Tracking high-speed rail

Jan 18, 2018

High-speed rail: Key things to look for in 2018, a potentially pivotal year


Fresno Bee's TIM SHEEHAN: "The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s revelation this week that its expected construction costs in the Central Valley are going up by more than one-third since 2016 is likely to spark questions about what may become of the convoluted and controversial project."


"Beset by litigation, delays, cost increases, consistent Republican political opposition, leadership turnover and no small degree of public skepticism, the agency acknowledged that the upward lurch in the predicted cost to build 119 miles bullet-train line from Madera to Bakersfield – from $7.8 billion in 2016 to $10.6 billion now – will only further stoke concerns over whether the ambitious plan to develop and build a system of electric trains connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim by way of the Valley will ever reach fruition."


"With that in mind, here’s an examination of several issues that will likely confront the rail authority and the future of the project itself in what could be a pivotal year."


READ MORE related to TransportationThe mudslide closure of the 101 is hurting Santa Barbara businesses -- SCPR's DAVID WAGNERSpaceX and Boeing aim to take crews to the space station soon, but Congress has a warning -- LA Times' SAMANTHA MASUNAGABART gets OK to launch first cars in its 'Fleet of the Future' -- KQED's DAN BREKKESan Francisco's first stationless e-bike system -- The Chronicle's KATHLEEN PENDER

California vs. the feds over offshore drilling


FELICIA ALVAREZ in Capitol Weekly: "The rubber is hitting the road, the gloves are coming off and California leaders are suiting up for battle. At least, figuratively."


"When the Trump Administration announced that it would commence offshore oil drilling across all national waters — including six locations in California — federal agencies struck against decades of bipartisan environmental policy in California."


"California leaders including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Beccera are already planning their next move."


Activists work to block the California Democratic Party from endorsing Sen. Tony Mendoza, who faces harassment probe


LA Times' PATRICK MCGREEVY: "Under investigation for sexual harassment allegations, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) is facing a political challenge from 20 delegates from his Senate district who petitioned Wednesday to make it harder for him to earn a state Democratic Party endorsement."


"State party rules allow Democratic incumbents seeking reelection to be automatically placed on the consent calendar of the statewide convention being held Feb. 23-25, which expedites obtaining the party’s endorsement."


"However, if the signatures of 20 delegates turned in Wednesday on a petition are validated, it would force Mendoza to go through the party’s more detailed endorsement process for challengers, which includes attending a pre-endorsement conference in the next few weeks and winning delegates’ votes then or at the convention."


READ MORE related to #MeToo/Boy's ClubLavish bash for California politicians and lobbyists gets a #MeToo makeover -- CalMatters' LAUREL ROSENHALLSan Leandro official faces misconduct probe after sexual harassment claim -- The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROVKevin Spacey facing third criminal sex crime investigation by London's Met Police -- LA Times' RICHARD WINTON


California tax on space companies would end under Assembly bill


The Chronicle's BENNY EVANGELISTA: "A bill introduced Wednesday would block the state’s tax on space transportation companies."


"Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale (Los Angeles County), said AB1878 would exempt space transportation companies from a tax enacted by the Franchise Tax Board last year. The tax is collected on space companies based on a formula that factors in the frequency of launches from California soil and the distance a spacecraft travels into space."


"We are sending a terrible message by taxing an industry that is only in its infancy,” Lackey said in a statement. “Instead, California should continue to protect its role as an aerospace leader and offer an incentive for companies that choose to operate here."


Newsom leads Villaraigosa in California governor's race, but as election nears it still feels 'undecided'


Daily News' KEVIN MODESTI: "It’s getting kind of late for the race for California governor to still be in the early stages."


"But that’s how it feels. Only a little over 100 days before the first primary election mail-in votes are cast, major polls show more people remain “undecided” than support front-runner Gavin Newsom. Lists of the “top 10 governor’s races of 2018” by The Washington Post and didn’t even mention the election to succeed the iconic Jerry Brown at the helm of the nation’s most populous state."


