Monday, November 15, 2010

Proposition 26 Poses Serious Threat to Bay Area Transportation Funding

Proposition 26 flew under the radar of many California voters. With so many campaigns, measures, propositions, and candidates vying for our attention during this mid-term election year (Meg Whitman, Prop 19, Prop 23, Don Perata, local bond measures, city council elections, etc. etc. etc.), Proposition 26 just wasn't a marquee cause. But its implications are likely to be disproportionately massive. In a nutshell, the prop redefines standard-issue local and statewide fees as taxes that require 2/3 approval before they can be levied. This means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but before your eyes glaze over, consider the case of TransForm, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland that advocates for accessible and sustainable transportation infrastructure. Prop 26's passing puts the kibosh on a few of the org's primary sources of funding, seriously limiting its ability to design and advocate for public transportation, bikeways, and pedestrian access. Learn how it works, and more about Prop 26, in this week's Eco Watch.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Berkeley Recyling Carts Will Boost Participation, But Will They Stop Poachers?

Berkeley was the first city in the nation to introduce curbside residential recycling. And they've just become the last in Alameda County to finally transition to closed-top rolling carts. The new carts are currently being distributed throughout the city and should be fully in place by Thanksgiving. Once that happens, we'll start to get a better idea of how they've been received. Just about everyone expects that they'll result in increased recycling rates; with a split-cart design and a capacity more than four times greater than the previous open-top 14-gallon bins, they're much easier to use. There is, of course, the possibility that more trash and non-recyclable items will end up in the bins, reducing the quality of Berkeley's traditionally high-quality recycling stream. However, the bigger question is how the new carts will affect recycling poaching in Berkeley. Poaching has become a big issue in Berkeley, with the city council recently declaring it a priority violation and issuing instructions to the police force to write more citations. Time will tell how their ramped-up enforcement efforts and the benefits of the new bins play out, but when it comes to poaching it seems there's nowhere to go but up.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More Election Coverage: Prop 21

Prop 23 was easy: It's evil, and that's all there is to it. In my article, I told the story of East Bay campaigns organized against the proposition, which would turn back CA's landmark climate-change bill AB 32, and is funded by Texas-based oil companies. Prop 21, however, is a bit more complex. The idea is to save CA's state parks from fiscal mismanagement by our legislature; with our state budget in horrible shape and no strong parks lobby fighting for proper funding, they've been underfunded for decades. The result is a near-catastrophe: $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance, widespread service cuts, temporary closures. Without a solution, things will only get worse. So the California Parks Foundation came up with what they figured was the best way to save the parks. The result, Prop 21, is a timely and well-conceived solution, but it bears some important implications that are worth considering, as I cover in this week's story.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Election Coverage: Prop 23

This is the first of two election stories I'm contributing to the East Bay Express' coverage in October. Proposition 23 would overturn AB 32, California's landmark climate legislation that went into law in 2006. Opponents of AB 32 (i.e., proponents of Prop 23) charge that the state should not be imposing strict environmental regulations upon California's struggling job sectors during the economic downtown. They reason that AB 32 threatens California jobs, and should therefore be put on pause until the state's unemployment rate drops significantly. However, as you'll learn in my story, the study that Prop 23's supporters (including Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro) cite to bolster their claim about jobs vs. environment is widely regarded as faulty, including by a Berkeley-based co-author of the study, who's flummoxed by their inaccurate representation of the facts. Given its diversified and relatively healthy economy, the East Bay is no Prop 23 battleground -- but it is, as I explain in the story, home to multiple facets of the No on 23 campaign. Read all about it ....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chevron's Richmond Refinery a Water-Use Role Model

