Highway 4 Construction Work – Week of August 29, 2016

The SR-4 corridor construction area is a 55 mph zone and a double fine zone so remember to slow for the cone zone!

Full Freeway Closures

Eastbound:
There are no eastbound full freeway closures planned for this week.

Westbound:
There are no westbound full freeway closures planned for this week.

State Route 160:
There are no full freeway closures of State Route 160 planned for this week.

Highway Lane Closures

State Route 4 and State Route 160
There will be highway lane closures in the eastbound direction of State Route 4 between Bailey Road and L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard on Monday through Thursday from 4:30 am to 12:00pm.

There will be highway lane closures in the westbound direction of State Route 4 between Railroad Avenue and L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard on Monday through Thursday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

There will be highway lane closures in the eastbound direction of State Route 4 between L Street/ Contra Loma Boulevard and the State Route 4 / State Route 160 connector ramp on Monday through Thursday from 9:00 pm to 12:00 pm (noon).

There will be highway lane closures in the westbound direction of State Route 4 between L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard and the State Route 4 / State Route 160 connector ramp on Monday through Thursday from 11:00 am to 5:00 am.

Ramp Closures

State Route 4:
There are no ramp closures of State Route 4 planned for this week.

State Route 160:
There are no ramp closures of State Route 160 planned for this week.

Local Street Closures

There will be lane closures in the northbound and southbound directions of Hillcrest Avenue between Larkspur Drive and Sunset Drive on Saturday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

There will be lane closures in the northbound and southbound directions of A Street / Lone Tree Way between Rossi Avenue and E. Tregallas Road on Saturday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Questions or comments can be directed to the Highway 4 widening hotline at (925) 756-0721 or visit our web site at http://widensr4.org.

Posted in Highway 4 Construction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Reading – 08/28/16

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Here’s what the proposed Las Vegas Raiders stadium could look like – The Raiders officially applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to obtain the trademark for “Las Vegas Raiders,” and on Thursday the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee released a stadium proposal — complete with renderings — for a potential Raiders Stadium with a projected $1.9 billion pricetag. Although a future move to Las Vegas is still just a possibility, this plan for a 65,000-seat domed stadium is very real. Images courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

vegas%202.vadapt.767.high.88 Read More > at Fox Sports

The first self-driving taxis are cruising around Singapore – Uber announced that it will start self-driving trials in Pittsburgh later this month, but it was beat to the punch by a much less well-known company. Starting today, nuTonomy will offer rides to Singapore residents in specially equipped Mitsubishi i-MiEV or Renault Zoe electric vehicles. As with Uber, passengers won’t be alone with a robotic driver like Silicon Valley’s hapless Jared. A nuTonomy engineer will be along to monitor the vehicle, and a safety driver will “assume control if needed to ensure passenger comfort and safety,” the company wrote.

The rides will be free to start with, and the company will stick to an area called “One-North” for the tests. Municipal officials designated the 2.5-square-mile residential zone specifically for self-driving trials in an effort to reduce congestion in the city, where 5.5 million residents live in a region about three times the size of Boston. Pick-ups and drop-offs will also be limited to certain areas to avoid traffic concerns. Read More > at Engadget

Green Sturgeon Numbers on the Rise? Time Will Tell… – Green sturgeon is a rarity these days for a fish species found in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta – because its numbers could be increasing.

While high-profile Delta species such as Delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon are at record lows and facing possible extinction, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Sacramento River green sturgeon – listed as threatened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Endangered Species Act in 2006.

Recent efforts to assist green sturgeon appear to be helping. Whether the increase marks a long-term trend is to be determined.

Data collected through the month of June from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rotary-screw trap surveys at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam (RBDD) showed a juvenile green sturgeon 2016 Relative Abundance Index – which measures catch per unit volume – at an all-time high for the survey at over 30 fish per acre-feet of water volume sampled.

This represents a 34 percent increase from the previous high in 2011. For comparison, the 2015 index was 3.3 fish per acre-feet. Read More > from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Can California Voters Make Responsible Policy? – This November, Californians – in addition to electing or re-electing local, states, and federal office-holders – will be deciding the fate of at least seventeen statewide ballot measures (and countless local/regional ones). These measures address some major policy issues, such as the fate of California’s death penalty, adult recreational marijuana use, and pharmaceutical price controls. With so many complex and consequential issues on the ballot, the question lingering overhead is whether Californians are prepared to make such important decisions.

