California is now a “right to dry” state after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday restricting homeowners associations from banning clotheslines, which the groups deemed unsightly additions to neighborhoods.
Assemblywoman Patty López (D-San Fernando) announced Brown signed her bill, AB 1448, which will allow line drying for people once restricted by their property management organizations.
The bill, titled “Personal energy conservation; real property restrictions” is meant to serve as a victory to conservationists and frugal Californians alike by allowing them to save money and energy.
[...] the law states landlords must allow tenants to air-dry their clothes in their own backyard if they wish, as long as “the clothesline or drying rack will not interfere with the maintenance of the rental property and the use of the clothesline or drying rack does not violate reasonable time or location restrictions imposed by the landlord.”
At the height of the 2001 energy crisis, conservationists such as Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for The Utility Reform Network, which also backed the bill, scratched their heads in disbelief as associations continued to prioritize aesthetics.
Posted: October 9, 2015, 4:11 am
Beginning this week, every registered voter in the county will be mailed a ballot for the Nov. 3 election, along with detailed information about how to make that vote count.
[...] voters are being encouraged to make the mailbox their new election center, which is a far cry from the communal experience of casting ballots in the garages and school cafeterias formerly filled with voting machines.
“This could become a model for the rest of the state,” Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, told a crowd of onlookers Thursday at the San Mateo County administrative offices in Redwood City.
[...] that San Mateo County trial took on even greater importance earlier this year when Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced his support for what’s called the Colorado voting system, which involves mailing ballots to every voter and consolidating polling places.
There’s nothing new about voting by mail, which is now how more than half of California’s voters cast their ballots.
[...] only slightly more than 25 percent of California’s registered voters cast a ballot in the 2014 primary, which means a lot of people in San Mateo County are going to be surprised when a ballot shows up in their mailbox this week.
While county officials have been working hard to spread the word about the voting changes, Mark Church, San Mateo County’s clerk and chief elections officer, expects his office will be answering plenty of questions between now and November.
“There’s some old thinking among my fellow Democrats that all-mail voting only helps Republican and conservative voters,” Mullin said.
Getting ballots directly into the hands of all registered voters not only lets them know that an election is coming, but also is a constant reminder to fill out that ballot sitting in the hallway or on the kitchen table, advocates say.
Posted: October 9, 2015, 12:35 am
Blue Angels pilot Matt Suyderhoud knew when he was 3 years old that he just had to fly upside down and do barrel rolls with the whole world watching. “It looked like so much fun, and it is fun, and it’s something very special,” the Navy lieutenant said just before taking off from the north side of Oakland International Airport, the side where you don’t have to take your shoes off before getting on the plane. Suyderhoud and his five fellow Angels spent much of Thursday afternoon whizzing over the bay to get ready for the Fleet Week air shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The control stick in his right hand, which is hardly ever sweaty, is more temperamental than a drill sergeant. The fighter jets are 29 years old, although they have been repainted so many times that they don’t look it. The newer fighters off the assembly line are designated for combat, not show business. “We get the aircraft near the end of their service life,” Suyderhoud said, the way a car lover might talk about picking up a classic sedan. Parked near the iconic fighter jets was a fat C-130 propeller plane that is also a member of the Blue Angels fleet. The Angels will be the closing act of the annual Fleet Week air shows for the next three days, flying from 3 to 4 p.m., weather permitting. According to forecasts, the weather will permit.
Posted: October 9, 2015, 12:06 am
Santa Clara police say a pair of thieves with high-tech tastes made a low-tech mistake — getting caught on surveillance video. In the early morning hours of Sept. 14, officials said, burglars cut out a window of Drones Plus on Duane Avenue, then made off with a haul of the trendy gadgets as well as an iPad and some backpacks. With the help of camera footage released to the public, though, detectives this week arrested San Jose residents David George Hinkel, 42, and Robert Campbell, 39.
Posted: October 8, 2015, 11:07 pm
Fearing her 5-year-old dog, Joey, could become dinner for a pack of coyotes stalking San Francisco’s Stern Grove, Sonya Rama is taking steps to learn how to defend her beloved beagle mix against the wild animals.
While leaving her pooch in the safe confines of a doggie day-care facility, Rama joined about 50 concerned dog owners Wednesday afternoon in the Pine Lake dog park in Stern Grove, for a coyote-hazing information session.
[...] Gina Farr, a wildlife educator for Project Coyote, tried to convince Rama otherwise, saying the best way to shoo off the four-legged predators is to show them who’s the boss.
The event followed a series of coyote run-ins with San Francisco domestic pets in recent months.
Besides the Aug. 26 attack in Stern Grove that left a 2-year-old bichon frise named Eddie with serious injuries, a 7-pound maltipoo was killed by a coyote in the same park in September.
Wildlife experts suspect the state’s prolonged drought is shrinking the coyotes’ food supply in the wild and driving them into populated areas.
