Thursday, January 31, 2008

PG&E Adds 85 Megawatts of Renewable Wind Energy to its Power Mix

News ReleaseRelease Date: July 23, 2007
Contact: PG&E News Department (415) 973-5930

PG&E Adds 85 Megawatts of Renewable Wind Energy to its Power Mix
Signs Long-Term Power Purchase Agreement with PPM Energy

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced today it has entered into a 15-year agreement with PPM Energy, a developer of utility-scale wind power projects, to purchase renewable wind energy from the company's Klondike III Wind Project in Sherman County, Oregon. The project will deliver up to 85 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to PG&E's customers throughout Northern and Central California.
"Clean, renewable wind power is central to PG&E's commitment to increase the amount of reliable, environmentally-responsible energy in California," said Fong Wan, vice president of Energy Procurement, PG&E. "Today's agreement further advances PG&E in meeting our renewable energy goals."

This is the second major wind project that PG&E has signed with PPM Energy. In 2006, PG&E began delivering 75 MW of clean, renewable wind energy as part of a 15-year agreement to purchase wind power from the Shiloh Wind Power Project in Solano County, California. The Klondike project is currently under construction and is expected to begin delivering electricity later this year.

"It is gratifying to have outstanding repeat customers from Washington to California select PPM's newest West Coast project for their clean, renewable energy requirements," said Terry Hudgens, CEO of PPM Energy.

PG&E has a long history of developing, generating, and purchasing renewable power. PG&E currently supplies 12 percent of its energy from qualifying renewable sources under California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. Of this amount, approximately 11 percent of the renewable energy is derived from wind. With more than 50 percent of the energy PG&E delivers to its customers coming from generating sources that emit no carbon dioxide, PG&E provides among the cleanest energy in the nation.

PG&E continues to aggressively add renewable electric power resources to its supply. In addition to Klondike, PG&E recently announced solar contracts with Cleantech America and GreenVolts, and a 25.5 MW contract with Western GeoPower, Inc. for a new geothermal energy facility in Sonoma County, California. PG&E is seeking regulatory approval of these renewable energy contracts resulting from PG&E's 2006 RPS solicitation. PG&E is continuing discussions with additional bidders that made offers and were short listed in the 2006 RPS solicitation, and just received bids for additional renewable energy in its 2007 solicitation.

California's RPS Program requires each utility to increase its procurement of eligible renewable generating resources by one percent of load per year to achieve a 20 percent renewables goal by 2010. The RPS Program was passed by the Legislature and is managed by California's Public Commission and Energy Commission.
For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company, please visit the company's web site at

British Grocery Chain Plans 18 Bay Area Stores

British Grocery Chain Plans 18 Bay Area Stores
James Temple, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2008

A British supermarket chain plans to open at least 18 stores throughout the Bay Area next year, many in neighborhoods that other grocery stores have long avoided.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, the aggressively expanding U.S. division of Tesco PLC, the world's third-largest retailer, plans to build smaller than typical outlets offering prepared meals, fresh produce and perishables in Antioch, Concord, San Jose, San Francisco, Hayward, Oakland, Oakley and elsewhere.

"The West Coast is a place that likes new things and likes new ideas," said Tim Mason, chief executive officer of Fresh & Easy, in explaining the regional push. "It's a market where we think there's a desire for fresh foods, healthy foods."

The San Francisco stores will be at Third Street and Carroll Avenue and Silver Avenue and Goettingen Street, in the Bayview and Portola neighborhoods.

Shopping options in the Bayview largely are limited to the Foods Co. bulk grocery store and the small Super Save market, along with corner stores and fast-food restaurants. An October survey by the Southeast Food Access Working Group, part of Mayor Gavin Newsom's Shape Up San Francisco program, found that 94 percent of neighborhood residents would support new food options and that half frequently bought groceries at Safeway stores outside the area.

Studies routinely have linked limited access to fresh produce and inexpensive groceries to poor health in low-income and minority neighborhoods, including higher rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Only 52 percent of residents of "disadvantaged communities" in the Bay Area are within walking distance of a supermarket, according to a 2002 study by the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, a partnership of regional advocacy groups.

Many stores have avoided such areas for two main reasons, said Bob Reynolds, president of Moraga retail consulting firm Reynolds Economics. There's a perception of higher operating costs related to security and theft, and lower-income customers tend to spend less per trip than white-collar suburban shoppers, he said.

"It's easier to go to a Burger King than it is to get a decent piece of fruit in many neighborhoods," said San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who represents Bayview and Portola. "Fresh & Easy can help that."

Ken Hecht, executive director of California Food Policy Advocates, initially said he was pleased to hear that Fresh & Easy is expanding in the Bay Area, because the company repeatedly has said it will locate in neighborhoods underserved by grocery stores. But after reviewing the list of locations, which includes stores in upscale cities like Danville and Walnut Creek, he said the company isn't doing enough.

"This just isn't going to do what needs to be done if low-income people are to avoid obesity - and that's our biggest threat to public health right now," he said.

Fresh & Easy is building roughly 10,000-square-foot stores that are about a fifth of the size of a typical supermarket and stocking a narrower selection of often less-expensive goods with a higher proportion of private-label and prepared products. The closest comparison is Trader Joe's, which packs its 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot outlets with items bearings it own brand.

Tesco opened its first U.S. store a little more than two months ago and was scheduled to open its 36th and 37th today. Most Fresh & Easy markets are in Southern California, with a handful in Arizona and Las Vegas. Tesco is investing $2 billion over five years in the division and has 140 planned locations.

The other Bay Area sites announced Wednesday are Danville, Fairfield.....

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

E-mail James Temple at

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Council Delays Vote On Downtown Recovery Plan

Council Delays Vote On Downtown Recovery Plan
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/30/2008

The City Council Tuesday delayed a crucial vote on Vallejo's downtown development plan, though residents and business owners urged decisive action.

Triad Communities is requesting another year to get its residential/commercial project off the ground. An extension would also require a $200,000 guarantee.

Mayor Osby Davis recommended the delay so officials can devise an extension plan that can win council approval. The issue returns to the council March 11.

Triad president Fred Grimm stressed that the firm is committed to the project, though the current housing market makes building and financing difficult.

"There's no need to tell the council about the challenges facing the city of Vallejo, but we've never lost faith in the city of Vallejo," Grimm told the council.

Grimm added the current economic downtown does not mean the Triad plan is a bad one.

Resident Diana Lang urged quick action, and that the city not throw out the project. "By saying 'No' to Triad you will be saying no to any developer who may want to come to Vallejo," she said.

Marti Brown, who was part of a citizens group which reviewed the downtown plan, said the city has had plenty of time to work on parking and other issues. Brown said the plan has strong community support.

Further, Thom Morgan said that each delay means the development will cost more. "We need to get started on this now rather than keeping putting it off," he said.

Meanwhile, the Triad downtown project picked up an endorsement from former critic Buck Kamphausen, Vallejo businessman and downtown property owner.

After talking over his concerns with Grimm, Kamphausen said he is now "very much in favor of Triad." Kamphausen also called the $200,000 guarantee a penalty, and urged that it be waived.

Currently, only four council members can consider the issue. Councilmembers Tom Bartee, Stephanie Gomes and Michael Wilson each has a conflict of interest.

Councilwoman Joanne Schivley asked City Attorney Fred Soley to see if there was a way for more than four members to participate. All four must vote in favor of the extension for the project to move forward.

Triad's first phase involves a 182-unit combined condominium/commercial building on a city parking lot on Virginia Street across the street from the newly renovated Empress Theatre.

Possible parking impacts from building on that lot have generated considerable questions and concerns.

• Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

Wal-Mart Edges Closer To Reality

Wal-Mart Edges Closer To Reality
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic | January 29, 2008

SUISUN CITY - Hoots, cheers and applause punctuated Tuesday night's meeting of the Suisun City Planning Commission as speakers came out for and against the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The planning commission for its part came out for Wal-Mart.

Community Development Director Heather McCollister told the commissioners that planning staff had determined that the Environmental Impact Report and related mitigation program does comply with state requirements, and that the Wal-Mart plan is consistent with the city's General Plan and Zoning.

If built, the supercenter would occupy part of a now-vacant commercial parcel at Highway 12 and Walters Road.

The project, in November, was ruled 'inconsistent' with Travis Air Force Base by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission.

Because the city's General Plan, at present, is not consistent with the county's airport land use plan, Suisun City and Wal-Mart, as co-applicants, presented the proposal to the Airport Land Use Commission. The ALUC ruled that the project is not consistent with the mission of the base for safety and other reasons.

The last word, however, rests with the Suisun City Council when it votes Feb. 12 on whether to override the ALUC ruling.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend to the council that it certify the Wal-Mart Environmental Impact Report and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend that the council find the supercenter project consistent with Suisun City's General Plan and zoning.

