Three California housing issues to watch in 2018

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Source: The Los Angeles Times

Rising rents and home prices forced California’s housing crisis to the front of Gov. Jerry Brown’s and lawmakers’ agenda in 2017.

Legislators passed the most comprehensive package of housing bills in recent memory designed to increase spending on low-income development and encourage more construction in general.

But the bills, according to independent analyses, won’t do much to make housing cheaper in the state.Expect more focus on housing issues at the Capitol and on your statewide ballot in 2018.

Here are three to watch.

1. A rent control battle

2. The future of Proposition 13

3. How lawmakers will follow up on this year’s housing efforts.

Read the full story

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Homeownership will get more expensive for some Californians under the GOP tax bill

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Story Source: The Los Angeles Times

The Republican tax bill that appears headed for President Trump’s desk reduces the ability of home buyers to deduct mortgage interest, which will be a hit to home shoppers in Southern California and the Bay Area, where housing costs are sky-high.

But the interest provision is far more limited in scope than a previous proposal. Real estate experts and professionals said Tuesday that they don’t expect a big effect on home buying in the region, and that any ramifications will be largely restricted to well-to-do neighborhoods.

Making sense of the story:

  • Under the new plan, which passed the House on Tuesday and was headed for a late vote in the Senate, buyers can deduct interest on mortgages up to $750,000, for homes bought after Dec. 15. (Homes purchased on that date or before then aren’t affected.) That’s down from the current $1-million limit, but an increase from a $500,000 cap that previously passed the House.
  • That means a home buyer with a 20 percent down payment can purchase a $930,000 home and still deduct all the interest. Even for a borrower who took out a $1-million loan at 4 percent interest, $30,024 of interest payments are deductible in the first year, leaving $9,656 that isn’t.
  • The bill also caps property and state income tax deductions at a combined $10,000 — about $8,500 less than the average deduction taken by Californians in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center. Combined with the new cap on mortgage interest deductions, that could mean some households will have less to spend on housing, leading to price declines in some wealthy areas.
  • The tax bill doubles the standard deduction, which means fewer households will itemize. That may result in people buying a less expensive house because they couldn’t write off any interest
  • Some experts predict that by adding an estimated $1.5 trillion to the federal budget deficit over 10 years, the tax bill will put upward pressure on interest rates — including mortgage rates, which have remained under 5 percent for the last six years.

Read the full story

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Fowler Family to be Recognized Family of the Year at the Nevada County Fair.


Alana, Brad, Macey (14), Molly (12), Morgan (10), Wendy (7), and Wyatt (7)   Photo credit: Shaffers Originals of Grass Valley

Alana, Brad, Macey (14), Molly (12), Morgan (10), Wendy (7), and Wyatt (7)
Photo credit: Shaffers Originals of Grass Valley


Brad and Alana Fowler have been named the 2017 Family of the Year by the Nevada County Fair’s Board of Directors. The Board chose the Fowler Family for their ongoing commitment, participation and volunteer efforts in the livestock program at the Nevada County Fair.

Brad and Alana, who were both born and raised in Nevada County, have been attending the Fair since they were children. Alana started showing animals in 4-H at nine years old and continued through high school in FFA; and Brad showed throughout high school in FFA.  Since that time, they’ve continued to help in the show arenas, volunteer on Treat Street, work in educational booths, assist at the Junior Livestock Auction, set up various displays, and clean barns after the Fair.  Today, they spend countless hours in the livestock barns, helping their own children, as well as other youth exhibitors, prepare their animals for the Fair.  

