New Year’s Day News Briefs

STOCKTON
December 31, 2013 9:00pm
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•  December freeze damage measured

•  Housing continues its comeback

•  And more….

Please see fourth story in Briefs

Valley citrus growers assess damage

While it will be weeks into the New Year before a final assessment of losses from the pre-Christmas freeze is added up, Central Valley growers already have a good idea of what was hurt the most.

The Mandarin crop took the greatest hit from the freezing temperatures – something to be expected as it is a less cold-tolerant variety, explains California Citrus Mutual of Exeter.

The bulk of the nation’s navel orange crop comes from the trees in Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties. Navels also incurred damage, the extent of which will become evident as the season progresses.

“On the bright side, it appears as though the lemon crop, although much smaller in the Central Valley than the Navel and Mandarin crops, has escaped with minimal damage,” says California Citrus Mutual.

Fruit that cannot be packed due to freeze damage at least has some value as it’s salvaged for juice.

When the freeze hit the Navel crop was approximately 12 percent to 15 percent harvested, with Mandarins close to 20 percent harvested – leaving a majority of the crop still on the tree and at risk of damage.

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Housing markets show further recovery

The Central Valley and national housing markets showed year-over-year price gains for single-family properties, according to figures compiled by online real estate site Homes.com., a division of Dominion Enterprises of Norfolk, Va.

Its figures show 84 metropolitan areas are back ti pre-Great Recession price points or even beyond, leaving 216 still lagging, including those in the Central Valley.

“It is encouraging to see both large and small markets experiencing continued improvements as the housing market maintains steady stabilization,” says Brock MacLean, executive vice president of Homes.com. “Moving into 2014, sustained recovery will push the market forward with markets in the West and heartland area leading the pack”

Honolulu, Hawaii, remains the top gaining market on a year-over-year basis, with a 13.43 percent increase, the website says.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana; San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marco and in the Central Valley, Bakersfield-Delano, make up the remaining four in the top 5, with Sacramento-Roseville in eighth place.

In looking at what it figures are the top 100 regional markets showing “significant” price rebound, Homes.com lists Modesto as 94th and Stockton as 92nd – both at under 18 percent up from their bottom at the depths of the Great Recession. It notes that the small rebound is due to the depths to which Stockton, Modesto and other markets sank when the housing bubble burst.

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Ballot could clog with initiatives

As 2013 was ending, approval was given to eight measures to gather signatures to try to get on the California ballot. Here’s a summary:

• Cigarette Tax Initiative

Increases cigarette tax by $2 per pack, with an equivalent increase on other tobacco products. Allocates revenues primarily to increase funding for healthcare programs and services; also for tobacco use prevention and control programs.

• Firearms Regulation. Constitutional Amendment

Eliminates state firearms owner registration, regulation of ammunition, and assault weapons restrictions.

• State School Funding

Beginning July 1, 2015, requires a three-fourths majority vote of the Legislature to defer payments to schools for more than 30 days, or to amend the statutory scheme in any other way aside from moving up the timing of distributions.

• Vehicle Sales Regulation plus three related initiatives dealing with used car sales

Among other things, these would requires auto dealers to repair manufacturer-recalled safety defects on used vehicles before sale or lease to consumer. Prohibits dealers from using certain high-pressure tactics, or cancelling or changing vehicle sale or lease contracts at additional buyer expense, after delivery of vehicle.

• Abortion Restriction

Changes California Constitution to prohibit abortion for unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician or other authorized medical professional notifies her parent/legal guardian in writing.

There is a vast gulf between being cleared to gather signatures and actually collecting enough to make the ballot. In the case of the six initiatives to change the laws lived above, the valid signatures of 504,760 registered voters – the number equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election will be needed.

In the case of the two proposed amendments to the state Constitution listed above, the barrier is higher: the valid signatures of 807,615 registered voters – the number equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

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Entomologist shows creative side with bronze stick insects

Matan Shelomi, a doctoral candidate in entomology at the University of California, Davis, will be displaying the creative and artistic side of his entomological career at a solo exhibition, “Flat Fusion Five,” Jan. 6-Feb.7 at the UC Davis Craft Center Gallery.

The exhibition includes bronze stick insects and a series of digital prints of colorful cockroaches.

Mr. Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, has volunteered at the Craft Center since his graduate school enrollment at UC Davis in the fall of 2009. He has taken many of the evening and weekend classes offered there, from flame-working to wood-turning to bookbinding.

The most popular items are his bronze stick insects. Mr. Shelomi’s dissertation is on the digestive physiology of stick insects, for which he uses the many phasmids reared at the Bohart Museum for research and for public display.


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