Without a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the council will decide whether to override the ALUC.

The project has been fraught with controversy and Tuesday night's meeting ran true to form, with comments arguing about a perceived 'encroachment' on Travis that some think could lead to the closure of the base, to the jobs Wal-Mart could provide area teenagers who, some say, don't presently have enough to do.

Traffic was a big issue during the public hearing, and some Lawler Ranch residents worried about collisions between Wal-Mart traffic and big-rigs on Highway 12.

Planned intersection improvements to be paid for by Wal-Mart, the commissioners were subsequently told, will make Wal-Mart-impacted intersections safer than they are right now.

When asked whether Wal-Mart is confident it can support both the supercenter and another Wal-Mart planned for North Texas Street in Fairfield, a Wal-Mart spokesman said yes, because the retail giant's current Fairfield store 'has exceeded expectations.'

Sales tax revenue that would help pay for Suisun City street repairs and public safety came up often during the public hearing, as did the local availability of discount prices and one-stop shopping.

Penny Hernandez, who told the commission that she has lived in the same Suisun City house for 49 years, said she now takes her 89-year-old mother to shop at discount stores in Fairfield.

Her mother, she said, 'has such a hard time getting out of the car going from store to store to store.'

Hernandez also said she 'has a 13-year-old daughter who may one day benefit from having a place to work.'

Others said if the council votes to override the ALUC, it will be a 'betrayal' of the many residents who vehemently oppose the Wal-Mart project.

In the Draft EIR, 60 percent of the 240 people who submitted comments opposed the project.

The Wal-Mart EIR and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program can be read in full online at

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UC DAVIS LEADS UC GAINS IN FRESHMAN APPLICATIONS - A record high nearly 49,000 high school seniors

University of California, Davis
January 29, 2008


A record high nearly 49,000 high school seniors, prospective transfer students and others applied to study at the University of California, Davis, for fall 2008 -- a 15 percent increase over fall 2007.

A total of 48,653 students applied to UC Davis, compared with 42,311 applicants for fall 2007. There are 40,568 applicants for freshman status this fall, a 15.6 percent increase from last year's 35,088 and the largest percentage gain in freshman applications among UC's nine undergraduate campuses.

A total of 8,085 applicants are seeking to transfer from another college or university, for an 11.9 percent increase from last fall's 7,223.

The overall percentage gain in applications was 15 percent, second only to Merced, at 15.4 percent, among the UC campuses.

Applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups account for more than 21 percent of domestic freshman applicants and almost 19 percent of domestic transfer applicants from a California community college. Last year, they accounted for about 19 percent in each applicant group.

"We are happy and proud of the growing popularity of the UC Davis campus and the increased diversity and quality of our applicants,"
said Pamela Burnett, director of Undergraduate Admissions at UC Davis. "We believe these gains reflect, in addition to increases in the state's college-age demographics, greater public awareness of UC Davis through additional efforts we began three years ago."

Systemwide, UC unduplicated applications are up 9 percent overall, from 110,994 for fall 2007 to 121,005 for fall 2008. A total of
95,201 students applied for freshman status, for a 9.2 percent increase over last year's 87,213. Among transfer applicants, there was an 8.5 percent increase, from 23,781 last year to 25,804.

For 2008, the California Department of Finance projects an increase of 3.2 percent among graduates from California public high schools.

Freshman applicants by ethnicity

A total of 37,705 California high school students applied for freshman status at UC Davis in 2008, compared with 32,901 for fall 2007. Those from traditionally underrepresented groups -- African American, American Indian and Chicano/Latino -- increased 27.7 percent.

For fall 2008, they account for 21.2 percent, or 8,010, of all California high school applicants, compared with 19 percent for students who applied to study at UC Davis for fall 2007.

All but one ethnic group experienced increases this year: African American, from 1,242 last year to 1,541 this year, or 24.1 percent; Asian American, from 11,239 to 12,232, or 8.8 percent; Chicano/Latino, from 4,811 to 6,260, or 30.1 percent; Filipino American, from 1,476 to 1,634, or 10.7 percent; and White/other, from
12,371 to 13,894, or 12.3 percent.

The number of American Indian applicants decreased from 217 last year to 209 this year, or 3.7 percent.

Students for whom an ethnicity is missing increased from 1,545 to 1,935, or 25.2 percent.

Transfer applicants

A total of 6,234 domestic applicants are seeking to transfer from a California community college this year, compared with 5,691 last year. Those from traditionally underrepresented groups account for
18.8 percent of the domestic applicants, compared with 19.2 percent last year.

Those groups with increases this year include: African American, from
222 last year to 224 this year, or 0.9 percent; Chicano/Latino, from
816 to 893, or 9.4 percent; Asian American, from 1,797 to 2,109, or
17.4 percent; and White/other, from 2,223 to 2,367, or 6.5 percent.

The number of American Indian applicants remained unchanged at 53, and applications from Filipino Americans decreased from 212 to 197, or 7.1 percent.

Students for whom an ethnicity is missing increased from 368 to 391, or 6.3 percent.

Offers of admission

Applicants will be notified of admission decisions beginning in mid-March.

Burnett encourages applicants to beat the rush by creating their MyAdmissions account now so they can easily check the status of their application online at .

Statistics for the UC system are available at .

Media contact(s):
* Pamela Burnett, Undergraduate Admissions, (530) 752-3018,
* Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-8248,

Our full UC Davis directory of media services and 24-hour contact information is available at .
Need information from campus news archives? The UC Davis News Service database contains past (and current) UC Davis news stories dating to 1991. Go to .
More university news and an experts directory:

To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail message to
UC Davis News Service
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616-8687
Phone: (530) 752-1930; Fax: (530) 752-4068

Touro Focuses On Cancer Center

Touro Focuses On Cancer Center
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/29/2008

TOURO UNIVERSITY public relations director Jim Mitchell outlines the first phase of Touro's redevelopment plan for north Mare Island, which will include the demolition of the Destinations nightclub (in the background) and several other buildings near the intersection of Azuar Drive and G Street. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Plans for Touro University's cutting-edge $330 million cancer treatment center on Mare Island are moving forward, though it may be a while before any construction takes place, officials said.

Touro has development plans for Mare Island's 191-acre north end. However, the current focus is on the 125,000-square-foot cancer center slated for a 26-acre lot at G Street and Azuar Drive, officials said.

Construction of the center could begin in late summer or early fall and be completed by early 2012, Touro public relations director Jim Mitchell said Monday.

Once the cancer center is under way, talks are to begin on Touro's "university village" project involving a health and science campus, bookstores and cafes, a hotel, a community center, housing, parks and wetland management.

The university has an exclusive right to negotiate with the city on a development agreement for the island's entire north end.

"We talked about the need to focus on the 20 acres first and get our arms around that. We wanted to get on that as soon as possible," said city economic development program manager Susan McCue.

Mitchell said city and university officials meet often to discuss the finer points of the agreement related to the cancer treatment center.

Touro is partnering with Seimens Medical Solutions to build the facility, which will be one of the country's first to use combined particle beam therapy, including proton beam and heavy carbon ions.

This spring, the development agreement for the Seimens project is expected to go before the City Council, followed by demolition of numerous buildings near Azuar and G Street.

A cluster of orange military barracks and a former car warehouse will be demolished. So will an unassuming building first used as an enlisted men's recreation club, and then a moral welfare and recreation center, said Mare Island historian Joyce Giles.

Another building to be razed is the longtime home for the San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival at Azuar Drive and I Street. This weekend's festival will likely be the last year organizers can use Building 897 for a wide array of workshops, art shows and other activities.

Efforts are under way for the festival to return to its original home in nearby Building 505.

The council in October allowed the city and Touro to focus exclusively on the cancer treatment center before moving on to the university's other plans for the north end.

Touro University opened in 1998, and is educating more than 1,400 students at colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, health sciences and education.

TOURO UNIVERSITY'S plans for a cancer center.

• Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

History Of North Connector Proposal Repeats Itself

History Of North Connector Proposal Repeats Itself
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 28, 2008 16:38

FAIRFIELD - People have yet another opportunity to voice opinions on how the proposed North Connector might affect the environment and local communities.

The North Connector is to run about 5 miles and would be along the north side of Interstate 80 from Abernathy Road in Suisun Valley to Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon. The goal is to take local traffic off of the freeway and ease congestion.

But the North Connector also has generated controversy, with some Green Valley residents concerned it will end up carrying regional traffic through their community.

People previously got to comment on the project environmental study in 2006. Then the Solano Transportation Authority decided to do a full-fledged environmental impact report and let people comment in October 2007. Now the STA is circulating a revised environmental impact report.

