.

“The water level in the reservoir, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in California, Arizona, Nevada, and part of Mexico, was measured at its lowest level since the lake was created with the damming of the Colorado River in 1935, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation told ABC News.

“On Thursday morning, the surface elevation of Lake Mead along the Nevada-Arizona border dipped to 1,071.48 feet, data from the Bureau of Reclamation shows.

“Officials expect the water levels to continue to decline until November, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron told The Associated Press.

“Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projected that levels in man-made lakes that supply water for millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico will shrink to historic lows

Retrieved June 11, 2021 from Lake Mead hits lowest water levels in history amid severe drought (msn.com)

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Parkway Fee Increase?

Looks like it, according to this post from Advocates for Arden Arcade.

An excerpt.

“We all know and love the American River Parkway. The Parkway runs from Discovery Park to Hazel, where it connects with Folsom Lake State Recreation Area at Nimbus Dam/Lake Natoma and beyond. The 23-mile-long segment of the Lower American River from the Sacramento River confluence to Hazel is our region’s recreational masterpiece – 4800 acres of trails, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty that get over 8 million visitors each year. It is also a significant benefit for the local economy in terms of tourism, property values and recreational sales (like kayaks, running shoes, bicycles, cameras and fishing gear). On our side of the river, Arden Arcade holds about 4 miles of the Parkway, easily accessed on the stretch between Cal Expo and Harrington.

“Operating and maintaining the Parkway is at the far end of the food chain that is the County budget, though. For one thing, as part of the county’s recreation budget, it is perceived as a “nice-to-have” item. For another, its land development restrictions haven’t exactly endeared it to local developers, meaning it automatically gets low priority from the Supervisors. And, thanks to homelessness, it has increasingly become a drain on the Sheriff’s budget. The County relies on user fees to pay for the Parkway’s O&M, with helpful supplements of donations to the American River Parkway Foundation. Most recently, the state established the Lower American River Parkway Conservancy as a means of steering money to the Parkway. Still, the costs have been going up and the County has had a hard time keeping up. So now the County has proposed a 60% increase in the fees it collects from Parkway users.”

Retrieved June 8, 2021 from County proposes massive fee hike for Parkway – Advocates for Arden Arcade

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Homeless in the Parkway, Part 2

There are thousands living there, that’s according to the Mayor in this article from KCRA Channel 3.

An excerpt.

“The Sacramento Fire Department is investigating after a fire scorched more than 130 acres of land along the American River Parkway.

“The fire, which sparked Sunday at a homeless encampment, was the third fire within a week to burn along the parkway. Investigators said the fires were caused by people, but no arrests have been made.

“Mayor Darrell Steinberg said addressing the city’s homelessness crisis is critical to preventing similar fires. Steinberg said in the short term, the city needs to focus on educating people living along the river about the dangers of fire and provide tools to help prevent flames.

“We are going to be very proactive about educating people who are living out on the American River Parkway about the dangers of fire,” Steinberg said. “Potentially even providing fire extinguishers, just to ensure that somebody can put out a small fire as quickly as it starts.”

“Steinberg said getting people into housing is the long-term solution.

“He said in the next few weeks, the city council will vote on a plan to approve housing sites for people experiencing homelessness.

“Once we approve the sites, we’re not going to reargue or redebate where those sites are going to be,” Steinberg said. “We’re going to have not enough money, but more money than we’ve ever had before. And we’re working very collaboratively with the county. “Take this moment and elevate our already strong efforts to get thousands of people off the parkway.”

Retrieved June 8, 2021 from Third fire within week burns along American River Parkway (kcra.com)

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Homeless in the Parkway, Part 1

According to this article—with accompanying video—from Channel 10, there are four hundred homeless currently camping there.

An excerpt.

“Hours after announcing unhoused people living near Discovery Park had 72 hours to vacate, Sacramento County has rescinded that order.

“Earlier Friday, Janna Haynes from Sacramento County told ABC10 people camping at Bannon Island and Steelhead Creek near Discovery Park had until June 7 to leave the area due to immediate danger for a potential fire hazard where people are camping.

“Sacramento Fire crews told the county that they would not be able to get their vehicles and equipment to these areas if a fire broke out, according to Haynes. 

“Residents were notified Thursday that they would need to collect their things and leave the area by Monday.

“A day later, the Sacramento County Regional Parks Department rescinded that order, with the approval from the Sacramento City Fire chief.

“We are delaying the notice to allow more time for the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, working with City of Sacramento staff, to continue its work with the encampment residents to offer connections to immediate food access, CalFresh, MediCal and assessments for shelter entry or motel vouchers and relocation assistance,” explained Haynes.

“Roughly four hundred people have taken shelter along the American River–some by choice–while others are forced to call it home. An ABC10 Originals mini-doc by Michael Anthony Adams.”

Retrieved June 5, 2021 from Sacramento County pauses 72-hour eviction of unhoused people living near Discovery Park (msn.com)

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Homelessness, More Government Money Adds to Problem

Folks who follow this issue have known this for years and in this fine, in-depth article by Katy Grimes at California Globe, tragically, we learn more.

