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By Tim Hunt

Rounding up thoughts between planned outages

Uploaded: Oct 29, 2019

Earlier this month, I received a routine promotional email from the Dublin Ranch Golf Course that seemingly contained good news—lower rates.

Perry Lee, the general manager, wrote that rates were dropped to $34 during the week and $50 on weekends (down from $43 and $65). He noted that conditions were “less than ideal.”

When I chatted with an avid golfer and long-time fan of Dublin Ranch (I like it as well because we can get around in about three hours and there are some challenging par 3 holes), he described it as worse than the now-closed Springtown course in Livermore. Ouch. His take was simple: save your money because the fairways are gone (greens and tees are OK).

In his email, Lee blamed excessive summer heat and water rates from the Dublin San Ramon Services District. I checked with the district and spokeswoman Sue Stephenson responded in an email that recycled water rates increased per unit (748 gallons) from $4.14 to $4.38. They had dropped in 2018 from $4.23 prior. Dublin Ranch started using recycled water in 2014 when rates were $3.39 so rates have increased about 23 percent in six years.

Stephenson also pointed out that golf courses using reyclced water with its higher nitrite-levels can offset fertilizer costs.

Here’s suspecting something other than water rates went wrong at the ranch and here’s hoping the superintendent and team get the fairways growing again.

Longer term, Lee wrote they will be exploring different strains of grass that make take less water and looking at removing turf to cut irrigation costs (something golf courses across the state have done driven by the drought and water rates)

Winds of recession are continuing to blow on-and-off in the media, but you can’t tell it looking at California numbers.

The Port of Oakland, a good barometer of the Northern California economy, had the busiest month in the port’s 92-year history in July. A press release noted that it handled the equivalent of 90,598 20-foot imported containers in July. It’s the first time the port has ever exceeded the 90,000-container level and surpassed the previous record from June 2018 by more than 3,300 units. Volume was up 7.5 percent year-over-year despite the trade war with China.

Export volume was up 10.2 percent year-over-year, an increase for the fifth consecutive month. Total volume at the port through seven months is up 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, state officials California jobs increased for the 114th straight month, reaching a new record for the longest expansion ever. The July growth numbers tied the record from the 1960s. Unemployed ticked down one-tenth to 4.1 percent.

And tax revenue continued to gush into the Sacramento coffers, exceeding budget by $533 million.

The expansion will not continue forever, but it’s been a remarkable expansion with the Bay Area leading the way with its robust job growth. In 10 years since 2009, Bay Area companies created nearly 4.1 million jobs.