The Fowlers, who will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this year, have five daughters – Macey, 14; Molly, 12; Morgan, 10; Wendy, 7; and Wyatt, 7. All their children have been involved with livestock since birth, and have been showing and exhibiting at the Fair since they were young. The older girls started with pygmy goats and rabbits and moved to beef and dairy. Their oldest three daughters raise steers for the Junior Livestock Auction, and their youngest daughters entered Mutton Bustin’ last year. The girls have each started their own herds of various species, so in addition to bringing steers to the Fair this year, the oldest three girls will also bring some of their own breeding animals, both beef and dairy cattle, to show. The youngest girls help their sisters and have their own animals that will be the foundation for the future livestock they exhibit at the Fair. Additionally, Macey works with several horses during the week, trading for lessons; Molly plays volleyball; and Morgan competes in track.

Not surprisingly, when asked about their favorite memories at the Fair, both share fond memories of their time with the livestock community. “My favorite part of the Fair is watching the Junior Livestock Exhibitors show their animals,” says Brad. “Fair is also important to me because I get to see people in the community.”  Alana echoes his comments. “Fair is like a family vacation with friends and family,” she says. “I love to see the livestock exhibitors sharing their knowledge of these animals with families that visit.”

When not busy at the Fair, Alana reports that “life outside of Fair is much like Fair.”   They are self-employed, and for the past 10 years they have sold pasture-raised hogs, turkeys and chickens, as well as grass fed beef, lamb and goat directly to consumers in Nevada County.  They also use goats and sheep for fire prevention grazing throughout Nevada, Placer and Yuba counties. Outside of work, the Fowlers are involved with the Nevada County Farm Bureau, the Nevada County Food and Farm Conference, Nevada County 4-H, Nevada County Food Policy Council, and Nevada County Livestock Producers.

“The Fowler’s involvement in the livestock community, and their countless hours o

Nevada County Fair Competition Handbook Now Available

Fair entry Mechanical Bear

Fair entry Mechanical Bear


Book includes all the information you need to enter exhibits in this year’s Fair


The Nevada County Fair’s Competition Handbook, which includes all the information you need to enter exhibits in this year’s Fair, is now available. If you can make it, bake it, grow it or show it, there is a category for you – and it can be found in the Competition Handbook!

Why not showcase a child’s artwork project from school, a cooking skill, or a special collection? Try baking cookies, entering a photo, creating a produce character, making the Ugliest Decorated Cake, writing a poem, entering the Pet Look-A-Like photo contest, or making a bookmark. This year, we have some fun new categories like button art, plastic utensil art, decorated cake pops, beach art, and a decorated reusable grocery bag.

Fair Entry Seahorse

Fair Entry Seahorse

There are also special contests like the Seafaring Squash Mobile Races, Daily Special Food Contests, 4-H Still Exhibits, and an exhibit video contest. With hundreds of categories available for children and adults, the Competition Handbook has something for everyone.

Copies of the free handbook are available at the Fairgrounds’ Office, Chamber of Commerce offices, post offices, county libraries, Raley’s, SPD, Ben Franklin, Foothill Mercantile, and other local businesses, as well as online at NevadaCountyFair.com.  

It’s easy to enter! Look through the book, pick your favorite categories, and follow the simple steps for completing the entry forms. You can even enter online at NevadaCountyFair.com.   Most categories are free to enter, and you can enter online or at the Fair office. The deadline for submitting entry forms and online entries is July 21 at 4 pm.

The 2017 Nevada County Fair is August 9 – 13, and the Fair them is “Sea You at the Fair!” For more information, visit NevadaCountyFair.com or call (530) 273-6217.


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Bridgeport Historic Ranch and Famous Covered Bridge, Nevada County, CA

Bridge Port Bridge closed until repairs are completed. Photo by John J. ODell

Bridge Port Bridge closed until repairs are completed. Photo by John J. ODell

By Judy Pinegar

Feb 26, 2017 –

          It was a beautiful sunny/cloudy day in Nevada County. Having a bit of cabin fever due to all the rain, John and I set out for Bridgeport with Hershey, our beautiful, black, half Labrador dog.

