North Bay News

News for and about Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties

California Update for Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jan 10, 2018
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

• The former top Republican in the California Assembly is doubling down on the strategy that got him deposed last year.

• This flu season started early, and it's killed 27 people under age 65 so far.

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford and Sammy Caiola.

Coffey Park
U.S. Army/Edward Coffee

Rains will slow construction activities that have started in areas destroyed by the fall fires. But the real slowdown will come from lack of materials and workers as building gears up. A recent episode of KQED’s Forum program hosted by Michael Krasny addressed those concerns, and our News Director Steve Mencher has some excerpts.

  Here's a link to the original program at KQED.

California Update for Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Jan 9, 2018
Andrew Harnik / AP

• Long-time California Republican Congressman Ed Royce will retire this year, giving Democrats better odds of winning a seat they were already contesting.

• Removable plastic bottle caps could become a relic of the past if a bill inching its way through the California legislature becomes law. It would require all single-use plastic bottles to have an attached cap.

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford and Ezra David Romero.

Rains Bring Relief, Worry

Jan 8, 2018
Stacey Dennick

This winter’s first major rainstorm is expected to bring 1 1/2 to 4 inches of necessary rain to Sonoma County, along with gusting winds. Local rivers are predicted to remain below critical stages, but areas affected by October’s wildfires are at high risk for flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow.

California flag
Zlixir dot com

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave leeway to federal prosecutors to enforce federal laws against cannabis. That’s even in states where medical and adult use is legal. News Director Steve Mencher spoke with Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and the county’s Cannabis Program Manager Tim Ricard about the Sessions announcement.

Listen to the unedited conversation below.  

Community meeting will be held Saturday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. 

Federal, state, county and city leaders will all come together next week for a Recovery & Rebuilding Town Hall in Santa Rosa on Saturday, January 13 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The Town Hall will be an opportunity for residents to receive updated information on debris removal and what to expect during the rebuilding process in the months to come. 

Topics that will be covered at the Town Hall include:

Outbeat Radio News for Monday, January 8, 2018

Jan 8, 2018

• Iraqi forces captured a terrorist who has appeared in numerous execution videos where gay and bisexual men were thrown from buildings. 

• A federal judge in Illinois rules in favor of a school district policy allowing transgender students to access bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity rather than birth sex. 

• LGBTQ youth and elders are invited to participate in the collection of oral histories, find out about the workshops being provided by Listening For A Change in Sonoma County.

California Update for Monday, January 8, 2018

Jan 8, 2018
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• California’s recreational marijuana law marks a milestone for the industry. But it doesn’t offer the complete freedom to smoke, buy and transport cannabis anywhere you please. 

Capital Public Radio’s PolitiFact reporter Chris Nichols examined some of the restrictions Californians still face.

Find more on this story plus other Politifact California fact checks HERE.

Presentation of a Gold Resolution and Challenge Coins will be held Tuesday, January 9 at 1:30 p.m.  

Jeff Sessions
Gage Skidmore via Flickr

We talked with Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and the county's cannabis program manager Tim Ricard about statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, which threatened prosecution under federal law of cannabis activities in California and other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational

California Update for Friday, January 5, 2018

Jan 5, 2018
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

• The California Department of Insurance says growing number of homeowners aren't able to renew their homeowners insurance policies and the problem is expected to worsen in the wake of 2017 wildfires.

• Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that once protected state-sanctioned marijuana operations from federal prosecution

Today's reporting by Sally Schilling and Sammy Caiola.

Robert Siegel

One of public radio’s most familiar voices is signing off this week. Robert Siegel is hanging up the mic, and retiring from his gig hosting All Things Considered after 30 years. Siegel chatted with our News Director Steve Mencher. They started by talking about Robert’s colleague Susan Stamberg, whose voice changed radio in the U.S.

California Update for Thursday, January 4, 2018

Jan 4, 2018
Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio News

• Alicia Lewis co-authored the #WeSaidEnough letter --signed in October by more than 140 women who work at the California State Capitol. The letter was a show of support for the national #metoo movement. Lewis was fired from her job a week later.

• A law that goes into effect on January 1st requires new and remodeled pools in California to have an additional safety layer to protect children from drowning.

Find more new California laws going into effect this month HERE.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, director of CAL OES Mark Ghilarducci, and FEMA Regional Administrator Bob Fenton
KRCB/Steve Mencher

A day after visiting fire-ravaged areas of Southern California, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen toured Santa Rosa's Coffey Park and other affected neighborhoods, and met with local government officials, workers and fire survivors.

In her prepared remarks, Nielsen promised help from the federal government for fire recovery and noted that her department "will be here, arms locked, with state and local officials, to help California recover from the fires."

Wednesday January 17th, 2017   
6:00pm - 8:00pm   
Unitarian Universalist Church   
547 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401  


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District (USACE) has established a Debris Removal Information Line for property owners affected by October’s devastating wildfires in Northern California. 