Yelling, advancing toward the animals, and shaking rocks in a can or quickly opening an umbrella can allow humans to establish dominance and protect their pets, she said.
Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, said city park officials have already established a barrier to stop dogs from chasing coyotes uphill.
Posted: October 8, 2015, 11:07 pm
Federal forecasters on Thursday reinforced expectations of a strong El Niño this winter, saying there’s a 95 percent chance the burly weather phenomenon, often linked to rain in California, sticks around until spring.
Wet weather would be welcomed, particularly in the northern reaches of the state, where residents get most of their water from reservoirs and snowpack.
The monthly El Niño forecast released Thursday mirrors last month’s projections, which also offered a 95 percent chance that the weather system would be strong and hang around through California’s wet season.
Federal officials warn that the pattern brings no guarantee of precipitation and that even if the winter months are wet, California would need roughly 2½ times its average rainfall, depending on the area, to patch its drought deficit.
Posted: October 8, 2015, 10:13 pm
An ambitious goal to increase affordable housing on Treasure Island was floated Tuesday — but it will likely be an uphill battle.
At the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Jane Kim urged the Treasure Island Development Authority to research options that would increase the area’s affordable and middle-income housing to 40 percent.
Kim hinged the goal on newly passed state legislation that would allow localities to revitalize disadvantaged communities and former military bases.
Assembly Bill 2 would establish a Community Revitalization and Investment Authority to oversee the projects.
[...] Bob Beck, Treasure Island Development Authority director, said he is uncertain where the funding to increase the number of affordable units would come from.
“We have an existing development agreement in place with specific provisions for affordable housing and community benefits,” he said.
If we and our partner, the city, mutually determine that this legislation creates additional funding opportunities for the project, we will move toward the 30 percent goal as outlined in our agreement.
The Department of Public Works plans to install more than 3,500 linear feet of sidewalks by spring 2017.
“With people doing more walking and trying to get out of their cars, it’s really necessary,” Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru
Posted: October 8, 2015, 6:47 pm
Tens of thousands of young people will be eligible to receive their high school diplomas under a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Under SB172, students who failed the California High School Exit Exam since its 2006 debut can claim diplomas if they met all other graduation requirements.
A different bill signed into law last month by Brown retroactively awards diplomas only to students from the class of 2015 who had met all other graduation requirements but had not passed the Exit Exam, which was canceled in July by the state over concerns that it was outdated.
Posted: October 8, 2015, 6:06 pm
Posted: October 8, 2015, 8:09 am
Steve-O, whose real name is Stephen Glover, announced the jail sentence on Instagram, saying he was ready to go to jail for the Aug. 9 stunt.
“Considering I’ve become a clean and sober, dog-rescuing vegan, I must say I’m ready to go to jail — not just because it will bring so much attention to the plight of orcas in captivity, but because it’s nice to let people know I haven’t lost my edge,” the performer said.
Glover had been charged with creating a false emergency, trespassing, using unregistered fireworks, storing fireworks without a permit and possession of fireworks without a permit.
The stunt became a spectacle, drawing more than 80 firefighters and a helicopter and triggering numerous 911 calls.
When Glover scaled the crane, he carried with him an inflatable orca and wore a “Blackfish” T-shirt, making the stunt another of his public demonstrations against SeaWorld, which has been criticized for keeping killer whales in captivity and using them in shows.
Glover said he plans to give back to Los Angeles by launching a campaign to raise money for at-risk teens.
Posted: October 8, 2015, 12:12 am
Dogs beware — Blue Angels about to take to the skies
Chopin or other classical music, at low volume, is a fine way to relieve the kind of anxiety that the Navy’s notoriously noisy Blue Angels jets can induce in a dog, according to veteran veterinarian Jennifer Scarlett of the San Francisco SPCA.
Starting at 1 p.m. Thursday, the team of six F/A-18 jets will practice at full throttle and full volume for four hours above the bay.
Set your dog up in a safe place, a familiar room or area.
If that doesn’t work, she said, you might want to board your dog for the day at a kennel, for $50 or so, or take your dog to the vet for an antianxiety drug, for $100 or so.
Studies show that employees work harder when their dogs come to work with them, Scarlett said.
Dog owners who are pianists should try playing Chopin live, unless they are poor pianists, Scarlett said, because that might be worse for dogs than no Chopin or even than the Blue Angels.
Scarlett herself will not be around to provide medication to dogs traumatized by the Blue Angels.
The Blue Angels have no shortage of human fans, but also no shortage of those who empathize with the dogs.
For those not heading to the deep woods, the Blue Angels will once again be the stars of the five-day military-palooza known as Fleet Week.
There will be air shows, nautical open houses and a parade of ships.
Die-hard Fleet Week fans may, however, buy reserved Marina Green seats for $55, or seats with open bar and buffet from $195 to $225.
More than 1 million people are expected to watch the air shows and other Fleet Week events, either willingly or unwillingly, according to air show spokeswoman Mary Hickey.
Steve Rubenstein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
Posted: October 7, 2015, 11:16 pm
A dead whale that washed up in Fremont last month had been hit by the propeller of a ship, marine mammal experts said Tuesday, but they still aren’t sure if that’s what killed the young cetacean.
The badly decomposed carcass of the juvenile female gray whale floated ashore at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and was discovered by a park visitor Sept. 23.
Experts from the mammal center, working with a team from the California Academy of Sciences, found that the 21-foot whale had suffered injuries consistent with a propeller strike to her dorsal area, but the wound did not appear to have penetrated past the whale’s thick blubber and there were no signs of hemorrhaging or broken bones.
Even when we are not able to determine a final cause of death, our research provides insights into the overall health of these animals and their ocean environment, including any human impacts that may play a role.
Posted: October 7, 2015, 10:57 pm
TOPANGA, Los Angeles County — Although he wrote the classic Americana songbook, it took John Fogerty more than 30 years to come to terms with the realization he really was one of rock music’s fortunate sons.
For one incredible 12-month run, this blue-collar kid from El Cerrito had been the leader of a band that reshaped popular music.
In 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival sold more records and had more hit songs — including classics like “Proud Mary,” “Lodi,” “Green River” and “Bad Moon Rising” — than even the Beatles.
The biggest band in the world had imploded in one of the most acrimonious splits of all time, one followed by decades of lawsuits and angry allegations.
Even though Fogerty would go on to a successful solo career, he says now that it was a split so intense that it sent him into depression-driven drinking binges that lasted for days.
“Which is a stinking way to live,” he adds with a shy smile as he sits in the barn of a friend’s house in Topanga, a wooded arts colony nestled in coastal canyons between Santa Monica and Malibu.
Dressed in his trademark plaid flannel shirt, jeans and boots, Fogerty sat down on a scorching fall day to talk about his just-released memoir, Fortunate Son:
After the band disintegrated, Fogerty turned to solo work, re-establishing his brilliance as a songwriter with “Centerfield,” a song that’s played at baseball games all over the country.
[...] another hit song, “The Old Man Down the Road,” prompted his former record label, Fantasy, to sue, claiming he’d copied it from the Creedence hit “Run Through the Jungle,” which he also wrote.
Asked how he feels knowing that, despite all the travails, those old albums made him a legend, he nearly falls out of his chair laughing.
Posted: October 7, 2015, 10:48 pm
State Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical Wednesday of the Bay Area air district’s environmental standards that would require developers of new projects to consider the harm residents and workers might suffer from local conditions, like air pollution from nearby freeways.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s guidelines, issued in 2010, would advise local agencies on the environmental studies they should require from developers before approving their projects.
Like the environmental impact reports required for most developments for 45 years in California, the studies required by the new standards would allow public input and would have to consider alternatives that would reduce any significant environmental damage.
Developers have fought to limit the scope of the law and argue that environmental impact reports are often needlessly time-consuming and expensive.
The Bay Area guidelines would expand the traditional scope of the law — assessing an impact a project would have on the environment — to include existing environmental conditions that would affect project workers and residents.
Andrew Sabey, lawyer for the California Building Industry Association, called the air district’s position “reverse CEQA” and said it would create new obstacles to “in-fill” development of populated areas, which prevents urban sprawl.
[...] Folk said state lawmakers exempted urban in-fill developments from environmental reports in 2012, unless those developments would expose people to health hazards — evidence, she argued, that the law requires environmental review of other projects to be built in hazard-prone areas.
Posted: October 7, 2015, 10:23 pm
When Martha Mahony joined a neighborhood group that was raising money for Joe DiMaggio Playground, her daughter was 6 months old.
At a preview Tuesday for city officials and neighbors involved with the project, the playground equipment, painted in bright primary colors, gleamed.
Some of it — like a triangular rope-climbing pyramid and a group swing — were still covered in black plastic.
Tiny tots, children of the Friends members, walked across the bouncy artificial grass.
[...] instead of picturing construction cones and vehicles, she imagines watching her two daughters zip down the slides and teaching her toddler son someday to ride his bike.
A speedy environmental review process and good weather during construction helped cut more than a month off of the project’s timeline.
“This playground is a symbol of the toughest challenges and the most intense determination I think our neighborhood has faced to date,” Supervisor Julie Christensen said.
“The project has taken so long that my own children are now too big to use the children’s playground,” she said, laughing and crying at the same time.
Neighbors, led by the Friends group, ended up raising more than $300,000 for the playground.
The money went to an upgraded metal mesh fence, 15 trees, additional boulders, electrical outlets, a sculptural play element, adult fitness equipment, a tile project recognizing donors and the addition of tan coloring to the concrete.
The Friends group wanted to make the space appealing for everyone, Joslyn Hain said, so that anyone could enjoy using it.
The 2-acre park includes the play area, bocce courts, tennis courts, an indoor pool and blacktop sports courts.
Posted: October 7, 2015, 9:24 pm