            Stopping first on the other side of the Yuba River, the sign said the walking trail(s) were closed, although we could see some people and sometimes dogs on the trail(s). But we had to pay the parking fee ($5.00), so we returned across the Yuba River to the main Park Site and Visitor Center. After paying (honor system) we proceeded to get a brochure and wander around the central area. The National and State registered Historic Landmark is the actual Bridgeport Covered Bridge, built in 1862 by David L Wood and the Virginia Turnpike Co. It was closed to walkers, or anyone, but restoration is expected. It is 229 feet long, making it the longest single span covered bridge in the entire United States!

            Then on to the “family beach” now mostly covered by water as the river is very high this year!  Several old pieces of mining equipment are around.  We then visited the old garden spot, the visitors center, the gas station ($0.12 per gallon!), and then the Barn which contained a large collection of various carriages, and farming vehicles. The Visitor Center was quite interesting, containing some preserved wildlife from the area that Hershey did NOT like at all! (Think panicked barking, a wild animal is on the loose!)  Also displayed were pictures of how high the river actually has risen in this area, way higher than this year for sure!!

            Then we took the easy Visitors Center Trail, past Kneebone Cemetery, Kentucky Creek (that trail was flooded), and back to the main area. There were a few confusing signs about “where” and “where not” you could take your dog, but overall it was a nice day. However it was really getting cold, so we left for home, hoping to come back with more time to walk (lots of trails) an a little better weather!!

            All and all, I recommend it as a really fantastic place to visit. See you on the trail! (Just look for Hershey)

For information South River State Park
Call (530) 432-2546

Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s Speaker Series Features Anita Oberbauer


Anita Oberbauer, photo courtesy Nevada County Fairgrounds

Anita Oberbauer, photo courtesy Nevada County Fairgrounds

February 23, 2017

Anita Oberbauer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, spent Wednesday evening with local students from Bear River and Nevada Union high schools as a guest speaker of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s Speaker Series.  The series, now in its second season, brings business education – through access to business leaders and real-life leadership experiences – to local high school students.

Oberbauer shared stories from her “long and winding road” that led to her career path. Words of advice included to stretch yourself and be daring (but be safe and wear protective armor); always seek balance and goals (don’t be afraid to ask for things, but also be willing to give); and never be afraid to recalculate (a career path isn’t always straight, so recalculate as necessary).  She also shared a quote from Louis Pasteur – “Chance favors the prepared mind; and opportunity favors the bold” – and encouraged students to be bold in their choices.

Oberbauer joined the UC Davis faculty in 1989, and was appointed as the Chair of the Department of Animal Science in 2009.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of California, Davis, and her Ph.D. in Animal Physiology at Cornell University. She also completed post-doctoral fellowships in Perinatal Biology at Loma Linda University and Biological Chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles. She was honored in 2002 with a prestigious UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as the American Society of Animal Science Corbin Award in Companion Animal Biology (2004), the Distinguished Teacher Award for the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science (2006), and the Outstanding Mentor Award from the UC Davis Consortium for Women & Research (2011).  

The second season of the Speaker Series features six speakers, one each month, and will run through April.  Upcoming speakers include Caroline Beteta, CEO of Visit California; and Julie Baker, Executive Director of Center for the Arts.  

About the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation: The Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s mission is to support and improve the community’s Fairgrounds, and to support youth in agriculture. For information, visit  NevadaCountyFair.com/foundation/.

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Owners Missing Money at Foreclosure Auctions


Because there’s strong demand for affordable residences in markets that are seeing home prices surge, some homes sold at foreclosure auctions are netting more than what the lender is owed. Once debts, liens, and fees are paid off, the home owner who’d fallen behind in their mortgage payments is entitled to the remainder. But here’s the kicker: Many home owners don’t realize their rights, which means much of the money is going uncollected.

For example, Denver County, Colo., officials say they have nearly $1.5 million in uncollected surpluses from the sale of about 50 foreclosed homes.