The number for the USACE Debris Removal Information Line is 877-875-7681, and is intended for residential property owners who have signed up for the government-sponsored debris removal program. Residential property owners who are registered for the program can also e-mail:


California Update for Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Jan 3, 2018
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• The state Senate left a female Fellow in the Sen. Tony Mendoza’s office for six weeks after receiving a sexual misconduct complaint. It’s the latest concern—but far from the only one—of critics who question the HR credentials of Senate leadership.

Find Ben Adler's full investigation HERE.

On December 7, 2017, the Board of Public Utilities approved Billing Adjustments for Fire Protection Water Use policy. The policy allows for a billing adjustment for properties that experienced increased use due to fire related water loss and activities during the month of October 2017. For all account types, water use must be higher than prior water use, compared to same time last year.

With its mission over one-third complete, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District (USACE) has awarded two contracts for the consolidated debris removal program in Northern California following the October 2017 Wildfires. 

In Sonoma County, Environmental Chemical Corp. (E.C.C.), Burlingame, California, was awarded a $475-million firm-fixed-price Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract. 

In Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties, CERES Environmental Services, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, was awarded a similar contract for $160 million. 

The State/Federal Disaster Recovery Center in Santa Rosa will convert to a U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center. The center will continue to operate at the Press Democrat Building beginning Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at 9 a.m. 

The Oak Granary

When the October firestorms swept through Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, the innovative Frey family winery on Tomki Road lost vehicles, equipment, homes and a barn full of goats. In December, Katrina Frey welcomed volunteers bearing acorns onto the burned land around the dormant vines.

California Update for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Jan 2, 2018
Maiko Walk 27 / Flikr

• California drivers will pay more to renew their car’s registration in 2018, as part of a new law to help pay for deferred maintenance and roadwork. The deal approved by Gov. Jerry Brown also increased the state gas tax.

Find more new California laws now in effect for 2018 HERE.

• Caltrans is taking climate change seriously. So seriously that the organization is prepping 12 reports that evaluate how things like warming temperatures, changes in rainfall and wildfires affect roads.

California Update for Monday, January 1, 2018

Jan 1, 2018
Richard Vogel / AP file photo

• It's now legal in California for adults 21 and older to buy marijuana for recreational use from a licensed retailer. Voters triggered this massive change after they approved Proposition 64 on the November 2016 ballot.

Find more new California laws taking effect this year HERE.

Today's reporting by Sammy Caiola.

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs)  


The Sonoma County Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are permanently closed. Those affected by the October wildfires can still reach FEMA by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), online at and through the FEMA app.  

California Update for Friday, December 29, 2017

Dec 29, 2017
AP photo

• The deaths of an 18-year-old and his 25-year-old, uncertified tandem jump instructor have resulted in and update to California law.

• Another new California laws taking effect on January 1st is intended to prevent “school lunch shaming.” That’s when schools deny students food because their parents haven’t paid lunch fees.

Find more California laws taking effect January 1, 2018 HERE.

Today's reporting by Steve Milne and Bob Moffitt.

California Update for Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dec 28, 2017

• Low-income Californians will have access to dental services they’ve lacked since 2009, under a law taking effect on New Year’s Day.

Find more new laws taking effect in the new year HERE.

• The state's DUI messaging emphasis shifts to pot, as recreational marijuana becomes legal on January 1st. Law enforcement says "no matter your age or reasons for consuming cannabis, you should never drive while high."

Today's reporting by Ben Bradford and Randol White.

Pre-Paying Property Taxes

What Sonoma County Property Owners Should Know

The Sonoma County Tax Collector is receiving a number of inquiries from property owners who wish to “pre-pay” property taxes prior to January 1, 2018, resulting from the federal tax bill with a new $10,000 limit on state and local taxes that may be deducted for federal income tax purposes. 

Stacey Dennick

Recently, we shared some news and impressions from this year’s Emerald Cup – the yearly meeting of cannabis business professionals and enthusiasts. As you may know, the era of cannabis prohibition is ending in California on January 1. No, you probably won’t be able to walk into your local pot store on New Year's Day – the rules and regulations are still emerging. But it may be time to make sure that the history of the underground marijuana industry isn’t lost to the ages.

Reporter Sarah Reith hung out with some budding historians at the Emerald Cup, and has this report. 

Spending Christmas in a FEMA Trailer

Dec 27, 2017
Woman with dog
Stacey Dennick

The holiday season can be a difficult time. That's been especially true for the dozens of people living in FEMA trailers at the Sonoma Fairgrounds RV Park.  

Brenda Cappel lived on Willowview Court in Santa Rosa for 10 years until last October’s firestorms. She’s been in a FEMA trailer since the day after Thanksgiving.

“I loved my home; it was my Xanadu,” Cappel said.  “I had a really hard time getting myself out of my house, because you know in the back of your mind, if you have to leave like that, you’re not coming back.”

California Update for Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dec 27, 2017
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

• New laws give sexual assault victims clear direction as to their rights, which includes not cooperating with police.Law enforcement must enter rape kits into a data base and keep them for at least 20 years.

• Help is on the way for fathers of young kids who often struggle to find diaper changing stations in men’s bathrooms.

Find a list of more new California laws taking effect in the new year HERE

Today's reporting by Bob Moffitt and Ben Adler.