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Good afternoon, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Wednesday, April 7.
This week in Fresnoland, Monica and Cassie wrote about how Fresno city officials swarmed the Manchester Arms apartment complex to document potential code violations and give tenants resources; Cassie wrote a Code Enforcement guide for Fresno renters, put out a call for Fresno renters to share their experiences with landlords or the city code enforcement, and wrote about the competing programs — Right to Counsel and Rental Mediation — that should support renters who are facing eviction. She also wrote about the new Fresno County program that will distribute about $30 million to low-income renters through the Fresno County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Dympna wrote about a Fresno Councilmember’s solution to a industrial rezone in southwest Fresno, and the community’s reaction (it’s a no).
It’s Danielle Bergstrom, policy editor for the Fresnoland Lab, here.
Do you, or someone you know, live in the Madera Ranchos area? If you’ve driven along Highway 41 towards Yosemite recently, you may have noticed a lot of new developments popping up.
The area has had its share of water challenges, as my colleague Monica Vaughan has written about here.
We’re asking for residents in the Ranchos or surrounding communities to share their water questions and concerns with us in this survey.
Every time we put out a survey about water or new development, people always ask us — where will the water come from? Before launching the Fresnoland Lab, I researched that very question — how will we drought-proof our communities for the future — in this research paper.
Most Valley communities have always relied on groundwater, supplied through private or community wells, with an aquifer replenished by rain and drainage from local rivers. Just a handful of communities get their water directly from local rivers. But with climate change reducing our water supplies, and more users competing for the same water, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be conflict.
So we’re investigating water supplies in fast growing areas in the central San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Madera Ranchos and surrounding communities. If you live there, what water questions or concerns do you have? What should we know, and who should we talk to? Share with us here.
(Do you want to see more investigative, engaging, and explanatory reporting in the central San Joaquin Valley? Please donate here to sustain our work.)
And now, the week’s top reads:
(For the most recent local coronavirus updates, visit www.fresnobee.com/coronavirus.)
Housing, Transportation, and Land Use
The Fresno County housing market is hot and the median selling price of a single-family home has grown by an eye-popping 47.6% over the past four years. Fresno Bee
Landlords are having to carry a huge financial burden because of the pandemic-related eviction moratorium that allowed tenants to stay in their rentals, even without paying. Los Angeles Times
The Housing Trust Fund, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is awarding millions of grants to states for low-income housing — thanks to a housing boom fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. AP News
Pharmacy chain CVS Health announced it has invested more than $7 million in two affordable housing projects led by Fresno Housing. Fresno Business Journal
Economy and Neighborhood Inequality
Despite trillions of dollars in aid for hard-hit businesses and households, large pockets of qualified Americans have still not received any subsidy or aid because of challenges in disbursing money to people who are still jobless or underemployed. Washington Post
Are you one of more than 2 million people in California who have not received your stimulus money even though you’re entitled to money from federal COVID-19 relief programs. You may be in danger of never collecting the money. Los Angeles Times
California’s Employment Development Department is increasingly turning to an ever-expanding roster of private technology contractors to help people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. CalMatters
If you are a college student who relies on emergency aid from the federal government, when you receive your money may depend on which college you’re enrolled in. CalMatters.
The month of February saw the pace of job openings reaching the highest level on record, a hopeful sign for those looking for work. APNews
Target announced it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025 by adding more products from companies owned by Black entrepreneurs, spending more with Black-owned marketing agencies and construction companies and introducing new resources to help Black-owned vendors navigate the process of creating products for a mass retail chain. New York Times
Water and Air Quality
The state appears to be in the midst of another drought only a few years after a 5-year dry spell dried up rural wells, killed endangered salmon, idled farm fields and helped fuel the most deadly and destructive wildfires in modern state history. Hopes for a wet “March miracle” faded with not much hope for April showers. Fresno Business Journal
California’s Central Valley farmers are joining forces with scientists to find solutions to water shortages. ABC30.com
The Pacific Gas & Electric is facing 33 criminal charges from the Sonoma County district attorney for a 2019 wildfire officials blamed on the utility which burned more than 120 square miles and destroyed 374 buildings. Los Angeles Times.
A government study released Tuesday concludes that rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts are much longer across most of the U.S. West, over the past half-century. The situation is worsening as climate change has warmed the planet. Fresno Business Journal