“In the past, people who lost their homes to auctions were typically underwater. [Now] prices have risen so that real estate investors, especially at auctions, are sometimes willing to pay more than what the [homeowner] lost it for,” says Brandon Turner, author of “The Book on Rental Property Investing.” 

Portland, Ore., Denver, Seattle, and Miami are all places where home prices are rising fast, and struggling homeowners may find more windfall profits in foreclosure auctions.

“Denver is one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation right now,” says Mica Ward, spokeswoman for the public trustee of Denver County. “So when a home does have to sell at a foreclosure auction, we’re consistently seeing that the home is selling for more than what is owed.” She estimates that about 80 percent of foreclosure auctions in Denver County result in surpluses over the original debt. She returned up to $169,000 to one foreclosed homeowner this year following an auction.

Source: Realtor.com


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Federal Funding Available to Address Tree Mortality on Private Forestlands

Dead trees killed by Bark Beetles. Picture by John J. O’Dell

Dead trees killed by Bark Beetles. Picture by John J. O’Dell

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is expanding its initiative to assist private forestland owners in addressing tree mortality and other drought-related damage to improve forest health. NRCS will provide financial assistance for landowners with dead and dying conifer forest trees in certain counties. Removing dead tree debris and other woody material will also help reduce the spread of invasive pests and reduce the threat of wildfire.

“The dry conditions posed by California’s ongoing drought have increased the potential for devastating wildfires and insect-related tree mortality,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California state conservationist. “In the upcoming year, NRCS will continue and expand our 2016 forest recovery efforts by initially allocating $4 million for tree mortality projects. We will also provide additional forestry staff to meet the overwhelming demand for assistance.”

Landowners with dead trees on non-industrial private conifer forestlands in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Tulare and Tuolumne counties may be eligible for financial assistance. Funding is available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program here

The Forest Tree Mortality Initiative is focused on removing dead trees on larger, severely damaged, private forestlands. Interested applicants will need to develop a Forest Management Plan for their forestland property. The minimum size forestland property is one acre and at least 100 feet wide. An applicant with more than 20 percent of their conifer forestland property covered with dead trees will receive priority funding consideration. An approved NRCS Forest Management Plan for tree mortality will not include tree removal on lands within 100 feet from homes. Please contact your county’s tree mortality task force about opportunities for removing dead trees around homes. Approved conservation practices include treating or removing woody residue from dead or dying trees, thinning overstocked forest stands, and tree planting.

Suarez further explained that the Agency’s landscape restoration efforts are part of USDA’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture. “Our focus is to combine healthy forest practices with the need to sequester carbon and improve soil health,” he added.


Contact NRCS at:
Nevada County
Grass Valley Service Center
113 Presley Way Ste 1
Grass Valley, Ca 95945-5846

Placer County
Auburn Service Center
11661 Blocker Drive, Suite 120
Auburn, CA 95603

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The Mad Russian of Texas Creek

Source Nevada Irrigation District

Source Nevada Irrigation District

One of the most colorful characters in Nevada Irrigation District’s history is the legendary “Mad Russian” of Texas Creek.  The solitary but likeable emigrant loved his vodka and garlic, talked to the animals and even kept a pet skunk during 13 years as a ditch tender at the isolated mountain station.

Born in Russia, Walter Proscurin found his way to the Gold Country and held a few odd jobs before he hired on with NID in the early 1950s. He worked summers in the mountains repairing canals and flumes.

Walter’s unusual life in the high country was traced through interviews with NID retirees Jason Davis, Frank “Snowshoe Fritz” Plautz, Lee Droivold and Kent Pascoe.

A year around employee was needed at Texas Creek, four miles southwest of Bowman Reservoir, and it was at the onset of the record setting winter of 1952 when Walter began his career as a high country ditch tender.

“I remembered him calling for help because there was so much snow pushing against his house. He thought the snow would push it into the creek,” said Davis.  Davis used to pack supplies into NID’s remote mountain stations.

