Recycling in California, a Mess?

Sadly, according to this article from Cal Matters, it certainly appears so.

An excerpt.

“It was more than a year after the seabird died and washed up on a California beach before Jessie Beck prepared to reveal its last meals. Holding its stomach over a laboratory sink, Beck snipped open the slick tissue. With a series of plinks, the stomach contents slumped out onto the metal sieve below.

“Inside were the remains of seabird food, like hooked squid beaks the size of fingernail clippings. Mostly, though, Beck found hard shards of plastic, soggy cardboard, styrofoam, and a maroon hunk of mystery meat that looked like beef jerky—until Beck cracked it open. Its innards were pure white: more styrofoam.

“The gray bird, called a Northern Fulmar, may have died in the waters off California during its winter migration. And it’s possible that the bird’s garbage-filled meals played a part in its death. But Beck, a scientist with the non-profit group Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, isn’t one to speculate, and she isn’t investigating what killed it.

“Instead, the bird is part of a larger project to monitor plastic pollution, 4 million to 12 million metric tons of which wash into the ocean around the world every year. Fulmars are known to snack on this trash, particularly when they’re hungry. And when they die and wash up on shore, about 70 percent of them bring some plastic back with them every year.

“Looking in these birds’ guts is how Beck studies the plastic bobbing on the ocean’s surface and tempting hungry animals. That plastic and cardboard crowding out the squid beaks and seaweed in the dead bird’s stomach are a sign of a global garbage crisis that California hasn’t escaped.

“Too much trash

“Californians generated about 77.2 million tons of waste in 2017, according to the most recent calculations from CalRecycle, California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. Of that, about 44.4 million tons ended up in landfills in 2017. CalRecycle estimates that the other 32.8 million tons, about 42 percent, was sent to recycling or composting, or was just never tossed in the first place.

“The numbers are a problem because they mean the state is far from reaching a statewide goal to reduce, recycle, or compost 75 percent of waste by the year 2020. And the outlook isn’t good. That’s in part because cheap natural gas is spurring investments in manufacturing of virgin plastics, which a CalRecycle report said could “undermine source reduction efforts, undercut prices for recovered plastics, and exacerbate plastic litter and marine pollution issues.”

“There’s also a major shakeup to the international recycling markets, which affects California because it exports about a third of its recycling, according to CalRecycle estimates. Historically, the bulk of California’s recycling exports went to China. But in 2013, China temporarily scaled up inspection and enforcement against imports of contaminated recycling. And in 2017, China announced new restrictions on imports and tighter contamination standards for materials including mixed plastics and unsorted paper.

“That started sending recyclers and recycling markets into a tailspin here,” said Kate O’Neill, an associate professor in environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley and an expert on the international waste trade. Since then, countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and India announced plans to ban scrap plastic.

“O’Neill, for one, hasn’t lost hope. “Waste is a challenge we can meet,” she said. She hopes the race to find a plastic substitute will take off, and that manufacturers will cut back packaging on consumer goods. But any systemic change, she knows, will take time. “You’re talking about slowing down and stopping the Titanic,” she said.

“In the meantime, recyclers and local governments across the state are struggling to cope with a rapidly changing market for recyclables. And they’re trying not to undo the decades of work that made consumer recycling a habit.”

Retrieved August 5, 2019 from

Posted in Environmentalism

The Mentally Ill, Homelessness, & Violence

In this article from City Journal, the sad history of public leadership’s failure to address the three effectively is outlined.

An excerpt.

“Early last month, 29-year-old Christopher Morisette rampaged through the streets of Seattle, stabbing three pedestrians with a steel folding knife, then stripped off his clothes and ran naked across a freeway interchange, where he was arrested. In the past six months, three similar “random stabbings” occurred in Seattle’s downtown commercial district.

“Despite the police department’s repeated efforts—including a block-by-block strategy targeting open-air drug-dealing and violence—crime and anti-social behavior stubbornly persist. In 2018, just in the downtown precinct, Seattle police received 44,246 calls for service, including 7,215 reports of violence, 3,861 reports of narcotics and public intoxication, and 1,069 reports of mental health crises and suicidal behavior. Numerous eruptions of violence at one street intersection—3rd and Pine—have led residents to dub it “3rd and Crime”; they call the corner McDonald’s “McStabby’s.”

