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More diesel time

(AP) -- California air quality officials are considering giving small trucking operations more time to comply with new rules to clean up diesel emissions.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the proposal would push back deadlines by a few years for small fleets, lightly used trucks and those in rural areas with cleaner air.

The state Air Resources Board says even with the changes the state could still achieve 93 percent of pollution cuts envisioned through 2023. A vote is planned for Thursday.

The changes under consideration come in response to pressure from small trucking firms and owner-operators who have pleaded for more time to comply with rules requiring them to install costly new diesel particulate filters or upgrade to cleaner models. The rules took effect this year.

Treasure Island mold

(AP) -- A growing number of residents and workers on Treasure Island are complaining about mold in aging buildings on the former Navy base in San Francisco Bay.

People who live and work on the small island, which is part of the city of San Francisco, questioned whether the mold is affecting their health, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

Mold is just the latest health worry for people on Treasure Island, where the soil is contaminated with radiation and toxic substances.

In March, extensive mold growth at an aging firehouse forced firefighters to move to a nearby training facility on the small island.

Landlords and employers are required to clean up mold, which is linked to asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues.

San Francisco officials who oversee housing on Treasure Island say they have acted swiftly when informed of mold and dampness.

They do not believe the problem is widespread.

About 15 years ago, San Francisco began housing residents, many of them low-income, in former military housing on Treasure Island, which was a Navy base from 1942 to 1997.

The soil under that housing is known to be contaminated with PCBs, metals and other toxic substances, and radioactive contamination was discovered in the area in 2007, the newspaper reported.

Kathryn Lundgren, who has lived on Treasure Island since 2004, said she has complained for years about mold in both bathrooms of her home, as well as leaks over the kitchen sink. She said her 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with asthma last year, and she has had breathing and congestion problems in recent months.

“I have reported it maybe 30 times or so over the last 10 years,” Lundgren said.

The property manager is offering to move Lundgren and her family to another unit on the island while it repairs her unit, said Bob Beck, who heads the Treasure Island Development Authority, the city agency that oversees the island.

“We haven't seen a pervasive [mold] problem. This appears to be an isolated maintenance issue in this unit, but it's certainly something we would continue to track,” Beck said.

Opening in Yosemite

(AP) -- National forest managers are opening recreation areas that have been closed since a massive wildfire scorched areas in and around Yosemite National Park last summer.

Stanislaus National Forest officials say they are opening several seasonal roads, campgrounds and day use areas, including Rainbow Pool Day Use Area and Rim of the World Vista.

Those areas have been closed since the Rim Fire began Aug. 17 and became the third-largest wildfire in California history.

The Stockton Record reported forest crews have been working for months to fill stump holes, replace signs, barriers and picnic tables, and mark recreation area boundaries.

Starting Friday, camping will be allowed at campgrounds including Diamond O, Lost Claim, Lumsden, Lumsden Bridge and Sweetwater.

Upgrade wasted

(AP) -- An audit has found that Modesto's $1.3 million project to upgrade its water quality control laboratory has partly gone to waste.

The Modesto Bee reported the upgrade at the city's wastewater treatment plant included purchasing about $350,000 in equipment.

Public works officials said that would allow staff members to test the water instead of sending some of the work to other labs, and save the city money.

However, an independent audit has found that the lab never obtained proper certification for the equipment, so the lab must continue outsourcing testing associated with the equipment.

A city official said the city is working to improve the lab and the public works department.

The audit of the department's water and wastewater divisions cost the city about $80,000.

Banning coyote hunts

(AP) -- California wildlife regulators are proposing a ban on contests that reward hunters who kill coyotes and other predators.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the California Fish & Game Commission this week issued a proposed rule that would make it illegal offer a prize, inducement or reward for killing predators.

The 3-2 vote opens a public comment period that will end Aug. 6, when the commission is expected to make a final decision on the proposal.

The commission received about 13,000 letters and emails calling for an end to the killing of coyotes and other predators.

Wildlife advocates have been demanding action after learning about an annual coyote hunt in Modoc County in northeastern California.

Urging spinoff

(Bloomberg) -- Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. rose the most in five months after activist investor Orange Capital LLC disclosed a 4.5 percent stake and urged the casino owner to spin off its properties into a real estate investment trust.