From my vantage point, this story sells itself in two ways: 1) Chevron uses an almost incomprehensible 11 million gallons of water EVERY DAY. That makes it East Bay MUD's biggest water user. And 2) Thanks to the construction of a new treatment plant adjacent to the refinery, 7.5 million of those 11 million daily gallons are recycled and reclaimed effluent from the West Count Wastewater District. You can fault Chevron for using so much damn water to refine oils we probably shouldn't be using (and polluting our air in the process), but this isn't a zero-sum gain. 7.5 million gallons of recycled water is 7.5 million gallons of potable water, EVERY DAY, that they're saving (enough water to serve half of Richmond's population). And no one's making them do it. So, while Chevron's environmental and humanitarian record is still deeply flawed, this is an accomplishment worth praising. Water conservation is one of our state's greatest challenges, and the Richmond refinery is leading the charge toward greater and smarter use of recycled water among Bay Area refineries and indeed all East Bay water users. Let's at least recognize them for that, and hope more industrial and commercial users follow suit. According to East Bay MUD, the Conoco Phillips refinery in Rodeo may already be getting in line.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Berkeley Gets Creative with Energy-Efficiency Rebates

There are three things I like about this story: 1) Berkeley's innovative approach to energy-efficiency rebates. They operate on a tiered scale related to percentage reduction in whole-home energy use, rather than a single appliance-based flat rate; 2) The ME2 program puts federal stimulus money directly in the hands of Berkeley homeowners, at up to $5,000 at a time; and 3) A small, isolated program like Berkeley's ME2 is all fine and good, but the fact that PG&E is getting in on the holistic energy-efficiency rebate act is better. The utility is using Berkeley's program as a pilot, and plans to roll out a similar program statewide this fall. That means efficient homes could one day become the rule across California, and not the Berkeley exception.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SF Chron: Legislature Votes Down Plastic Bag Ban

For more on the local context of AB 1998, read my story on East Bay cities' efforts to enact plastic bag bans of their own. Most were waiting on this decision to proceed. Since the statewide ban has failed, it's likely local municipalities will now attempt to proceed with their own legislation: "The Plastic Bag Waiting Game."

Here's the news on the failure of AB 1998, in today's Chronicle:

Legislature votes down plastic bag ban

By Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Plastic bags will remain in grocery stores and unloaded handguns can still be brought into Starbucks, but from now on shoppers might know what kind of animal fur was used in their new coat.

The Legislature failed to approve bans on single-use plastic bags and the open carrying of guns as the two-year legislative session came to a close Tuesday night.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Berkeley's Burrowing Owls in Decline; Public Art Commission to the Rescue?

My job covering outdoors and environmental news in the East Bay doesn't exactly take me to exotic locales, but it does give me an excuse to get outside and explore some of our regional and city parks. I was already familiar with the owl habitat at Berkeley's Cesar Chavez Park, near the Berkeley Marina, when I learned about this new public art installation that would serve humans, dogs, and owls alike. So I took another trip out there to meet the artists and designers, Jeff Reed and Jennifer Madden, and see their work in progress. It was a windy day, like all days at the Marina, but the sun was shining, Jeff and Jennifer were working hard, and the burrowing owls whose habitat they were protecting were somewhere hundreds of miles away, completely unaware of all the attention they were garnering on a rocky two-acre plot along the bay in Berkeley. Here's the full story.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beehive Market Is Berkeley's New Buzz

Everything you thought you knew about Berkeley was right. At least, it seems that way if you visit the newly established Beehive Market in West Berkeley. Designed as a green-lifestyle market, the weekly event offers one-stop shopping for local, sustainable, and organic produce, prepared foods, crafts, and home and garden resources -- all awash in the sounds of local music. It's a sort of small-scale utopia for shoppers who want to blend their green sensibilities with community engagement, as the market's upbeat vibe feels as much like a party as it does a shopping trip. But there's an uncertain road ahead for the Beehive; as I examine in this article for the Express, starting up a new weekly market is never easy -- especially in a town that's already home to three popular weekly farmers' markets.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Open Letter to the Fog

As I look out my dining room window early this Wednesday afternoon in mid-August, I see a familiar, yet no less unfortunate sight: gently rustling leaves set against a menacingly grey sky. On a mere three occasions this summer (perhaps four), I have awoken to sunlight. And I wake up at 8:30, so I'm giving you a fair chance to scram. But no -- like today, almost every day since early June, you have lingered until 11am, noon, sometimes 1pm or beyond. You've made it damn cold around here, too. I know it's trite to complain about the weather, especially something so mild and trivial as fog, but you bother me to no end.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First Barefoot Run ... And, I'm Hooked