“Within this disintegrating social landscape, Christopher Morisette’s story is no longer atypical. According to news reports, he was born to a schizophrenic mother, grew up in the foster care system, developed a methamphetamine addiction, cycled in and out of jail, lived in homeless shelters for the past three years, and suffers—in the opinion of his adoptive mother—from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Morisette was certainly groomed for failure by the familial and social conditions around him. He was also deprived of the institutions that might have provided some love, care, and restraint. “You just get to the point you’re numb and you’re not surprised when things happen,” Morisette’s adoptive mother said to reporters after the attack.

“What can be done? Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan has admitted that the city government is “unable to deal with significant mental health needs” and called for new investments in mental health facilities. She’s right—the state should have the capacity to put the dangerously mentally ill into conservatorship—but the crisis runs much deeper than public administrators comprehend.

“A century ago, French sociologist Émile Durkheim formulated the concept of anomic suicide, in which a general breakdown in social conditions influences the decision of some individuals to end their lives. Today, with age-old restraints—family, religion, community, tradition—collapsing under the forces of modernity, and homelessness, addiction, and madness on the rise, many cities are seeing what might be called anomic violence: random assaults of strangers on urban streets.

“It’s not that the United States hasn’t developed institutions to deal with these problems. We have, over several generations, vastly expanded the so-called therapeutic state, to the point that federal and state governments now spend more than $2 trillion on health and welfare programs annually. We have constructed a vast technical apparatus that, despite its good intentions, has failed to reverse these social pathologies. In fact, in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, social scientists and political leaders have abandoned the goal of restoring the social fabric and reintegrating the addicted and mentally ill into society—shifting, instead, to a model of “harm reduction.” The best we can hope for now, they appear to believe, is to contain widespread dysfunction in a downtown corridor.”

Retrieved August 2, 2019 from

Posted in Homelessness

Self-Driving Cars Way Off in Future

That’s according to this article from the New York Times and no one should be surprised given the complications on our roadways.

An excerpt.

“A year ago, Detroit and Silicon Valley had visions of putting thousands of self-driving taxis on the road in 2019, ushering in an age of driverless cars.

“Most of those cars have yet to arrive — and it is likely to be years before they do. Several carmakers and technology companies have concluded that making autonomous vehicles is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought.

“We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, said at the Detroit Economic Club in April.

“In the most recent sign of the scramble to regroup, Ford and Volkswagen said Friday that they were teaming up to tackle the self-driving challenge.

“The two automakers plan to use autonomous-vehicle technology from a Pittsburgh start-up, Argo AI, in ride-sharing services in a few urban zones as early as 2021. But Argo’s chief executive, Bryan Salesky, said the industry’s bigger promise of creating driverless cars that could go anywhere was “way in the future.”

“He and others attribute the delay to something as obvious as it is stubborn: human behavior.

“Researchers at Argo say the cars they are testing in Pittsburgh and Miami have to navigate unexpected situations every day. Recently, one of the company’s cars encountered a bicyclist riding the wrong way down a busy street between other vehicles. Another Argo test car came across a street sweeper that suddenly turned a giant circle in an intersection, touching all four corners and crossing lanes of traffic that had the green light.

“You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” Mr. Salesky said. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”

“Mr. Salesky said Argo and many competitors had developed about 80 percent of the technology needed to put self-driving cars into routine use — the radar, cameras and other sensors that can identify objects far down roads and highways. But the remaining 20 percent, including developing software that can reliably anticipate what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are going to do, will be much more difficult, he said.”

Retrieved July 29, 2019 from

Posted in Technology, Transportation

Salmon back in the San Joaquin

This is very god news from the Department of Water Resources.

An excerpt.

“The San Joaquin River – the second longest river in California – was once home to one of the largest populations of spring-run Chinook salmon, a species of fish that is now classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“Thanks to a collaborative multi-agency effort that includes the Department of Water Resources (DWR), spring-run Chinook salmon are successfully returning to the San Joaquin River for the first time in more than 65 years.

“At the end of May 2019, 23 adult spring-run Chinook returned, surviving their nearly 370-mile round trip journey to the Pacific Ocean as juvenile fish and the trip back to the San Joaquin River as adults to spawn – typically a two to five-year process.

