Bay Area Briefs

Friday October 26, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A ferry to the former prison island of Alcatraz will be powered by soybean-based fuel thanks to a $25,000 grant announced Thursday. 

The 400-passenger Blue & Gold Ferry is already taking visitors to Alcatraz powered only by the biodiesel fuel, said San Francisco Water Transit Authority spokeswoman Heide Machen. 

The ferry is part of a pilot project to collect emission data on the highly efficient but relatively expensive fuel, which produces 78 percent less carbon dioxide than diesel; pure biodiesel reduces air toxics and cancer-causing compounds by 94 percent. 

The WTA expects a final report by the end of February 2002. 




RICHMOND — The City Council has approved Contra Costa County’s first living wage ordinance, setting higher wage standards than similar measures adopted in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. 

The ordinance requires firms with 10 or more employees receiving more than $25,000 in city contracts to pay employees at least $11.42 an hour with benefits or $12.92 without. The measure also applies to city employees, nonprofit groups with annual city contracts totaling $100,000 and anyone who leases public property with 25 employees and annual earnings of $350,000. 

The council is expected to formally adopt the measure on a second reading next week. 

San Francisco’s wage ordinance sets a $9 per hour minimum for city-hired contractors; Oakland requires $8 per hour with benefits or $9.25 without; San Jose mandates $9.50 with benefits and $10.75 without. 






CONCORD, Calif. (AP) — Several shopping centers in the East Bay are canceling trick-or-treat events because of concerns over possible terrorism attacks. 

Sun Valley Mall in Concord and Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton have canceled long-standing trick-or-treat traditions, while Richmond’s Hilltop Mall will hold a candy-free event. Michigan-based Taubman Co. owns all three centers and has directed its 31 shopping malls in 13 states not to distribute edible treats in light of anthrax scares. 

Other malls, including Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek and County East Mall in Antioch, are going ahead with edible fright-night delights. County East General Manager Sharon Cooper said it’s important to carry on with the 12-year tradition that draws crowds of up to 4,000 people. 


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A plan to reduce smog in the Bay Area is on its way to state and federal regulators after it was approved Wednesday by a trio of regional panels. 

The Bay Area ozone plan seeks to reduce the two ingredients that make up ozone by 20 percent between now and 2006, largely through measures that are already in place such as improved gasoline formulas and cleaner burning cars. 

The plan includes stricter regulation of paints and varnishes, better valves at refineries and new lower-emission buses. It also promises to study other measures, including a stricter smog check program, that could be implemented in the future. 

Environmentalists speaking at a public hearing complained the plan was not aggressive enough. Representatives of Central Valley municipalities have objected in writing because they believe many of that region’s air quality problems come from Bay Area exhaust blowing inland.