Once again, the report looks at such issues as how the North Connector would affect farmland, aesthetics and wildlife. And, once again, it concludes that the new road would have no significant negative impacts that cannot be overcome.

Comments can be submitted to the STA through March 3. There will be a public meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Room 1600 at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.

The environmental report is being circulated again because of comments received on the previous version, STA Projects Director Janet Adams said. In particular, she cited a letter from the state Department of Fish and Game.

'Our original EIR didn't go into detailed discussion about the Swainson's hawk,' Adams said, adding the STA hadn't known about a recent sighting of the hawk near Fairfield.

The North Connector is to be built in three sections: Eastern, central and western. The eastern and western sections are covered in the environmental impact report.

Fairfield will oversee the building of the central section at a cost of about $25 million. This segment is to run from Suisun Creek west to Suisun Valley Road at Mangels Road and be part of a new development on the Garaventa property.

'That is going to move ahead this year,' Public Works Director Gene Cortright said.

Next would come the eastern section, from Suisun Creek east to Abernathy Road, with construction scheduled to begin in 2009. Building costs alone could be about $16 million, not counting such things as buying land. The STA will oversee that project.

Finally would come the western section, from Business Center Drive in Green Valley to Red Top Road at Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon. Construction is to be overseen by the STA and begin around 2016, depending on when an estimated $31 million is available.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

Congresswoman To Hold Small Business Seminar In Fairfield

Congresswoman To Hold Small Business Seminar In Fairfield
Daily Republic Staff
January 28, 2008 09:31

FAIRFIELD - Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, will hold a seminar in February to help small businesses market their products and services to local, state and federal government agencies.

The 'Marketing to Government' seminar will be 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14 in the Solano County Board of Supervisors chamber at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.

The Solano College Small Business Development Center is among the sponsors of the event.

For registration or more information, call 428-7792 or 925-932-8899.

Monday, January 28, 2008

City spotlight: Vacaville - by East Bay Business Times

East Bay Business Times - January 28, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008
City spotlight: Vacaville
East Bay Business Times - by East Bay Business Times

Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine:
What excites you most about Vacaville's future? Many things do. The expansion of Genentech, the new Kaiser hospital and their expanded clinic, the opening of the new Nut Tree, the first major development of offices by the State Compensation Insurance Fund, a new overcrossing at the Nut Tree and a new interchange at Leisure Town Road, the rebirth of our downtown with the Town Square, the Lagoon Valley golf course project including more office and high end residential units, a new Solano College campus and more all add up to good jobs and a vibrant economy.

What troubles you about Vacaville's future? An unstable housing market and rising construction costs add up to a lack of affordable housing for future generations of Vacaville youngsters. Although real estate prices of homes continue to fall, housing supply is not keeping up with demand throughout the state and an increasing cost of rentals is an added cause for concern.

What is the biggest opportunity in Vacaville? Jobs. Good jobs, particularly in the biotech and clean office corporations expanding and settling here.
What is Vacaville's biggest asset? We have three sources of plentiful water and reasonable land prices, at least for the near term.

What is its biggest liability? The business climate in the state of California.
What is the most important project going or to come soon? The community college project on 60 acres. If we can educate enough students for the biotech industries' needs, they will bring their plants here. I believe it is one of the ongoing shortfalls facing emerging as well as established successful biotech companies. Education is the great equalizer and provides hope for anyone with ambition and determination.

What is something people don't know about Vacaville? That we are leading the way in many areas, including the environmental arena. At last count, we had more electric vehicles per capita than any city in America; our CNG program is one of the best in terms of incentives and growth; we are in the top 10 in solar energy produced in Northern California; and we are expanding our already good system of bike and walking trails. We have a wonderfully active and busy downtown with terrific restaurants and growing businesses.
Population: 96,489
Biggest private employer: Alza
Number of Alza jobs: 1,200
Number of business licenses: 3,391
(1,341 are home businesses) Jobs in Vacaville: 29,240
Median household income: $86,400
Median home price, November '07: $372,500
On the Web:

Sources: City of Vacaville, Solano EDC, DataQuick Information Systems

Sue Vaccaro appointed to Dixon May Fair Board

Sue Vaccaro, 49, of Fairfield , has been appointed to the Dixon May Fair Board of Directors (36th District Agricultural Association). Since 1998, she has served as community and government relations manager for Republic Services Incorporated. From 1992 to 1998, Vaccaro was public relations manager for the Northern California Region of Kaiser Permanente and, from 1990 to 1992, was a district representative for Congressmember Vic Fazio. Prior to that, she was special projects director for the Solano Economic Development Corporation in 1990 and researcher, writer and producer for KGO-TV, the ABC affiliate in San Francisco , from 1982 to 1990. Vaccaro is chair of the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County and a board member of the California Refuse Removal Council, the Solano Economic Development Corporation and the Fairfield Suisun Chamber of Commerce. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Vaccaro is a Democrat.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

VC investment in East Bay up in 2007

East Bay Business Times - January 28, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008
VC investment in East Bay up in 2007
East Bay Business Times - by Mavis Scanlon

Big increases in investments in energy and health care companies helped drive up the total venture capital investment into East Bay companies in 2007.

Despite a drop in deal count for the year, to 85 from 98 last year, venture capital investment in East Bay companies reached $1.2 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2006, according to the Quarterly Venture Capital Report released Jan. 22 by Dow Jones VentureSource.

Driven by record investments in bio­pharmaceutical, medical device and energy companies, venture capital investment in all U.S. companies climbed 8 percent in 2007 with the most deals and capital invested since 2001.

The deal count reached 2,648 deals for the year, slightly ahead of 2006, and capital investment reached $29.9 billion, up 8 percent compared with in 2006.

According to the report, California was once again the top market for venture capital investment in 2007, accounting for 42 percent of all deals and 47 percent of all capital invested with just under $14 billion.

The Bay Area attracted the bulk of the state's venture capital investment with 818 deals garnering $9.9 billion, 3 percent more than 2006.

In the East Bay, the energy, advanced specialty materials and chemicals, and health care sectors saw increased investments, while venture investments in information technology, and business and consumer retail investment was down.

East Bay energy companies saw $173 million invested in eight deals throughout the year, up from $50 million invested in five deals in 2006.

"This is definitely something for us to monitor," said Valerie Foo, research manager at Dow Jones VentureSource. "After all, UC-Berkeley has been devoting a lot more focus on energy and sustainability."

The Bay Area in general sees more venture capital activity than other areas because some of the nation's top schools are here, Foo added, so it's natural that a lot of startups spawn where the leading universities are located. | 925-598-1405

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Solano EDC January 2008 News

January 2008

Table of Contents

- Real Estate Roundup (December 2007)
- EDC celebrates 25 years of service to Solano County
- Keep your membership active for 2008
- Did you know?

Real Estate Roundup (December 2007)

Colliers International (
- 527-531 Stone Rd, Benicia – 99,840 sf lease to Cork Supply USA, Inc.
- 5311 Industrial Way, Benicia – 26,089 sf lease to CytoSport Inc.
- 801 Chadbourne Rd, Fairfield – 44,280 sf lease to Freight Transport Systems Inc.
- 539 Stone Rd, Benicia – 122,000 sf lease renewal with Western Container Corp
- 535 Getty Court, Benicia – 20,160 sf lease renewal with Gunnebo Entrance Control

- Grobic Court, Fairfield – Land sale of 1.5 acres by WWCH1, LLC
- 2050 Cessna Dr, Vacaville – 220,800 sf building sale by Serta Mattress
- Building 126, Mare Island, Vallejo – 7,663 lease sf to Praxis
- Building 757, Mare Island, Vallejo – 6,375 sf lease to Triton Repair

Cornish & Carey (
- 4955 Industrial Way, Benicia – 48,000 sf leased to Encore Glass
- 5311 Industrial Way, Benicia – 26,089 sf lease by CytoSport Inc.
- 665 Stone Road, Benicia – 31,870 sf lease by JV Industrial

Cushman & Wakefield (
- 497 Edison Ct, Fairfield – 12,000 sf leased by Sunnyside Farms
- 497 Edison Ct, Fairfield – 9,000 sf leased by UMA Solar
- One Harbor Center, Suisun City – 3,300 sf lease by BP Solar

Keegan & Coppin (
- 2339 Courage Drive, Fairfield – 108,000 building sale to Jaeger McHugh LLC

Premier Commercial (
- Grobic Court, Fairfield – Land sale of 1.5 acres to Brian Schneider

The Wiseman Company (
- One Harbor Center, Suisun City – 3,300 sf lease to BP Solar

EDC celebrates 25 years of service to Solano County

Solano EDC will kick off its 25th year of service Jan. 24 with the annual meeting, 11:30 a.m. at the Fairfield Hilton Garden Hotel.