“The returned Chinook included some of the 38,000 juvenile fish spawned at the state’s Interim Salmon Conservation and Research Facility located on the banks of the San Joaquin River. The juvenile fish were released in the San Joaquin River in March 2017. Researchers can identify them by their removed adipose fins and coded wire tags.

“The successful return of Chinook to the Central Valley river was made possible by the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP), a comprehensive, long-term effort that was formed in 2007 with two major goals: 1) to achieve a naturally self-sustaining population of Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River from the Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River, and 2) to mitigate water supply impacts to water users as the result of the program’s restoration flows.

“The SJRRP was established as the result of a 2006 federal court agreement that settled an 18-year battle between environmentalists and federal water contractors over use of San Joaquin water below Friant Dam, part of the federal Central Valley Project. The program is supported by five agencies including DWR, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The spring-run Chinook returns this year certainly are exciting,” said Donald Portz, manager of the project with Reclamation. “DWR is an integral partner in building on this success by promoting projects that increase channel capacity and fish passage.”

“Restoration work will also benefit other native fish species including fall-run Chinook, Pacific lamprey, steelhead trout, and white sturgeon.

“DWR’s South Central Region Office, in coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation, is also conducting studies and projects that will further support successful fish passage conditions by modifying or removing structures identified as impediments, such as flood control and water diversion structures. This will provide fish with a better opportunity to complete their life cycle and spawn without human aid.

“DWR is expected to complete construction on a fish passageway on the Eastside Bypass in 2020 that will allow fish to further travel upstream, getting closer to their spawning habitat,” explained Paul Romero, Supervising Engineer with DWR’s South Central Region Office.”

Retrieved July 27, 2019 from

Posted in Hatcheries

Homeless Crisis Is Destroying ‘Jewel Of Sacramento’

A story thus entitled contains an absolute much watch video of a 4 minute bike ride by Marcus Breton of the Sacramento Bee and George Warren of Channel 13, along the Parkway trail showing the countless tents, once again documenting the extent of illegal camping on the Parkway, from CBS 13 Local News online.


“SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The American River Parkway is often called the “Jewel of Sacramento,” but a stretch of the river near downtown shows how the city’s growing homeless population threatens this precious natural resource.

“The 1.7-mile paved levee path on the south side of the river between Interstate 5 and the Highway 160 bridge is formally known as the Two Rivers Trail, but you won’t see many recreational cyclists willing to share the space with shopping carts, abandoned bicycles and piles of trash.

“Scores of tents and tarps line the base of the levee on both sides of the trail and the sound of a generator can occasionally be heard. The faint smell of human waste can be detected on a hot July afternoon.

“This part of (the parkway) has become known as being very dangerous,” he said while pedaling past a row of tents near the riverbank. “You don’t bring your kids, you don’t bring your dogs, you just avoid it. Which is very sad.”

“The nearest public toilets are located at the western end of the Two Rivers Trail in Tiscornia Park, which is up to a mile or more from the main cluster of campsites. It’s not hard to imagine how the parkway homeless are dealing with their biological needs. The Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks has posted signs along the lower American River warning swimmers of high E. coli readings…

“Of course, it’s illegal to camp along the American River Parkway, but any efforts by local government to remove the campsites have been thwarted by a federal court ruling that says homeless can’t be rousted from public property if there’s nowhere else for them to go.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been the target of criticism for what many perceive as the city’s lack of action in dealing with the growing homeless population. But Governor Gavin Newsom recently appointed Steinberg co-chair of a statewide commission that will explore giving every Californian a “right to shelter.” The undertaking would be hugely expensive, requiring housing for an estimated 90,000 people in California who currently live unsheltered. But the move would allow local authorities to take back control of the Two Rivers Trail and other public facilities.

“Breton, who’s written about homeless issues for years, believes the time has come for Sacramento and other impacted communities to stop pushing the homeless out of sight.

“We’re beyond ‘this is a nuisance’ issue,” he said. “This is a major societal crisis.”

Retrieved July 26, 2019 from

Posted in Uncategorized

Gentrification Examined

And done so well in this article from City Journal.

An excerpt.

For many on the Left, gentrification remains a dirty word, synonymous—or at least closely associated—with racism, oligarchic developers, neoliberalism, and even genocide. Fortunately, not all gentrification-watchers are so dystopic. Less excitable observers harbor reasonable concerns about poor residents forced to resettle in blighted areas, unscrupulous landlords, and the disruption of familiar neighborhoods.

A just-released working paper from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve could shake up the conversation. Several previous studies have already cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that gentrification causes widespread displacement of poor, longtime residents. “The Effects of Gentrification on Well Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Their Children” goes further by recasting gentrification as a potential force for income integration and social mobility.

Unlike many previous studies, the paper, by Quentin Brummet of the National Opinion Research Center and Davin Reed at the Fed, is longitudinal, giving not just a snapshot of neighborhood residents but a picture over time—comparing education, income, and employment outcomes for residents who stayed in the changing neighborhood and those who moved. The authors were able to do this by compiling census data on the residents of low-income, central-city neighborhoods of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. in 2000 and comparing findings for the same people in the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.

The first surprise? Gentrification displaces very few people. An influx of college-educated residents into formerly lower-income neighborhoods—the accepted definition of gentrification—increases the probability that vulnerable, less-educated renters move to another neighborhood by about 3 percentage points. The effect on resident moves to a neighborhood at least one mile away is higher, at about 5 percentage points.

These findings demonstrate that gentrification has only a modest impact on displacement, debunking previous research that failed to consider just how dynamic urban neighborhoods are. Urbanites move a lot: 68 percent of less educated renters and 79 percent of more educated urban renters will haul their furniture to different lodgings over the course of a decade. That’s the case even where there are no latte-sippers snapping up nearby condos. The constant churning of the population means that gentrifiers are generally not forcing out locals so much as taking their place as they leave. The authors conclude that when the gentrifiers come, less educated residents—the most vulnerable ones—are only 10 percent more likely to move than they would have been if everything had stayed the same.

The bigger surprise is what happens to low-income residents who stay put compared with those who do move out. The stayers remain at the same poverty levels as before gentrification, but they see less poverty in their midst (the gentrifiers themselves see considerably more). Homeowners enjoy a big increase in their home values, enough to offset the inevitable rise in taxes. The authors also find, “somewhat surprisingly,” that rent increases for less educated residents remain much as they would have been if the gentrifiers had never arrived; educated stayers and newcomers, on the other hand, pay more. Most work on gentrification relies on median rents, but medians disguise considerable variation.

The paper’s most intriguing finding concerns gentrification’s effect on children. Kids living in gentrified neighborhoods see less poverty and more educated neighbors, and they develop more advantageous networks. Most strikingly, gentrification increases the probability that children of less educated homeowners will attend and graduate college. One of the most popular ideas for improving poor kids’ life chances is to move them into better neighborhoods. A well-known HUD policy experiment called “Moving to Opportunity” focused on doing just that. It didn’t change adults or children’s earnings or employment, but a more recent analysis by Harvard economist Raj Chetty found small, but significant, improvement in incomes, marriage rates, and education achievement for those who had moved at a young age. What this suggests is that gentrification is allowing less advantaged families to “move to opportunity”—without even moving.

Retrieved July 24, 2019 from

Posted in demographics

Could this Woodland site be the solution to homelessness?

An article with that title appeared on the Channel 10 News site reporting on a project apparently modeled after Haven for Hope in San Antonio we have long advocated for Sacramento.

In our area, a strategy helping the homeless (and local residents and business who suffer the impacts) needs to be developed that is capable of safely sheltering up to 2 or 3 thousand homeless folks a night—with available transformational services—and San Antonio’s Haven for Hope program  especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers, seems to offer an answer.

You can read more from our news release of October 26, 2018 on our News Page

An excerpt from the Channel 10 News article.

“Proposed 5 acre campus would combine services to help people find permanent solution for housing.

“WOODLAND, Calif. — A sunny stroll down Main Street in Woodland is an homage to a time gone by. A visitor will pass tree-lined sidewalks, family-owned restaurants and quaint boutique shops. It’s a slice of Americana with an old-fashioned hometown feel. Yet, if one stays long enough, the idyllic scene will be shattered by a visibly homeless resident.

“It’s a story repeated time and again throughout other similar cities across the state of California and around the county. It seems to be a growing problem. The city of Woodland is a front line in the battle.

“Woodland was just awarded $5.3 million through the California Department of Housing and Community Development for a new proposal. The plan is to build a campus on the outskirts of town complete with temporary housing, services and the opportunity to transition to permanent housing.