"It’s hard to [get] attention,” Newsom said after speaking to a crowd of about 100 people in a campaign stop in the San Fernando Valley community of North Hills on Jan. 11."


READ MORE related to Gubernatorial Race: Democrats running for California governor need to stop talking about Trump and start talking about public pensions -- LA Times' GEORGE SKELTON


California wanted to bridge the digital divide but left rural areas behind. Now that's about to change


LA Times' JAZMINE ULLOA: "Until a few years ago, most students in Winters — a farming community of 7,000 west of Sacramento — did not have computers at home. So the city’s then-mayor, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, pushed for a program that enabled the school district’s sixth-graders to check out laptops along with their textbooks."


"Their parents were required to learn how to use the computers as well. For some, it was their first time surfing the web or sending an email."


"Now they could be a voice for their child,” said Aguiar-Curry, who grew up in Winters. She recalled that some parents were moved to tears. “Now they could work in the fields during the day, and at night they could come home and get on their child’s tablet and find out how they were doing in school."


Bay Area police unlikely to help ICE on immigration sweeps


The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY/HAMED ALEAZIZ: "Officials from several Bay Area law enforcement agencies said Wednesday that federal officials haven’t looped them in on any plans for major sweeps for undocumented immigrants, and added that they didn’t plan to help with any such operations."


"The Oakland City Council took it a step further, passing a resolution prohibiting police from providing so much as traffic control for federal immigration-enforcement actions."


"The response from local jurisdictions came after The Chronicle reported that U.S. officials are gearing up for a major dragnet in Northern California, during which they will seek to arrest more than 1,500 undocumented immigrants."


READ MORE related to Immigration: LA officials approve pro-immigrant measures, further opposing Trump policies -- SCPR's LESLIE BERESTEIN ROJAS; H-1B: Immigrants make up nearly three-quarters of Silicon Valley tech workforce, report says -- Mercury News' ETHAN BARON; Trump's border wall promise was 'uninformed' and Mexico won't pay for it, John Kelly says -- LA Times' LISA MASCARO


Oroville sues state water department for dam's near failure


The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "The city of Oroville has sued the state’s Department of Water Resources, alleging that decades of mismanagement were to blame for the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in February 2017 and the emergency evacuation of 188,000 people."


"The suit, filed Wednesday in Butte County Superior Court, calls on the DWR to cover millions of dollars in economic and infrastructure losses incurred by the dam’s issues."


"The alleged failure of the Oroville Dam represents millions of dollars lost to our California economy and, along with the fires that have devastated California, combine to make our rural areas very difficult to live and work in,” said David Janes, one of the attorneys representing the city."


READ MORE related to Legal Action: Montecito homeowners sue utilities, alleging negligence before deadly mudslide -- NBC's JAMES RAINEY; Internal documents reveal Camp Pendleton's water woes predated summer inspection by EPA -- San Diego Union Tribune's CARL PRINE; City of Oroville suit against DWR alleges discrimination, corrupt culture -- Chico ER's RISA JOHNSON; US judge clears way to send case for bail as fair, effective to trial for a decision -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO; State's top court refuses to restore firefighters' award -- SFGate's BOB EGELKO; Illegal meetings in Delta tunnels case, opponents claim -- Record Net's ALEX BREITLER; Oroville suit alleges DWR corruption, recklessness led to Spillway crisis -- KQED's DAN BREKKE


California may buck Congress with its own health insurance requirement


CalMatters' ELIZABETH AGUILERA: "With Congress ending the requirement that all Americans have health insurance, California leaders are preparing to counter that move by securing health care for as many residents as possible in a fortified state insurance exchange."


"State lawmakers say they will present a package of health-related proposals in the coming weeks, before a Feb. 16 deadline for new bill introductions. Details are still developing, but officials and health care advocates say discussions focus on ways to maintain the exchange’s high enrollment and help still more Californians obtain insurance."