Sam Zuckerman, senior correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, will be the keynote speaker for the annual meeting. Zuckerman has been with the newspaper since the late 90s, and currently focuses on regional economic and financial issues.

It was 25 years ago that a group of Solano County business and government leaders determined that the economic future of the area needed the support of a countywide organization that could bring together all the key players to assure a balanced and steady growth.

“The dreams of a few have resulted in today’s Solano EDC,” Mike Ammann said. “Today, EDC has proven the wisdom of the EDC founders. Through the years the organization has been able to bring together private sector and government officials to work for the common good. We are all in a better position today than we were before EDC was created.”

The annual meeting will highlight the accomplishments of 2007, and Zuckerman will give insight into the challenges and opportunities for economic growth during 2008.

“This is a critical time for Solano County,” Ammann said. “We are positioned to take advantage of the economic opportunities in biotech, services and energy expansion.”

Each year the annual meeting is a big event, and 300 are expected to attend.

For information regarding reservations, contact Pat at 707 864-1855.

Cost is $45 per person or $350 for a table of 8.

The Annual meeting is sponsored by: Gaw Van Male Counselors at Law, Lennar Mare Island, Travis Credit Union, Sutter Health, Umpqua Bank, Wells Fargo, Suisun Grape Growers Association, Reporter, Kaiser Permanente, Times-Herald, Solano Garbage Company, Potrero Hills Landfill and Touro University.

Keep your membership active for 2008

Now is the time to renew your membership with Solano EDC. It’s an investment that gives you a voice in Solano County’s economic development.

2008 will be both a year of challenges and opportunities. You can help protect your organization’s future by maintaining your membership.

For information, contact Sandy at (707) 864-1855.

Did you know?

Who was the first Board Chairman of Solano Economic Development Corporation?

Gary Andrews, Amos & Andrews

The Solano Economic Development Corporation’s mission is to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life of Solano County communities through the attraction, growth and retention of business and industry.

Solano EDC Team

Mike Ammann, President (
Sandy Person, Vice President (
Pat Uhrich, Office Manager (
Andy Turba, Special Projects (

Solano Economic Development Corporation
360 Campus Lane, Suite 102, Fairfield, CA 94534
Phone: (707) 864-1855 Fax: (707) 864-6621

Recession Likely To Hit County Hard, Expert Says

Recession Likely To Hit County Hard, Expert Says
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

If a recession hits the state this year, it will likely impact Solano more than most other Bay Area counties, an economic forecaster said Thursday.

Worrying about it, however, could make matters worse, said Hing Wong, a senior regional planner with the Association of Bay Area Governments, which released the forecast. ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the Bay Area's 101 cities and towns, and nine counties.

"If people over-react, it could exacerbate the problem," Wong said. Curtailing spending, for example, will only worsen the situation, by further depressing the economy, he said.

Contrary to earlier economic forecasts, predicted booms in population and jobs in Solano County have not materialized, Wong said. The high number of home foreclosures here may help explain why, he said.

"Solano County's foreclosure rate is the worst in the nine Bay Area counties," Wong said.

In the fourth quarter of 2006, 781 Solano County homes were foreclosed on, Wong said. That number more than doubled last year to 1,793, he said.

With Solano's tax base suffering especially deeply from lost property tax revenues and its less-than-expected growth, the Vallejo area likely will suffer more from a recession, and feel impacts longer, Wong said.

"I think what's happening is that Solano County is one that might feel the effect of a recession more sharply than other parts of the Bay Area, and it will take a little longer to recover," Wong said.

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce president Rick Wells said he thinks the county's diverse economy will help shelter it from the worst of any recession.

The Bay Area economy is expected to show slow job growth with a possible recession on the horizon in 2008 and then improve in 2009, said Paul Fassinger, ABAG's economist and research director. The remarks were made during the association's 20th annual regional economic outlook conference Thursday.

"Energy prices, mortgage industry, and the state budget continue to cause concerns about their impact on our region's economy," Fassinger said. These projections and other budget concerns were presented to more than 200 conference attendees representing local government, regional agencies and business.

Job growth is expected to slow Bay Area-wide, though more profoundly in Solano County than elsewhere, Wong said. Job growth and the economy in general here have been slowing since 2004, he said.

"Both the state and national economies will experience a weak year in 2008, with the California and national housing sector slumps showing no signs of abating at year-end, said Howard Roth, chief economist of the California Department of Finance who provided the broader California outlook at the conference. Roth said he thinks there's about a 40 percent chance of a recession this year, while Fassinger is "a little less pessimistic," Wong said.

"Best case is that economic growth will stabilize at a low level by the end of 2008, but the major risks affecting this outlook are higher energy prices and whether the housing sector downturns turn out worse than expected."

The next few months will tell, Wong said.

Solano: A Great Place To Grow Up

Solano: A Great Place To Grow Up
County Named One Of Top 100 Areas For Young People For Third Consecutive Year
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

For the third consecutive time, Solano County was recognized as one of the best places for at-risk youth to get help, it was announced Thursday.

America's Promise Alliance, a national organization dedicated to children and youth, in partnership with Capital One, named Solano County a winner of its 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People competition, said Solano County spokesman Stephen Pierce.

The competition recognizes the top 100 best places nationwide for young people to live and grow up, Pierce said. More than 300 communities in all 50 states applied for the honor this year and the winners span 37 states, he said.

Solano County was the only Bay Area location selected, one of two in Northern California and one of seven statewide, Pierce said. Solano was among 44 third-time winners. The competition was founded by Gen. Colin Powell in 2005, according to the alliance Web site.

"Solano County was selected as one of the 100 Best because of its collaborative approach to helping its young people," Pierce said.

This year's award focused on county efforts to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs among young people, he said.

"Solano County's Public Defender's office went to every middle school in the county and did a pretty grotesque presentation on the dangers of methamphetamines," Pierce said. "It was much more intense than 'This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.' "

The first-time award focused on health issues, and the second emphasized the county's education programs, Pierce said.

"Each year has built on the year before," he said.

Solano County Public Defender Jeffrey Thoma, who accepted the award in the nation's capitol on Thursday, said he's "overwhelmed and humbled by the fact that we're the only California jurisdiction to be a three-time winner - to be recognized for our community's efforts towards young people."

Winning the award could translate into more help for youth, Thoma said.

"Having won this, we're eligible for a playground grant," he said. "And other opportunities will arise for even more work toward children in the community."

"The prosperity of every community and this country depends on how well we care for our children and youth," said alliance president Marguerite W. Kondracke. "Although no place is perfect, when we have communities that make young people a priority and are working to make sure they stay in school and have all the resources necessary to lead healthy, productive lives, we must recognize them and by extension inspire other cities and towns to follow their lead."

Josephine Wilson, interim director of Fighting Back Partnership, one of the county's most effective community partners, welcomes the recognition.

"I think it's a great opportunity to publicize the collaborative work everyone is doing around youth," Wilson said.

This year's 100 Best winners were selected by a panel that included some of the nation's best-known civic, business and nonprofit leaders, Pierce said.

"Solano County demonstrates on a daily basis what it takes to be a great community for our young people. Quite simply, we put our children first," said Solano County Supervisor John Silva. "This county is proud that our steadfast commitment to our youth has earned such esteemed national recognition for three consecutive years."

For more information about the 100 Best competition, visit

Dura-Vent's Move A Boost For Vacaville

Dura-Vent's Move A Boost For Vacaville
By Cathy Bussewitz/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

Simpson Dura-Vent, a chimney and venting products manufacturer headquartered in Vacaville, and a subsidiary of Pleasanton-based Simpson Manufacturing Co., announced Thursday that it will be closing its manufacturing plant in Visksburg, Miss., and consolidating its manufacturing operations into its Vacaville location.

The change will take place during the next 12 to 18 months and the company will hire an additional 100 to 150 workers at the Vacaville location during that time. The facility currently employs about 300 people.

"Business is down, and we have excess facility space and excess overhead, so it was a cost reduction," said Steve Eberhard, president and CEO.

"We believe we can improve manufacturing efficiencies if we're in one location, so overall, we think we will be more competitive," he added.

Simpson Dura-Vent recently added 38,000 square feet to its Vacaville facilities, and moved into the expanded space in September. The addition allows the company to consolidate its manufacturing to one location.

According to its most recent quarterly report, sales at Simpson Dura-Vent decreased by 17.3 percent in the third quarter of 2007. The decline was sharpest in the Southeast and in California. With the exception of Direct-Vent, sales of all of Simpson Dura-Vent's product lines decreased as a result of several factors, including the decline in new home construction.