Went for a run this afternoon, my first in about six weeks. I intended to run to the Piedmont High track from my home in North Oakland (about 3 miles), do some barefoot laps, and run back home. Instead, I ended up doing my first legit barefoot run. And let me just say ... it, uh, kicked ass! After I finished my six or seven barefoot laps on the track, I laced my shoes back on for one final lap and the run back home. But lo and behold, my shoes felt utterly ridiculous. I could hardly run. Running barefoot around the track was so freeing, so light, so easy, while putting my shoes back on felt cumbersome, awkward, and slow. So I removed them again and took to the streets.

Calling All (and I Mean ALL!) Contractors: EPA Demands Lead-Safe Practices

This story hits pretty close to home; at the same time that I'm renovating my 1925 bungalow in Oakland, sure to contain heapings of lead and asbestos, I come across this new EPA program designed to certify contractors across the country in lead-safe practices. I haven't followed the EPA's stringent guidelines in my own renovation work, nor have I seen our contractors do so. There are no children in our house, so it's somewhat less of an issue, but still important. Lead in lead paint and dust is a health hazard to everyone. That's why the EPA is going whole-hog with this program. But some people think they're asking a bit too much in a plan that, so far at least, does just one thing really well: collect sizable fees from contractors across the country for certification, and threaten massive fines for non-compliance.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Henry Coe"

This may be the coolest place I’ve ever been, alone or otherwise.

What does one think about when hiking alone? I was finding out.

It was an overnighter in Henry Coe State Park, Northern California’s largest state park -- maybe its most rugged, too. One thing, perhaps the thing, to know about Henry Coe is this: What is up must go down, and what is down must go up. A long way up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The End of the Wilderness Exchange

I loved this place, and now it's gone. Visiting during the store's final days to report on the closure was bittersweet: I learned a lot about the Wilderness Exchange and its history, but knew that in a few days' time it'd all be gone. Customers and employees had mixed reactions to owner Jerry Jordan's decision to sell the building and move away after 23 years running the store, but one thing's for sure: There's nothing else quite like it, and shopping for outdoors goods in the East Bay will never be the same.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Piedmont Gardening Goes Green ... Sort of

It's on its way, at least -- but there's a long way to go. As I report in my story, between 2005 and 2009, Piedmont residents used an average of 356 gallons per day, compared to 171 in Berkeley and 191 in Oakland. But a new group that formed in April is out to make Piedmont a more sustainable city, and Bay-friendly, drought-tolerant landscaping is a big part of their push. The group, called Piedmont CONNECT, already boasts 165 members, so there's clearly interest within the city to make some changes. Let's see if it works.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The City Streets Project: Where Cars Are Not King

This is one of those big-picture stories that ties everything together: urban design, city planning, efficient transportation and mass transit, resource conservation, carbon emissions, urban heat islands, greening, and more -- all the pieces of the puzzle we'll need to put in place if we are to save our industrialized cities and society from environmental doom. The City Streets Project, funded by grants from the California Energy Commission, is an ambitious, long-term program in its earliest stages at UC Berkeley. It's a joint project between the College of Environmental Design and the law school -- the former providing the design expertise and the latter providing the legal and bureaucratic know-how to actually put the plan in place. Their ideas are big and their aspirations vast. But that's exactly what we need; when it comes to redesigning our cities to make them (and our lives there) sustainable, piecemeal approaches won't gonna cut it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oakland's Increased Flat-Rate Sewer Fees Disproportionally Harm Water Savers

Here's a story that has been brewing in my head for nine months. When we got our first water bill as Oakland homeowners, I was shocked to see that we were paying only $3 for water a month, but $22 for a flat-rate sewer service charge to the city. When Oakland released a proposal last month to raise that rate from $22 to $34.71 over three years (a 56% increase), I knew I had a flashpoint to address the issue. I also came across other low-water users in Oakland who were concerned about the inequity. So I crunched the numbers, did the analysis, and came up with this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Berkeley Brings Rainwater Inside

As someone who's guilty of the eco-err I described in the lead paragraphs of this story, I'm very interested in the idea of bringing collected rainwater inside the home for non-potable use. Perhaps someday. But here's the story of Berkeley's first permitted interior use of rainwater, which collects in a buried 2,500-gallon tank and feeds the toilets and washing machine of a new three-bedroom home high in the hills. This installation is far above and beyond what is realistic for most people, but should at least get some wheels turning within the city and the rest of the East Bay as far as encouraging adoption of this creative yet practical water-saving solution.

