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Crockett: C&H will douse the lights on its famous sign for an hour

Crockette American Sugar

C&H Sugar will turn off the large sign at its refinery in Crockett for an hour on March 19 in the name of promoting sustainability during the World Wildlife Fund’s annual Earth Hour.
The company, which installed lower wattage LED bulbs in the sign last year, issued this announcement:

LIGHTS OUT AT BAY AREA LANDMARK SIGNALS CALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

C&H Sugar refinery joins thousands of landmarks around
the globe commemorating 10th annual Earth Hour

Crockett, CA (March 18, 2016) – On Saturday, the C&H Sugar refinery in Crockett will take part in the 10th annual Earth Hour by turning off its iconic “C and H Pure Cane Sugar” sign for one hour starting at 8:30 pm.

Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement in which people and businesses turn off lights to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to inspire positive environmental action in their communities. An initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour has grown since its inception in 2007 to engage residents, businesses and governments in more than 7,000 cities and 172 countries across the globe.

“Earth Hour’s commitment to a more sustainable planet is consistent with our values and efforts here at the refinery, especially when it comes to conserving energy, waste and water,” said C&H Sugar Refinery Manager Derwood Brady. “We hope that our participation will encourage others across the Bay Area to join us in continuing to make sustainability a priority, not just during Earth Hour but throughout the year.”

Last spring, the C&H Sugar refinery, owned by ASR Group, replaced 900 40-watt incandescent bulbs in the sign’s 22-foot tall “C” and “H” letters with eco-friendly LED light bulbs that require 80 percent less energy, resulting in an annual reduction of 90,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

The C&H sign celebrates its 60th anniversary as a Bay Area landmark in April. The refinery in Crockett has been in operation for 110 years. It employs 455 people and produces 14 percent of the nation’s cane sugar.

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Richmond: Plan for airport at Point Isabel never got off the ground 50 years ago


Before the Point Isabel proposal, an airport was proposed off of Berkeley in 1945. (San Francisco Public Library History Center)

point isabel airport 10 1966a

If a plan first raised in 1966 had flown with regulators, there might have been an airport for small aircraft along the Bay in Richmond where dogs now frolic, strollers and bicyclists take in Bay views and UC Berkeley is planning its global campus.
The proposal for the Point Isabel airport between Point Isabel and Brooks Island surfaced in the summer of 1966 and was largely embraced by business leaders in Richmond as beneficial to local commerce and the region as a whole. Had the proposal been made 10 years earlier, it might have flown. But plans to fill 225 acres of mudflats now had to go before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the regulatory panel established in 1965 as a result of the activism of the the Save San Francisco Bay Association (later Save the Bay).
The airport proposal was exactly the type of project Save the Bay tried to halt, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the idea’s promoters.
The City Councils in Albany, Berkeley and El Cerrito all went on record in opposition, with Kay Kerr, one of the three founders of Save the Bay and the wife of UC Berkeley President Clark Kerr, speaking against the project before the El Cerrito council.

point isabel airport 10 1966

The plan did get as far as being submitted to the BCDC for consideration, but discussion was postponed a few times and the notion ultimately ran out of steam.

On Nov. 16 the Oakland Tribune reported that Berkeley had officially stated its opposition to the project:

OPPOSE AIRPORT
The council also went on record as opposing the proposed Richmond Airport in the bay between Point Isabel and Brooks Island. The project, which is to come before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Friday, would require
filling 225 acres in two stages.
The council opposed the project because it would create a noise problem and commit a major portion of the Eastbay shoreline before a regional plan could be drawn up. Councilmen also noted that regional plans call for inland rather than bay airports.

On Nov. 19 the Tribune reported that “BCDC took no action at this time on a request by the city of Richmond for an ‘advisory opinion’ on a proposed airport construction at Point Isabel which would involve filling 225 acres of tidelands. The project would serve small planes.”

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.  (Dean Coppola/Staff)

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

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Monarch butterflies return to Albany Hill

Monarch migration

Along with sightings of monarch butterflies overwintering at Aquatic Park in Berkeley (see below) the beloved creatures have made their annual return to the eucalyptus grove on Albany Hill.
This photo was taken by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford, who reports, “They are harder to get to this year since they have taken up residence in a tree about halfway down the steep west side.”

Monarch butterflies huddle together on the branches of a tree at Aquatic Park in Berkeley on Nov. 24. Bay Area News Group photo by D. Ross Cameron.

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West County can give transportation priority input at call-in event tonight

West County are being asked to help shape transportation priorities in the county by taking part in a Telephone Town Hall call-in event from 6-7 p.m. today, Nov. 12.
To join the discussion and learn planning efforts now taking place, call toll-free to 877-229-8493 and enter access code 112664 when prompted.

The event is hosted by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.

High-capacity transit provides substantially higher passenger capacity than local transit. It is the type of transit that people often use for their daily commute to work. This 15-month study will evaluate public transportation options and identify funding opportunities to improve the quality and effectiveness of transit in West County and expand alternatives to driving on congested streets and highways.

During the Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event, you’ll learn more about the Study and concurrent planning efforts. Experts will be on hand to answer questions. You’ll also be asked to respond to a few quick polling questions through the touch of a button on your phone.

The Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event will be the first of several opportunities to provide your input. The first round of public meetings will be held in February, with a second round anticipated in Spring 2016.
To stay involved with the project, sign up to get future emails about upcoming ways to participate, visit www.WestCountyTransitStudy.com.

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Berkeley protesters are not alone in trying to prevent sale of post office

Our latest coverage on the planned sale of the Berkeley Post Office, first sent out on social media on Nov. 20, received the following response on Twitter: “can someone please explain to me the importance of this post office? It’s a building. I don’t get it.”

We wondered how to explain the issue within the 140 character confines of Twitter and quickly gave up.

Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth took on the task of explaining the sale-opposition side (albeit in more than Twitter-length) in a piece about the proposed sale of the post office in Somerville, Mass., titled “When public buildings were revered.”

The group Save the Berkeley Post Office cited the piece in a post Tuesday:

Boston Globe op-ed on the sale of the Somerville MA post office: “We have traveled a long way from a time when public buildings were revered precisely because they belonged to everyone. Now public facilities from schools to swimming pools are being privatized. Corporations “adopt” highways that the taxpayers won’t pay to maintain. We rely on private developers to pay for roads and streetlights.”
READ MORE: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/28/when-public-buildings-were-revered/3Fxrs6Rwd7a8YzSUEDlv6I/story.html

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Black Friday protest held at shellmound site in Emeryville

bay street mall
While the day after Thanksgiving has again attracted bargain-seeking shoppers to Black Friday sales, it has also brought out protesters.
A group of at least 200 people representing different organizations and religious groups, as well as members of the Ohlone tribe, were at Bay Street Emeryville today.
The gathering was held to call attention to the fact that the shopping center stands on the site of one of the largest of the shellmounds that were once found on the East Bay shoreline from Oakland to Richmond. The mounds and contained the remains of native Americans who inhabited the area. The protest was held at the corner of Shellmound Street and Ohlone Way.
Most of the shellmound sites were leveled and developed long ago. The Emeryville mound was developed as a dance pavilion and amusement center more than 140 years ago and later was an industrial site, before the area was redeveloped with the shopping center.
Other Black Friday protests in the area included one at the Walmart at Hilltop Mall in Richmond.

“Pavement and buildings now mostly cover what used to be hundreds of shellmounds — gently rounded hills formed from accumulated layers of organic material deposited over generations by native coastal dwellers,” writes the Sacred Land Film Project. “Often the sites of burials and spiritual ceremonies, these shellmounds are still places for veneration. But preserving the remaining shellmounds has proven to be a contentious issue among developers, indigenous rights groups, preservationists, and local governments.”

The protest included remarks, chants and drumming, as well as signs calling for shoppers to boycott Black Friday sales.
The shopping center does include a small memorial site dedicated to the shellmound.

bay street 2

shellmounds1907
A 1907 illustration by researchers showing known shellmound sites on the East Bay shoreline.

