10-2-08Merced Sun-StarPublic NoticeNotice of Hearing by LAFCo...Planada Community Service District Sphere of Influence Amendment LAFCO SOI File No. 1055C - and Planada Community Service District Annexation No. 2008-1 LAFCO File No. 0645http://www.legalnotice.org/pl/mercedsun-star/ShowNotice.aspxNOTICE OF HEARING by Local Agency Formation Commission of Merced A public hearing will be held for consideration of the Planada Community Service District Sphere of Influence Amendment LAFCO SOI File No. 1055C - and Planada Community Service District Annexation No. 2008-1 LAFCO File No. 0645 which was originally heard and approved on Thursday, August 28, 2008. The reconsideration hearing will be held on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 10:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as may be heard, in the Merced County Administration Building, Board Room, Third Floor, located at 2222 "M" Street, Merced, CA, at which time and place any interested person or agency present wishing to speak or to submit written testimony will be given an opportunity to be heard and considered. Both the Sphere of Influence Amendment and Annexation proposal involve the same 21.42 acres of land for inclusion within the Planada Community Services District Sphere of Influence and District Boundary. The subject property is located on the west side of Plainsburg Road, north of its intersection with State Highway 140. The property is known as the site of the Felix Torres Farm Worker Housing Center, being the northeast corner of Section 28 and a portion of Section 21, Township 7 South, Range 15 East, M.D.B.& M., assessors parcel numbers 053-120-057 and 053-120-058. The original request was submitted by the Planada Community Services District. The request for reconsideration has been submitted by Bryant Owens. All persons interested in this public hearing are cordially invited to attend. Written comments are encouraged and should be sent to Merced LAFCO, 2222 M Street, Merced, CA 95340, prior to the hearing. If you have any questions on this project or the hearing, please call Merced LAFCO at (209) 385-7671. LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION COMMISSION William Nicholson Executive Officer X:\LAFCO\APPS\0645 - Planada Community Service District\FORM L49 - Combined SOI and Annexation Notice for Reconsideration Planada CSD.doc Legal October 2, 2008 New law fights city sprawlLocal leaders don't think it'll have much impact on development...SCOTT JASONhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/479667.htmlLocal leaders say an anti-sprawl bill to help fight global warming signed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may not change how and where Merced grows.SB 375 offers incentives for developers to build more high-density housing complexes that would encourage people to bike, walk or use public transit to get to work.The problem is that many people in Merced don't like the idea of big-city living in a rural county.Local leaders say that it will take much more than a piece of legislation to end Californians' reliance on cars and encourage Mercedians to live the American Dream without a backyard."We're not a major metropolitan area," Merced County Association of Governments Executive Director Jesse Brown said. "We're not San Francisco. We're not Sacramento. We're not even Fresno."The law, carried by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, connects how an area grows to global warming.It requires the California Air Resources Board to set targets by September 2010 to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the state.It also requires organizations, such as MCAG, to write sustainable community plans. It's not mandatory that counties and cities follow the plans. Cars are still the biggest polluters in the state and could be one of the easier ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The law encourages cities to look at high-density building as a way to cut the number of cars on the road.It allows those types of projects near mass-transit stations to be exempt from some environmental laws -- an incentive for developers to move away from sprawling subdivisions that encourage driving.Brown said it's not enough of a carrot for much to change. "There has to be some meaningful financial incentive for the developer," he said. Cutting out a few environmental reviews wouldn't affect a developer's bottom line enough to switch from subdivisions to condominiums."I don't think people move to Merced so they can live in that kind of housing development," Brown explained. Melissa Kelly-Ortega, with the Merced-Mariposa County Asthma Coalition, urged local residents to pressure their City Council and Board of Supervisors to follow the sustainable living plans. "We'll all have to realize that global climate change must be addressed," she said. "One way is how we grow."Merced's Interim City Manager Jim Marshall said that, until recently, there were few empty lots within the city that needed to be developed.The city has tried to encourage other forms of transportation since 1997 when it approved its general plan update. New subdivisions with bike paths and nearby markets may reduce the need to drive, but it doesn't mean people change their habits. "Will they get out of their car and walk?" Marshall asked. "(Driving) is a mind-set that pervades California."Besides that, he said, high-density projects typically meet with a not-in-my-backyard attitude from residents near the project.In big cities, parking is hard and public transportation is easy, which creates a good reason not to drive, he noted. That's not the case in Merced, where many residents complain that there's not enough parking.Another problem with creating Merced housing complexes to serve the city's major employers, such as the county government or school districts, is that their offices are spread throughout the area and not centrally located, he explained.Still, Marshall said, there will come a time that land's cost and environmental restrictions will make builders look up and not out. The law's backers consider this to be the foundation of that development. Feinstein, Boxer back bailoutSenate passes a 451-page version of the $700 billion plan, 74-25...MICHAEL DOYLEhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/479659.htmlWASHINGTON -- The Senate added hundreds of pages and unrelated sweeteners to an already massive financial rescue package.It helped convince California's senators, both of whom voted to approve the $700 billion bailout legislation Wednesday night. But the revisions have not swayed San Joaquin Valley lawmakers one way or another.The Valley's House members who supported the bailout plan on Monday still think it's necessary. The region's representatives who opposed the House's 110-page package think the Senate's new 451-page version is no better than the original."It's garbage," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia. "They're trying to put more decorations on the Christmas tree, but the problem is the Christmas tree." On the flip side, Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, said Wednesday that he believes the Senate bill is a "better package" that includes "some positive things." Nunes opposed the $700 billion bailout Monday. Radanovich, after originally voting no, later switched to become one of 65 House Republicans to support the bill. On Friday, they will get another chance to reiterate their positions.The House and Senate bailout fundamentals remain essentially the same. So does its unpopularity among voters. Through early Wednesday afternoon, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office reported receiving 91,004 e-mails, telephone calls and letters concerning the bailout legislation. Of these, 93 percent voiced opposition.What's changed between the House and Senate bills, in part, is the addition of unrelated provisions. California's rural schools secure funding, farmers and filmmakers get tax breaks and, among other things, the manufacturers of "wooden arrows designed for use by children" save money under the revised Senate bill.The rural schools provision, for instance, guarantees funding to counties like Fresno, Tulare and Tuolumne that have significant national forest holdings. The provision sustains a funding formula that in 2006 delivered $69 million for rural California counties.Boxer and Feinstein both stressed the importance of the underlying bailout bill, with Feinstein's press secretary, Scott Gerber, saying the senator "believes that the livelihood of Californians is threatened by the economic crisis, and this is much better than the original (three-page Treasury Department) proposal." Boxer praised the Senate bill for increasing federal protection of bank deposits, among other revisions. She cited warnings that failure to approve the bill would cramp California's ability to finance its own public projects.The myriad Senate additions are also designed, in part, to convince at least 12 House members to change their minds and approve the bailout that was rejected Monday by a 228-205 margin. The Valley's congressmen are staying put.Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza of Merced and Jim Costa of Fresno are sticking with the bailout that the White House and congressional leaders call economically essential. Cardoza said he still supports the package although he said it was "quite irksome" that the Senate added unpaid-for provisions."We've been hearing, 'You've got to get this done,'" Cardoza said. "(Constituents) are not supportive of any particular package, they're in support of Congress getting its act together." Cardoza noted that his "BlackBerry was vibrating off of my kitchen table." Enrollment numbers look strong for UC Merced'We finally feel like a real college campus,' student body president says...DANIELLE GAINEShttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/479656.htmlThe groves of academe are blooming in Merced.Enrollment figures at UC Merced have increased by 45 percent for the second year in a row, according to numbers released by the college Wednesday. There are 2,718 students on campus this fall, up from 1,871 in the fall of 2007, and 875 the year before. Within the UC system, Merced had the largest increase of transfer students and the second-largest increase in freshmen. "We're thrilled with the numbers," said Kevin Browne, assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management. "It is a great vote of confidence in the university by the state of California."Browne added that it was a large increase that not many other campuses could accommodate. "We are extremely gratified by the strong demand from students seeking access to the newest UC campus, Chancellor Steve Kang said. "Prospective and current students are more energized than ever by the prospect of a UC-quality education in an innovative environment they are helping to build."...Of the freshmen enrolled this year, 32.5 percent were Asian, 32.1 percent were Hispanic, 22.5 percent Caucasian, and 7.2 percent black... UC Merced also has the highest number of first-generation college students within the UC system, with 50.5 percent of Merced campus students having parents without a four-year degree...Just under 30 percent of students at Merced are from the Central Valley.But the number of students physically on campus is less important than the number of students influenced by the campus, Browne said. "To draw large numbers of students from this area on campus is great," Browne said. "But where they go to school is not what we care about -- it is that they do end up going to college. Anywhere."...Modesto BeeTime to tap into water-wise farmers' well of ideas...Peter Gleick, Heather Cooley Gleick, Cooley and Christian-Smith are the authors of the Pacific Institute report "More with Less," which is available at www.pacinst.org http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/449616.htmlWater supply constraints have reduced the amount of water available for California this year, causing economic losses and midseason fallowing for many farmers. Independent of what we might want, it is very likely that there will continue to be serious constraints on water available to all California users, including agriculture.At a recent state Board of Food and Agriculture meeting in Sacramento, Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura stated that because of changes in the timing and reliability of water supply, "doing nothing is not an option."We agree and think it is time for an open and honest discussion about the full range of ways to respond to the water crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and throughout the state. Certainly, new infrastructure for water supply is one option that might be necessary. But it is also critical that farmers explore another promising option: agricultural water conservation and efficiency. A new Pacific Institute report, "More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California," does this by looking at what innovative California farmers are already doing and offering ideas to help overcome barriers to further improvements.We may be facing another drought year. The Old Farmer's Almanac and the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center are forecasting a third dry winter in a row for California. While they both could be wrong, of course, even most optimists don't think it likely that there will be more water for agriculture in coming years as population and environmental pressures grow, uncontrolled development in the Central Valley continues, and climate changes get worse.We thus face two choices: Ignore the possibility of ongoing water reductions and let them randomly destroy farms and communities; or plan to manage changes in agricultural water availability and reliability, and improve the productivity of the water that is available. We prefer the second approach, and our report examines how we can maintain a healthy and profitable agricultural sector into the future.There is a basic question here: Is there any potential for the agricultural sector to use water more efficiently? Many farmers have responded with a resounding "yes." Even James O'Banion of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority in a Sept. 15 letter to the Pacific Institute conceded that "there may be some additional gains in some of these areas." If even a small amount of water could be saved or used more efficiently, then it is worth having a discussion about how to provide the appropriate incentives to achieve these savings. We offer concrete recommendations for ways to overcome the financial, legal, and institutional barriers that currently inhibit or discourage efficient water use. For instance, we suggest providing rebates to farmers on more efficient irrigation equipment, and property tax exemptions for on-farm improvements that reduce water use. We also suggest the state provide more funding for educational and technical outreach programs such as agricultural extension services, which are not funded to an appropriate level to help deal with water-efficiency challenges. It is time to invest in the many "water-wise" farmers whose efforts bring benefits far beyond the farm gate and to create incentives that encourage other farmers to become more water-wise. In his commentary in The Bee ("Study subtly aimed at getting more water for environment," Sept. 25, Page B-5), O'Banion made some serious misrepresentations of our report. His comments reflect a knee-jerk response to any suggestions for how farmers might actively address growing concerns over water. There are those who prefer to bury their heads in the sand or attack research findings and recommendations, but this does little to help farmers or to deal with the crisis at hand. We encourage every member of the agricultural community to read the report. Stanislaus needs to take part in regional planning...Editorialhttp://www.modbee.com/opinion/story/449608.htmlDid you know Stanislaus County is an island?We didn't either, but some of our county supervisors seem to think so -- or at least that's the impression they give by their isolationist attitude toward regional planning.The board has been, at best, lukewarm about the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Planning Process, a two-year-old effort to identify a common vision for land use, transportation, housing and other issues in eight counties.But Tuesday, lukewarm deteriorated to icy. Supervisor Jim DeMartini went on a rant, saying, "This is such nonsense. I can't believe we're talking about it." He dismissed the idea of greenhouse gases, saying he didn't know what they are. (The simple answer, Supervisor DeMartini: water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and ozone.) On a 4-0 vote, the supervisors agreed to continue participating in blueprint discussions, but only if they can draft their own alternative.The blueprint process is far from over, but we're seriously concerned about the troubling attitude among many local officials. We know local leaders hate to be told what to do, and they're really unhappy about Senate Bill 375, signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Tuesday, that establishes new incentives to discourage sprawl.But the fact is, sprawl has caused many of the valley's problems -- air pollution, traffic, insufficient water, etc. Until the sour economy shoved everything else aside, survey after survey showed that valley residents want better long-term planning. We hope residents will let their supervisors and city council members know that they want Stanislaus County participating in this regional planning strategy. We are not an island.Fresno BeeHigh-speed rail study sees Valley windfallUC Merced professor finds region's economy may get boost of $3 billion...Russell Clemingshttp://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/908814.htmlA new study of California's proposed high-speed rail system estimates $3 billion in direct economic benefits to the Central Valley -- and possibly billions more if the system gives a permanent boost to the region's economy. On Wednesday, in its last meeting before voters are asked to approve Proposition 1A and authorize $9.95 billion to start work, the California High Speed Rail Authority received results of the economic study, which it commissioned. The authority's board chairman, former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, called the report by Shawn Kantor, a professor at the University of California at Merced, "validating and even inspirational." Kantor said his tally includes savings that high-speed rail would provide the region's residents in time and money that otherwise would be spent on driving to the Bay Area or Southern California, including gas, maintenance and parking. The estimated economic benefit also includes productivity gains, Kantor said. "You can sit on a train and work, make phone calls, and be productive." A leading opponent of Prop. 1A, however, saw it differently. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the project could flop after wasting scarce funds that could be used for other needs.Coupal did not attend the board's meeting in Fresno and said he had not seen the study. But he said the state should use its bonding power for other projects, such as dams, rather than a type of rail system that has never before been built in this country. "To use a worn-out expression in this political climate, they're trying to put lipstick on a pig," he said.Prop. 1A would authorize $9 billion for the high-speed rail system and $950 million for related transit improvements. A Field Poll this summer showed a previous version leading 56% to 30%. Besides the Jarvis group, opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce. But no organized opposition group has filed fundraising papers with the Secretary of State.The Planning and Conservation League, an environmental group, has joined a lawsuit against the authority's decision to route the system through Pacheco Pass, which it deems more environmentally sensitive than the alternative Altamont Pass. But its executive director, Traci Sheehan, said the group has taken no position on the bond measure.Even if it is approved, the bond issue would provide only a fraction of the $33 billion that the authority estimates would be needed for an initial phase from San Francisco to Los Angeles via Fresno and Bakersfield. Supporters hope for additional funds from the federal government and private investors such as public employee pension funds. Kantor said that the Central Valley could reap indirect benefits from the rail system, as well as direct savings of time and money. He said that construction was likely to be a significant economic stimulus, because the region would have 40% of the system's tracks but only 15% of the population it would serve. In addition, he said, the system could boost the region's economy by making it easier for products and people to move around in search of markets and jobs. "The question you might ask yourself is: 'What are the possible benefits to the Central Valley if it were fully integrated into the California economy?' " Kantor said. The answer he gave: If the region's incomes rose to match the rest of the state, the gain would amount to $48 billion per year, of which $2 billion would accrue to the state as income taxes. A strong barrier to sprawlSB 375 has the power to alter the way cities grow for the better...Editorialhttp://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/908887.htmlA landmark bill tying local planning decisions to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions has been signed by the governor. It will have profound impacts on the way cities and counties do business, and it's good news for all of us who live -- and breathe -- in California. Senate Bill 375 will require the California Air Resources Board to set vehicle emission reduction targets for each region. The planning agencies in cities and counties would develop their own strategies to achieve those goals. The carrot-and-stick is transportation funds: Cities that meet the requirements will be first in line for the $5 billion or so in annual state funding for transportation. Those locales that continue to promote sprawling developments will be left out. That's a powerful impediment against the sprawl that consumes thousands of acres of the state's precious farm lands each year, and creates longer and more costly commutes for millions of Californians. SB 375, pushed diligently for two years by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is a natural and necessary follow-up to the historic greenhouse gas initiative, Assembly Bill 32, passed in 2006. "This legislation constitutes the most sweeping revision of land use policies since Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said upon signing the bill.The legislation will relax CEQA requirements for residential construction projects that help meet the regional greenhouse gas goals. That's a strong incentive for homebuilders to produce projects that are denser and closer to transit systems. That, in turn, helps to increase the demand for transit alternatives, which makes those pencil out better for local governments. Under AB 32, the state must reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases 25% by 2020. But, according to Caltrans, if development proceeds along existing patterns, we'll see an increase of 60% in the total number of miles driven by Californians in the next 20 years. Clearly, something has to give.That something is sprawl. And between SB 375, higher gasoline prices and a growing sense on the part of the public that much of what we've been doing isn't going to work any longer, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the classic pattern of suburban growth spreading farther and farther from city cores. Let's hope so. The cost of suburban sprawl has been traffic congestion, increased dependence on oil, air pollution and the decay of older urban areas, and it has become a price too onerous for communities to bear. SB 375 won't stop growth. That's not its intent. But it gives us the opportunity -- and powerful incentives -- to chart a new course in land-use planning, and we should welcome that. Experts warn species in peril from climate change...BRIAN SKOLOFFhttp://www.fresnobee.com/641/story/908291.htmlClimate change threatens to kill off up to a third of the planet's species by the end of the century if urgent action isn't taken to restore fragile ecosystems, protect endangered animals and manage growth, scientists warned Wednesday as a wildlife summit opened."Much of the predictions are gloom and doom. The ray of hope, however, is that we have not lost our opportunity. We still have time if we act now," said Jean Brennan, a senior scientist with Defenders of Wildlife and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The three-day summit, sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, assembled several world-renowned climate change researchers with dozens of wildlife experts to trade ideas on how to save species on a warming planet. Florida, among the lowest elevation states, is surrounded by water on three sides and has the only living coral barrier reef in North America, and the Everglades, a unique wetland perilously close to collapse with at least 67 threatened or endangered species. The state's population is expected to nearly double to 32 million people by 2050, adding more pressure on shrinking wildlife habitats. The commission called the summit to learn how best to protect Florida's wildlife and natural resources. Warming oceans and rising sea levels threaten to inundate Florida's developed coastline and barrier islands, kill its reef and decimate an economy based on tourism. Experts noted that many plants and animals have temperature-specific habitats. A change of only a few degrees can kill them or send them seeking a better home. "Species are moving to track what is the most ideal climate for them," Brennan said, adding that many are "desperately trying" to find their way through a maze of dams, development and other manmade obstacles along their natural corridors. Brennan and others said creating wildlife pathways so animals can move freely northward as temperatures warm could mean the difference between survival and extinction. "We have to have the ability for species to move and when they get there, wherever there is, it needs to be an intact and healthy ecosystem," Brennan said. As the Earth's temperature rises, entire habitats will change, consumed by weather extremes, fires, pest outbreaks and invasions of nonnative species, said Virginia Burkett, a chief scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey. Burkett, another co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, said extensive die-offs of pinion pine trees in the West are being attributed to climate change. She added some animal species are already disappearing. Burkett cited the decline of the American pika, a small mountain-dwelling mammal also known as a rock-rabbit that is typically found in the western U.S. and Canada. The rodent maintains a body temperature topping 100 degrees, but with just a few degrees of climate change, "this animal will die," Burkett said. She said officials need to begin reducing the non-climate change related stressors, "stop draining the wetlands, damming rivers." Nature, she said, is highly adaptable and can be its own best protector against the effects of climate change if it can function, well, naturally. Coastal growth also must be controlled and limited to allow for "wetlands to migrate inland naturally as sea level rise accelerates, and they can't do that if there's a road or a condominium there," Burkett added. Before Friday's close, summit participants also will hold workshops on coastal ecosystems, land use planning, invasive species and wildlife adaptation. Pacific Legal Foundation Lawsuit Challenges Polar Bear ESA ListingPolar bears aren't endangered - it's the economy that's threatened, say PLF attorneys...Halldin Public Relations Jeff Weidelhttp://www.fresnobee.com/547/story/910049.htmlAttorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation, the nation's leading legal watchdog for property rights and a balanced approach to environmental protection, today filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's listing of the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, because the government's own scientific studies say the polar bear is not threatened. Today's lawsuit is filed on behalf of a coalition of food producers, landowners, employers and consumers who, along with businesses and employees throughout the country, would be harmed by the restrictive and far-reaching regulations that could be imposed on the American economy as a result of this listing."The good news is that the polar bear is not endangered or threatened," said PLF Principal Attorney Reed Hopper. "The polar bear's numbers have been going up, not down. Even under the most conservative projections in the government's own scientific model, there will be at least 20,000 polar bears in the Arctic over the next four to five decades - that's more than double the number there were 50 years ago." "So, the alarming warning that has been put out in the news media about a possible two-thirds decline in the polar bear population, simply doesn't accord with the government's own studies," Hopper continued. "While polar bears aren't threatened or endangered, listing the polar bear under the ESA creates a threat - to jobs and the economy," said PLF President Rob Rivett. "Because this listing is tied to speculative effects of global warming, it could trigger devastating regulations nationwide, on any activity or industry that emits carbon dioxide. There could also be restrictions on the public's ability to make decisions about things as simple as what kind of food to eat or car to drive, not just in Alaska but in California and all of the other states." "Radical, litigious environmental groups are poised to exploit this listing to push for regulations that could cripple basic American industries," Rivett explained. "Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake if global warming restrictions are imposed on the automobile industry, agriculture, homebuilding, and - perhaps most important - energy development. If you like high gas prices, you'll applaud this listing, because it could stifle oil and gas development."...Tulare VoiceCommittee Hears All Sides in Racetrack Controversyhttp://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/tv/stories/2008/racetrackcontroversy.htmTulare - A fast-paced, well-run town hall meeting on the proposed Tulare Motor Sports Complex no doubt has given a citizens committee a lot to consider as it races to prepare a community impact report for city decision makers.The final environmental impact report is due out within three to four weeks and the 36-member group will have to have its review done before Monday, Nov. 17, when the Planning Commission is now expected to hold the first formal public hearing on the 711-acre proposal. The project would include a speedway, drag strip, hotels, offices, retail shops, restaurants, recreational amenities, townhouses and other features.After commissioners weigh in, the matter will go to the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 2, for another public hearing and then to the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission, which would hold a third hearing to consider the request to annex county land into the city for the project.“The earliest the land could be annexed would be the end of March,” city Planning Director Mark Kielty said.The 2½ hour meeting last Thursday at the Claude Meitzenheimer Center drew about 150 people, who came to ask questions or voice opinions about the project proposed for 711-acres adjacent to the International Agri-Center and near the Sunrise Estates residential subdivision.The advisory committee, which includes proponents and opponents of the project, brought in a panel that included developer Bud Long, Jerry Sinift, general manager of the Agri-Center, which plans to sell land to Long's group for the project, Kielty and two consultants who worked on the Environment Impact Report...Second HalfAfter a break, local residents got a chance to share their opinions...Lance Mouw worries the situation will end up “like the mortgage mess” if the city takes at face value the numbers regarding jobs and other matters offered by Long. “It's a great project if it flies,” he said. “If it doesn't fly, it's a disaster. What's the city going to do about that?”Tom Drilling, a retired dentist, asked Long “when are we going to see the money?”The developer said his group already has paid nearly $900,000 for an EIR and has funding in place for the project, which he estimates will cost about $1 billion.“We are not fools,” he told Drilling. “I'm not here to present a project that's smoke and mirrors.” ...Sacramento BeeEditorial: A big step to cut sprawl, clean airGOVERNOR SIGNS STEINBERG'S BILL THAT REWARDS SMARTER GROWTHhttp://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/1282118.htmlHe's no longer in the movies, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger still likes to engage in some drama.As of Friday, it appeared that Schwarzenegger was ready to veto Senate Bill 375, a bill that aims to align the state's land-use policies with its fight against global warming.Had the governor vetoed it, his environmental legacy would have been scorched, and his relationship with the bill's author – incoming Senate leader Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento – would have gone up in smoke.But sometime between Friday and Tuesday, Schwarzenegger came to his senses...More than any previous law, Steinberg's seeks to address one of California's nagging flaws – its Wild West patterns of development. Housing separated from jobs has led to traffic jams, smog, long-distance commutes, loss of valuable farmland and transit systems that can't easily build ridership.SB 375, by itself, won't stop this kind of "dumb growth." But it will discourage it – and help create more sustainable communities – with a mix of incentives and regulatory relief.Under the bill, the California Air Resources Board will work with each of the state's 18 metro regions on land-use strategies – similar to Sacramento's "Blueprint" – to reduce future greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.Each region will be assigned a target for emissions reductions. If those targets are tough – CARB will decide on them in September – they will constrain the march of sprawl and reward new communities that are walkable and designed for transit. Developers will get a long-desired break from the California Environmental Quality Act, but only if their projects are aligned with a regional strategy for reducing vehicle emissions.In signing the bill Tuesday, Schwarzenegger praised Steinberg for bringing together disparate interests for a "historic state-local partnership." He noted how the bill will help California meet its greenhouse gas rules. "Spending less time on the road is the single-most powerful way for California to reduce its carbon footprint," he said in a press release.Unfortunately, the governor continues to press for "cleanup" changes to the bill that are unneeded. In particular, the governor wants stand-alone commercial developments to get the same relief from CEQA that smart growth housing projects would enjoy. Local governments have already zoned too much land for such retail projects (because of the tax revenue they generate). No additional incentive is needed, and Steinberg should resist pressure to immediately create one.On the other hand, Steinberg has agreed to work with the governor on other forms of cleanup legislation, including language that would put to rest claims that SB 375 could affect the rewarding of transportation bond funds.Steinberg should keep that commitment. This bill has generated enough drama already.Stockton RecordGeneral Plan storm brewingSignatures, if OK'd, enough for referendum...Keith Reidhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081002/A_NEWS/810020317/-1/A_NEWSSTOCKTON - The A.G. Spanos Cos.-backed Alliance for Responsible Planning has gathered 25,000 signatures that if certified would force a public referendum on a City Council vote to amend Stockton's General Plan, a group spokesman said.The bulky petition contains more than double the required 11,000 signatures needed to force a referendum, alliance treasurer and Spanos Cos. development manager David Nelson said. Nelson said he expects the petitions to be filed in the City Clerk's Office within a couple of days.City officials said that if enough of the signatures are verified to be registered Stockton voters, a referendum will be placed on a future ballot for a citywide vote to amend the plan."It's the city clerk's job to verify the validity of the signatures," City Attorney Ren Nosky said. "I'm not surprised that they were able to get the signatures given their methods to procure them."The petition effort - which included a heavy advertising campaign and paid signature gatherers - began in mid-September as an effort to squash an out-of-court settlement the City Council made with state Attorney General Jerry Brown and environmental groups.Nelson would not say how much the alliance spent to gather signatures, but he said all expenditures will be revealed as the petition process moves forward.The settlement the city struck with Brown and environmentalists requires Stockton planners to consider building standards that could lower greenhouse emissions and lessen sprawl when approving projects.Stockton City Hall is not the only governmental body thinking green.On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an anti-sprawl bill, AB32, that will link land-use planning with greenhouse emissions.Nelson said the anti-sprawl bill would not revoke the alliance's referendum "because the settlement agreement goes beyond the provisions of AB32."Nosky said if the petition is validated, the City Council will vote on whether to hold a special election in 2009, or it can opt to put the question on the ballot for the next general election in 2010.A flood of worriesFamilies dating back to 1800s fear Delta project could force them out...Alex Breitlerhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081002/A_NEWS/810020324/-1/A_NEWSROBERTS ISLAND - Rogene Reynolds hit the brakes of her sedan as a family of quail skittered across the farm road.It's the same path Reynolds, 59, traveled as a little girl - on a pony.Roberts Island is a place where traditions never die, even if they do grow up a little.The flooding of thousands of acres of farmland, and the relocation of hundreds of homes, however, would wipe out generations of heritage, residents here say.In recent weeks, they've become alarmed over a pair of maps issued more than a year ago - maps that suggest using Roberts Island and Stewart Tract, where a major housing development is planned, as a flood plain to protect Lathrop and Stockton from a raging San Joaquin River.While such a scenario is difficult to imagine during a drought, officials who are searching for solutions to the Delta's many problems say that some kind of flood bypass on the San Joaquin is necessary.The question is where.At an August meeting in Stockton hosted by the state's Delta Vision officials, Reynolds saw for the first time two maps that made her so angry she told all of her neighbors and persuaded about 40 of them to complain in Sacramento at another meeting in September.The maps suggest two possible scenarios: allowing Roberts and neighboring Stewart Tract to flood, thus alleviating pressure on levees protecting urban areas, or building a new levee that would basically widen the San Joaquin, taking out farmland in the process."I don't want to see one acre of this farmland used for flood control," Reynolds said. "We're hanging by our fingernails out here, and we know it."The maps were not made by Delta Vision, but rather by contractors helping the state Department of Water Resources to judge risks to the Delta and its levees and find solutions. However, Delta Vision has relied on information from that state study to form some of its opinions, which is why Reynolds is worried.It's early, said Ralph Svetich, a program manager with the Department of Water Resources. The maps were preliminary."They were some brainstorming ideas that we put out there," he said. "Before anything like that would be accomplished, it would have to go through the normal process to get approved."We certainly wanted to hear from folks," he added. "If they have concerns, we certainly want to know about those."Delta Vision is relying on dozens of other sources in making its determinations, spokesman Keith Coolidge said. "Absolutely nothing is imminent," he said.Roberts Island residents aren't waiting to respond. In a letter to state officials, one wrote that his health would be endangered if he had to move now, his family having been on the land since 1876.Another farmer, Arnold Strecker, is restoring a house his grandfather built in the shadow of the San Joaquin levee. The white Colonial Revival-style home was erected between 1910 and 1912, and sits square in the way of any setback levee. Strecker still farms the land around it."What do you do with half a ranch and no house?" Strecker said.Anywhere from 15 to nearly 200 homes would be relocated, according to the maps, land values could drop, and under one of the scenarios, more than 100 miles of roads and rail, and 180 oil or gas wells, would face greater risk of flooding.To the south, developers with the proposed River Islands at Lathrop development on Stewart Tract wrote state officials Sept. 18, worried that Delta Vision "may be reconsidering" using the land as a flood bypass.Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure at River Islands, although no homes have been built, said Susan Dell'Osso, River Islands' project manager.A far better solution is south of the island at Paradise Cut, where River Islands and several environmental groups - which had sued over the development - want to expand the channel to accommodate flood flows.River Islands successfully lobbied against the state's bypass idea when it was proposed last year, Dell'Osso said."I hope it's ancient history," she said. "If not, we've got a fight on our hands."Contra Costa TimesWachovia faced 'silent' bank run; FDIC forced sale by deadline...Rick Rothacker and Kerry Hallhttp://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_10619844CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Friday, with its stock plunging 27 percent, Wachovia experienced a "silent run" on deposits, but the bigger worry for regulators was that other banks wouldn't provide the Charlotte bank with necessary short-term funding when it opened for business Monday, sources familiar with the situation told The Charlotte Observer. With Wachovia already looking for a merger partner, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., in consultation with other regulators, required the bank to reach a sale to Citigroup on Monday morning. The FDIC, for the first time, used legislative authority created in 1991 to help it deal with a "very large complex bank failure" on short notice. It requires approval from heavy hitters — two-thirds of FDIC board members, two-thirds of Federal Reserve board members as well as the Treasury secretary, who must consult with the president. "When Wachovia opened Monday it would not have had a source of liquidity," a source familiar with the situation said. "It really could not have opened under those circumstances. That's why (the FDIC) put together the assistance package." The new details show the precarious situation Wachovia faced over the weekend as it rushed to find a suitor, even as Congress debated a possible bailout plan. Intense negotiations in New York included a decision by Wells Fargo to pass on a deal Sunday and frequent consultations with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bank's primary regulator, and the FDIC, sources said. In the end, the FDIC, which insures customer deposits, forged the deal because it has "the pocketbook," a source said. In the resulting agreement, Citigroup agreed to buy Wachovia's banking operations and most of its assets, with assistance from the FDIC. The agency will pick up losses above $42 billion on a $312 billion loan book in exchange for $12 billion in Citi securities. Inside Wachovia, executives started noticing customers withdrawing money on Friday morning, following the failure of Washington Mutual on Thursday. "The so-called silent run on the bank — it's real," Carlos Evans, Wachovia's wholesale banking executive, said in an interview. "When Congress failed to pass the ($700 billion bailout) proposal, when WaMu collapsed, you could see the money flowing. My computer screen was lighting up." Starting Friday morning, Evans said, businesses and institutions with large accounts started withdrawing money to lower their balances below the federally insured $100,000 limit. They weren't closing accounts, he said, adding that "they were very apologetic in saying they love the service they get from Wachovia and they weren't leaving Wachovia. They were just moving their money until things settled down." Money flowed out of Wachovia throughout the weekend, said Evans who heard anecdotes and received memos and BlackBerry messages from bank employees in the field. "What happened last week, and it literally happened that fast. ... You could go from being OK, hurt, weakened, there's no question the company was weakened ... but you go from being weakened to in trouble in a matter of days," he said. "I don't think people understand how quickly events unfolded." The FDIC and the OCC declined to comment on whether the bank experienced a run on deposits. However, FDIC spokesman David Barr said it wouldn't be surprising. "When a bank in the news is rumored to be in trouble that does prompt a lot of depositors to take a second look at their deposits," he said. Wachovia had $448 billion in deposits at the end of June. Spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said the bank updates the number only as part of quarterly earnings reports but added: "Depositors should have full confidence in Wachovia." In announcing the Citi transaction Monday, FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair said Wachovia customers had "full protection of all of their deposits." Wachovia's loss of deposits Friday was enough to catch the attention of the OCC, sources said. The WaMu failure as well as mounting speculation that Wachovia was for sale — it had been in earlier talks with Morgan Stanley — contributed to the run. By Friday afternoon, news leaked that Wachovia was talking to Citi and Wells Fargo. San Francisco-based Wells, a major West Coast retail bank, was the front runner but decided to pass because officials were worried about a piece of Wachovia's commercial loan portfolio, one of the sources said. By then, regulators were worried that Wachovia would not be able to access the funding it needed on Monday. "Banks are not lending to each other" in turbulent markets, and if more depositors withdrew money on Monday, it could need cash to meet its obligations, the source said. "It's a confidence issue." The FDIC became more heavily involved as the weekend progressed because of its role in protecting consumer deposits. For the first time, the agency triggered a "systemic risk exception" under the 1991 law that allows it to ignore a requirement to choose the "least costly" method for resolving a failing bank. After a vote by the FDIC board on Monday morning, Wachovia chief executive CEO Bob Steel received word of the decision and concurred. The FDIC issued a press release at 8:17 a.m. "During recent weeks, the financial landscape has changed significantly and presented us with unprecedented challenges," Steel said in a statement Monday. "Today's announcement is the best alternative for the company." The transaction essentially breaks apart the Charlotte bank, leaving behind a holding company called Wachovia that will house brokerage and asset management businesses. The deal threatens thousands of Wachovia jobs because of Citi's planned cost cuts and leaves shareholders with a much smaller institution. Because of the hurried nature of the negotiations, the merger agreement still hasn't been finalized. Wachovia shareholders and the Federal Reserve still must approve it. Mercury NewsBAREC soil being tested for contaminationA drilling crew has begun looking for contaminated soil at the former home of the University of California"s Bay Area Research and Extension Center, commonly known as BAREC, as part of a lawsuit over the testing of toxic substances there from 1921 t...Mary Gottschalk, http://www.mercurynews.com/valley/ci_10619828?nclick_check=1A drilling crew of workers wearing white jumpsuits has begun looking for contaminated soil at the former home of the University of California's Bay Area Research and Extension Center, commonly known as BAREC, as part of a lawsuit over the testing of toxic substances there from 1921 to 2003. The crew, which arrived on site Tuesday and will continue work there untilSunday, has already drilled 40 holes to collect 120 soil samples on the 17 acres of open space on Winchester Boulevard, across from Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center. More than 100 people living near the BAREC site filed a lawsuit against the state of California, the California Department of General Services, the Regents of the University of California and Velsicol Chemical Corp. in early August. Toxic substances, they believe, directly caused cancer and many deaths to residents living on properties that back up to BAREC on the edge of San Jose. Gordon A. Stemple, a nationally known attorney specializing in toxic litigation consultation, calls the testing "an 11th hour agreement" with attorneys representing the State of California to allow testing before demolition starts.Stemple says he has been told that the state intends to start demolition of existing buildings on the property on Monday as part of its remediation efforts. Once completed, the property will be turned over to the city of Santa Clara, which has sold it to SummerHill homes. The development company plans to build 110 single-family homes, and the nonprofit Charities Housing plans to build 165 affordable senior housing units on the land. Stemple says he expects it to take at least 30 days to get test results back from the laboratory, and then, they will have to be analyzed.Avocet Environmental Inc., based in Irvine, will do the analysis for the plaintiffs, while EMCON and Geomatrix are analyzing samples for the defendants.Santa Cruz SentinelCitizens want UCSC to consider new housing's impact on parking, trees...J.M. BROWNhttp://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_10616823Several residents Wednesday suggested UC Santa Cruz include a thorough assessment of the impact on parking, trees and traffic when drafting an environmental report on a proposed residential complex.The East Campus Infill Housing Project calls for seven new buildings to be constructed on top of three parking lots the university says are under-utilized between Crown College and the Crown/Merrill Apartments. The buildings would be four to 10 stories high and add 230,000 square feet of residential space.About 100 new apartments would be created, roughly 550 to 600 new beds. Construction would require felling redwood, oak and bay trees, though UCSC would plant replacements and restore topography in the area.In an environmental impact report scoping meeting required by the California environmental law, Jeanne Johnson, an academic advisor at UCSC's Crown College and a Santa Cruz resident, told the director of campus planning, John Barnes, she was concerned whether the trees cut down would be replaced by the same number and kind of trees."I don't like to see redwood trees cut down," she said outside the meeting, where she also raised concerns about parking.Barnes was only permitted to accept comment during the hour-long hearing -- not answer questions or remark on suggestions made. When the meeting adjourned, however, Barnes said, "I'm going to take all of these comments and take them into account in the draft of the EIR." Reed Searle, a 30-year resident, said he was concerned about parking, traffic and whether a 10-story building would be visible from downtown, which planners later said it would not."It's a conundrum -- a lot of people don't want development in the north campus," he said. "But how do you grow without building?"An agreement reached in August between UCSC, the city and a residents coalition opposed to campus growth paved the way for the project. In the deal, UCSC agreed to house 3,000 new students expected by 2020.The public has until Oct. 22 to comment on the scope of the environmental impact report, after which planners will complete a draft and make it public. There will be another hearing before officials submit a final environmental report to the UC Regents, who have the final say on the projectHow to commentTo make comments to be considered in the draft Environmental Impact Report for the East Campus Infill Housing Project, send an e-mail to eirscope@ucsc.edu, or send a letter to John Barnes, director of campus planning, Physical Planning and Construction, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064.Los Angeles TimesL.A., Long Beach ports inaugurate new anti-smog planTrucks moving goods in and out of the complex must meet tougher antipollution laws; 2,000 dirty diesel big rigs are banned. Despite compliance checks, cargo moves smoothly...Louis Sahagun and Ronald D. Whitehttp://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-trucks2-2008oct02,0,3898999,print.storyA landmark pollution-control program at the nation's busiest port complex was launched Wednesday with an immediate ban on 2,000 of the region's diesel-spewing big rigs and few reports of backups or unusual delays in the flow of cargo.An estimated 95% of the trucks lining up for the starting 8 a.m. shift at the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had stickers on their windshields and doors indicating that they were in compliance with new rules restricting access to the gateway for 40% of the nation's imported goods. Trucks without stickers were turned away.Against a backdrop of cargo ships docked beside massive cranes, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster held a news conference to inaugurate the Clean Truck Program forged by environmentalists, drivers, shippers, community leaders and the ports during two years of contentious debates and legal challenges."Ports across the world have their eyes on us as a model for the future because today the cornerstone of the world's most comprehensive plan to clean up a major port hits the road," Villaraigosa said. "We will not disappoint them, nor will we disappoint all the Angelenos who suffer from emphysema, throat cancer and mouth cancer caused by this pollution."Later, port authorities and reporters gathered at a nearby Port of Los Angeles recycling yard to witness the crushing and scrapping of two trucks barred by the program. Among the onlookers was Jorge Sibrian, 57, a port trucker since 1992 and former owner of one of the rigs that was ripped to pieces by a massive iron claw, then shredded into scrap metal.Wearing a blue hard hat and safety goggles, Sibrian nodded toward the wreckage and said, "That's my baby. I had her 12 years. She's been everywhere.""Everything comes to an end, and this is the end for her," added Sibrian, who sold the truck to the Los Angeles port for $5,000. "Hopefully, it's for a good cause."Under the program's first phase, trucks built before 1989 were banned as of Wednesday. When fully implemented in 2012, only trucks meeting 2007 emissions standards will be allowed to enter the ports.Although the ports met their Oct. 1 deadline, two critical components of the program were missing. An electronic vehicle-monitoring system was not in place, and the ports had yet to start collecting the $35 per-cargo-container fee that is supposed to fund the $1.6-billion truck replacement program.And a related effort to curb port pollution has been put on hold. On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the multibillion-dollar proposal, arguing that the related cargo fees would harm an already suffering economy.The measure, SB 974 by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), would have allowed the collection of $60 for each 40-foot container that moved through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach or Oakland. The $400 million raised annually would have gone into reducing traffic congestion and putting cleaner-burning engines in trucks and trains.On Wednesday, truck traffic was lower than normal because the economic slowdown has hit the ports in dramatic fashion. Through August, overall container traffic at the Port of Long Beach was down 9.9% compared with the same period last year. That included a 12.8% drop in imported goods. Overall traffic at the Port of Los Angeles was down 4.6%, including a 7.2% drop in imports.Fearing a traffic jam of trucks and drivers being turned away in droves, trucker Eduardo Valladares arrived early enough to be second in line at a Long Beach terminal. He was pleasantly surprised."This is not so bad," said Valladares, 40, who drives a battered blue Freightliner. "At least I can work today."The program's goal is to rid local skies of tons of carcinogenic pollution and particulates and to persuade environmentalists to stop raising legal objections to expansion projects designed to meet future growth at the ports.The ports' fleet of about 16,800 trucks account for more smog and soot than all 6 million cars in the region, and their diesel emissions cause 1,200 premature deaths annually, according to the California Air Resources Board. Asthma rates among children living in neighborhoods near the ports are double the national average, and dock workers and drivers face significantly higher risks of lung and throat cancer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and local studies."My hat is off to the mayors who transformed talk of cleaning the air into action," said Martin Schlageter, campaign director of the Coalition for Clean Air. "Powerful institutional forces representing billions of dollars had for years urged that the ports not do anything. But the mayors and the ports stood firm."The program, which is a key component of the Clean Air Action Plan designed to slash overall emissions at the ports by 45% by 2012, was hotly contested by the nation's largest trucking association. Now, an ongoing Federal Maritime Commission investigation looms over the program.The investigation, which commission officials warned could lead to a cease and desist order that would send the ports back to the drawing boards, would address whether the Port of Los Angeles violated federal maritime regulations and practices by insisting that trucking firms hire port drivers as employees. The Port of Long Beach adopted a plan that allows both independent operators and employee truckers to access its terminals.Ports from San Diego to Seattle have expressed an interest in adopting similar programs to get cleaner-burning trucks on the road. However, some shipping interests believe the concept may be a hard sell elsewhere."You're seeing an aggressive approach at these ports because of the overall air quality concerns of that region, the magnitude of the cargo they have to move, and because of community concerns about health," said Meredith Martino, manager of government relations and environmental policy for the American Assn. of Port Authorities. "But those are not the top priorities of every port."Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose district includes the Port of Los Angeles, would disagree."No longer do we have to decide whether we can have good jobs or good health," she said. "Today, we can have both."Take heed of California's 'No Drugs Down the Drain' week...Bettina Boxall    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2008/10/dont-flush-it.htmlHave bottles of old aspirin and prescription drugs cluttering up your medicine cabinet? Don't flush them down the drain or you'll be treating the fish and maybe even spicing up your drinking water.Testing has shown that even advanced wastewater treatment doesn't cleanse sewage of all traces of pharmaceuticals, which make their way into the environment and drinking water supplies.  Most are excreted by people into sewage systems, but some are tossed directly down the toilet or poured down the drain.As part of California's "No Drugs Down the Drain" week (Oct. 4-11), officials are suggesting other ways of disposing of unneeded or expired medication. Take it to a local hazardous waste collection site or seal it in a container and put it in the trash.To discourage scavengers from rummaging through your garbage can for the drugs, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts engineer Debbie Boadway has a few ideas: Mix it up with coffee grounds, used kitty litter or anything with a "yuck factor."CNN MoneyNew FDIC limits could hurt some banksBumping up deposit caps may be a psychological boost for consumers. But it could make it even tougher for some struggling banks...David Ellishttp://money.cnn.com/2008/10/02/news/companies/banks_fdic_limits/index.htm?postversion=2008100215NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Now that the Senate has passed a new version of the controversial bailout bill, consumers and businesses worried about what may happen to their bank deposits if more banks go under could breathe a little easier.Embedded within the amended legislation was a provision to raise the limits on the amount of money that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures for bank accounts to $250,000 from $100,000.Federal bank regulators, who first floated the idea to Congress late Tuesday, said that bumping up the insurance limits would help improve liquidity at banks across the country. It may also provide a much-needed dose of confidence for consumers who may be worried about the health of their bank."For most people it would make little factual difference, but it might still be comforting," said Mark J. Flannery, a professor of finance at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business Administration.In the last month alone, both consumers and investors have watched some of the biggest names in banking collapse under the weight of the credit crisis and market fear. Last week, Washington Mutual folded after depositors began pulling their money out of the bank. The Seattle-based savings and loan was subsequently purchased by JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) for $1.9 billion after being seized by the FDIC.And following rampant speculation about the fate of Wachovia (WB, Fortune 500), regulators were forced to step in to help broker a sale of the firm's banking assets to Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), which was announced Monday.Devil in the detailsIf the bill passes in the House, the increase in deposit insurance limits will just be a temporary fix, which would expire in December 2009. In addition, Congress approved new limits in 2005 that would peg deposit caps to inflation. But those changes are not due to go into effect until 2011.What the banking industry is watching closely however, is whether or not they will be forced to pay higher premiums to support the fund the FDIC has to insure deposits. The Senate's bill prevents the FDIC from charging banks more money to specifically cover the increase in the deposit limit. Instead, the FDIC will be able to borrow directly from the Treasury to meet any funding needs tied to the higher limits.But banks have already been bracing for a hike in premiums following the number and magnitude of bank collapses the industry has experienced so far this year. WaMu was the 13th bank to fail this year. That failure won't cost the FDIC anything because of the quick sale to JPMorgan Chase. But the FDIC's takeover of the California-based mortgage lender IndyMac, which was seized in July, could be expensive. The FDIC has yet to finalize a sale for IndyMac.A spokesman for the FDIC said the agency's board of directors is expected to approve an increase in premiums when they meet next Tuesday. The increase could help cover the approximately $4.5 trillion in deposits the agency currently insures.Fears have surfaced in the industry that the increase in premiums will be larger than banks were hoping for. And this could further dry up their cushion of capital at a time when it is so precious."Banks pay [the FDIC premiums] right off their bottom line, so that would have an impact on their earnings," said Camden Fine, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents over 5,000 local and community banks.Helps small banks more than big banksThere have also been some concerns about just how much the FDIC will need to cover more bank failures. In a story last week, Bloomberg News reported that the FDIC might have to raise $150 billion. But the FDIC issued a sharp rebuke to that story. In a letter to Bloomberg News that was made public by the FDIC, a spokesperson for the agency wrote that "the insurance fund is in a strong financial position to weather a significant upsurge in bank failures." The FDIC added that the proposed higher premiums on "poorly managed" banks should encourage these banks to take less risk.Nonetheless, experts said that raising deposit caps for consumers won't correct many of the loan troubles that banks overall face as the housing market continues to falter.Nor would it stop the wholesale depositors, like money market funds who go in search of the best returns at banks around the country, from pulling their money out of an institution when trouble looms.Still, that's not to say that raising the limits won't help the industry. Arguably, small and community-level institutions stand to benefit the most.Whereas regulators have stepped in to help orchestrate a rescue or an orderly collapse of large financial institutions such as WaMu or Wachovia to prevent broader fallout, that hasn't been the case with some of the smaller banks that failed.That puts customers of community banks whose deposits surpass current limits squarely at risk, said Ray Soifer, chairman of Soifer Consulting, who formerly covered the commercial banking industry for Brown Brothers Harriman."The effect would be beneficial for deposits and banks that wind up being too small to benefit from a Wachovia-type takeover," said Soifer.  FDIC asks to boost deposit limitsFederal agency that backs bank deposits asks Congress for the authority to increase the amount of money that it can insure in bank accounts...Chris Isidore...September 30, 2008http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/30/news/economy/fdic_limits/index.htmNEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal agency that guarantees bank deposits is asking Congress for temporary authority to raise the limit on the amount of money it insures for individual bank accounts.Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Shelia Bair put out a statement late Tuesday afternoon asking that Congress allow her agency to increase the $100,000 limit per account that has been in place since 1980. "Unfortunately, there is an increasing crisis of confidence that is feeding unnecessary fear in the marketplace," Bair said. "To address this crisis of confidence, I do believe that it would be helpful for the FDIC to have the temporary ability to raise deposit insurance limits."Bair did not say what she thought the new limit should be. FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said simply, "We'll leave that to Congress."In 2005, Congress approved having the deposit insurance limit pegged to inflation. But that annual increase won't start until 2011 under current law.The FDIC's request comes less than a week after two of the nation's largest banking institutions essentially collapsed and as investors worry about more bank failures.Washington Mutual, the nation's largest savings and loan, became the largest bank failure of all time Sept. 25. None its depositors lost any of their money though as the FDIC arranged a sale to JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500).Monday Wachovia Corp. (WB, Fortune 500), the nation's No. 4 bank holding company by assets, sold its banking assets to Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) for a fire sale price in a transaction brokered by the FDIC.Raising the amount that the FDIC can insure could stem a potential run on deposits by bank customers, particularly businesses, who fear losing their money. The $100,000 limit protected as much as 82% of deposits in 1991 but only covers 63% of deposits today. The idea of raising the limits had already drawn support earlier in the day from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival, John McCain 10-2-08 Meetings10-6-08 Merced County Hearing Officer meeting…8:30 a.mhttp://www.co.merced.ca.us/planning/pdf/hearing/2008/Agenda/100608ka.pdf REGULAR MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELED    10-6-08 Merced City Council Redevelopment Agency meeting...7:00 p.m. …Not posted at this timehttp://www.cityofmerced.org/depts/cityclerk/agendas/2008_city_council_agendas.asp October        06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING, 7:00 PM                   08 PLANNING COMMISSION, 7:00 PM                   16 MERCED COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF                        GOVERNMENTS, 3:00 PM                   20 CITY COUNCIL MEETING, 7:00 PM                   22 PLANNING COMMISSION, 7:00 PM                   23 LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION COMMISSION,                        10:00 AM  10-7-08 Merced County Board of Supervisors meeting…10:00 a.m….Not posted at this timehttp://www.co.merced.ca.us/bos/pdfs/bos_calendar.pdfOctober            October 7, 2008            Board Meeting            October 21, 2008            Board Meeting        10-8 -08 Merced County Planning Commission meeting…9:00 a.m. Not posted at this timehttp://www.co.merced.ca.us/planning/plancomarchive.html#oct   10-8-08 MCAG Technical Review Board agenda…12-00 p.m.http://www.mcagov.org/meetings/trb/100808.pdf   10-8-08 Merced City Planning Commission meeting…7:00 p.m.http://www.cityofmerced.org/depts/cityclerk/boards_n_commissions/planning_commission/2008_planning_commission/2008_planning_commission_agendas.aspAgendas are posted the Monday before a Wednesday Planning Commission Meeting