This followed disappointing sales figures in the second quarter of 2007, when sales for the company declined by 36.7 percent.

"Our outlook for recovery on the housing market is two to three years, so we're making these adjustments," Eberhard said.

Cathy Bussewitz can be reached at

County Gets National Kudos

County Gets National Kudos
Solano Ranks Among Top 100 For Young People
By Reporter Staff
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

Solano County again has been named one of the top 100 communities for young people for the third year in a row.

America's Promise Alliance, the nation's largest alliance dedicated to children and youth, announced Thursday that Solano County has been named a 2008 winner of its 100 Best Communities for Young People competition.

More than 300 communities in all 50 states applied for the honor this year.

Solano County was selected as one of the 100 Best because of its collaborative approach to helping its young people. This year the award focused on the concerted efforts to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

The presentations to middle school students by the Public Defender on the dangers of methamphetamine, a push to keep the at-risk youth involved in the Juvenile and Family Drug Courts in school and successful in their educational goals and the efforts of the various community organizations with city-based teams exemplified the countywide efforts.

Additionally, in keeping with their commitment that all kids have health insurance, a comprehensive health-care coverage plan for kids who do not qualify for public programs has insured 96 percent of children in Solano County for the last five years.

Solano EDC: Light Pierces Economic Cloud

Solano EDC: Light Pierces Economic Cloud
Solano Luncheon's Menu Offers Mix Of Optimism And Gloom
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

Even during tough financial times, the Solano Economic Development Corporation found a reason to celebrate Thursday.

The Solano EDC held its 25th Annual Meeting in Fairfield, and the gathering offered both optimistic and doom-and-gloom predictions for 2008. Attended by around 300 members of the business community and local leaders, the luncheon featured a look back at 2007 and a peek ahead to the upcoming year.

Mike Ammann, executive director of Solano EDC, called 2008 a year of catching up on many projects started in the past two years. Large-scale expansions at Kaiser Permenante and Genentech in Vacaville were a few examples he gave regarding new facilities opening this year.

"2007 went by like that," Ammann said. "We really had a hot time. It was a lot of fun and a lot of activity."

Ammann then highlighted several aspects of all seven cities in Solano County including construction projects, economic draws and businesses. He said the next step is to brand a name that will be known throughout the Bay Area.

"We have a great community to sell," he said. "We want to get out and about in the Bay Area. When we come back next year, we'll have just as bright a story as this year."

Ammann gave way to guest speaker Sam Zuckerman, business writer with the San Francisco Chronicle. Zuckerman had a slightly different look at regional and state economic issues.

"When we start pontificating, we are often wrong," he said. "It's safe to say the state is in a recession. But I'm not a forecaster and don't know where we are headed. In fact, those making the predictions don't know either."

Zuckerman soon read what sounded like an eulogy for the economy, spouting off statistics indicating a rise in unemployment and a loss of sales-tax revenue. He did however, predict an upswing halfway through the year.

"It's hardly accurate to call Solano County a disaster area," Zuckerman said. "Even with those grim statistics."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

New Funds Aid CHP On Highway 12

New Funds Aid CHP On Highway 12
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

Traffic moves Thursday along Highway 12 in Solano County, which is becoming a safer route. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

With several physical changes toward safety on Highway 12 already in place, a new $1.1 million grant will help the California Highway Patrol start heavily enforcing driving rules on the dangerous stretch.

The grant, given to several CHP divisions whose service areas include parts of Highway 12, was announced at a press conference Thursday attended by local government officials, CHP brass and members of various transportation agencies. Given by the Office of Traffic Safety, the grant will help pay for more officers, extra overtime and public awareness for Highway 12 between Interstate 5 on the east and I-80 on the west.

This is just another step to increase safety by a large collaboration of city and county government, law enforcement, Caltrans and the Solano Transportation Authority. The press conference also was held to designate officially Highway 12 as a Safety Corridor.

Some steps already taken to increase safety included adding 5.7 miles of temporary center barriers on the stretch of highway through Suisun City, adding rumble strips, increased signage and creating a law establishing a double-fine zone for any moving violation between I-5 and I-80.

CHP Capt. Sue Ward said none of the changes would have been possible without the cooperation of several agencies and groups.

"It shows the joint effort," Ward said. "To see how it's coming together is outstanding."

Also working hard on safety issues has been Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Solano.

She, too, attended the conference and was described as "relentless" and "stubborn" when it came to getting legislation passed for the highway. Wolk said it all started when county and city officials came to her office asking for results after several deaths in early 2007.

"They said they weren't going to leave until I promised to do whatever I could to make it safer," Wolk said. "This grant comes at a critical time. Motorists seem to be getting the message. It's great news, but we aren't finished yet."

With some of the changes came issues among drivers. When many of the temporary lane barriers were installed in Suisun City last fall, there were several instances in which big-rigs hit them. CHP spokesman Marvin Williford said there were some issues at first, but drivers have started to adapt.

"With everything new, there is the possibility of bad," he said. "These people have been transitioning. The word has gotten out."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

Solano County's Economic Picture Is Blurry

Solano County's Economic Picture Is Blurry
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 24, 2008

FAIRFIELD - Solano County civic and business leaders on Thursday heard plenty of bad news about Solano County's economic scene -- along with some bright spots.

About 300 people met at the Fairfield Hilton Garden Inn for the Solano Economic Development Corp.'s 25th annual meeting. San Francisco Chronicle business writer Sam Zuckerman gave the keynote speech.

Zuckerman wrote a front-page Chronicle story on Nov. 18, 2007, that contended Fairfield is the perfect place to see how the housing bust is affecting Bay Area businesses. The headline read, 'Fairfield balances on the edge as housing prices plunge.'

Today, the United States is on the edge of a recession, Zuckerman told the crowd Thursday.

'That's certainly true in Solano County,' said Zuckerman, who added it is fair to say Solano County and California are well on their way into recession.

Zuckerman recited a long list of Solano County woes. Among them were a steep jump in foreclosure activity and a 15.8 percent drop in the median housing price in the span of a year. The unemployment rate rose from 5.4 percent to 5.8 percent in December 2007.

The county has been disproportionally affected by the housing bubble, Zuckerman said. Land availability and other factors put it in the center of the housing boom a few years ago. Now it is more vulnerable to spillovers from the housing bust into other business sectors, he said.

And yet, Zuckerman said, 'It's hardly accurate to call Solano County a disaster area, even with the grim statistics.'

The industrial and office sectors are holding up, he said. That has kept construction employment reasonably high, despite the state of the housing market.

And then there are such local businesses as the well-known Fairfield trio of Anheuser-Busch, Clorox and Jelly Belly.

'Downturns like the one we're in don't dampen the demand for beer, bleach and jelly beans,' Zuckerman said.

Also, the county has a strategic location, relatively affordable housing -- Zuckerman joked that it's getting more affordable even as he spoke -- and a diverse economy. He cited a University of the Pacific Business Forecasting Center prediction that job growth should rebound in a couple years.

'In the meantime, you have plenty to sustain you,' he said.

Sedcorp. President Michael Ammann reminded the crowd about the positive signs. He talked of 2007 success stories ranging from new restaurants to major business expansions and major business proposals in all seven cities.

Amman expects to share more good news when he recounts 2008 a year from now, he added.

Also at Thursday's meeting, S. Scott Reynolds of the law firm Gaw Van Male became the 2008 chairman for the Sedcorp. Board of Directors.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

County Ranks Among Nation's Best For Young People

County Ranks Among Nation's Best For Young People
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 24, 2008

FAIRFIELD - For the third year in a row, Solano County is among the top 100 communities in the nation for young people, a national group has decided.

County Public Defender Jeffrey Thoma was in Washington, D.C., Thursday to receive the award. It was presented by America's Promise Alliance at the President's Club.

'I think it's a remarkable achievement,' Thoma said in a telephone interview. 'America's Promise has had this only three years and Solano County is one of handful of jurisdictions that has won it all three years.'

Thoma wrote the application for the award. Among the items the county highlighted were:

- Ninety-six percent of children are insured.

- First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission coordinates and supports such collaborative efforts as BabyFirstSolano, which educates pregnant women about being drug- and alcohol-free.

- Thoma's office educates middle school students on the dangers of methamphetamines.

- Community organizations and city teams work together to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.

Thoma talked about efforts by the county, cities, schools and various private organizations. For example, he said, the schools are dedicated to addressing truancy and ensuring students graduate.

'In and of itself, I think it speaks highly of Solano County,' Thoma said. 'Every day we work very closely together ... it's a cooperative effort to engage the children of our communities and give them alternatives to being at risk.'

Solano County's name appeared with the other 100 communities during a segment on NBC's 'Today Show,' he said.

