Page 1



JUNE ‘17 VOL. 29 | NO. 6

AlleY Cats

Restaurateurs and architects are invigorating Sacramento’s hidden spaces by Allen Young


This year, we’re ready to start where we left off, because we’re not ones to rest on our laurels. Our lineup of high-performance vehicles backed by Jaguar EliteCare Best-In-Class coverage* has us poised to keep leaping ahead. JAGUAR SACRAMENTO 2052 Fulton Avenue Sacramento, CA 95825 877.644.7930 niellojaguar.com


New Vehicle Limited Warranty Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance 24-Hour Roadside Assistance

Jaguar InControl® Remote & Protect™

THE ART OF PERFORMANCE Vehicles Shown: 2017 Jaguar XE R-Sport, 2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport, 2017 Jaguar F-PACE First Edition. European license plates shown. †Claim based on number of new Jaguar vehicles sold in the U.S. from January to December 2016 as compared to number of Jaguar vehicles sold during calendar year 2015 (+116%), and compared against reported U.S. sales figures by automobile manufacturers for the same time periods. *Class is cars sold by luxury automobile brands and claim is based on total package of warranty, maintenance and other coverage programs. For complete details regarding Jaguar EliteCare coverage, please visit JAGUARUSA.COM, call 1.855.JAGUARUSA /1.855.524.8278 or visit Jaguar Sacramento. © 2017 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC


One of our engineering managers used his new knowledge to improve the terms

with a customer, which more than paid for the UC Davis program. Since then we’ve

sent 17 other staff from engineering, sales

and procurement to the program—making us much more effective company-wide. — Bill Vasquez | Vice President Operations, Americas | Sims Recycling Solutions | Roseville

Stay on the cutting-edge of best practices to keep your management and leadership skills sharp. Upcoming full-day Executive Education programs at UC Davis: ■■



Effective Negotiations: Strategies and Tactics | JUNE


Implementing Successful Organizational Change Initiatives | JULY Building your Strategic Bench: Interviewing with Purpose | AUGUST


See our 2017 schedule and register now gsm.ucdavis.edu/ExecEd 28 Special pricing for Comstock’s readers: Use code COMSTOCKS17 when registering for 10% off

DGA’s new office at 1720 8th Street

3 New Communities in

El Dorado Hills Gated Luxury Homes Highly Rated Schools Best Locations Models Open Daily 10am-6pm

You Build Your Life. We Build Your Dreams.

THE OVERLOOK View homes on half-acre homesites Single-story homes 2,711-3,832 sq. ft. 4 beds & 3.5-4.5 baths From the high $700,000s

THE ELMS AT THE PROMONTORY Quick move-in homes Single and two-story homes 2,711-3,866 sq. ft. 4-5 beds & 3.5-4.5 baths From the mid $600,000s

THE OAKS AT THE PROMONTORY Estate homes with Folsom Lake views Single and two-story homes 3,800-4,720 sq. ft. 4-5 beds & 4.5-5.5 baths From the high $800,000s

SALES INFO CENTER 9606 Pamela Street



(916) 259-8673

(916) 259-8673

(916) 259-8673

Thank you for reading the fine print. Renasci Homes reserves the right to change price, design, and specifications without prior notice or obligation. Square footages are approximations only. Photos and artist's renderings are for illustrative purposes only. Renasci Development, LLC. BRE license #01952660


“I would never have guessed even in 20 years we could receive the trifecta of awards from Sharp: Hyakuman Kai Elite, Dealer Excellence Award and Platinum Service Level Dealer Award,” — Joe Reeves, Founder/CEO

20 Years of Office Technology Now that’s something to Smile about The dot-com era proved to be a pivotal time for Joe Reeves. Having worked in the copy machine industry for nearly two decades, he saw an opportunity to provide advanced office technologies leveraging the internet. Smile Business Products, Inc. (Smile) was somewhat of a different name but reflected the enthusiasm of its team and era, and smilebpi.com truly became a .com company. Smile’s core business initially centered on selling and servicing Sharp copiers. The company was founded by seven employees in 1997, and has grown to five branches that service 29 counties in northern California and six counties in Nevada. With advancements in technology, specifically to digital, Smile adjusted its services to support all network devices. In order to provide the level of service customers are accustomed to, Smile invested in a state of the art Network Operating Center (NOC). Within the NOC, a support team of Help Desk engineers, through a tier system, provide timely support for all levels of IT services (including multifunctional printers, PCs and servers, telephone systems and more). The NOC remediates most calls within 20 minutes and completes 25 percent of all service calls throughout the company. The power of the NOC has no limits. Smile manages thousands of machines statewide for the state of California. One client, