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Daily news roundup for Monday, June 1, 2015

Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Workers overlook the base of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge on May 18, 2015 in San Francisco, California. After nearly 12 years of construction and an estimated price tag of $6.4 billion, steel supporting the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

Caltrans downplays latest Bay Bridge rod failure // SF Gate

"Another steel rod anchoring the foundation of the new Bay Bridge eastern span tower failed a critical strength test, Caltrans officials acknowledged Wednesday, and two sources close to the bridge project told The Chronicle it made a popping noise, suggesting a crack.

"Caltrans officials downplayed the failure, stressing that 99 percent of the 407 rods that underwent testing passed, and said that the cause will need to be determined by further tests in a materials lab. But the failure of a second rod leaves the possibility that more rods could eventually fail."


Activists Work to Stop East Bay Coal Exports  // East Bay Express

"On May 14, protesters rallied and dumped 'coal' (charcoal, actually) in front of the downtown offices of Phil Tagami, developer of the former Oakland Army Base. It was the first public action in a campaign by Oakland environmental groups and city leaders to stop a new plan to export coal from Oakland. They learned in April that the developers of the Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal (OBOT), being built on the former Army base site, are negotiating to export coal from mines in Utah.

"Under the pending deal, a Utah state agency would invest $53 million in building the OBOT in exchange for the right to use nearly half the terminal's capacity to export products from four counties in Utah. 'In our neighborhood, that means coal,' said Malcolm Nash, economic development director of Sevier County, Utah."


San Jose smoking crackdown: Free cigarettes in bars could be next to go // San Jose Mercury News

"City officials want to drive tobacco companies out of San Jose's bars and clubs, especially from gay bars where they're handing out coupons for reduced-price cigarettes. The City Council on Tuesday will consider an initiative to ban the distribution of tobacco coupons, samples or free cigarettes from all San Jose businesses. Councilman Raul Peralez said the measure reduces the risk of young adults getting hooked on smoking. Tobacco company representatives stood near San Jose bars and clubs, distributing coupons for half-price or $1 cigarette packs that patrons could redeem inside. 'They were going for new drinkers in their 20s and 30s,' Peralez said. 'It was a quick and legal way for them to get cigarettes into the hands of people that were drinking.'

"The problem spread throughout San Jose, but advocates say the tobacco companies are targeting gay bars and venues. According to an assessment by the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, 23 percent of the county's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members are smokers, compared with 7.7 percent in the population as a whole."


San Francisco restaurants mixed on new water-serving rule // Hoodline

"Next time you’re on a bus, in a car, or on your bike, you probably won’t see a huge billboard reminding you about California’s drought, and no, you won’t get a pop-up ad on your computer. When you sit down to eat at a restaurant, however, chances are that you’ll get a not-so- subtle reminder. But how much can new regulations, and signs like these, actually help the state-wide effort to drastically reduce water use?

"Even if you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the state’s massive drought by now, which is well into its fourth year. This week, the US Drought Monitor said nearly 94% of the state is experiencing a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

"In April, Governor Jerry Brown decided it was time to up to ante. He issued an executive order, calling for an across the board 25% percent water reduction state-wide. In March, the State Water Resource Control Board issued several new emergency water conservation regulations. Included among the urban conservation measures: 'restaurants and other food service establishments can only serve water to customers on request.'"


San Francisco: No reservations about advance-pay dining // San Jose Mercury News

"At noon on a recent Wednesday in May, San Francisco's Lazy Bear restaurant began taking reservations for June. Just 45 minutes later, nearly every seat for the entire month was sold out.

"Not reserved. Sold. As in, every meal for almost every seat for an entire month bought and paid for in advance.

"That's because Lazy Bear uses an increasingly popular ticketing system model for its reservations that asks diners to pay upfront for their meals much the way theater patrons pay for their seats. The tickets cannot be refunded or changed, though they can be given to someone else, much as one could with tickets to a concert or a baseball game."


Big, little S.F. arts groups bury hatchet, divvy up city money // SF Gate

"Like the diva and her scrappy understudy, San Francisco’s major and smaller arts groups have long squabbled behind the scenes for attention — and, more importantly, money — from City Hall.

"But for the first time in years, large arts groups like the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony and smaller organizations, such as the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and Brava Theater Center, have presented a unified front in the annual rite of seeking money in the city’s next budget cycle. And the newfound comity appears to be paying off.

"On Friday, Mayor Ed Lee announced $7 million in additional funding for the arts over two years — the largest increase in years."