October 02, 2015    Headlines

Central Bay Stripers and Haibut

The Bays:

Inside the bay, Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael said, “There are a million bass around here, and they got larger on Wednesday 9-30 with around 1 out of 5 fish being legal.” The tides are good for halibut, and fishermen can also anchor near the Pumphouse for sturgeon as there are sturgeon jumping in the area. The shrimp keeps getting sturgeon in his nets during the drags. Loch Lomond is the only North Bay outlet for the Rio Vista Striped Bass Derby, and he has all of the registration forms in the shop. He will also be reserving grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, pile worms, shiners, and mudsuckers for the event.  He added, “A few salmon are taken daily out of California City, and although I have only heard of one boat limiting out since the opener, it is definitely worth going at the top of the tide and try to get lucky.” 
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports reported stripers have moved all the way into downtown Napa, and anglers are trolling Rat-L-Traps or River2Sea Bottom Walkers for success. There is a downtown launch at the Old Yacht Club, and there are also two locations to put in a kayak. Sturgeon are starting to move in, and anglers have been seen them breeching on the surface. 

Captains Chris Smith and James Smith of the California Dawn were back on the shark grounds on Monday 9-28, and although Chris said the action wasn’t as hot and heavy as it was on Sunday, they ended up with 14 seven gill and 5 leopards to create bloody conditions on the decks. They are halfway through their shark series for the season, and this trip was sponsored by Vince Borges of Phenix Rods. Captain James said, “We put a good hit on the sharks.” Agreed.
Bob at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito reported good action for sharks in the bay, and there are a few halibut showing up off of the Point Pinole Pier. Anglers tossing Kastmasters off of the Rodeo shoreline are picking up one or two stripers per evening, and there are stripers also coming from Golden Gate Fields and Point Molate. They are gearing up for the upcoming crab season with pots, nets, rope, weights, gauges, and all possible combinations of crab gear.

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle said, “The sun was out on Thursday 9-17, and it was not windy, and we expect a very nice weekend. There is not much to report as Tuesday and Wednesday were windy with only shore anglers out.” Striped bass remain abundant, and the weekend has good tides for drifting shiners, but it is a little early for boats wanting to anchor for either sturgeon or stripers. He added, “There are a helluva lot of small stripers with a few barely legal one as well as the very occasional fish to 10 pounds.” California City is producing an average of a salmon or two per day for an average of ten or twelve boats. Fraser will be out trolling Friday afternoon with Loch Lomond worm-tailed jigs at the top of the tide.

Citing structural problems, Berkeley closes historic pier
The historic Berkeley pier has been closed to the public due to structural problems. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel The city of Berkeley has announced the closure of its historic municipal fishing pier due to “considerable structural damage” that has made the popular walkway unsafe for the public.
Damage to the concrete decking and support system of the pier was found during an assessment earlier this summer. Signage and fencing have been posted in the area to cut off access pending the repairs, but where the money will come from to fix the problem remains an open question. The city did not respond Thursday to a request for additional information.
The announcement, in a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council, 
was posted online Thursday. It comes after a decision earlier in the month to prohibit heavy trucks on the pier due to the structural issues. As a result, the city paid $7,900 to set off its Fourth of July fireworks from a barge rather than using the historic walkway, which juts out into the San Francisco Bay at the end of University Avenue.
The city discovered the structural damage prior to July 4 when it began looking into proposed repairs that would have made the pier smoother for wheelchairs, a city staffer told the Parks and Waterfront Commission earlier this month.
After finding the damage, “the City retained the services of IDA Structural Engineering, Inc. (IDA) to advise the City on the feasibility of using heavy trucks on the Pier for the fireworks show. IDA examined the underside of the Pier and found evidence of significant concrete 
spalling and badly corroded structural rebar.”
The city banned all vehicular access to the pier at that time.
According to the memo Thursday, “Further clarification and communication with IDA has resulted in the closure of the Pier to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic until further testing and repairs can be made.”
City staff is working with IDA “on possible methods to repair portions of the Pier and the potential costs, and will keep Council updated on our progress.”


Special to The Bee

After yet another revision, the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta still makes no economic sense. A closer look at the three types of economic benefits claimed for the project to export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities shows why it can’t possibly justify its estimated $15 billion cost. In each case, I give a value derived directly from the optimistic estimates of the state’s consultants and a more intuitive comparison.

Water supply: The latest numbers estimate the tunnels will increase water exports south of the Delta by an annual average of 257,000 acre-feet, with no increase in drought years when it is needed most. The cumulative value of that water supply over 50 years is $2 billion to $3 billion.
For comparison, San Diego’s new desalination plant will provide 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water for a capital cost of $1 billion. Desalination is the most costly water supply alternative, but it still provides more than three times the water supply per dollar invested than the Delta tunnels.

Water quality: Because the tunnels would divert higher-quality water from the Sacramento River, the salt and other contaminants in export water supply could decrease by 20 percent. It’s estimated that this could have a cumulative value to water exporters of as much as $2 billion over 50 years.
However, it is important to remember that the tunnels aren’t a water treatment or desalination plant that purifies water. Thus, the water exporter’s gain in water quality will be offset by degraded water quality elsewhere, a concern that is at the center of opposition in the five Delta counties and environmental concerns raised by the EPA and others.

Seismic risk: Listening to the governor, earthquake protection is the main economic argument. But the state’s experts estimated seismic-risk reduction to water exports was only worth a cumulative $400 million over 50 years. Why is this value so low? First, it is a very low probability event even in the most pessimistic models. Second, the outage to water exports isn’t as bad as you hear in TV commercials. Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin correctly described it as “weeks or months” in a recent media call, not years. In a worst-case earthquake scenario, the tunnels might prevent 2 million to 3 million acre-feet in lost water exports, a costly but manageable shortage. For comparison, the current drought has cut surface water supplies to farms and cities by more than 10 million acre-feet.
The earthquake argument is not only economically wrong, it is morally outrageous. The real damage from what some call California’s Katrina would be death and destruction in the Delta itself. The state’s model of this tragedy shows hundreds could die and that 80 percent of the economic damage was from the loss of property and infrastructure in the Delta.
It’s shocking that the state’s response to this are water tunnels that protect only 20 percent of the economic loss and zero percent of the life loss. Levee upgrades are much cheaper and reduce risks for all Californians.
In sum, the economic benefits of the tunnels to the water exporters total about $5 billion of its $15 billion cost, and the benefit-cost ratio is even worse when the negative impacts to the Delta and risks to the environment and upstream interests are considered.
Support among water exporters has been steadily eroding as the economic and financial shortcomings of the plan become better understood.
A few years ago, the state tried to shore up its economic argument by attaching a huge value to the hope of 50-year regulatory protection from the Endangered Species Act, and incorrectly attributing habitat restoration benefits to the tunnels. After heavy criticism, the latest revision to the tunnels plan eliminates the 50-year regulatory assurance and separates environmental restoration. The plan’s already flimsy economic rationale evaporated with this correction.
It is increasingly clear that there are less divisive alternatives that provide more economic and environmental value than the tunnels. No amount of tweaking can save what is fundamentally a bad idea. It’s time to move on.

Jeffrey Michael, an economist, is director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific. Read his blog at
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Party Boat Information and Reservations Around the Bay

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