Asked what he remembered most about the Russian, DAvis lauged, ” He used to take garlic with his vodka.  You couldn’t get within six miles of him”


“He ate garlic like we eat bread,” added Plautz, who retired after 22 years as NID’s Bowman lake tender. “He was serious.  He wasn’t much for joking. But he was a good-hearted guy. He always wanted to do something for your”

Frank’s wife Ramona, said Walter was very eccentric and may have gained his nickname of the Mad Russian because of the way he would wave a rifle and chase hunters out of the Texas Creek area.

Walter lived alone in a stone and wood cabin on the bank of the Bowman-Spaulding Canal near its crossing at Texas Creek. A foundation is all that remains of the cabin today.

The stout naturalized U.S. citizen, stood about 5′ 10″ and weighed 220 ponds, was responsible for keeping the water flowing through several miles of canals and old wooden flumes from Windy Point to the Clear Creek Tunnel.

Pascoe said the Russian was a big hit during his ventures into Nevad City. “He used to throw himself birthday parties at a Nevada City bar. One year, he must have spent $500 to $700 buying everyone drinks.

He loved animals and he would feed the coyotes. He had a bear coming up there for a few years. He always kept a salt lick for the deer.. He fed the birds and kept a pet skunk und the house.

The 63 year old Russian died on March 24, 1968. The cause of death was listed as heart problems and pneumonia and died alone. He is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Nevada City.

Source: NID Waterways, Summer 2016

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Time To Enter Your Exhibits For the  Nevada County Fairgrounds Harvest Fair

2016 Nevada County Fairgrounds Harvest Fair

2016 Nevada County Fairgrounds Harvest Fair Entries Wanted 

It’s free and all exhibitors will receive free tickets to a Draft Horse Classic performance 

Entry forms are now being accepted for exhibit entries in the Harvest Fair, which takes place during the Draft Horse Classic, September 22 – 25, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. The deadline to turn in entry forms to enter exhibits is 4 pm on Friday, September 16. It’s free to enter, and all exhibitors will receive complimentary tickets to the Friday evening performance of the Draft Horse Classic.

Entry forms are now being accepted at the Fair Office and on-line at NevadaCountyFair.com.  There are more than 100 different categories to choose from, including fruits and vegetables, cobblers, harvest pies, scarecrows, jams, honey, cut flowers, produce characters, and birdhouses. There’s even a “Garden Photo Contest” to share the beauty of your own garden and plants; and an Adult Artistic Corner for those interested in showing off arts and crafts. So many fun categories to choose!

There’s a division for youth and teens, which includes categories like apple face dolls, decoupage, Halloween masks, painted pumpkins, wreaths, table settings, and ceramics. Plus, there’s a Special People’s division for those interested in showing off their talents at the Harvest Fair.

Exhibitors must either submit paper entry forms at the Fair office or enter online at NevadaCountyFair.com between now and Friday, September 16 at 4 pm.  It’s free and it’s simple!

Complete descriptions of all Harvest Fair divisions and categories are available online at NevadaCountyFair.com, at the Fair’s Office on McCourtney Road, or by calling the Fairgrounds Office at (530) 273-6217.

The Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Fair runs September 22 – 25 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. There are six performances featuring the beautiful Draft Horses – Thursday and Friday at 6:30 pm, Saturday at 10 am and 6:30 pm, and Sunday at 10 am and 4 pm.

In addition to the Draft Horse performances, the Harvest Fair is happening at the Fairgrounds throughout the event. Musical entertainment, Art at the Classic, food vendors on Treat Street and around the grounds, a clogging jamboree, Harvest Fair exhibits, and visits to the barns make for a fun family day at the Harvest Fair.

For Draft Horse performance tickets or information about entering a Harvest Fair exhibit, call the Fair Office at (530) 273-6217 or visit NevadaCountyFair.com.

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