Slobe on the Parkway

Excellent piece from Channel 13 on the Parkway with comments from Bob Slobe.

Little history, it was meeting Bob Slobe and hearing for the first time, in 2003—when I was serving a term as president of the American River Natural History Association (ARNHA)—about the devastation being caused by illegal camping in the Parkway, which I was then unaware of, which was part of what led to the founding of our nonprofit, and, consequently, we named our Parkway advocate award after him.

An excerpt, and watch the video.

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — County leaders are considering spending millions more to solve problems caused by homeless campers along the American River Parkway

“Pornography, spent needles, human feces by the ton,” said Bob Slobe who’s family has owned property along the American River Parkway for more than 100 years.

Posted in ARPPS, History, Homelessness, Public Safety

California’s Leaders Resist Fixing Water Storage System

Coming as no surprise to conservatives, liberal California’s political leaders are still denying reality, as this story from Fox & Hounds points out.

An excerpt.

A few weeks ago, the governor and other state politicians ran victory laps proclaiming their passage of California’s new record budget. The behemoth budget — the largest spending plan in our state’s history — provides $183 billion to fund many diverse programs and projects deemed necessary to the people and government of California.

Their speeches forgot, however, to mention a crucial item the Senate, Assembly and Governor Brown left out: funding to addresses California’s chronic water deficit.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Our state is miraculously emerging from five hard years of extreme drought, yet there’s no guarantee that abundant rains will fall again next year. California lawmakers, the presumptive global leaders on Climate Change, should have learned that lesson. Recall that water has been the public’s top-of-mind issue, courtesy of the epic drought, epic winter storms, failing levees, flooding and a timely lesson taught to us by nature as catastrophe was narrowly averted at Oroville Dam.

They say water is an A or Z issue; when you don’t have water it’s a A issue, when you do have water it’s a Z issue. Yet Californians have transcended this old adage. Poll after poll finds vast public support — among voters of every age, party, geography, and education level — for fixing our water problems. Some surveys say nearly nine out of ten adult voters believe our state’s number one priority must be to provide Californians with an adequate, reliable and safe water supply.

These voters’ opinions were likely influenced by the triple hammer blows of enforced mandatory water rationing, the browning of their homes’ lawns and landscapes, and receipt of skyrocketing water and sewer bills, plus being drowned in the din of widespread media coverage.

And yet, with the electorate solidly supporting meaningful solutions to California’s decades-long neglect of our water needs, the Legislature and governor cued up their budget, aimed elsewhere, and entirely missed providing a funding fix for water.

Governor Brown and the state’s legislators omitted funds for greater storage; for maintenance and repairs of existing dams, facilities and levees; and for the necessary planning of future projects to make our water more plentiful, safe and reliable.

Remember, this year’s budget set an all-time record for spending. Several new taxes and fees will soak every Californian for decades to come. Legislators gave plenty of money to other needs, including sound projects as well as pork, but they left out funding for our water supply and they refuse to explain why.

In the end it’s like the drought never happened for California’s legislature and governor.

Our lawmakers completely ignored this February’s storms that filled Oroville Dam to the brim and spilled over, threatening hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in property damages. They even voted down a separate bill that would have provided $100 million to repair vital infrastructure in downstream communities damaged by the dam’s chaotic releases.

The Legislature also neglected many billions lost by water rationing to California’s economy over the past five years along with the many harms that drought wreaked on California’s environment, endangered fish and wildlife.

There’s no explaining the “why?” behind the choices made by our state’s elected officials. All that can be done is to act locally and tell your own elected officials how frustrating it is to be ignored on a subject so vital as the water you drink.

Posted in Government, Politics, Shasta Auburn Dam, Water

Working from Home & Mass Transit Use

The former is increasing while the latter decreases; a sign of the future, that’s what this article from City Journal suggests.

An excerpt.

Expanding mass-transit systems is a pillar of green and “new urbanist” thinking, but with few exceptions, the idea of ever-larger numbers of people commuting into an urban core ignores a major shift in the labor economy: more people are working from home.

True, in a handful of large metropolitan regions—what we might call “legacy cities”—trains and buses remain essential. This is particularly true of New York, which accounts for a remarkable 43 percent of the nation’s mass-transit commuters, and of other venerable cities, such as San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Together, these metros account for 56 percent of all mass-transit commuting. But for most of the rest of the country, transit use—despite often-massive infrastructure investment—has either stagnated or declined. Among the 21 metropolitan areas that have opened substantially new urban-rail systems since 1970, mass transit’s share of work trips has declined, on average, from 5.3 percent to 5 percent. During the same period, the drive-alone share of work trips, notes demographer Wendell Cox, has risen from 71.9 percent to 76.1 percent.

Meantime, the proportion of the labor force working from home continues to grow. In 1980, 2.3 percent of workers performed their duties primarily at home; by 2015, this figure had doubled to 4.6 percent, only slightly behind the proportion of people who commute via mass transit. In legacy core–metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the number of people working from home is nearly half that of those commuting by transit. In the 47 MSAs without legacy cores, according to the American Community Survey, the number of people working from home was nearly 250 percent higher than people going to work on trains or buses.

The areas with the thickest presence of telecommuters—including cities such as Austin, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, Denver, and Seattle—tend to have the greatest concentration of tech-related industries, which function well with off-site workers. In San Jose, the epicenter of the nation’s tech industry, 4.6 percent of people work from home, exceeding the 3.4 percent who take mass transit. Other telecommuting hot spots include college towns like Boulder, where over 11.6 percent of workers work from home, and Berkeley, where the share is 10.6 percent.

Leading telecommuting centers tend to be home to many well-educated, older, and wealthy residents. Communities such as San Clemente, Newport Beach, and Encinitas in Southern California, as well as Boca Raton in Florida, all have telecommuting shares over 10 percent. Perhaps older, well-connected people are more inclined to avoid miserable commutes, given the chance to do so. As the American population skews older, the economy will likely see more workers making such choices.

Another important demographic force contributing to the work-from-home inclination is Americans’ continuing move to lower-density cities, which usually lack effective transit, and to the suburbs and exurbs—where 81 percent of job growth occurred between 2010 and 2014. While most metropolitan regions can be called “polycentric,” they are actually better described as “dispersed,” with central business districts (CBDs) and suburban centers (subcenters) now accounting for only a minority of employment. By 2000, more than three-quarters of all employment in metropolitan areas with populations higher than 1 million was outside CBDs and subcenters.

Home-based work could be the logical extension of this dispersal—and modern technologies, from ride-sharing services to automated cars, will probably accelerate the trend. A recent report by the global consulting firm Bain suggested that greater decentralization is likely in the coming decades. A 2015 National League of Cities report observes that traditional nine-to-five jobs are on the decline and that many white-collar jobs will involve office-sharing and telecommuting in the future. The report also predicts that more workers will act as “contractors,” taking on multiple positions at once.

Posted in Economy, Technology, Transportation

Helping Salmon

By helping the hatcheries and, according to this article from the Calsport Fishing Blog, barging is the way to go.

An excerpt.

One way to effectively increase the California coastal salmon population is to increase survival of Chinook salmon smolts released by the three large Sacramento Valley hatcheries. These three hatcheries produce nearly 30 million fall-run smolts a year and account for 70-90% of California’s ocean and river fishery catch. A one percent smolt survival leads to 300,000 adult returns to the fisheries and escapement to spawning rivers. Doubling survival to two percent would increase returns to 600,000 adults. With survival at or below one-half percent in recent drought years, returns have fallen to near 100,000.1

How can we get survival back to one or even two percent or higher? Fortunately at least a quarter of the smolts are tagged to allow estimates of their survival and contributions to fisheries and escapement back to spawning rivers. Survival estimates are now available for hatchery smolts released up to 2013. Figures 1-3 show a summary of survival from the three largest hatcheries for salmon brood years 2008-2012 (smolt releases from 2009-2013). I drew the following conclusions from the figures:

  1. Releasing smolts in the spring of drought years in the rivers near the hatcheries provides only about a half percent survival in drought years (release years 2009 and 2013). Survival improves to 1-3 % in wetter years (release years 2010 and 2011), likely a consequence of better transport flows, lower water temperatures, and lower predation because of higher turbidity.
  2. Poor ocean survival (2008-2009, and 2014-2015) likely contributes to poor survival (percent returns) for those brood years rearing in the ocean under poor conditions.
  3. Transporting the salmon smolts via truck to San Francisco Bay for release into acclimation pens markedly increases survival in dry and wetter years into the 1-3% range. The benefit appears smaller in the wetter years, but remains significant and substantial. The Feather and American state hatcheries continue transporting the bulk of their smolts in recent years, while the federal Coleman hatchery has greatly reduced the practice because of apparent higher straying rates.
  4. The program of releasing Feather smolts to coastal bay pens sharply increases returns to coastal fisheries. However, the threat of these fish straying to coastal streams with different genetic stocks now limits this practice.
  5. Lastly, barging fish from near their hatcheries to the Bay shows much promise. Barging may triple survival in drier years when survival is one percent or less, and may reduce straying. A multiyear study of barging is currently underway.
  6. In conclusion, adult salmon stocks in coastal waters continue to benefit from transporting smolts to Bay net pens. Further benefits may derive from barging the smolts 100 to 200 miles to the Bay. Potential benefits of barging over trucking include higher survival and reduced straying. Release of hatchery smolts directly to Sacramento Valley rivers near the hatcheries provides minimal survival especially in drier years. Increasing survival factors like augmenting flow releases from reservoirs at the time of river hatchery releases may improve survival, but trucking and barging appear necessary to keep ocean and river fisheries afloat in the short term.
Posted in Hatcheries

Blame for Homeless

This recent editorial from the Sacramento Bee lamenting the increased crime by and against the homeless in the downtown and midtown grid is welcome, but blaming it all on Sacramento County is way off base.

Though the County is certainly too blame for allowing illegal camping in the Parkway—probably one of the largest concentrations of homeless in the area—the city of Sacramento, obviously, has to shoulder the largest blame for the crimes by and against the homeless in the city.

An excerpt from the Bee editorial.

Leave it up to Councilman Steve Hansen and Sacramento’s central city has become a hotbed of criminal activity – assaults, theft, trespassing, harassment, vandalism, and lately, murder.

It’s not downtown Stockton or downtown Oakland, where the blare of police sirens can be heard into the wee hours of the morning. But most days Hansen says he gets at least one email or one phone call from a constituent who has had a disconcerting run-in with a homeless person.

The couple who came home to find a homeless man masturbating on their porch. The residents who catch homeless people relieving themselves in their backyards or drunkenly bursting into their homes.

Hansen tells the story of three women who, while walking from their cars after work, were followed and then chased by a screaming homeless man. They jumped into an elevator in a parking garage and he did, too. Then they ran toward another building and he did, too. They were only able to keep him at bay by holding the glass doors shut until police arrived.

And then there’s the homeless man who shot another homeless man on a Saturday morning outside Rodney’s Cigar and Liquor Store, just across the street from the upscale Grange restaurant, where presumably people were having brunch.

About three hours later, another homeless man fatally stabbed yet another homeless man near 13th and S streets. Police eventually arrested Michael Lee Langley, 56, on suspicion of murder. Officers found him wandering along K Street.

Homicides are exceedingly rare in central Sacramento. In 2015, there were just five murders in Hansen’s council district. In 2016, there were six. Residents are far more likely to get their bikes stolen or their lawn furniture pilfered then get killed.

But still, this isn’t a narrative that Sacramento should let fester.

The fastest way to kill the city’s downtown resurgence is to allow residents and visitors to feel unsafe. It happened before, prompting people to flee to the suburbs, and it can happen again. What a waste of hard work and hundreds of millions of dollars of investments that would be.

So Hansen was right to call on police to step up enforcement in the central city. And Mayor Darrell Steinberg, although understandably adamant about officers not using the city’s anti-camping ordinance just to move homeless people around the city, was right to make clear that police must be more assertive when they encounter “disruptive” behavior.

“I am supportive of city police officers enforcing a standard of decorum,” Steinberg said last week.

There’s a fine line between cops harassing the many homeless people who are minding their business and cops turning a blind eye to the few homeless people who are harassing others. Police must do a better job of walking it.

But no one should lose sight of the fact that Sacramento can’t arrest its way out of its growing epidemic of homelessness.

That homeless people, many of them with untreated mental illness and addiction problems, are wandering around the central city committing crimes at all is a symptom of a much larger problem. And only the Sacramento County supervisors can truly solve it, by providing more resources to get people off the streets, and into housing and care.

Posted in Government, Homelessness

Suburbs Rule

This is a great article from New Geography showing how more people are moving to suburban areas—including Sacramento—than to urban ones.

An excerpt.