"Everything they are doing at the federal level, we are doing the opposite,” said state Sen. Ed Hernandez, an Azusa Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and plans to host a bill-pitching session next week."


READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: Home care agencies often wrongly deny Medicare help to the chronically ill -- KHN's SUSAN JAFFE; Unrest at state psychiatric hospital after crackdown on electronics: Patients were viewing child porn -- LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN; Home care agencies often wrongly deny help to the chronically ill -- California Healthline's SUSAN JAFFE; When food stamps pass as tickets to better health -- California Healthline's COURTNEY PERKES


Muir Woods, Alcatraz and other parkland likely to close in federal shutdown


The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "If Congress doesn’t reach a spending deal by the end of Friday, a trip to Muir Woods or Alcatraz this weekend could be off the agenda."


"The National Park Service plans to order visitors “to leave the park immediately” in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the event of a cutoff in federal funding, under a policy the agency drew up in the fall during a showdown like the one unfolding this week in the nation’s capital."


"Closing the new reservations-only parking lot at Muir Woods, keeping the Alcatraz tour boats tied up at the dock — and, farther afield, shutting the gates at Yosemite and other national parks — would be the most visible sign of a partial shutdown of the federal government. But park visitors won’t be the only ones affected if lawmakers can’t reach a spending agreement."


READ MORE related to Environment: Landslide threatens three-story hillside home in Malibu -- LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIANMass tree die-offs lead to disaster, and a Cal Poly professor is looking for answers -- The Tribune's LUCAS CLARK; Mudslides not part of the Butte County storm outlook -- ChicoER's LAURA URSENY; Glendale pot project prompts drinking water contamination concerns -- Time Standard's WILL HOUSTON; SF breaking ground on wastewater recycling plant -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA; An artistic look at Valley agriculture -- VPR's JOE MOORE; Water district votes to ban export of water from Paso Basin -- Paso Robles Daily News; E. Coli in the LA River: How much is too much for recreational user exposure -- Environmental Monitor's KARLA LANT; Work begins on project to recharge groundwater basins with sediment-free water -- Highland Community News; Can better technologies save endangered California salmon? -- Environmental Monitor's KARLA LANT; 4.1 earthquake strikes north of Santa Rosa, California -- LA Times' QUAKEBOT; Gov. Brown's troubled two-tunnel water plan may shrink to one -- The Chronicle's MELODY GUTIERREZ; California says no decision on trimming Delta tunnels plan -- Capitol Public Radio; Big storm expected to dump heavy snow in Sierra Nevada -- LA Times' RONG-GONG LIN II; One year in, Trump's environmental agenda is already taking a measurable toll -- LA Times' EVAN HALPER


Survey predicts big Latino turnout in Calif. June primary in response to Trump


SFGate's JOE GAROFOLI: "Driven by antipathy toward President Trump and concerns about immigration, a record number of Latinos say they are planning to vote in California’s June 5 primary, according to a new survey."


"The survey of 900 registered Latino voters released Wednesday found that 68 percent said they were “100 percent” certain that they would vote. That turnout would be off the charts for the state’s 4.5 million Latino voters, especially considering that only 25 percent of all registered California voters cast ballots in California’s last midterm election in 2014."


"The survey of 900 registered Latino voters released Wednesday found that 68 percent said they were “100 percent” certain that they would vote. That turnout would be off the charts for the state’s 4.5 million Latino voters, especially considering that only 25 percent of all registered California voters cast ballots in California’s last midterm election in 2014."


Movie attendance fell 6% in 2017. Meanwhile, ticket prices hit a record


LA Times' RYAN FAUGHNDER: "Movie attendance in the United States and Canada fell even more than expected in 2017, as the average ticket price hit a record high, according to new data from the National Assn. of Theatre Owners."


"The number of tickets sold was 1.24 billion, down 6% from 2016, the trade group said Wednesday. That’s steeper than the 4% decline studio executives projected in December, and marks a 22-year low for the industry."