Next week, the Hoover Institution will release its July-August 2016 issue of Eureka. This issue explores responsibility at the polls: 1) are Propositions 51 and 53 fiscally responsible, 2) is Proposition 55 responsible budgeting, 3) is Proposition 57 a responsible step toward criminal justice reform, and 4) are Californians capable of being responsible policymakers in the polling booth?

The measures Californians are being asked to decide are complicated and serious policy questions – issues experts take lifetimes to understand. The consequences, both intended and unintended, can be huge. Couple this with the increasing volume of the measures, ballots are becoming quite overwhelming. Then you also add in the fact that voter turnout is declining and electorates are largely uninformed on non-presidential candidates and issues. All of this wouldn’t be an issue for California’s initiative system if reforming or repealing a policy passed via the ballot was easy. But the system was specifically designed to be inflexible…

At the end of the day, though, California needs to figure out a way to ensure Californians are confident and capable of knowledgeably weighing judgement on ballot propositions.

For a more in-depth look at these topics, keep your eye out for the July-August 2016 issue of Eureka at hoover.org/publication/eureka to be released on Tuesday, August 30. Read More > at Real Clear Markets

Judge allows higher developer fees for schools; Dublin, Fremont will benefit – A judge has ruled in favor of allowing the state to collect higher fees from developers in order to help school districts such as Dublin and Fremont to build new classrooms and alleviate overcrowding.

State Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny issued his ruling Tuesday against the California Building Industry Association and in favor of the State Allocation Board, which voted in May to trigger the higher fees.

The building association sued to prevent the increase, claiming the state had money left in its school construction bond fund. That money is reserved for seismic improvements, but the association argued in its suit that it could be used instead to fund construction. The group also argued that the higher fees would boost home prices, negatively impacting buyers and builders.

…The state board declared in May that state bond funds for new school construction were no longer available, which allowed it for the first time to trigger the highest-level impact fees on homebuilders that the law allows. The building association slapped the State Allocation Board with a lawsuit the same day the panel voted to trigger the higher fees.

The ruling’s impacts could be tempered if Proposition 51, a $9 billion state school construction bond, is approved by voters in November. The measure would replenish the state bond fund and state matching dollars for new school construction. That money was depleted last fall, which allowed the state to trigger the higher developer fees. Read More > in the East Bay Times

Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016 – …In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber’s losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion.

Subsidies for Uber’s drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally, Gupta told investors, according to people familiar with the matter. An Uber spokesman declined to comment.

Bookings grew tremendously from the first quarter of this year to the second, from above $3.8 billion to more than $5 billion. Net revenue, under generally accepted accounting principles, grew about 18 percent, from about $960 million in the first quarter to about $1.1 billion in the second.

…The second quarter of 2016, which ended in June, could represent a nadir for Uber. The company’s losses will likely fall. In July, it cut a deal with its largest global competitor, Chinese ride-hailing behemoth Didi Chuxing, washing its hands of its massive losses in that country. Didi gave Uber a 17.5 percent stake in its business and a $1 billion investment in exchange for Uber’s retreat. Uber lost at least $2 billion in two years in China, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in July. Uber won’t see any losses from China on its balance sheet after August, the company said on Friday’s investor call.

Uber’s backers range from venture capital firms like Benchmark Capital to the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Altogether, Uber has raised more than $16 billion in cash and debt. Its latest valuation is a whopping $69 billion. The company has effectively redistributed at least $1 billion to the Chinese working class in the form of heavy subsidies to drivers there. “Uber and Didi Chuxing are investing billions of dollars in China and both companies have yet to turn a profit there,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick wrote in a letter announcing the company’s departure from China. Read More > in Bloomberg

Best Buy posts higher profit, better online and store sales – Best Buy’s profit jumped 21 percent as the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer increased sales online and tried to create a better shopping experience in the stores while it also cut costs.

Its shares soared 19 percent after the company said online sale rose 24 percent to $835 million, a beacon for investors who have watched Amazon.com eat away at the sales of almost every traditional retailer. The stock surge marked the largest daily percentage increase since mid-December 2008.