A review of the most recent US Census Bureau population estimates and components of population change indicates that US residents are overwhelmingly moving to the most suburban cities (metropolitan areas). We previously rated the 53 major metropolitan areas (over 1 million population) using the City Sector Model (see America’s Most Suburbanized Cities), which classifies small areas (zip codes) into five urban core and suburban categories based on factors such as density, transit use, and age of housing stock.(Figure 1). This article examines net domestic migration based on the extent of suburbanization identified in the previous article.

In this decade to date, the 30 most suburbanized cities gained 2.3 million net domestic migrants. These cities are from 94.8 percent to 100.0 percent suburban. The 23 cities that are less suburban had, overall, loss of 2.1 million net domestic migrants. Overall, the 53 major metropolitan areas gained 200,000 net domestic migrants.

The First Quintile: 100 Percent Suburban Cities

A total ten cities are rated 100 percent suburban this means that they have virtually no population densities high enough to qualify for urban cores in any zip code. This indicates that virtually all of their development has occurred during the post-World War II period and that any historical high density zip codes have experienced a decline to below 7500 persons per square mile. The most suburban of these cities is determined by the percentage of an urban population, since there is a 10 way tie for 100 percent suburbanization. This article examines net domestic migration trends in relation to the suburban character of the major metropolitan areas. Net domestic migration counts the number of US residents who move between counties (which are also the building block components of metropolitan areas)….

The Second Quintile

The second quintile includes cities that are from 97.6 percent suburban to 99.8 percent suburban. [Sacramento, at 98.3% suburban, is in this quintile]

With 11 cities, the second quintile attracted more net domestic migrants than the top quintile (1,023,000), which has only 10 cities. The per city average was somewhat lower than in the first quintile, at 93,000. Five of the cities in the second quintile added more than 100,000 net domestic migrants, including Dallas – Fort Worth at 304,000 (the highest of any city), Houston at 283,000 Austin at 192,000, Atlanta at 153,000 in Nashville at 104,000. Three cities in the quintile lost net domestic migrants, including San Jose, Virginia Beach – Norfolk and Memphis.

The net domestic migration in second quintile averaged 2.5 percent of the 2010 population. Austin had the highest net domestic migration gain of any city at 11.2 percent. Nashville gained 6.2 percent.

Like the first quintile, all cities in the second quintile are in the South or West.

Posted in demographics

Kids on the Parkway

A very nice story in the Sacramento Bee about getting urban kids—many of whom have never been there or even knew it existed—out on the Parkway.

An excerpt.

Deep in the woods of River Bend Park, children’s laughter rang clear beneath a canopy of rustling leaves. They skipped and skidded their way along winding dirt trails, backed by a chorus of chirps and tweets instead of gunshots.

The eight boys and girls traveled to the park from Meadowview, Elder Creek and other Sacramento neighborhoods where crime is a part of daily life. This summer they’ll get a reprieve from the violence – at least when they’re taking part in a special program that helps expose urban kids to the outdoors.

“This reins us back to where we need to be, away from the cars and the noise,” said Carlton Malone, 12, of south Sacramento. “There’s a lot of bad people in my area. I’ve gotten used to it after a while, but it’s been getting sketchy lately. Getting close to Fourth of July, fireworks and gunfire sound the same.”

Malone and about 20 other urban youths age 5 to 12 will exercise, meditate and learn outdoor skills this summer on the American River Parkway, the 23-mile stretch of public land between Old Sacramento and Folsom Lake. The Recreate for Health program is a new project of the American River Parkway Foundation, made possible by a $25,000 grant from Dignity Health.

The foundation partnered with two neighborhood nonprofit groups, Always Knocking and Hooked on Fishing Not on Violence, to recruit children who might not otherwise get enough time outdoors.

So far the kids have cycled, hiked, created nature-inspired art and tried yoga. Throughout the summer they’ll also learn about bicycle maintenance, nutrition and first aid, said Chris Aguirre, director of development for the foundation.

While suburban children often get out into nature with their families, most of the children in Recreate for Health didn’t even know the American River Parkway existed because they didn’t have a way to get there, Aguirre said. On program days, organizers pick up participants and transport them to a parkway site, where activities and snacks are provided free of cost.

“These kids should have just as much access as everybody else – this is a public health asset,” he said. “And it’s not a one-and-done. Having these ongoing experiences, and multiple access points, that’s important.”

Posted in Parks