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Daily news roundup for October 22, 2015

Aaron Anderer (Creative Commons)
Tilden Park, Berkeley, California

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW News.

Damning California's Future // East Bay Express

"Proponents contend that dam-building will create "a new era of abundance." But critics argue that dams, such as Los Vaqueros in Contra Costa County, are environmentally destructive and too expensive.

"Though dam proponents retreated from the North Coast, their dream of capturing large new water sources to fuel an everlasting cycle of growth and development has never fully faded. And California's epic four-year drought, characterized by reservoirs that sport bathtub rings where water once was, has given them perhaps their last best chance to launch a new era of dam-building in California."


California sets inmate sex reassignment rules // Associated Press

"California prison officials have set the first standards in the nation for determining when transgender inmates should receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery - a move that came after it spent years in court fighting to block the operations."

"Under the policy that took effect Tuesday, prison mental health professionals would refer inmates for the surgery."

"To qualify, prisoners must be diagnosed with what is formally known as gender dysphoria; lived as a member of the preferred gender for at least 12 months; and expressed a desire for sex-reassignment surgery for at least two years."


California voter law could register millions – for a start // The Sacramento Bee

"Soon, every eligible Californian who passes through a Department of Motor Vehicles office will be registered to vote unless they explicitly decline, the product of legislation intended to reverse a downward spiral of voter participation rates. The effort could add millions of new voters to the rolls, reshaping the electorate and recalibrating how campaigns are conducted."

"But supporters acknowledge that the law will accomplish little unless those newly registered multitudes actually cast votes. Whether they avail themselves of that right will stand as the true test of Assembly Bill 1461’s ambitious aim of bringing disengaged and disaffected citizens into civic life."


San Jose could be first California city to get Google Fiber service // San Jose Mercury News

"Google is moving forward with plans to expand Google Fiber into the heart of Silicon Valley, potentially making San Jose the first city in California and fourth in the nation to carry the Mountain View technology giant's lightning-fast fiber Internet and TV service."

"San Jose leaders remained tight-lipped about the expansion plans Tuesday, but Google has applied for permits to build two of the shed-like shelters -- called "Fiber Huts" -- to house its fiber cables on Santa Teresa Boulevard, near Thornwood Drive, and Bird Avenue, near Virginia Street. The company plans to build at least eight more, city documents show."


Airbnb Apologizes For Passive Aggressive Ads on Muni Shelters // SF Weekly

"Less than two weeks before San Franciscans could vote to severely restrict Airbnb in the short-term rental company's hometown, new ads touting the benefits of the company's tax payments have popped up on Muni bus shelters. Rather than inspiring gratitude, however, the messages — apparently from Airbnb — have some San Franciscans pissed off at what appears to be a passive aggressive stance towards funding public services." 

"San Francisco State assistant professor Martha Kenney spotted a public library-themed ad on a bus shelter near the Ingleside library. It reads:

'Dear Public Library System,

We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.


San Francisco turned off a warning siren for nesting hawk // SF Gate

"Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet recently shared the sweet tale of one city warning siren at Taraval and Great Highway being shut off for the benefit of some sleepy hawk chicks. The siren was turned off several months ago, but the story is just now being told." 

"Rick Prelinger reported seeing a red-tailed hawk nest atop the emergency siren, used for emergencies in theory and disturbing you every Tuesday at noon in practice. The hawk must not have been around during a noontime drill, because she took up residence there."