The county is one of seven California communities to receive the honor and the only one in the Bay Area. Sacramento County also made the list.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell founded America's Promise Alliance. The five promises are caring adults, a safe place, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help each other.

The alliance advocates partnerships among corporations, nonprofit groups, foundations, policy-makers, advocacy and faith groups. More than 300 communities applied for the 100 best community honors this year.

Solano County 'is proud that our steadfast commitment to our youth has earned such esteemed national recognition for three consecutive years,' county Board of Supervisors Chairman John Silva stated in a press release.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

Travis Officials Say Aircraft Traffic, Jet Fuel Pipeline Don't Pose Safety Threats

Travis Officials Say Aircraft Traffic, Jet Fuel Pipeline Don't Pose Safety Threats
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic | January 24, 2008

SUISUN CITY - Travis Air Force Base has no public safety concerns in regards to the proximity of a runway to the proposed site of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Public Affairs Chief Capt. Lindsay Logsdon confirmed Thursday.

Travis also has no safety concerns about the base's jet fuel pipeline that runs under and adjacent to the Wal-Mart site's Petersen Road border, Base Commander Col. Steven J. Arquiette wrote in a letter obtained by the Daily Republic.

Public safety concerns about the runway, which is 2.5 miles from the runway, were among the reasons cited by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission in its Nov. 8 ruling that the project is incompatible with Travis.

Suisun City residents who are worried about the pipeline prompted the executive director of a national pipeline safety organization to write Arquiette and question him about the jet fuel pipeline's safety.

Suisun City Community Development Director Heather McCollister said Arquiette's response, dated Jan. 23, 'reaffirms all of our analysis that this project will not adversely impact the mission of the base.'

Suisun City has the right to override the airport commission's 'adverse use' decision.

The state Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics wrote McCollister last month to say Caltrans agrees with the airport commission's ruling, adding that if the city overrides the commission, the airport operator 'shall be immune from liability' for damages to property or personal injury if a plane from Travis crashes into Wal-Mart.

Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said the city isn't worried about a possible hike in its liability insurance rates in the event the City Council votes to override.

Opponents of the Wal-Mart project recently raised issues regarding the Travis jet fuel pipeline.

The Suisun Citizens League, led by resident Dwight Acey, is worried that heavy construction equipment and tractor-trailer rigs could compromise the integrity of the pipeline, leading to possible groundwater contamination and other public safety threats.

Their concerns prompted the letter to Arquiette from the Pipeline Safety Trust, which identified itself as being on a steering committee established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The steering committee, the letter said, will make recommendations to Congress on 'ways to correct the breakdown in communications between pipeline operators, such as you (Travis), and local government planners that often put people at risk.

'... We understand that the military is exempt from the minimum federal pipeline safety regulations that apply to all similar pipelines,' the letter went on, 'but the military still has a duty to protect people and the environment near its pipelines.'

Arquiette responded that Travis has thoroughly reviewed the draft and final Wal-Mart EIRs, and that those reviews 'indicate the project, as depicted in the EIRs, should not interfere with the safe operations of our pipeline.' He sent a copy of his letter to the Suisun City Planning Commission.

Travis frequently examines the pipeline for 'operational integrity,' including 'regular visual inspections of the entire surface area of the pipeline route,' Arquiette added. Travis has a plan in the event of a pipeline malfunction or leak, he said.

Should the project get under way, Arquiette's letter said, 'We will work closely with Suisun City and the developer to ensure the project's construction activities and the daily operations of the Walmart (sic) store do not impede the continued safe operation of the pipeline.'

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

Grant To Strengthen Highway 12 Safety

Grant To Strengthen Highway 12 Safety
By Audrey Wong | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 24, 2008

FAIRFIELD - More eyes will be watching reckless drivers on Highway 12, and residents can expect to learn safe driving tips in commercials and community meetings.

These were some of the details officials presented Thursday to announce the final approval of $1.1 million state Office of Traffic Safety grant that will intensify patrols on the section of Highway 12 from Interstate 80 to Interstate 5.

California Highway Patrol officers are working with police in Fairfield, Suisun City and Rio Vista to enforce the new double-fine zone. The effort includes CHP officers in Solano County, South Sacramento and the Stockon area, CHP Capt. Sue Ward said.

The grant will pay for CHP planes to monitor speeds from above and also fund overtime for police and CHP officers. The state money will also help launch a public education campaign about safety on the highway.

Motorists can expect to have four to eight CHP officers working on overtime on Highway 12, CHP Officer Willie Williford said.

Williford is planning a town hall meeting during which residents can discuss the hazards of driving on the highway. He also has scheduled a meeting with Trilogy residents in Rio Vista to talk about new laws concerning Highway 12.

Williford also plans to teach teenagers about the dangers of reckless driving on the highway and is working on public service announcements about Highway 12.

Law enforcement agencies have started some efforts to reduce speeding and traffic violations. In October 2007, Fairfield traffic police bore down on motorists passing illegally on the shoulder of the highway, said Sgt. Dave Walsh. Monday morning, Fairfield police issued 25 speeding citations on Highway 12 between Beck and Pennsylvania avenues.

The grant will augment regular patrol on Highway 12, Walsh said, and police will be able to carry out more operations against traffic violators.

Motorists who receive tickets for moving or seat-belt violations on Highway 12 can expect to pay more because the double-fine zone went into effect Jan. 1.

Highway 12 has 70,000 vehicles travel on it daily and has been the scene of several fatal accidents in recent years.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Council Unanimous In Approving Hotel Proposal

Council Unanimous In Approving Hotel Proposal
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

The Dixon City Council gave a unanimous thumbs up Tuesday night to construction of a Comfort Suites Hotel on Dorset Drive.

After a two-hour public hearing on the project, the council voted 4-0, confirming the design review, the final step in the approval process.

The hotel will be a 43,654-square-foot, three-story building with 80 units on a two-acre site just west of the Arco gas station in an area zoned highway commercial.
"It seems to be the best deal for this property," said Councilman Steve Alexander.
During the public hearing, the proposal for a hotel did not come without opposition.
Several neighbors next to the property expressed their disapproval of a hotel development, including Mark Slight who had appealed the Planning Commission's recommendation of approval.

"No, we are not against development," Slight said. "We want a residential compatible development that encourages quality growth."

Slight and 61 other neighbors had signed a petition against the particular development.

"I'm not alone," Slight said. "Please take what these people say into serious consideration - that this is not the right venue for a hotel."

The adjoining residential neighbors also have had a great concern for the safety of their neighborhood as similar type businesses typically bring with it transients, noise, theft and burglary, according to neighbor Maria Andrews.

A business such as a hotel is almost unheard of in a residential neighborhood and definitely will have a negative impact on the existing residents' property value, she said in a letter.

Rich Waller of Shook and Waller, LLC, proposed the hotel development. A fast-food restaurant and a retail outlet had been proposed for the same site.
"Our original proposals received a lot of opposition," Waller said. "The proposal before you today, we are very happy with. This is a permitted use, a quiet use completely within the zoning."

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

Report: California Biotech Industry Grows, But Uncertainty Looms

Report: California Biotech Industry Grows, But Uncertainty Looms
Jan. 23, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - California's biotechnology industry is growing steadily, but the looming possibility of increased government oversight could stifle new drug development, according to an industry-supported report set for release Thursday.

The California Healthcare Institute reported that biotech businesses and research generated $73 billion in revenue in 2006 in California, up nearly 20 percent from 2005.

Including medical device and diagnostics firms, California biotech companies brought in just over 40 percent of the $7.4 billion in biotech venture capital _ about three times as much as Massachusetts, the state's nearest competitor. And the National Institutes of Health bestowed $3.3 billion in grants on California researchers, significantly more than any other state, the report found.

The state's 2,700 firms employed nearly 270,000 workers, more than either the aerospace or the movie businesses, the report said. California biotech workers in the state pulled down an average salary of $71,300.

However, a recession could drag down biotech like any other industry, said David Gollaher, the institute's chief executive and co-author of the report. But just one new blockbuster biological drug that strikes a blow against an intractable disease like cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's would shield the sector from any economic downturn, he predicted.

"There's an enormous market for the products of the industry as they're developed," Gollaher said.

The report, compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, did not address profitability, which has always eluded the biotech industry as a whole. Analysts put the U.S. biotech industry's losses at more than $52 billion since its inception three decades ago.

And despite the report's rosy picture of California biotech, the state's biggest makers of genetically engineered pharmaceuticals, Amgen Inc. and Genentech Inc., have seen their stock prices fall sharply in the last year.

Amgen shares lost more than 30 percent of their value in 2007 amid Food and Drug Administration safety warnings about the side effects of the Thousand Oaks-based company's blockbuster anemia drugs. Research has suggested that high doses increased patients' risk of tumors and death.