Revenue at established stores, an important measure of a retailer’s health, also managed a gain of 0.8 percent when Wall Street, according to a survey by FactSet, had expected a decline of 0.4 percent. The company has been working on revamping its stores and improving sales staff training to convert browsers into buyers. Read More > in the Associated Press

Backers drop plan to allow Delta anglers to keep more striped bass – The state Fish and Game Commission on Thursday will no longer consider a controversial proposal to allow anglers to catch and keep more nonnative Delta bass.

On Tuesday, backers pulled a petition that sought to increase the size and daily bag limits for nonnative striped and black bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Michael Boccadoro, a spokesman for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, said supporters were frustrated that they would only be allowed 10 minutes at Thursday’s meeting to make their case to the commissioners.

Boccadoro’s group represents Kern County farming interests who for years have blamed the nonnative bass for eating endangered Delta smelt and Chinook salmon. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee

Bill to end Daylight Saving Time in California fails in Senate – A San Jose legislator’s efforts to abandon Daylight Saving Time ended Tuesday when the state Senate rejected a measure that would have allowed California voters to end the twice-annual ritual at the ballot boxes.

Assembly Bill 385, authored by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, fell four votes short of the 21 votes needed to pass the upper house.

Chu could not immediately be reached for comment. But he has previously remarked that he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to “do this fall backward, spring forward thing twice a year.”

The legislation won support from an unusual mix of lawmakers: 11 Democrats and six Republicans. But 10 Democrats and seven Republicans opposed it. Read More > in The Mercury News

Delta tunnels don’t pencil out, UOP economist says – A prominent Sacramento-area economist says Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to overhaul the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta doesn’t make financial sense, with costs far outweighing the benefits.

Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific, who has been a persistent critic of Brown’s plan to build a pair of massive tunnels beneath the Delta, said the project would likely deliver just 23 cents worth of economic benefit for every $1 spent.

Even under the most optimistic scenario, the tunnels, known as California WaterFix, would generate just 39 cents worth of benefit, Michael wrote in a 24-page report released early Wednesday.

The State Water Resources Control Board has launched a grueling hearing on the details of the plan, which is expected to last well into 2017. Meanwhile, Brown’s administration is scrambling to secure environmental approvals from two federal agencies that supervise endangered fish species found in the Delta. State officials believe it’s crucial to get those approvals before President Barack Obama leaves office next January, or risk losing momentum on the entire project.

A preliminary cost-benefit analysis, conducted in 2013 for the state, concluded that the project makes financial sense. Michael’s report said the 2013 study was flawed because it overestimated the benefits of the proposed project. State officials say the 2013 study will be updated. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee

Law Schools Cut Back to Counter Tough Financial Times – For years they were considered the cash cows of academe, spinning off profits that could keep money-losing parts of the university afloat.

But most law schools today are struggling to break even, buffeted by plummeting applications, a shrinking job market, and the constant pressure to avoid slipping in national rankings. … Because they rely so heavily on tuition and face a variety of other cost pressures, many and possibly most of those schools are operating at a deficit.

The growing number of universities that are subsidizing struggling law schools “are certainly not happy about the money running the other way,” said Paul F. Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose biting critiques of law schools in blogs and books have made him a polarizing but influential figure in legal education. He estimates that at least 80 percent of law schools are losing money — a figure that an ABA spokesman said could not be confirmed. Read More > at Chronicle of Higher Education

Ramen is displacing tobacco as most popular US prison currency, study finds – Ramen noodles are overtaking tobacco as the most popular currency in US prisons, according a new study released on Monday.

A new report by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona’s school of sociology, found the decline in quality and quantity of food available in prisons due to cost-cutting has made ramen noodles a valuable commodity.

“[Ramen] is easy to get and it’s high in calories,” Gibson-Light said. “A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don’t have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular.”

Gibson-Light interviewed close to 60 inmates over the course of a year at one state prison as part of a wider study on prison labor. He did not identify the prison to protect the confidentiality of the inmates.

He found that the instant soup has surpassed tobacco as the most prized currency at the prison. He also analyzed other nationwide investigations that he says found a trend towards using ramen noodles in exchanges. Read More > in The Guardian

Inspector General Confirms EPA Broke Law, Failed to Study Environmental Impact of Ethanol – …In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was and signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush. Among other things, the 2007 legislation increased the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandated biofuel production, primarily ethanol, and the blending of at least some of that ethanol into the gasoline supply.

