Russell Nichols is a freelance writer who focuses on technology, culture and mental health. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine and Government Technology.
Short on water for your grass? Just add paint, says Bill Schaffer, owner of Brown Lawn Green in Dixon. The idea for his business started as a joke. With California in the midst of a historic drought, Schaffer commented to his girlfriend that people would have to start painting their lawns if they wanted them to be green again. When the state introduced strict new rules concerning water use, he realized he might be onto something.
If you’ve ever wasted hours of free time searching for something to do with your free time, Oleg Kaganovich feels your pain. In 2012, he found himself in that exact situation during a business trip in the Big Apple. Rather than wait in a hotel room between meetings, he wanted to explore New York, but didn’t know where to begin. So he took his question to the web.
When car accident totaled Pedro Avila’s beloved ‘87 Volkswagen Cabriolet, he found himself desperate for money to repair the damage. A transportation industry veteran, Avila came up with Road Finch: eco-friendly and interactive marketing — by bicycle.
Amy Sieffert, a Stockton native, has been running a vintage clothing business since 2010 — but she had to leave her hometown to make a profit. On weekends, she would travel to Sacramento and the Bay Area because there were no local makers markets where she lived. To help turn this ghost town into a local hotspot, Sieffert and business partner Katie Macrae created the Stockmarket, a seasonal market that showcases Central Valley artisans.
The phrase “wine country” harkens to Napa, Sonoma, Calistoga. But Solano? Not so much. In fact, the Suisun Valley appellation was formed in 1982, less than a year after Napa’s. The local environment boasts much of the same benefits, too.
If you want to eat out but can’t decide which restaurant to go to, try asking yourself a different question: How much do I want to pay? That’s the idea behind Requested, a name-your-price app that’s been turning Sacramento’s dining arena into a digital bidding zone.
According to Dr. Charles DeCarli, director of UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, finding the catalyst (or catalysts) could help researchers determine ways to stop Alzheimer’s disease before it even starts. “One of the things we’re pretty sure of right now is that the earlier we intervene, the more likely we are to prevent dementia,” he says.
Bad news first: Vacancies in the Sacramento office sector remain high, there were no new construction projects in 2014 and average asking lease rates stayed flat at $1.69 per square foot per month. But these stats are yesterday’s news, say real estate analysts.
Downtown Sacramento used to be a dump with a capital D. It was a place for work during the week, but crime and trash made people scatter on nights and weekends. That changed in the mid-1990s when property owners realized blight was bad for business and decided an urban overhaul was in order.
HomeZada is more than digital storage for insurance purposes. The comprehensive solution helps long-time homeowners and new buyers maintain and manage their budgets, plans and possessions online.
If Portland can have one, Sacramento can, too. That is the sentiment among those in favor of running a 3.3-mile trolley line through the heart of the River City.
With SynGen, co-founder Philip Coelho hopes to play a critical role in this breakthrough by supplying tools that harvest stem cells and immune cells from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow and other sources.
The invasion has begun. Don’t look surprised. This moment has been a long-time coming, with research groups prophesying 2015 as the launching point of the wearable technology takeover.
NannyMe is a business and mobile application created by a few Sacramento high schoolers. Similar to the rideshare app Uber, NannyMe receives babysitting requests, then pings nannies (local high school students), who can accept or decline the job. Since NannyMe launched in December, about 75 families have signed up with the service.
Daniel Morash doesn’t like to see spoiled food go to waste. In 2012, Morash and his brother, Dave, spent millions to launch California Safe Soil with one goal in mind: convert leftover organic material from supermarkets into a nutrient-rich soil amendment farmers could use to grow crops.
Eight of 10 alumni under 35 say the main reason they haven’t donated to their alma maters is that they feel they’ve paid enough already in tuition. Over half said they “don’t think the school really needs the money.” Add that to the common belief that their money ends up in some institutional “black hole,” and the currently bleak donation landscape makes sense.
In 2011, Jon Coss was on the hunt for funding. He had an idea for a system that could leverage Google Analytics to detect and prevent fraud and abuse in government programs. But this infrastructure-as-a-service model was new back then, untested and hard to explain to venture capitalists.
Zinfandel from Lodi’s Mokelumne River American Viticultural Area comes in two main styles: west side and east side. West-side vineyards, with their shallower soil, have lusher growth and tend to be earthier or loamier, sometimes pungently compost-like. East-side vineyards have a lower water table, producing smaller clusters and smaller fruit, which generally have more color, tannin and acidity.
You might say the old grapevines look otherworldly. With their contorted limbs and thick trunks, these Zinfandel vines look more like squat alien-trees, twisting up out of a sandy 3-acre spit of land in southwest Lodi. “Look how this vine is growing here,” says Stuart Spencer, owner of St. Amant Winery. He’s standing in the dirt at nearby Marian’s Vineyard, pointing to a vine with a hole as big as a fist. “The vine just splits over time.”
At the crush pad of a custom-built winery, the 6-foot-4 winemaker in tie-dye socks shuts off the forklift, realizing he missed a call.
“I didn’t hear my phone ring,” says Layne Montgomery, 55, general manager and founding partner of m2 Vintners Inc. in Acampo.
“It’s harvest,” jests one of his volunteers. “Who has time for a phone?”
In February, Attorney General Kamala Harris released a guide to help the state’s small- to mid-sized businesses protect against and respond to threats of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks. Key recommendations include:
In cyberattacks against multimillion-dollar companies, computer criminals break in and steal personal information from millions of customers. Though there will be big losses and maybe a high-profile resignation, the reality is, these retail giants will live to sell another day. But the stories that won’t make the front pages involve the most frequent targets, whose survival isn’t guaranteed: small businesses.