"The association blamed the downturn on a historically weak summer movie season mired by multiple high-profile sequels and blockbusters that failed to entice moviegoers."


UC Tuition could rise again -- regents to vote next week


The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "The price of a year at the University of California will rise to $12,974 for undergraduates next fall if the UC regents approve a 2.7 percent hike in tuition and fees — an extra $342 — at their meeting next week in San Francisco."


"Students are already protesting."


"The proposed tuition hike comes as tens of thousands of UC students face hunger and homelessness,” says the UC Student Association petition titled Stop the UC Tuition Hike. “As UC students, we demand that the regents stop the tuition hike, and that the California legislature fully fund the UC system."


READ MORE related to Education: The water at this San mateo County school is unsafe to drink -- and has been for years -- KALW's ANGELA JOHNSTON; Villaraigosa slaps at Newsom's education record while campaigning in LA County -- LA Times' SEEMA MEHTA; Commentary: BRown relents a little on school accountability -- CALmatters' DAN WALTERS; Federal audit finds problems with California's graduation rate calculations -- LA Times' JOY RESMOVITS; OP-ED: After the Perris nightmare, it's time to monitor home-schools more closely -- LA Times' EDITORIAL BOARD; Initiative backers betting 2018 will be the year to take on California's Proposition 13 -- EdSource's JOHN FENSTERWALD; State must improve the California School Dashboard, not move the goalposts -- EdSource's VERNON M. BILLY/RYAN J. SMITH; California higher education leaders urge Dreamers to reapply quickly for DACA protection -- EdSource's LARRY GORDON

More of LA County's homeless are dying. Here's why.

Daily News' SUSAN ABRAM: "The number of homeless people who died on Los Angeles County’s streets and shelters doubled in the last five years, rising to 831 deaths in 2017, according to a recent report."
"Cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, diabetes, cancer, cirrhosis, severe bacterial infections and other treatable conditions were all listed as causes of deaths reported by the Los Angeles County Office of Medical Examiner, and released last week by the county’s Department of Mental Health."


"The rise in deaths since 2013, when 458 homeless people died, comes as the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County increased for the same time period. In 2013, there were 39,463 men, women and children in 2013 counted as homeless. Last year, that number rose to 57,794, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority or LAHSA. The authority is planning a new count set to begin on Jan. 23 in the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: Airbnb listings in San Francisco plunge by half -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID

Wolff's 'Fire and Fury' account of Trump's White House heading to TV

LA Times' LIBBY HILL: "Endeavour Content, the financing and sales arm of William Morris Endeavor and IMG, has purchased the film and television rights to Michael Wolff’s best-selling book “Fire and Fury,” according to a report Wednesday by the Hollywood Reporter. "


"The expose about Trump’s first year in office made waves earlier this month, with the president himself decrying the book as “phony” and “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist."


"The tome paints a dire picture of life inside the White House, with accusations of infidelity, incompetence and idiocy aplenty. "

Former classmate charged with murder in death of Blaze Bernstein

LA Times' ANH DO/CINDY CARCAMO/SONALI KOHLI: "Orange County prosecutors charged a former schoolmate of Ivy League college student Blaze Bernstein with murder on Wednesday."


"Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, was arrested Friday after DNA evidence at the crime scene in Borrego Park and inside his car tied him to the slaying, authorities said."


"Woodward was charged Wednesday morning with a felony count of murder and a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife, said Orange County district attorney’s spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden. If convicted, he could face 26 years to life in prison, she said."


READ MORE related to Blaze Bernstein Tragedy: LGBTQ college student is stabbed 20 times in an 'act of rage,' but was it a hate crime? -- LA Times' ANH DO/HAILEY BRANSON-POTTS/SONALI KOHLI/RICHARD WINTON

The Roundup is compiled each weekday by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Comments? Questions? Complaints? Email him at

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