“Doug Zeck is the executive director of Fourth & Hope, an emergency shelter in the heart of the city. He’s the lead pastor of New Testament Church in Woodland. His father and grandfather were also pastors. He has been serving the homeless in the area for decades.

“Woodland is home,” said Zeck. “It’s family. People can call it a hometown and really feel good about that. People will fight for their hometown if they don’t like the way things are going, one way or the other. And family fights for itself. And so that’s kind of what Woodland is.”

“The people of Woodland are frustrated, voicing their anger, some even suggesting it’s the services being provided that bring homeless to the area. Yet, Zeck knows the reasons are more varied.

“The reason for homelessness is as diverse as the individuals we encounter on a daily basis,” said Zeck.

“Paul Navazio is the City Manager for Woodland. He understands the conflict in the community because he deals with it every day. He admits there are many factors that bring homeless people to the city.

“As the county seat, we are the site of the county jail and so there’s probably a certain number of folks that end up in Woodland, or remain in Woodland after they’re released from jail, and perhaps have no place to go,” explained Navazio. “And so we’re working with the county and the sheriff and other cities to make sure that folks who come here for, other than wanting to be in Woodland, have a path hopefully back to their jurisdiction of origin.”

“He went on to explain how the city is also working to prevent other services from having a negative impact.

“There’s also a service-rich environment here in terms of mental health services, either through the county or through a program at Woodland Memorial Hospital that contracts with other jurisdictions,” said Navazio. “I will say that we are working very closely with them to make sure that when a patient perhaps comes to Woodland and is part of a program that there’s a way and a commitment to return them to their jurisdiction of origin.”

“Still, many have asked why the number of visibly homeless people has increased.

“I think there’s an element to it having to do with some changes in our criminal justice and correctional system where because of issues like AB109 and Prop 47,” explained Navazio. “A number of folks that were previously housed, if you will, but through the criminal justice system, are now on the street.”

“Assembly Bill 109 was passed in 2011. It diverted people convicted of felonies not defined as serious to local county jails. It shifted prisoners from state responsibility to local responsibility. Proposition 47 was passed in 2014. It reduced penalties for “nonviolent, non-serious” crimes to misdemeanors.

“In 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cities cannot punish homeless people for sleeping outside if no shelter beds are available to them. The court said it would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. This has further tied the hands of cities like Woodland and its police officers from enforcing ordinances.

“One result: people are seeing the homeless in larger numbers, in more public places.

“Woodland has created a homeless outreach street team through the police department to mitigate the effects of the homeless on its citizens and businesses. It’s comprised of officers and Kristen Cline, the street team social services manager. She is not an officer.

“We do a lot of outreach, a lot of education, a lot of transportation, people that need rides to appointments,” explained Cline. “People need to get connected to mental health services, need to replace their debit card, anything and everything. We’re just trying to get them connected to services.”

“The team spends their days walking the streets, talking with the homeless, working to get them the help they need.

“We try to get on the phone, make all the calls,” said Cline. “We’re not just going to buy somebody a ticket to Kansas or Montana. But we’re going to call, make sure they have a bed to sleep in, make sure they’re not going to be displaced and be homeless in another community.”

“While some have suggested many of the homeless in Woodland come from outside the county, Officer Greg Ford said this doesn’t seem to be the case.

“When you get to know everyone’s individual story, it seems like they have a root here,” explained Ford. “There’s some family member, a point in their history during their childhood they lived here, and they remember a lot of positive things about Woodland and that’s what brought them back.”

What is the answer? Just like the many causes of homelessness, there doesn’t appear to be one solution. Yet, Navazio believes he knows one thing.

“I think there’s general consensus that in terms of solving homelessness and a solution to homelessness, it starts and ends with housing,” Navazio said.

“Woodland’s new approach is perhaps the first of its kind in the state. It would be located on East Beamer Way and will centralize all assisting services.

“Stephen Coyle is the Deputy Community Development Director for the city of Woodland. He explained what the project entails.

“The site will actually be about a 5-acre pad,” explained Coyle. “And on that we’ll do the 61 units of housing, we’ll do the relocation of Fourth and Hope and the relocation of Walter’s House, that will be in this area here.”

“The campus will provide shelter, substance abuse treatment and a path to permanent housing. Stephen Coyle knows first hand how important the project is because he was in need of such services at one point himself.”

Retrieved July 22, 2019 from

Posted in ARPPS, Homelessness