The Folsom Lake College Visual and Performing Arts Center by LPAS.

(Photo courtesy of LPAS)

Storm Shelter

Architects and engineers find ways to build around a rough market

The design-build industry has been absolutely battered by the spoiled economy. Architecture and design firms lament layoffs, nonexistent financing and an utter lack of optimism for 2010. Yet a number of large regional projects are keeping local firms afloat and offering a silver, albeit temporary, lining.

Dec 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
Elk Slough, near the Delta town of Clarksburg

Peripheral Vision

Can state and federal officials agree on comprehensive reform before it's too late?

For centuries, the biggest environmental concern for most California water users was how to squeeze every last drop from nature. While a wet year might shift concerns to flood control, grab-as-grab-can gusto came back almost as soon as the waters receded. But that was then. Today, environmental concerns are center stage in the state’s ongoing effort to reform its water system.

Nov 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Work continues on the four-phase, $400 million project that will fix 29 miles, or 90 percent, of Yuba County's levees.

Ring of Mire

Yuba doesn't wait for the feds to tackle flood protection

Yuba County officials knew they couldn’t rely on federal money to improve their levees. Historically, the federal government has provided the bulk of money for flood protection, but it can take 10 to 20 years to receive it. So Yuba County, a mostly agricultural county of nearly 73,000 people 30 miles north of Sacramento, developed a plan to fund levee improvements itself.

Nov 1, 2009 Joanna Corman
Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, says that desalination should be part of the state's water solution, however, "You don't solve the problem by shifting it from one ecosystem to another."

(Photo: Jill Wagner)

Salt of the Dearth

The role of desalination in California's water crisis

If Sir Isaac Newton were around today to assess California’s interest in seawater desalination, he would likely reference his own third law of motion, which in simple terms states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In short, as our water supply dwindles, the desire to glean freshwater from salty oceans and brackish groundwater is growing.

Nov 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen

Education Reform

Race to the Top...or Not

The Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are dangling a huge carrot in front of California: a share of a $4.3 billion fund to reform K-12 education. This so-called Race to the Top initiative is the single largest pot of discretionary dollars ever offered to states for such reforms.

Nov 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson

Litigation Litany

When employers and workers can't get along in today's economy

Even in the best economy, employers fight a financial tug of war with the people who work for them. One side wants more pay and benefits while the other side wants to trim costs. When the economy takes a nose dive, though, the tug of war can get a lot rougher. State and local government jobs are getting much of the attention in Sacramento this year as furloughs and layoffs have increased tension with workers. But Sacramento’s private sector has seen temperatures rise, too.

Oct 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi

Air Time

Mary Nichols on statewide solutions to global issues

Mary Nichols is no stranger to innovation. As one of the nation’s first environmental attorneys, Nichols has spent her career protecting natural resources at the state and federal level. She also served as the California Air Resources Board Chairwoman from 1978 to 1983, and now she’s at it again.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Roseville flood plain manager Garth Gaylord.

High and Dry

A flood of opportunities in Roseville

Roseville, absent of levees and flood-prone rivers, is sitting high and dry — in a good way. With infrastructure spending on hold and flood protection requirements increasing, development in neighboring communities has stalled and the future remains uncertain. 

May 1, 2009 Christine Calvin

Lady of the House

Doris Matsui on what is takes to build a better Capital Region

When most people think of action heroes, they do so in Hollywood terms: big, brawling, muscle-bound guys for whom compromise is always a dirty word. But in politics, brute force rarely holds sway over the art of the deal. In that regard, Doris Matsui, who represents much of Sacramento in Congress, may just be our very own action star.

May 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen

Speedy Delivery

The promise of high-speed rail

The potential benefits of high-speed rail are huge. Transportation planners say a bullet train would meet or exceed the demand for transportation from our growing population between now and 2030 — at less than half the cost of building the five airport runways, 90 departure gates and 3,000 miles of new freeways that would otherwise be required. Building the system will provide 160,000 construction jobs and 450,000 permanent jobs in related industries, providing a much-needed boost to the economy.

May 1, 2009 Winnie Comstock-Carlson