- 1st S.F. 5-year budget plan draws daunting picture (SF Chronicle)
If San Francisco officials do nothing, the city will have a mind-boggling $829 million budget deficit five years from now, according to the city's first-ever five-year financial plan, which was released Tuesday. Not that city officials intend to do nothing. That's why Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, former Mayor Gavin Newsom and others called for the five-year plan in the first place. It was part of 2009's Proposition A, a broader measure to get the city's fiscal house in order that included two-year budgeting and requirements for reserves.
- Most school districts passing parcel taxes (San Jose Mercury News)
Voters in six South Bay and Peninsula school districts Tuesday night scaled the two-thirds threshold to approve parcel taxes for education, adding desperately needed funds for schools struggling with deep state budget cuts. "I know our community would step up to the plate," said Phil Quon, superintendent of the Cupertino Union School District, where voters passed Measure C, a $125 parcel tax. But voters in three other school districts -- New Haven in Union City, Pleasanton Unified and Jefferson Union High in Daly City -- fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. New Haven came agonizingly close to passage, winning 65.7 percent of the vote.
- Santa Clara DA reviewing 865 DUI cases after breathalyzers deemed faulty (San Jose Mercury News)
A faulty breathalyzer used by San Jose police to arrest 865 DUI suspects could lead to drivers walking free -- even if they were drunk behind the wheel, authorities revealed Tuesday. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said it would undertake a special monthlong review to determine how many of the cases it would drop because San Jose police officers used the Alco-Sensor V breathalyzer as part of their field sobriety tests. The breathalyzers -- one of the methods used by officers to determine whether to arrest DUI suspects -- may have shown incorrect readings because of a manufacturer's error that can cause condensation to build up in the tube. The devices -- which were also used by Palo Alto police -- are not usually used as evidence in court.
The Legislature's lawyers believe Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies is unconstitutional because the state cannot reimburse itself with local property taxes. In a recent memo to Republican Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, the Legislative Counsel Bureau questioned whether Brown could legally take $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help balance the remaining $15.4 billion state deficit.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says state regulators are creating "arbitrary" roadblocks to delay it from tracking its spending on gas pipeline safety in the wake of the San Bruno disaster - something the company must do if it intends to bill customers for part of the cost. The utility has not said whether it intends to pass along to customers any of the millions of dollars it has spent as a result of the Sept. 9 explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. However, the company did send a letter to the Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 1 asking permission to start keeping track of its costs by setting up what is called a memorandum account.
In a milestone of recovery and reconstruction, San Bruno has issued its first permit to rebuild a home in the neighborhood ravaged by a PG&E gas pipeline explosion. With a scribbled signature that drew applause from his family and construction team, property owner Bob Hensel got the approval Monday, less than a week shy of the eight-month anniversary of the blast that killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood -- including Hensel's home of 38 years.
Berkeley's long tradition of generosity toward the homeless, mentally ill and drug-addicted may soon be fading, according to an austere new budget plan introduced Tuesday. The two-year budget calls for $12.4 million in cuts, the steepest coming from the city's mental health department. That means Berkeley, which hosts nearly 30 percent of Alameda County's chronically homeless, will have fewer employees, fewer services and fewer resources to help the downtrodden.
(S)tarting July 1, thousands of South Bay residents will have to shell out $80 a year to check out books from libraries run by Santa Clara County. Library cards will remain free for people who live in the cities served by county libraries. But if you live in Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale, you'll have to pay to get a county library card -- or hope your own city library has enough Hemingway and Harry Potter.
Jurors in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial heard police recordings Tuesday morning in which former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV said several times that Bailey, a newspaper reporter, had "slandered" the business and his late father. Those recordings were played shortly before prosecutor Melissa Krum rested her triple murder case against Bey IV and co-defendant Antoine Mackey after nearly six weeks of testimony and more than 60 witnesses.
An increasing rate of whooping cough infections statewide has public health and school leaders concerned, especially now that California requires an immunization before children can enter school in the fall. The concern is heightened in Contra Costa County, where whooping cough rates may exceed last year's epidemic rate statewide. In Alameda County, where the infection rate is not as severe, more than 100,000 school children have yet to comply with a new law requiring vaccination. Nearly that many in Contra Costa need the shot.
A group of angry homeowners and community advocates disrupted Wells Fargo's shareholders meeting Tuesday and confronted the bank's CEO about it's foreclosure policies. The protestors were eventually arrested when they refused to leave the lobby of the San Francisco office building where the meeting was held. Wells Fargo is foreclosing on the homes of some of the protestors, who demanded the nation's largest mortgage originator declare a moratorium on the process.
...By the end of last year, San Francisco had an estimated 30,700 tech jobs, just shy of the 32,800 around the peak in early 2001, real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle found in an analysis of state employment data. In Silicon Valley, tech positions reached 106,300 in the fourth quarter, nearing the 112,700 crest. Figures for the first three months of the year aren't yet available, but it's clear the numbers have continued to rise. Tech companies like Facebook, Motorola, VMware, Hewlett-Packard and Google have leased 3.5 million square feet of space in Silicon Valley this year alone, Jones Lang LaSalle said in its report. That's the equivalent of filling the Transamerica Pyramid seven times.
Public safety leaders expressed grave concerns about the fallout from next year's budget Contra Costa County leaders unanimously adopted Tuesday that would end gang injunction plans, certain sex offender registration enforcement and "zero tolerance" enforcement of domestic violence. The nearly $50 million in cuts from the $1.2 billion county spending blueprint will lead to service cuts across the board. But officials from the district attorney, sheriff and probation offices say that it contains disproportionate cuts to their departments and will put county residents at risk.
The Bay Area must start prepping for the whens, not the ifs, of climate change - like building cooling centers for use during heat waves, propping up homes on stilts in flood-prone areas and even abandoning roadways vulnerable to sea-level rise, according to an influential urban policy organization.
The Pac-12 will receive about $3 billion over 12 years by selling most of its top football and basketball games to Fox and ESPN - the richest deal ever for a college conference - sources confirmed Tuesday. Meanwhile the conference will organize its own cable-TV network to begin in 2012, according to the New York Times.