A Craft Paint So Green You Can Eat It

I don't like to do a lot of stories on green products, but after painting our entire home (well, almost done) with no-VOC paint, this all-natural arts and crafts paint company out of Berkeley caught my eye. Some of Glob's paints are made from food-grade ingredients -- meaning you could eat them, even if founder Ashley Phelps doesn't exactly recommend it. The interesting point is that craft paints are almost entirely non-regulated, meaning there's no equivalent of low- or no-VOC paint for children, artists, and others who use the highly toxic stuff on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From the Chron: Statewide Single-Use Bag Ban Likely?

As I reported in my story on East Bay plastic bag bans a couple weeks ago, a number of local cities have their eyes on a proposed statewide ban on single-use bags. As they attempt to pursue their own plastic bag bans, many are also watching AB1998, which would render local ordinances moot. It would also be more strict than existing and proposed local ordinances throughout the state, because it bans both single-use paper and plastic (San Francisco's existing ban is plastic only) in almost all instances (San Francisco's applies only to large supermarkets and chain pharmacies). According to a report in today's Chronicle, the bill has a good chance of passing after receiving the endorsement of the California Grocers Association. The bill will be voted on in the assembly this week and could go to a Senate vote later this year.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

East Bay Cities Lag Behind on Plastic Bag Bans

Three years ago, Berkeley and Oakland were national leaders in drafting bans on plastic bags. Yet their ordinances have gone nowhere. What happened? In this week's Express, read all about it ... and find out why Richmond, which hopes to enact a ban of its own, is similarly stymied.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why Are East Bay Runners Taking off Their Shoes?

Like everyone else, I read Born to Run. But even prior to that, I knew about the Tarahumara and the miracles of running barefoot (or in rubber sandals, as the case may be), thanks to an equally entertaining book called God's Middle Finger about the Sierra Madre mountains, where the Tarahumara people live. As a runner, I was naturally intrigued. So when the opportunity came along to study up on barefoot running here in the Bay Area and write about it for a general audience, I jumped. Or, rather, I ran.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

At Long Last, Cal Frats Start Recycling

Believe it or not: Prior to this February, none of the 31 fraternity houses at UC Berkeley recycled. Not cans. Not bottles. Not paper, pizza boxes, or cardboard packaging. Not in what is arguably the nation's fountain of liberal thought, and the home of curbside recycling, Berkeley. Two eco-minded Cal sorority sisters discovered this over the winter and knew that had to do something about it. A semester later, improvements have been made. But there is more work to do, and a three-month summer break between here and the program's return -- or demise.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Environmental Watchdogs Adopt Underfunded CA State Parks?

This was a fun one, primarily because it sent me way out to Livermore's Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area, about as far as one can travel from Oakland and still be in the East Bay. It's an off-highway vehicle park in a beautiful area, and a pair of environmental groups didn't believe its users and management were being proper stewards of the environment -- so they sued. It may be an isolated incident, or it may be a sign of what's to come. As the CA State Parks budget crisis deepens and recent cuts settle in, will parks have a hard time meeting their environmental mandates? If so, will environmental groups continue to intervene for protection of the parks' valuable resources? No one can predict the future, but my research suggested it's more than likely -- another interesting development in the soap opera that is California's budget.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I just wrote this piece for Adam Perry at his online literary journal Stays. Saw it as an opportunity to try my hand at the first-person adventure narrative thing, I guess. Results? Cloudy ... like the skies over Lassen when we visited, as you'll read in the story. But yeah, I think it's pretty alright -- and, for these purposes, an ideal illustration of the simple joys of human-powered exploration.

And it begins ...