Compared to other industries, banks operate from a unique position, in that they have to focus intently on their own security, but also make sure their clients have the knowledge and tools to protect against computer criminals. Providing that protection usually comes down to a matter of security versus convenience.
On hot summer weekends, a 20-barrel brewery west of Winters overflows with patrons. They flood the taproom and crowd around shaded picnic tables, sipping beer while soaking in live music. A few kids play baseball in the gravel lot. Others pull wooden blocks from an oversized Jenga set by the food truck. Some are locals, but many come from Davis, Sacramento and beyond to get a taste of whatever Berryessa Brewing Co. has on tap for the week.
For the past few years, Sacramento’s been trying to boost its tech cred. That’s not easy when you’ve got Silicon Valley for a neighbor, but one thing the Capital Region can boast is deep agricultural roots. These notable apps prove that innovation can be born right in our backyard. So if you want to support this region’s tech/food movement, be sure to buy local.*
(*The apps are free.)
In California, lighting systems in commercial buildings account for an average of 35 to 40 percent of a facility’s total electrical use. That makes lighting systems the greatest target for potential savings as the state aims to achieve zero net energy in commercial buildings by 2030. Here’s what you need to know to get compliant.
The updated Title 24 energy efficiency standards will greatly impact how property owners design, construct and renovate buildings. Bernie Kotlier, co-chair of the nonprofit California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program, shares the best ways to navigate the changes:
If you’re one of those motorists who describe the whole DMV experience as slow, torturous and/or dystopian, consider the cow.
The old-school office style emphasized privacy and individual productivity. But the new model prioritizes the ideals of the creative class — that fast-growing, highly educated, well-paid segment of the workforce that values creativity, collaboration and the ability to customize.
VSP wanted The Shop in Midtown to be flexible, buildable and breakable, a learning space and a prototype in itself (form following function). With that in mind, architects put wheels on the tables and on corrugated cardboard walls to make everything portable and adaptable.
In the Sacramento Valley, where 97 percent of the state’s rice crop is grown, family farmers have been forced to fallow cropland they have worked for generations. The economic hit has been hard and true, affecting not just farmers, but seed distributors, equipment dealers and anyone else with a thumb in the rice business. The drought could cost Central Valley farmers and communities $1.7 billion this year and may lead to more than 14,500 layoffs.
The whole DIY video tutorial trend might be good if you want to concoct a hair conditioner with condiments, practice putting on lipstick with crayons or make pencils float in midair. But if you’re trying to brew your own beer at home, you’re going to need a bit more than a six-minute YouTube clip.
Years of drought have baked away some of the divisions inside California’s Capitol, drawing opposing parties together in an effort to find solutions to the state’s ongoing water storage and conveyance problems.
When downtown Sacramento’s Brew It Up poured its last beer in 2011, owner Michael Costello lost more than his business. “I lost everything,” he says. “Nobody really knows the whole breadth of it. It’s not an easy thing to go through.”
Ryan M. Norman is the son of a pharmacist, raised in Vacaville with dreams of being an FBI special agent. When that path proved unlikely, he became an attorney instead.
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.
Retirement communities are facing the challenges that come with catering to seniors in the 21st century. These consumers — and there are a lot of them — are demanding greater access to technology, life-long learning programs and attention to overall wellness.
No agency is safe. No office off limits. Boardrooms will be infiltrated. Communication barriers will crumble for the sake of collaboration. As the old guard inches toward that horizon called retirement, Sacramento’s young power players are taking center stage.
If Gov. Jerry Brown had his way, the redevelopment agencies throughout California would be history. Not only would he demolish all of the nearly 400 active agencies, Brown would also use the billions they earn in property taxes to plug the state’s massive deficit and support schools and public safety services.
Three years ago a wrecking ball known as the subprime mortgage meltdown slammed into Sacramento’s real estate market, kicking up a dust cloud over the city’s urban development plans. But rather than dwell on the financial obscurity of the future, David Miry and Steve Lebastchi kept their eyes on the past.
If you want to talk sides, Mike Brown is your man. As the owner of midtown’s Capitol Dawg, Brown knows his various hot dogs draw in the crowds, but it’s the side dishes that complete the meal.
When Kevin Marshall co-founded a real estate valuation firm in 2001, his first order of business was to bust down the walls.
The last sound anyone wants to hear is a firetruck siren. But last fall, that unsettling sound rang in the middle of the night as a three-alarm fire leaped from an apartment building in midtown Sacramento to the roof of J Street Recorders, home of the multiplatinum blues metal band Tesla.
“Why don’t we start at the top and work our way down?” The voice of Greg Kelly echoes as he stands in the empty lobby of his brand-new office building. He’s ready to begin the tour.
Scott Steele rushed his daughter to the hospital one night because her ear infection wouldn’t heal.
Somebody stole Derek Finstad’s backpack.
He left it in the locker room at a gym in Yuba City, where he works. But when he went to retrieve it, the backpack — with his keys, checkbook and other materials — was gone. Finstad wasn’t happy.
When his mother fell for the second time, Steve Smith was ready to put the plan in motion.
Markus Bokisch has grown into the kind of man who doesn’t mind having his wife in his business. But it didn’t happen overnight.
The year was 1943, the world was at war and Dick Bertolucci cruised the streets of Sacramento in his first car — a black ’33 Chevy Roadster. He was 13 and didn’t have a license.
Amid the country’s worst economy in decades, Michael Genovese was offered more work, and he refused.