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Watch your step: Rattlesnake safely removed from Hercules yard

snake (2)
Fire Capt. Chuck Coleman examines the rattlesnake found in a yard this week.
hercsnake1

Firefighters from the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District handled an unusual early evening call June 11 when a resident reported discovering a rattlesnake in a yard on Dorada Court, in easternmost Hercules.
The 3-foot poisonous snake was rounded up and safely removed by a district crew.

From our files:

HOW TO AVOID A RATTLESNAKE BITE

There are several ways people can avoid or reduce the likelihood of startling and being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
Source: Belmont Police Department

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Friends of 5 Creeks gardening tips to minimize water use

Some advice from the latest newsletter from Berkeley-based Friends of 5 Creeks (www.fivecreeks.org):

Water-saving tips

Learn how to lose your lawn: For many homeowners, the easiest way to save water (along with effort and money) is to shrink or get rid of lawn. The Bay Friendly Coalition offers a free workshop, with individual advice, at 10:30 AM Sat., May 3, at the California Native Plant Society’s Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Dr., in Tilden Park. This also is a great place to find drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly, replacement plants.

Nursing new plantings through the summer: Our delicious late rains have been a reprieve, but summer will be dry. With time, it is possible to develop a flourishing garden that needs no watering. (Summer water under coast live oaks, our species of the month, can kill them.) But even drought-tolerant plants generally need some summer water until their roots are established. At F5C’s restoration projects, we found that tough natives survived with deep watering once a month from June or July to October.
Drip irrigation usually saves water, but it can be leak-prone and costly to install. Here are some techniques that don’t require even drip irrigation:

Most basically, plant in fall, giving plants a rainy season in which to get established. Use lots of mulch, which holds water like a sponge, shades the soil, and discourages water-stealing weeds.
Along with a new plant, install a tube with a small opening at the bottom that lets water drain slowly to deep roots. Fill it occasionally. The tube can be a commercial product – or an upside-down plastic soda bottle.
Use a bucket or bag with a small opening that drains slowly. As with tubes, these can be commercial products – or old buckets or plastic trash bags.
Consider a tree tube or tree shelter. This is a translucent plastic tubes, held in place with a stake, serving mainly to protect young trees from hungry animals. But they also help retain moisture in windy areas, and condensation inside the tube can provide a little extra water.
Consider commercial gels that release water slowly, such as DriWATER.

Submit your own water-saving tip to the group at https://app.icontact.com/icp/sub/survey/take.

Click here for to read the F5C information sheet, “Why Should You Save Water? And How?”

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Richmond: Parks group seeks protection for Field Station shoreline

Richmond’s City Council agenda on Tuesday includes discussion of the electronic billboard at Pacific East Mall next to Interstate 80, which could provide interesting discussion over its legality, which has been questioned by Councilman Tom Butt.
The group Citizens for East Shore Parks, meanwhile, is more interested in the item after the billboard, which is titled “Resolution to Protect the Coastal Prairie at the Richmond Field Station,” submitted by Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles.
CESP issued the following email call to it members:

Please come to the City Council and support a resolution directing staff to remove any consideration in the South Richmond Plan for vehicle traffic through the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station- and to prepare alternatives for the Plan that only show vehicle being routed around the coastal prairie.

Why is it important to protect the coastal prairie?
Today, less than one percent of California’s original native grassland ecosystems remain intact! The Richmond Field Station is recognized by the California Native Plant Society for priority protection because it contains the last undisturbed native coastal prairie grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. This native grassland is an intact remnant stand that functions as a reference assemblage – invaluable for the study of how this threatened ecosystem functions and as an example of its community type for restoration ecologists. A great goal for the scientists at UC Berkeley.

Click here to view the resolution.

The City of Richmond will post the Council agenda online. Check the website here: http://ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=151.

It is item # I-2– which won’t be until 7:15 pm or later. But, you must sign in to speak prior to the item being called.