Within the first half-mile, I felt the weight. So did my friend Tom, who was out of shape. I’m not sure if Ben did; he was too tough to show. The trail was still wide, the parking lot barely out of sight. We stopped to yank on our shoulder straps, bounce up and down on our toes, and let the packs settle on our hips. This eased the pinching on our collarbones. The soreness in our shoulders was surprisingly prompt — they’d toted hardback books across campus, but never this; never food and clothes and gear and fuel, and too much of each, for five nights in the wild. Never the foldable metal shovel and clay poker chips we’d foolishly brought along, yet not without some pride. They weighed heavy on our backs now, but I wouldn’t undo it; they’d come in handy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From the Chron: First Salmon Season in Three Years Opens

After two years of all-out bans, the Northern California salmon sport-fishing season reopened on Saturday to poor weather, few bites, and mixed emotions. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From the Chron: Measure WW Funds Help Preserve Prominent Lafayette Hilltop

Back in January, I wrote about how the East Bay Regional Parks District's Measure WW funds had already been put to good use during the measure's first year. Due to declining property values, land acquisition has become increasingly successful for the district -- and resulted in two big purchases within WW's first thirteen months. Two months after that, here's yet another example: the EBRPD chipped in to help purchase (and hopefully save from development forever) a 23-acre hilltop in Lafayette. It was seen as such a valuable piece of land that even nearby Walnut Creek chipped in. Here's more, from today's Chronicle.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cal Academy and Exploratrium Be Damned; These Field Trips Go Straight to the Source

A few weeks ago I rode along with a Berkeley High School environmental sciences class on a guided tour of reuse-minded businesses and organizations in the East Bay. I was already familiar with a number of the places, but learned something new each time -- such as how exactly the young, inspirational folks at BTTR Ventures, who grow oyster mushrooms from used coffee grounds, make it all work in their tiny Emeryville warehouse space. It even yielded a couple more story ideas. For this occasion, I decided to write about how East Bay Green Tours ended up partnering with BHS, and how likely it is that other schools and classes in the East Bay will be able to take advantage of these wonderful field trips. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hot Tip for Businesses: Waste Reduction and Financial Savings in One

This may not be the sexiest of topics, but I think it's really worth sharing. Over the past few weeks I've learned a lot about the merits (and challenges) of reusable packaging and shipping containers for businesses. It's largely a B2B matter, so there's not a lot of cultural cachet in making the switch. But moving from disposable to reusable shipping containers is almost guaranteed to not only keep large quantities of wood, cardboard, plastic, and other waste out of the landfill, but also to save the business equally significant amounts of money on a regular basis once those materials no longer need to be constantly replenished. Here's my story in the East Bay Express about reusable packaging and's efforts to promote it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going Carless

Well, the human-powered explorer (that's, um, me) has gone carless. After minimal deliberation, I sold my trusty 1994 Honda Prelude this past weekend. Got some extra money in my pocket and a $3,500 liability off the street. Didn't really need it, anyway; in six years I put fewer than 25,000 miles on the odometer. That, and the fact that our new place is three blocks from the MacArthur BART station. And that I bike to work every day (and just about everywhere else, now that I reside in the flats).
It's wonderful getting around by bike and by foot. I'm addicted. Hence the blog. This is the theme that binds my passions for running, hiking, backpacking, and biking. It's also a symbol of my philosophy toward man's ideal relationship with his environment, whether urban, suburban, or rural. Human-powered exploration allows us to interact with nature and other people. It provides health and exercise benefits. And it makes transportation less a chore than an experience in and of itself.
Without a car, I'll be doing even more human-powered exploring. I can't wait. And I'll report back about the best of it, so stay tuned.