The law also stipulates that the U.S. EPA must conduct studies every three years and report to Congress on the air and water quality benefit, or lack thereof, by adding corn-based ethanol to gasoline. The purpose of that part of the law is to make sure solutions to the country’s energy needs don’t adversely affect the environment.

The 2013 AP investigation characterized the use of ethanol as having a far more negative impact on the environment than the EPA and Dept. of Energy predicted. The AP reported that with corn effectively subsidized, farmers put millions of acres of land formerly devoted to conservation into corn production, destroying animal habitats and polluting water supplies.

For its part, the EPA agreed with the IG that the agency failed to follow the law and produce the studies. The EPA said it will produce a report on the impacts of biofuels by the end of 2017 — seven years late.

Though it’s now complying with that part of the law, apparently the agency feels the triennial requirements in the law are still optional. The EPA said that it will investigate whether the ethanol mandate is making other environmental issues worse, but it will do so by September 2024. The reason that study will take another eight years, the agency claims, is that it will be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Read More > at The Truth About Cars

Lyft Shuts Down Carpool Commute Feature As Drivers Opt Out – In March, ridesharing startup Lyft announced a new option for commuters in the Bay Area. Drivers using Lyft Carpool could earn up to $10 per ride on their normal commute by picking up other workers heading in the same direction.

Five months later, Lyft will shut down its carpool feature after not enough drivers opted into the program, FORBES has learned. On Thursday, the company notified the engineering team responsible for launching and running Lyft Carpool that they will be transitioned to other products.

A Lyft spokesman confirmed to FORBES that the startup is “pausing” the carpool product: “While we think a scheduled carpool feature is the right long-term strategy, it is too soon to scale to a meaningful level where supply matches demand. We learned a lot and will apply it to new and existing projects — like Lyft Line — as we drive our vision forward to solve pain points in commuting.”

Commuting remains the unattainable white whale of the ridesharing industry, a tempting goal that represents a much larger share of driving than taxi use. When Lyft launched Carpool in March, the company cited statistics like 76% of Americans drive to work alone and Bay Area commuters specifically spend an average of 75 hours stuck in traffic per year. Read More > in Forbes

Where Are the Tallest People in the World? – It’s good to be tall. Tall people live longer, are considered more attractive, and make more money – an extra inch of height is correlated with an additional $800 in income. Taller people are more likely to report experiencing happiness and less likely to feel sadness or physical pain.

But it’s not just good for an individual to be tall; it’s good for a society in general.

Countries with tall people are wealthier, have longer average life spans, and are less likely to have experienced conflict. There’s no better sign of a country’s health and wealth than height.

…Rather than genetics, diet and well-being during infancy and adolescence are the primary determinants of a country’s average height. During these growth periods, the body has the greatest need for nutrients. Sickness and malnourishment in childhood can mean a loss of three to four inches in height.

…The data shows that while Americans used to be among the tallest in the world, that is no longer true. It also demonstrates that height growth seems to be stagnating across much of the world. Which raises the question: Does this mean that much of the world has reached its full height potential? Or has our health stopped improving?

There is no better example of how prosperity affects height than the great height divergence of North and South Korea over the last 60 years.

In the 1940s, the average person born in either North or South Korea was just about the same height – a little less than 5’ 3”. Today, the average 18-year-old in economically developed South Korea is more than 1.2 inches taller than in the impoverished North.

…Europe is the land of giants. Besides Australia (ranked 18th), all of the 20 countries with the tallest people are in Europe, and the majority of those are in the northern part of the continent. Some research suggests Northern Europeans have a genetic predisposition to tallness – at least compared to their neighbors to the south – but more important is the widespread prosperity in the region. No area of the world has more high income, low inequality countries. Read More > at Priceonomics

How Uber plans to put its own drivers out of business – Uber spent years amassing an army of 1 million drivers around the world. Now it says it wants to “wean” customers off of those very drivers.

Beginning this month, the ride-sharing company will begin deploying self-driving cars — equipped with cameras, lasers and GPS systems — to pick up passengers in downtown Pittsburgh, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The custom Volvo SUVs will offer free introductory rides and, at least for now, be supervised by engineers in the driver’s seat.