Though Genentech of South San Francisco remains profitable, the company's shares lost nearly 20 percent during the year as sales of the company's top-selling cancer drugs failed to impress Wall Street.

"In the near term, there are some definite headwinds that the industry faces," said Jim Birchenough, a Lehman Brothers biotech equities analyst.

Top-selling drugs from the state's biggest companies are reaching the point of market saturation, Birchenough said. And the field of small startups, where many of the industry's innovative discoveries are made, has become so crowded that raising money to sustain them has become difficult, especially in the face of more stringent FDA safety testing requirements.

Industry growth was likely to stay flat in the short-term, though new treatments would likely spur another "leg of growth" in the future, Birchenough said.

Another challenge looming over the biotech industry, according to the report, is the likely expansion of the federal government's role in determining not just whether new drugs are safe but which are cost-effective.

A December report issued by the Congressional Budget Office said more research that would encourage insurers to cover only the least expensive of similar treatments could help rein in rising health care costs.

Under such a system, "developers of new drugs, devices and procedures would have clearer incentives ... to generate products and services that yielded substantial health gains relative to current treatments," the CBO report said.

But so-called "comparative effectiveness research" could spawn health care rationing and prevent insurers from covering the most advanced and costly treatments and strip companies of the incentive to create new drugs, the report said.

"A lot of things that have been developed in the past just wouldn't have a chance to make it through that filter," Gollaher said.

New drugs and devices must incorporate the massive costs of research and development into their asking price when they first go on the market, he said. As they are more widely prescribed, their cost goes down.

The high cost of biotech drugs has long been the subject of emotional debate, especially surrounding terminal illnesses like cancer, where the cost of genetically engineered treatments can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pending legislation before Congress would give the FDA the right to approve so-called copycat versions of biotechnology drugs worth $12 billion annually whose patents have expired.

The biotech industry has long argued that because their products are more complex than standard chemical-based pharmaceuticals, ensuring the safety of copycat versions made by generic drug companies would be difficult.

Copart Gets Patent For Innovative Online Auction System

Copart Gets Patent For Innovative Online Auction System
Daily Republic staff | | January 23, 2008 16:40

FAIRFIELD - Copart Inc. today announced it has been issued a patent that covers and protects certain processes employed by its online auction platform, VB 2. The patent from the U.S. Patent Office is No. 7,315,832.

The online auction platform for used and salvaged automobiles consists a preliminary bidding process that allows bidders to access auction items and submit bids during a pre-established time period, followed by a real-time virtual auction session, according to a Copart press release. It allows buyers to gauge the interest in a vehicle and the price range before the virtual action is conducted.

'We believe VB 2 has had a tremendous impact on the success of Copart,' Willis Johnson, chairman and CEO of Copart, stated in the press release.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

UC Davis climbs in Peace Corps top 25 volunteer rankings

January 18, 2008

UC Davis climbs in Peace Corps rankings
UC Davis ranks 21st among all large universities in producing Peace Corps volunteers, the Peace Corps announced this week in unveiling its Top 25 Colleges list for 2008.

Last year, the university ranked 22nd. Currently, 45 UC Davis alumni serve in the Peace Corps. Since Peace Corps' inception, 1,258 Davis alumni have served, making it the No. 15 producer of volunteers of all time. Peace Corps representatives honored UC Davis officials and students in a special presentation Thursday on campus. The presentation was followed by a Peace Corps information session for students considering joining the volunteer organization. The Peace Corps has more than 8,000 volunteers in 74 countries. More information:

Faculty, staff asked to update directories
The campus is asking all faculty and staff to update their UC Davis Directory listings online by Jan. 22 so that the printed directory to be distributed this spring will have current information.

Directions on how to update directory listings online are included in a letter to staff and faculty from Jill Blackwelder, associate vice chancellor for safety services in the Office of Administration, and Pete Siegel, vice provost for Information and Educational Technology and chief information officer. (Find the letter online at

The Jan. 22 deadline is important because soon thereafter the campus directory group will use the information as it starts working on the 2008 print edition of the directory. The information will also be available through the people search function on the main campus Web site.

World's Largest Corn Maze in 2007 - Dixon made the Guinness Book of World Records

Dixon recently made the Guinness Book of World Records by hosting the World's Largest Corn Maze in 2007. This "amazing" maze covered 40 acres at Cool Patch Pumpkins and included a phone line for visitors to use should they become lost in the miles of twists and turns.

Benicia E Street Lot Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

E Street Lot Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

The Benicia City Council authorized issuing a "Request for Qualifications" (RFQ) for the E Street Lot, which is a call for developers who are interested in exploring this opportunity downtown with the City.

The ultimate size and shape of any new buildings on the property will be governed by the City's new Downtown Mixed-Use Master Plan and form-based code.

Interested parties are encouraged to read the entire RFQ and submit responses by the deadline, February 29, 2008.

East E Street Lot RFQ.pdf

Rio Vista Museum Traces Family's Dredging History

Rio Vista Museum Traces Family's Dredging History
By Carol Bogart Daily Republic January 18, 2008

Patty (Dutra) Bruce stands in one of the rooms of the Dutra Museum of Dredging in Rio Vista. The Dutra family has been involved in dredging in the delta for several generations. Mike McCoy Photo by Mike McCoy

RIO VISTA - 'I look around here and say, 'We actually have a museum in our family,' ' Patty (Dutra) Bruce said. 'How many people can say that?'

For more than 100 years, Dutra dredges maintained the levee system that turned hundreds of thousands of acres of former Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta marshland into fields for farming, she said.

Around the turn of the last century, Dutra 'sidedraft clamshell dredges' replaced the 'floating steam shovels' that had been used to lift sediment and repair the levees, which were originally constructed by hand by Chinese laborers.

Bruce's grandfather, Edward Dutra, and his wife, Linda Dutra, were Delta born and bred. The two built the Dutra Dredging Co. virtually from scratch after Ed learned the trade from his father, Tony Dutra, a dredging contractor.

The couple had the foresight to memorialize the Dutras' imprint on California history through the collection on display at the museum.

'A lot of these levees were built by hand until these dredges developed the river system we have today,' explained Bruce, who majored in history in college.

The Dutra Museum of Dredging is housed in a 100-year-old hilltop home at 425 St. Gertrude's Ave. in Rio Vista. The home, which Edward and Linda Dutra bought in 1978, overlooks the Sacramento River. The museum includes esoteric fossils unearthed more than 30 years ago when Dutra dredges removed sediment from the San Joaquin River near Stockton.

On display are what the exhibit identifies as a bone from a woolly mammoth and a partial tooth of a dinosaur.

Also interesting are the scale models of dredges designed and built by hand by Edward Dutra. Bruce points out her grandfather's clever use of an ice cream scoop to simulate the 'clam shell' scoop dredges used to remove silt and repair the levees.

Between 1950 and 1967, Dutra Dredging helped with sections of the 43-mile-long, 30-foot-deep Deep Water Channel, Bruce said. The Army Corps of Engineers project opened the Sacramento River to commercial shipping from the river's mouth through Rio Vista.

Bill Dutra is the last male family member still in the dredging business, but his three daughters help in the family business, which has projects across California and as far away as Washington, D.C., and Boston. In 1989, Dutra equipment helped restore the Bay Bridge after it collapsed in the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Bruce, 30, delights in sharing the family history with those who make an appointment to go through the museum.

'I was 9 or 10 years old when I started working for my dad,' she recalled.

Her parents graduated from Rio Vista High School, she said. One sister, Denise Maurer, 40, owns a construction company in Rio Vista.

Bruce's aunt, Jan Bennett, 53, said Dutra dredging contributed 'greatly' to the economic development of the area -- clear back to Gold Rush times.

In that era, major land arteries such as Highway 12 didn't exist, Bruce said. A museum mural depicts the river boats that carried both passengers and commercial cargo such as produce Delta farmers took to market.

Today, the Delta remains vital to California's economy and the nation, former Rio Vista mayor Marci Coglianese said. Coglianese is active in state efforts to protect Delta levees.

Calling the Delta 'the beating heart of the circulation system of California,' Coglianese said the levees are critical to the state's water supply as an 'economic engine.

'For example, Delta water is shipped to Southern California. California is 'the great supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to the rest of the country,' Coglianese said.

The possibility of levee failure became a subject of intense debate in Sacramento after levee failure left New Orleans under water in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Coglianese said.

The state is looking at strengthening the levees with rock, and Dutra rock and equipment could be used to do it, Coglianese believes.

'Their expertise is second to none in the world, and they understand the resources of the Delta,' she said.