Orange Capital, the hedge fund co-founded by Daniel Lewis, is in talks with Las Vegas-based Pinnacle's (NYSE: PNK) board and management and is pushing for a transaction that would distribute the proposed REIT to the company’s shareholders in a tax-free transaction, according to a regulatory filing Monday.

Pinnacle owns and operates 14 casinos in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Nevada, as well as racetracks.

New York-based Orange Capital, which said it holds 2.64 million shares of Pinnacle, also has targeted companies such as Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: BEE), a hotel REIT, and PHH Corp., a mortgage and fleet manager.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (Nasdaq: PENN), a Pinnacle competitor, last year spun off most of its real estate into a REIT similar to what was proposed by Orange Capital, creating Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc., the first casino real estate investment trust.

Smoker eviction

(AP) -- An 89-year-old woman is preparing to move out of her Milford, Ohio, home of the last 10 years because it has gone smoke-free and she won't give up cigarettes.

Beulah “Billie” Toombs faces eviction after her apartment building's management deemed her noncompliant with its new smoke-free policy, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

A smoker for about seven decades, she doesn't think she should have to quit to remain in her home.

“This is my home, and I think you do can do whatever you want to in your home,” she said.

The management of the low-income senior apartments where she lives announced the smoke-free policy more than a year ago. Residents were allowed one year of smoking with some conditions.

When the policy kicked in this year, neighbors reported Toombs' smoking. A regular apartment inspection this month found cigarette butts and ashtrays in her unit.

The senior apartments are subsidized by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program.

A HUD spokesman said there is a strong housing toward non-smoking apartment buildings.

“Building owners do not like smoking,” said HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan. “There is the stink, the risk of fire, and you can never get that smell out.”

Toombs has been looking for a new place and thinks she has one lined up, The Enquirer reported. Soon, she will pack up her belongings, including her ashtrays.

Philly cop house

(Bloomberg) -- Philadelphia wants more room for cops, and to rejuvenate a neighborhood at the same time.

The city is selling $55 million in municipal bonds Tuesday for a project that would move its distinctive police headquarters as well as a lab and morgue to a campus west of downtown, according to Treasurer Nancy Winkler.

“Moving to West Philly allows us to use an area of the city that would benefit from the development that would occur around the property and to optimize the assets we own,” she said.

Officials plan to sell the three buildings beginning in 2017.

“We think that will go well for us,” Winkler said, noting that the properties are in places where real estate values are “very high.”

The city would offer more municipal bonds for the $250 million project next year, she said.

Construction will also begin in 2015, and operations will start at the facility three years later, according to deal documents.

Known as the Roundhouse, the curved design of the police headquarters is a landmark example of architecture from the early 1960s, according to the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

Even the interior features, such as elevators and exit signs, reflect the rounded shape of the building, the group said. From the air, the site resembles giant handcuffs.

The new securities, which are mostly tax-exempt, are graded A2, sixth-highest by Moody's Investors Service, which said Pennsylvania’s most populous municipality is experiencing “an improving economy and growth in the tax base.”

Abu Dhabi projects

(Bloomberg) -- Aldar Properties PJSC, Abu Dhabi's biggest developer, is returning to development with three new projects and studying plans for an additional 20 amid a nascent recovery in the emirate’s property market, the company’s chairman said Monday.

Aldar, which took over a smaller rival in June, will start sales of three residential developments in Abu Dhabi valued at a total of 5 billion dirhams ($1.36 billion).

The projects include 540 apartments in the first phase of Ansam and 230 units in Al Hadeel, both of which are open to foreign buyers. More than 140 plots of land on an island will be sold to U.A.E. citizens, Abubaker Seddiq Al Khoori said.

“The projects will be self-financed” through advance sales, Al Khoori said.

With its new projects, Aldar will ban buyers from reselling the properties before paying half of their value, the chairman said. The developer will also limit the number of properties buyers can purchase before development, he said.

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User Response
1 UserComments
Robert C Leif, PhD. 10:43pm April 21, 2014

Since the alternative is the continued release of carcinogens into the air, slowing of the transition to clean diesel is very much against the public interest. It would be useful to find a means to financially help the owners of small trucks with the cost of their engine upgrades. It should be noted that the proposed radical rezoning of Barrio Logan was based on the assumption that it would decrease the release of these airborne carcinogens. I failed in my attempt to convince my fellow Democrats on the City Council that the source of these carcinogens was obsolete diesel engines and not the local defense contractors. I hope that the council members will now rely on scientific fact rather than unsubstantiated testimony.