.Tuesday Must Reads: San Francisco Bay Inundated with Billions of Pieces of Plastic; Barbara Lee Announces Federal Grant to Hire 15 Oakland Cops

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. San Francisco Bay is inundated with billions of tiny pieces of plastic — likely caused by plastic microbeads in cosmetics and toothpaste and bits of synthetic fabric, such as fleece, that break down when washed, the Mercury News$ reports, citing a new groundbreaking study from the San Francisco Estuary Institute. Researchers found about 1 million tiny pieces of plastic per square kilometer in the bay — a concentration far greater than what had been previously recorded in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and other US bodies of water. Governor Jerry Brown has not yet indicated whether he will sign legislation that would ban the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in California.

2. Congressmember Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced that the federal government has awarded a grant to Oakland to help pay for fifteen new police officers, the Trib$ reports. The $1.875 million grant, however, will only pay about one-third the cost of fifteen cops, so the Oakland City Council will need to appropriate the rest of the funds — or, the city will lose the grant.

3. A federal judge upheld most of Berkeley’s cellphone warning label law, but struck down an aspect of it that sought to warn consumers that the radiation risks from cellphones are greater for children, the Chron reports. Judge Edward Chen ruled that the law’s language on children is not based on scientific consensus, while the rest of the city’s law is — and follows federal guidelines. The cellphone industry sued to overturn all of Berkeley’s law, and will appeal Chen’s decision.

4. Governor Brown has not indicated whether he will sign earthquake retrofit legislation that is backed by the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, the LA Times$ reports. The legislation would provide tax credits to California landlords and building owners who retrofit their buildings, and proponents, including mayors Libby Schaaf and Tom Bates, say it will provide a much-needed financial incentive to make housing structures earthquake safe. But Brown has stated previously that he does not, in general, support the use of tax credits to finance capital improvements in California.

5. Some East Bay MUD customers — primarily in central Contra Costa County and the San Ramon Valley — are complaining about bad tasting water that officials say is being caused by shipments of Sacramento River water during the drought, the CoCo Times$ reports. East Bay MUD normally gets its water from the pristine Mokelumne River in the Sierra, but the drought has forced the agency to buy water from the Sacramento.

6. Because of fierce opposition from homeowners and landlord groups, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has killed a proposal that would have required fire places in the region to be replaced with clean-burning devices whenever a home is sold or rented out, the CoCo Times$ reports. The proposal was designed to improve air quality in the Bay Area.

7. Two powerful water agencies — the Westlands Water District, which represents Big Ag in the dry San Joaquin Valley, and the Metropolitan Water District, which represents Southern California residents — are considering buying four islands in the Delta, in a move that could speed up construction of Governor Brown’s controversial plan to build two giant water tunnels in the region, the SacBee$ reports

8. Two Democratic groups are pushing competing 2016 ballot measure proposals that would extend Prop 30 income tax hikes on the wealthy in California, the SacBee$ reports. One of the initiatives would funnel all of the tax proceeds to public education, while the other would also direct funds to pay for healthcare for low-income families.

9. And Governor Brown signed legislation that requires that children sit in rear-facing carseats until the age of two in California, the SacBee$ reports. Previously, kids only had to be in rear-facing seats for one year.


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