That expertise is on display at the Dutra Museum of Dredging in Rio Vista.Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

IF YOU GO:The Dutra Museum of Dredging is located at 425 St. Gertrude's Ave. in Rio Vista, across from Rio Vista High School. Tours are by appointment only. To make an appointment, call Patty (Dutra) Bruce at (415) 258-1588.

UC Davis researchers find fungus that protects tomatoes in handling & distribution

University of California, Davis
January 22, 2008


Using tomatoes as a research plant, scientists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered that two plant enzymes that occur in the plant's cell walls cooperate with each other to make ripe fruit more susceptible to a disease-causing fungus.

"Identifying the role that these cell-wall enzymes play in making the harvested fruit more vulnerable to disease is important for designing strategies for limiting fruit losses to disease during storage, handling and distribution," said Ann Powell, a plant scientist who led the research team on this project.

The study findings are reported in the Jan. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the hallmarks of plant cells is their tough exterior cell wall. As the fruit ripens, the cell walls break down, and the fruit becomes softer and more flavorful. At the same time, the fruit also becomes more susceptible to diseases caused by fungi and bacteria.

Researchers have known for some time that two enzymes, known as polygalacturonase and expansin, contribute individually to the ripening-related breakdown of the cell walls. (Enzymes are proteins that trigger and control chemical reactions.) The UC Davis research team wondered if these two cell wall enzymes might also be responsible for the increased disease-susceptibility of ripening fruit. These diseases are responsible for substantial losses of high-quality harvested fruit during storage, shipping, marketing and consumer handling.

To test this notion, they selected two genetically modified tomato plant varieties. One of the varieties had been altered so that it did not produce polygalacturonase, and the other did not produce expansin. Powell had crossed these two varieties, resulting in a variety that produced neither of these enzymes.

The researchers, including plant biology graduate student Dario Cantu and postdoctoral fellow Ariel Vicente, inoculated tomatoes from each of the genetically modified varieties, as well as the variety resulting from the cross, with Botrytis cinerea, a common fungus that causes rotting on many fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes from a control group, whose enzyme production had not been altered, were also inoculated with the fungus.

The research team found that tomatoes from the plants that were genetically modified to suppress production of only one of the cell-wall enzymes were not any less susceptible to the fungus.
However, when both of the enzymes were lacking in the crossed variety, the cell walls of the fruit did not readily break down, and the fruit was dramatically less susceptible to infection by the Botrytis cinerea fungus.

"It appears that these two enzymes work cooperatively in a way that breaks down the cell wall and leaves the fruit more vulnerable to pathogens like the gray mold caused by this fungus," Powell said.

"Interestingly, this process occurs at a stage in the plant's development that allows both the plant and the pathogen to successfully reproduce," she noted. "This convenient and mutually beneficial timing may well have resulted from the co-evolution of the fruit and its respective pathogens."

Collaborating on this study with Powell, Cantu and Vicente were professional researcher Molly Dewey, formerly of UC Davis and Oxford University; researcher Carl Greve and plant science professors John Labavitch and Alan Bennett.

The study was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Cantu was supported by the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, and Vicente was supported by the Fulbright Commission and the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas of Argentina.

Media contact(s):
* Ann Powell, Plant Sciences, (530) 752-1413,
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

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Wal-Mart Still Plans To Build Vallejo Store

Wal-Mart Still Plans To Build Vallejo Store
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/23/2008

Wal-Mart is still committed to building a Vallejo supercenter, though officials cannot say when they will be ready to move forward with the project.

"We want to move forward, but we are looking at the costs in terms of the time it's taken to get to this to this point, and in terms of the costs of the EIR," said Wal-Mart senior public affairs manager Kevin Loscotoff.

Wal-Mart submitted plans in 2006 to build a two-story 393,000-square-foot Supercenter at the 12.45-acre parcel at Sonoma Boulevard and Redwood Street, the former K-Mart site.

However, the city is still waiting for Wal-Mart to sign an agreement to complete environmental and financial reports.

The environmental impact report is estimated to cost $639,000 which includes the financial studies.

Loscotoff said Wal-Mart is still finalizing its plans before launching into the EIR, which could take many months to complete.

City Development Services Director Brian Dolan said changes to the store's scope and design may be in the works.

He said Wal-Mart officials told him Tuesday morning that the company is committed to doing a project in Vallejo.

However, they added it would take until March 1 to figure out exactly what that project would be, Dolan said.

Meanwhile, Loscotoff said the company does not have a timeline for a decision on when it will proceed.

Vallejo lost its Wal-Mart in September when the retail giant closed its store in Meadows Plaza shopping center north of town, and opened its American Canyon Wal-Mart Supercenter on Highway 29.

The proposed Vallejo supercenter has a number of opponents fighting to keep it out of Vallejo. They say it will provide substandard jobs, hurt other retail establishments, and degrade the surrounding area.

Dolan said a meeting with Wal-Mart officials likely will be held in March to discuss the project's status. Loscotoff said he and city officials are in "constant communication" about the proposed store.

Last April, a divided City Council agreed to hire a firm to help process an environmental review.

The city hired a contract planner and was ready to hire an environmental consultant team last summer when Wal-Mart officials told staff they were not ready to proceed.

"It's not unusual to get proposals on an EIR and then evaluate on how you want to proceed," Loscotoff said.

In October, Wal-Mart announced it would take a moderate approach to building new supercenters in the United States. The company expects to open 195 supercenters this year, down 30 percent from the 281 opened during last fiscal year, according to a company announcement.

• Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

Dixon City Council OKs Shopping Center Plan

Dixon City Council OKs Shopping Center Plan
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/23/2008

A new shopping center approved by the Dixon City Council on Tuesday night will expand residents' retail and restaurant options.

The council unanimously approved a 152,000-square-foot shopping center on 14.09 acres in the city's Northeast Quadrant.

"Dixon Town Center" will include a plaza area and shopping center and is to be completed in two phases.

Phase I will include a 15,580-square-foot pharmacy with drive-through and three restaurants totaling 8,700 square feet, along with 18,600 square feet of inline retail space.

Phase II is to include an additional 109,000 square feet of "future" retail.

The council approved a zoning change to allow the center to be built at the corner of North First Street and Vaughn Road.

Part of the property originally zoned community commercial, with council's approval Tuesday, was rezoned highway commercial.

"The reason for the zoning change was to take what was already community and neighborhood oriented and allow us to bring business off of I-80," said Gregg Steele, on behalf of 20th Street Dixon LLC, the group that proposed the project. "It allows us to build a market with tenants that will bring what Dixon wants - variety and flexibility."

The only glitch seemed to be with the name, "Dixon Town Center."
According to Dan Ayala, with the Downtown Dixon Business Association, the name would take away from the "center" of downtown.

Steele said he was flexible and was not "married" to the name of the center and would be willing to work with the DDBA.

Still, Councilman Jack Batchelor disagreed.

"I believe the customers and community will call it whatever it wants," he said. "I don't see how it will be confused with downtown Dixon."

This was also the first City Council meeting at which Michael Gomez sat as vice mayor.

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

BayBio Launches IMPACT 2008 in San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington D.C.

BayBio Launches IMPACT 2008 in San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington D.C.

Republican leaders in the State Assembly joined their Democratic counterparts for a bi-partisan roll out of BayBio:IMPACT 2008 in Sacramento on January 15, the second date of three events planned for the report’s launch. Executives from BayBio member companies provided valuable commentary on the state of Northern California’s life sciences industry to attendees at the launch events in San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington D.C.

InterMune CEO Dan Welch and AvidBiotics Chairman Dr. David Martin spoke to a standing room-only audience in San Francisco on January 10. Cytokinetics CEO Robert Blum and Presidio Pharmaceuticals Founder Antoun Nabhan stood before elected officials, policy makers and legislative staffers in Sacramento on January 15. The final launch event is set for January 23. Genomic Health President Kim Popovits will join OncoMed CEO Paul Hastings to speak before the California Democratic Delegation.

The IMPACT report highlights Northern California’s important role as the home of the world’s largest life sciences sector, housing at least one-third of the industry. Northern California currently markets 408 innovative life-saving drugs and technologies and the pipeline has expanded nearly 25 percent in the past year, with more than 492 products in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. There are more products in later-stage clinical trials in Northern California than anywhere else in the world. At a time of extraordinary growth, the life sciences industry faces a host of policy challenges that threaten its viability in California and nationally.

The current tax climate puts the state at risk of losing highly educated talent, lucrative companies and their facilities to other emerging national hubs, or other countries. The industry needs support from state and local governments in an effort to keep jobs, companies and facilities in California. Participants at each launch urged policy makers to focus on legislation that recognizes that life sciences do not fit the same old business model of other sectors. BayBio provided policy makers and legislators with a 12-Point Action Plan to reinforce BayBio:IMPACT 2008.

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