Two excerpts.

“Earlier in the year, California lawmakers proposed a $20 billion plan to give California cities funds to combat the homeless epidemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $12 billion in spending, which seems only to entice more homeless people to move to California, and grow the mentally ill drug addicted street population.

“In a May statement, the Governor’s press office said:

“Governor Newsom’s $12 billion plan to tackle the issue of homelessness will be the largest investment of its kind in California history. This investment will provide 65,000 people with housing placements, more than 300,000 people with housing stability and create 46,000 new housing units.

“In 2019, California had roughly 134,000 homeless people, amounting to one-quarter of the nation’s total homeless population. Some in the state admit to 161,000 homeless now, but looking at the governor’s numbers, it’s clearly much larger.

“In April, Gavin Newsom bragged that California set up a national model to “solve homelessness”  by converting hotels into homeless housing. “Project Roomkey” hasn’t exactly been a success, with likely 200,000+ homeless in the state. And reports of scores of unused trailers in several cities isn’t helping.

“Untreated homelessness is so bad in Los Angeles, a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the city and country of Los Angeles to offer housing or shelter to the entire homeless population in the Skid Row neighborhood by October.

“And that is the real problem – the “homeless” are mentally ill, drug addicted street people who aren’t getting treatment. Many aren’t as much “unhoused” as they are “unsober” and “unhealthy” mentally. A friend in law enforcement said that for most of the drug addicted, mentally ill homeless, they can’t make it in society and never will. “They need more than a trailer or old hotel room – involuntary psychiatric care is what mental health experts say is needed.

“California’s State Auditor Elaine Howle issued a rather scathing audit in February over 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.”

“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 did mitigate homelessness, 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.

“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. And the auditor found the Continuum of Care organizations (CoCs) “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.”

“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.”

“The Treatment Advocacy Center, whose goal is “Eliminating Barriers to the Treatment of Mental Illness,” issued a recent report on the lack of psychiatric care available in the 50 states. California earned a D- grade.

“Grading the States: An Analysis of U.S. Psychiatric Treatment Laws examines the laws that provide for involuntary treatment for psychiatric illness in each state. For each state, we analyzed whether an individual who needs involuntary evaluation or treatment can receive it in a timely fashion, for sufficient duration, and in a manner that enables and promotes long-term wellbeing.

“To do so, we asked a crucial question: Does the state law allow an individual in need of involuntary evaluation or treatment to receive timely care, for sufficient duration, in a manner that enables and promotes long-term stabilization?”

“The report explains: “Public mental health is primarily the responsibility of state and local government. State legislatures pass laws establishing the criteria and procedures for when and in what manner the state may override an individual’s refusal of mental health treatment.”

“Each state was evaluated on the following criteria and recommendations based on the Treatment Advocacy Center’s analysis of the treatment laws in each state, and key components of an ideally functioning system of mental illness treatment laws….

“The Treatment Advocacy Center also compared states to the other states in each category: Emergency (out of 15), Inpatient (out of 35), Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) (out of 50).

“California earned a score of 8 in Emergency (out of 15); 17 on Inpatient (out of 35); and 34 on Assisted Outpatient Treatment (out of 50).

“In the Statutory Barriers to Treatment, the Treatment Advocacy Center recommends against requiring certification by more than one professional in order to initiate emergency evaluation. “We found that five states – Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, and New Jersey – have adopted laws with this onerous requirement, which poses an artificial barrier to treatment.”

“California did not fail in every category, but the D- grade indicates there is a lot of room for improvement in the psychiatric care available for California’s mentally ill living on the streets – or lack thereof.

“As the California State Auditor reported, 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.”

Retrieved June 4, 2021 from Spending on CA Homeless Increased Street Population, with Scant Treatment for Mentally Ill – California Globe

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Parkway Fires

This Sunday June 6 report is from KCRA 3 about a fire in the main homeless camping area, which is Discovery Park to Cal Expo, though no cause is given.

Report.

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

“Crews are battling a grass fire along the American River Parkway near Cal Expo.

“The fire sparked around 3 p.m. south of Cal Expo. The Sacramento Fire Department said the fire is burning at a slow rate of spread. The fire has burned about 125 acres.

“A spokesman for the fire department said crews are starting to gain control of the fire but some problem spots remain in the southwest area. Wind gusts between 14 to 16 mph and the terrain are providing challenges to fire personnel.

“Drought conditions are making it tough for firefighters to refill water, the fire department said.

“The fire department said no structures are currently threatened. The large plume of smoke is visible across town.

“The cause of the fire is unknown.”

Retrieved June 6, 2021 from Crews battle fire along American River Parkway near Cal Expo (kcra.com)

The Sac Area Firefighters Facebook page describes it differently:

“A fast moving fire has once again occurred. Over a hundred acres have burned. While drought and weather factors contributed to a fast spread. The reality is the number of fires continues to grow due to the amount of people living along the banks of the river.”

Retrieved June 6, 2021 from Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522 | Facebook

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