The idea, the company says, is to eventually replace human drivers with automated systems. The fleet of 100 new vehicles, will come with tablets in the back seats to tell customers what’s happening and to discourage them from interacting with their drivers. Read More > in The Washington Post

California crime measure triggers 52,000 fewer arrests – A 2014 California voter-approved initiative that reduced penalties for certain drug and property crimes has led to the lowest arrest rate in state history as police frequently ignore those illegal activities, experts say.

Proposition 47 lowered criminal sentences by reducing them from felonies that can bring long prison sentences to misdemeanors that instead bring up to a year in jail.

…It’s too soon to say whether the changes are helping spur rising crime rates, though Lofstrom and other researchers are watching the relationship closely.

Law enforcement officials said drug offenders may now commonly be cited and released, or ignored because there may be little penalty if they are arrested. There were about 22,000 fewer drug arrests last year.

“The de facto decriminalization of drugs may have an impact,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. “We do know that there’s a lot less arrests being made, which means there are a lot more people on the streets using drugs.” Read More > in the Associated Press

Bay Area Start-Ups Find Low-Cost Outposts in Arizona – …As start-ups across San Francisco and the Silicon Valley try to contend with high salaries and housing costs, many are expanding to lower-cost cities in the West and employing more people like Ms. Rogers. For Phoenix, which is about a 90-minute flight from San Francisco, the Bay Area’s loss is its gain.

The Phoenix metro area was hit hard by the housing bust, but it is experiencing a strong recovery. The unemployment rate has recently fallen below 5 percent, the lowest in eight years, and several Silicon Valley companies, including Yelp and Uber, have opened new offices in the region. A reviving downtown Phoenix now has a cluster of companies that make business software.

At the end of last year in the Bay Area mega-region — including both the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas — there were 530,000 tech and engineering jobs, a 7 percent increase from a year earlier. Phoenix has about one-fifth as many tech jobs, but the total grew 8 percent from a year ago, according to Moody’s Analytics.

“The Bay Area’s explosive growth is almost too much for the region,” said Jackson Kitchen, an analyst at Moody’s Analytics. “They are bidding up wages so high that companies are saying, ‘Let’s expand to Phoenix or Boise or Salt Lake City where wages and real estate are that much cheaper.’” Read More > in The New York Times

Council members, community angered over Zimmerman comments – During Austin’s Thursday City Council meeting many students spoke up from several city-funded groups asking for continued support.

It was what Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman said after the group of students addressed the council in Spanish that is sparking a lot of reaction on Twitter. The students were asking for funds to help their after-school program.

“I’d ask for everyone here, including the children, when you grow up, I want to ask you to pledge to finish school, learn a trade, a skilled trade, get a college education, start a business, do something useful and produce something in your society so you don’t have to live off others. Thank you.” Zimmerman said.

Shortly after he made this comment boos could be heard reverberating throughout the audience.

Council member Delia Garza spoke an estimated two hours later saying, “Earlier council [member] Zimmerman said something that was really offensive and it happened really quickly and now I’m hearing from members of our community that they are disappointed that more of us didn’t stand up and say something. And I want our community to know that we do not condone what he said. And we have your back.”

A 20-second applause followed Garza’s statement. Read More > from KXAN

Posted in Sunday Reading | Leave a comment

West Nile Virus Continues with more dead Birds & Chickens

End of season in sight, but higher risk of infection is typical this time of year

The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District confirmed today that five more dead birds and two chickens tested positive for West Nile virus. Two birds were found in Concord and the other birds were found in Danville, Oakley and Pleasant Hill. The chickens were from Holland Tract, near Knightsen.

“It’s the time of year when mosquitoes become less picky about their blood source and they tend to bite people as well as birds,” said Steve Schutz, Ph.D., scientific program manager with the District. “West Nile virus is a disease of birds whose blood these mosquitoes normally prefer. But, as many birds are beginning to migrate and their young have left the nest, mosquitoes, desperate to reproduce before the weather starts growing cooler, will bite people if they are present. They require protein from blood in order to produce their eggs.”

Visit the District’s website to learn of all West Nile virus activity in Contra Costa County this year, or to receive automatic adult mosquito fogging notifications should they be scheduled.

Residents are urged to help reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:

  • Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can’t begin their lives without water.
  • Defend yourself – use repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically dawn and dusk.
  • Maintain neglected swimming pools . Just one can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.
  • Report dead birds to the state hotline: 1-877-968-2473. All reports are crucial.

Since 2005, 55 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. In 2006, two people died from the disease. For a current list of West Nile virus activity this year, visit this page on the District’s website. For human case information, please contact Contra Costa Health Services at 888-959-9911.

Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, an independent special district and public health agency, is located at 155 Mason Circle in Concord. Call the District to report mosquito problems at (925) 771-6195 or visit the office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to get FREE mosquitofish for ornamental ponds, horse troughs or neglected swimming pools.

Posted in West Nile | Tagged , | Leave a comment

2016 looks fruitful for California wineries after a hard year – from the San Francisco Chronicle

By Esther Mobley

WP_20160816_06_30_34_Pro__highresCalifornia’s 2016 wine grape harvest is under way, and after a freakishly early and low-yielding 2015 vintage, things seem to be back to normal — sort of.

The bump in yields promises some financial relief for the wine industry, which can, with luck, pass that on to consumers. And while many wines from the 2015 vintage appear on a promising track, outcomes across California were variable; an excessively early harvest can often translate to fruit with less flavor complexity. This year, the grapes are getting a little more hang time.

“Qualitatively, we’re pretty happy,” said Hugh Davies, president and CEO of Schramsberg Vineyards. The Calistoga sparkling wine house, which first picked grapes on Aug. 3, is about one-quarter of the way through harvest.

In addition to being one of the earliest on record, last year’s vintage, which started in July, was also very compressed, with many winemakers forced to pick all of their fruit in a short window of time. This year, by contrast, “is a bit more evenly paced than some other years,” Davies said. “We’re walking through it, as opposed to running.” This is largely due to moderate daytime temperatures and cooler nights in California’s coastal regions.

Vintners are generally harvesting about a week later than last year. While 2016 is still on the early side of average — by about 10 to 15 days — the fact that it’s arriving a little later than 2015 is a relief. Extra time on the vine means prolonged development of flavors.
David Marquez dumps his bin of grapes into the transport crates during Hyde Vineyards’ overnight harvest.

“You don’t want sugar to shoot up ahead of flavor ripening,” as was the case for many vineyards in 2015, said Bedrock Wine Co. owner Morgan Twain-Peterson. “We’re not going to see that as much this year.” Bedrock’s first pick was Zinfandel from Evangelho Vineyard in Contra Costa County, on Aug. 1.

In the Central Valley, California agriculture’s workhorse region, the slightly earlier-than-average timeline meant that harvest began in mid-July. (Hotter temperatures there typically ripen fruit ahead of coastal areas.) “We should wrap up Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc by the end of next week,” said Jen Wall, winemaker for Gallo-owned Barefoot Wine in Modesto. “Currently, we’re in the middle of a heat spike — our second in two weeks.”

On the whole, yields are slightly lighter than average, but still considerably higher than 2015’s extraordinarily short crop; last year, in some regions, like the far-west Sonoma Coast, vineyards reported over a 50 percent loss.

That’s certainly good news from a financial standpoint — and also may bode well for wine quality. “Clusters and berries are small,” said Jonathan Nagy, winemaker at Byron Winery in Santa Barbara, where the first Pinot Noir grapes came in on Aug. 17. “I always like that scenario. It usually means more intense flavors, structure and color.”

It’s a return to moderation after a vintage that was marked by extremes.

One hallmark of the 2016 growing season was winter rain, some succor after three hard years of drought. “It was a dry January and February, but then we got a significant amount of rain in late February and April,” said Jeff Mangahas, winemaker at Williams Selyem winery in the Russian River Valley. The drought still pushed an early bud-break, but the spring rains slowed down the ripening process.

“The plants were a lot happier this year,” said Mangahas, who started picking on Aug. 10. “From a vegetative-cycle perspective, it was a very good growing season.”

Still, as many Californians are aware, it will take a lot more sustained rainfall for the region to fully emerge out of the drought. “The rain we got this year was good for the vines, but it didn’t recharge our aquifers,” said Steve Ledson, owner of Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma Valley, who began harvesting Chardonnay on Aug. 14. “My personal opinion is that it’s going to take several more years.”

Elsewhere, the still-dry landscape had catastrophic consequences. For the second year in a row, Lake County was ravaged by wildfire. One winery in Lower Lake, Terrill Cellars, burned down. For others, the Clayton Fire threatened to disrupt the beginning of harvest. Six Sigma Ranch south of Lower Lake, for example, had to evacuate last weekend; the fire missed the property by less than 2 miles.

Smoke taint, which was a problem in 2008, does not seem likely; proximity to fire does not necessarily mean lingering smoke. “This year and last year, we had very little smoke on our property,” said Christian Ahlmann, Six Sigma’s vice president. “I don’t think the wine will have any trouble.”

Though it’s still early to call it, 2016’s potential is strong. “There’s going to be good concentration of flavors,” said Matt Stornetta, whose La Prenda Vineyard Management farms 1,000 acres of vine in Sonoma County.

Michael McNeill, director of winemaking at Sonoma Valley’s Hanzell Vineyards, agreed. The one possible challenge at Hanzell, said McNeill, is that the acidity is a little lower than expected, “so we’re going to have to balance that out with the ripeness level.”

It remains difficult to draw conclusions about weather patterns for future vintages, however. Who knows what’s “normal” anymore? Twain-Peterson points out that just a few years ago — 2009, 2010 and 2011, when there was plenty of cold and rain — we were talking about the pattern of late harvests. Chalk it up to California’s ever-unpredictable meteorology.

Link to story

Posted in Oakley Vines | Leave a comment

Man in the Mirror

You can’t trust yourself when you drink. Put the keys away and grab a sober friend, call a taxi, or take public transportation home. Drunk driving is a deadly epidemic that takes the lives of 10,000 people each year, on average. Don’t listen to the man in the mirror. Drive sober or get pulled over.

Want a safe and convenient way to get home? Download the NHTSA SaferRide app from the APP Store or Google Play Store.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is leading the effort to stop drunk driving. Do your part!

a11

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brown Bag Lunch with the Mayor is August 26th

brown bag

Donʹt miss the opportunity to have lunch with the Mayor and learn about events and activities in Oakley that impact the business community and the City as a whole . The brown bag lunches with the Mayor are scheduled for the fourth Friday of every month at City Hall.

The next lunch is Friday, August 26th from noon – 1:00 p.m. Come learn about the city’s Economic Development effort.

Posted in Community Events | Leave a comment

Highway 4 Construction Work – Week of August 22, 2016

The SR-4 corridor construction area is a 55 mph zone and a double fine zone so remember to slow for the cone zone!

Full Freeway Closures

Eastbound:
There are no eastbound full freeway closures planned for this week.

Westbound:
There are no westbound full freeway closures planned for this week.

State Route 160:
There are no full freeway closures of State Route 160 planned for this week.

Highway Lane Closures

State Route 4 and State Route 160
There will be highway lane closures in the eastbound direction of State Route 4 between Bailey Road and L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard on Monday through Friday from 4:30 am to 12:00pm.

There will be highway lane closures in the westbound direction of State Route 4 between Railroad Avenue and L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard on Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

There will be highway lane closures in the eastbound direction of State Route 4 between L Street/ Contra Loma Boulevard and the State Route 4 / State Route 160 connector ramp on Monday through Friday from 9:00 pm to 12:00 pm (noon).

There will be highway lane closures in the westbound direction of State Route 4 between L Street / Contra Loma Boulevard and the State Route 4 / State Route 160 connector ramp on Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 5:00 am.

Ramp Closures

State Route 4:
The State Route 4 eastbound on ramp at A Street/ Lone Tree Way will be closed on Monday through Friday evenings from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Lone Tree eastbound offramp

State Route 160:
There are no ramp closures of State Route 160 planned for this week.

Local Street Closures

There will be lane closures in the northbound and southbound directions of Hillcrest Avenue between Larkspur Drive and Sunset Drive on Saturday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

There will be lane closures in the northbound and southbound directions of A Street / Lone Tree Way between Rossi Avenue and E. Tregallas Road on Saturday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Questions or comments can be directed to the Highway 4 widening hotline at (925) 756-0721 or visit our web site at http://widensr4.org.

Posted in Highway 4 Construction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment