Botanicalls technology sends Twitter updates to users when plants need water.

(Photo courtesy of Botanicalls)

Diggin’ It

Can gardening go digital?

Try as they might, some people are incapable of keeping a plant alive. As easy as maintaining a regular watering schedule, proper lighting and keeping pests away seems, these black thumbs, as they’ve been termed, can still turn the hardiest species into compost after a few weeks. Two recent gadgets give a leg up to gardeners who can’t quite get the swing and offer a chance to bring the power of networks and databases to everyday life.

May 1, 2009 Nick Parish
Benicia paid consultants $40,000 to help with a branding strategy; among the recommendations were revitalizing and bringing people to the downtown waterfront, shown here.

Secret Destination

Solano hopes to attract travel spending by uncovering its image

If Napa County is wine country and Calaveras County is frog-jumping territory, where does that leave a place like Solano? Trying to catch up, perhaps.Thirty years ago Napa County was where Solano is today, says Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan. In 1992, Napa brought in $361 million in tourism revenue, and with $319 million, Solano wasn’t far behind. Fast-forward to 2006: Napa brought in almost $890 million, but Solano’s revenue only rose to $554 million.

May 1, 2009 Sukhjit Purewal
Trudy Nearn, principal, Generations law firm.

Estating the Obvious

A little planning goes a long way

Asset values are down, interest rates are down, and industry experts doubt the Obama administration will allow the current estate tax exemption to expire in 2010. That combination makes a ripe environment for creating or adjusting an estate plan, and financial advisers say acting now could save thousands — if not millions — of dollars later.

Aug 1, 2008 Christine Calvin

It’s Impolite to Squat

EV owners find it increasingly difficult to plug in

Long before it was widely accepted, Sacramento attorney Mike Polis bought his first electric vehicle. He got started with a Toyota Prius, later upgraded to a Nissan Leaf and now drives a white Chevy Volt. On average, he saves more than $3,500 a year over his gas-powered counterparts, he can use the HOV lane as a single occupant and he charges his car for free at work.

Jul 1, 2014 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
The Fremont Mews was developed in 2004 by the Capitol Area Development Authority on one of the last major undeveloped housing sites in Sacramento’s urban core. 

Photo by Courtesy of CADA

The Plight of CADA

Where goes the neighborhood?

Three years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown pulled the plug on local government redevelopment agencies and the estimated $5 billion a year they spend rebuilding inner cities to combat urban blight.

Jun 1, 2014 Bill Sessa
Cindy Garcia of the UC Davis Meat Lab

Killer Instincts

Butchery is finding a passionate female following

On a warm afternoon, soft spring winds are blowing across the campus at UC Davis. In a building on the university’s west corner, Cindy Garcia is hosing pools of blood down a drain. She places a pig skull on an inspection table, washes her hands and steps into the sunlight just as the parking lot is beginning to fill with shoppers toting grocery bags.

Jun 1, 2014 Michelle Locke
www.istockphoto.com

World Travel

Can Sacramento cash in on an influx of Chinese tourism dollars?

Two hundred million Chinese tourists will pack their bags and depart their homeland in 2020, bound for destinations across the globe. It’s not a mass exodus; they’re not  fleeing their government. They’re tourists, and, according to CNN, they might be the greatest phenomenon to hit the  global travel industry since the invention of commercial flight.

Jun 1, 2014 Jeff Wilser
www.shutterstock.com

Kickstarter

Placer County hopes to win tourism dollars with new sports complexes

The rise of elite youth sports and the popularity of year-round athletics have created an emerging market for participant and spectator spending in south Placer County, which has positioned itself as a major sports destination. Now, two separate entities are looking to capitalize on the region’s sports market with large-scale venues that could turn a profit in as few as three years. 

May 1, 2014 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
www.shutterstock.com

Relationship Troubles

Are state workers the best pick for upgrading California’s massive IT systems?

In 1984, California’s Department of Technology didn’t exist. Information technology consultants were rare, and there were fewer contractors involved in state services. For the most part, the state developed government systems with in-house resources. From development and analysis to budgeting and implementation, it was a full-service operation. 

That was then. 

May 1, 2014 Russell Nichols
D&S Development rehabilitated the century-old Maydestone building at 15th and J streets in 2011. It now holds 32 small apartments with original design elements.

Hidden Treasures

Why Sacramento developers love historic remodels

Burke Fathy isn’t sure whether the building that housed Sacramento’s first Police Department will be converted to offices or apartments, but, as the managing partner of Sutter Capitol Group, he is sure the original architectural elements will stay.

Mar 1, 2014 Bill Sessa

The Conductor

The California High-Speed Rail Authority replaced an engineer with a political operative to lead the nation’s biggest public works project. Jeff Morales instantly charmed his opponents but made technical decisions that placed high-speed rail at the mercy of the courts. Can Morales save his runaway train?

Jan 2, 2014 Allen Young