From the Mercury News: Oakland Solar Firm Scores Huge Federal Loan

"Oakland solar firm secures $1.4 billion loan"
BrightSource Energy Inc. on Monday landed preliminary approval for a $1.37 billion loan guarantee from the federal government to help finance construction of a big solar energy complex in the Mojave Desert.
"This is a major milestone in getting this project built," said Keely Wachs, a spokesman for BrightSource Energy.
Oakland-based BrightSource has been seeking state and federal approval for the solar project that would rise in the desert in the Ivanpah Valley.
Read more:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

From the Chron: Fishing Ban on Alameda Creek to Save Steelhead Trout

"2-year fishing ban to save Alameda Creek trout"
The steelhead trout have pretty much vanished from Alameda Creek, so state officials decided it was time to ban fishing.
Sport fishing will be closed for at least two years starting March 1 downstream from the San Antonio, Calaveras and Del Valle reservoirs, which typically supply about 15 percent of San Francisco's water supply.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chevron Won't Meet Environmental Groups in the Middle

Last year, a coalition of environmental groups sued to stop Chevron's planned expansion and upgrade of its Richmond plant due to an insufficient environmental impact report. The judge ruled on their side and the massive construction project has been in limbo ever since. Chevron even threatened to downsize or leave Richmond altogether, stirring concern that the city's tax base and employment figures would be impacted by the dispute. In recent months, the environmental groups have made repeated efforts to reach a resolution with Chevron, but the oil company has been unwilling to negotiate, instead deferring to the court of appeals process it initiated last summer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unlikely High-School Students Spend a Summer with Biofuels

This piece in California magazine has been out for a few months, but better late than never.... It's an uplifiting look at a program that took place last summer at the state-of-the-art Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville. Six Bay Area high school students who came from diverse backgrounds and families with little to no college experience were chosen to spend forty hours a week learning about biofuels. They spent a lot of that time in the lab conducting an experiment designed to identify and evaluate enzymes that could be used to break down plant matter for use in biofuels. It was great to meet the kids and see them present their work to their parents at the final presentation back in August. Amazing that it's already been that long. Wonder what they're up to now ... 

A Good Sign for Salmon in the San Joaquin

Good news for salmon in the San Joaquin River, historically home to one of the state's biggest runs. The Chronicle reported today that a series of water releases from Friant Dam outside Fresno into a long-dry section of the San Joaquin began last week and will continue throughout the year. It's part of an initial series of tests designed to return native chinook to the river by 2012. The thing that strikes me is the lengths we -- that is, environmentalists, farmers, fisherman, and public agencies in cohort -- are finally willing to go to save this important species. But with the state's salmon population in such dire straits, will the efforts be too little too late?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From Indybay: Steelhead Slowly Returning to the Mokelumne

"Mokelumne River Steelhead Run Increases In Recent Years"
The numbers of steelhead returning to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in recent years don’t compare to those at Nimbus, Feather and Coleman fish hatcheries, but they are a vast improvement over many years when no adult steelhead returned to the facility.
Read more:

Sunday, January 31, 2010

From the Chronicle: Raw Sewage in the Bay

"Aging pipes force sewage into San Francisco Bay"
Joan Petrosh and her friends were tossing fishing lines into the bay last week, hoping for bites from the striped bass and stingrays they usually catch.
The setting? On the Richmond-area shoreline - in front of one of the main outflow points for partially treated sewage in the Bay Area.
"There's no way we would eat anything we catch," Petrosh said, watching one of the lines buck with what looked like a bite. "Just think of the bay - it's too contaminated. We just catch 'em for fun and throw 'em right back."
Little did she know how contaminated the water really was.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Bike Lanes Bound for Downtown Oakland

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, an Oakland advocacy group dedicated to -- you guessed it -- walking and biking in Oakland, is getting things done. (Last year, I wrote about a similar organization called the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and its efforts at reporting potholes throughout both counties.)

East Bay Events Spotlight Sustainable Seafood

Earlier this month, I attended and wrote about an event at a Lafayette restaurant that paired a sustainable seafood dinner with a screening of a new documentary called The End of the Line, about one of the world's most serious problems.

Oakland Nonprofit Trains Recent Vets in Solar Panel Installation

My second Eco Watch column for the Express was about a local organization called Swords to Plowshares and its new program that trains Iraq- and Afghanistan-era vets for jobs in solar panel installation.

$500 Million for East Bay Parks: How Is It Being Spent?

Following up on my November 2008 cover story about a group of mountain bikers opposing Measure WW, here's a story about the measure's first year.