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California Reservoirs Are Dumping Water in a Drought, But Science Could Change That

By Lauren Sommer, KQED News Fix/KQED Science

There’s a rule in California that may seem bizarre in a drought-stricken state: In the winter, reservoirs aren’t allowed to fill up completely.

In fact, even as this post goes up, a handful of reservoirs are releasing water to maintain empty space.

The practice, which has long inflamed combatants in California’s water wars, is due to a decades-old rule designed to protect public safety. If a major winter storm comes in, reservoirs need space to catch the runoff and prevent floods.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/KQED Science.

Why Dump Trucks Are Moving 37,000 Tons of Sand Down Ocean Beach

By Audrey Dillin, KALW Crosscurrents

An unusual scene has been playing out at Ocean Beach over the past few weeks: Huge dump trucks hauling loads of sand from the north end of the beach, near the Beach Chalet, 2.5 miles down the Great Highway to the south end of the beach, at the fast-eroding intersection of Sloat Boulevard. It’s just one battle in a war between man and Mother Nature that’s been going on at the beach for decades.

“We're going to do about a thousand truckloads in the course of the next few weeks,” says Jean Walsh, from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The goal is to move about 37,000 tons of sand.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 

An Oakland Diaspora: What Drives Longtime Residents to Leave?

By Devin Katayama, KQED News Fix

Vanessa Ladson has a pool, a hot tub and a laundry room. And on this particular day, a rainbow arcs over her five-bedroom home in Antioch.

On a Sunday in December, she’s wearing a red top, hoop earrings and lipstick: Ladson is ready for church. It’s about 40 minutes away in East Oakland, where she used to live. But she doesn’t think too much about the distance between her home and Lily of the Valley Christian Center.

“It’s my family,” she says.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Finding Your Park With Golden Gate Recreation Area's Superintendent

By Alison Hawkes, Bay Nature

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the nation, contains many of our most beloved and familiar spots — Crissy Field, Alcatraz Island, Muir Woods — but it’s hardly a typical national park.

The park stitches together nearly two dozen distinct natural areas encompassing 80,000 acres from Marin to San Mateo counties, in one of the country’s most urbanized regions. In fact, it sees more visitors per year (18 million) than any other national park unit and that makes for some unique challenges, to put it lightly. Exhibit A: Just last week, the park released its long-awaited and controversial dog management plan, which puts new restrictions on off-leash dogs in favor of protecting areas for wildlife and visitors seeking pet-free experiences in nature.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

California Legislature Approves Revised Health Plan Tax

By Katie Orr and Lisa Aliferis, KQED News Fix/State of Health

After a year of wrangling, California lawmakers Monday approved a reform of a critical tax on health plans designed to keep more than a billion dollars of federal funds flowing to Medi-Cal. The deal includes millions for services for the developmentally disabled.

The old tax was set to expire July 1, under new federal rules. The current tax is levied only on plans for Medi-Cal patients. Under the new requirements, all managed care plans must pay.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/State of Health.

Critics Send Up a Howl Over Proposed Golden Gate Recreation Area Dog Rules

By Spencer Michels, KQED News Fix

It’s an old saying and an actual fact: There are more dogs than children in San Francisco.

And so the latest announcement from the National Park Service this week that it plans to reduce the number of places dogs can run without a leash in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is meeting with howls from dog owners and some of their elected representatives.

Dog owners don’t like the new limits, and some local officials have complained that restricting where dogs can run free in the recreation area will add to overcrowding in San Francisco’s city parks. The National Park Service responds that miles of local beaches and trails will still be open for off-leash dogs and that the new rules are the most dog-friendly in its entire system.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

S.F. State’s Historic Ethnic Studies College May Have to Cut Courses, Faculty

By Natalie Yemenidjian, KQED News Fix

San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies might not have enough money to pay all of its staff come July 1. The College of Ethnic Studies says it’s operating with close to a $400,000 deficit.

The college is straining to cover the salary of lecturers, tenured faculty, the graduate program and other costs. It has been struggling since the California State University system faced severe budget cuts in its 2009-2010 academic year.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

Ethnic and Low-Income Communities Easy Targets for Scammers

By Jenny ManriqueNew America Media

Maria Magdalena Juarez picked up the phone. A voice on the other end told her that she was being sued for an uncollected debt of $4,000.

Maria was sure she didn’t owe that money, but the caller said he was a court official. Several harassing calls followed, in which the man threatened to seize her property and send her to jail if she didn’t pay up. Scared, Juarez purchased a money order but told her son about it before sending it off. He did an online search and told her it could be a possible scam.

Read the complete story at New America Media. 

Democrats Push Gov. Brown for More Anti-Poverty Programs

By Marisa Lagos, KQED News/The California Report

Joseph Latichinson works full time as a security guard at a shopping plaza in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. He makes $12 an hour — $2 more than the newly increased statewide minimum wage.

But Latichinson doesn’t have a place to sleep — he’s homeless. He said it’s impossible to make ends meet in a city as expensive as San Francisco unless you have subsidized housing or other help.

Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.

Commuters Voice Mixed Feelings About Mission Street Changes

By Laura Wenus, Mission Local

San Francisco’s Mission Street is undergoing significant transformation in the coming months, but there is skepticism among drivers and bus riders that the changes will be for the better.

As of last Friday, several bus stops along the corridor including those at 15th, 19th, 21st and 23rd streets had vanished. The city will now begin turning one of the lanes in each direction into a bus-only lane, with painting expected to be completed at the end of April. Beginning in March, left turns off of Mission Street will be prohibited, and northbound drivers will be required to turn right off of Mission at 26th, 24th, 22nd and 20th streets. 

Read the complete story at Mission Local.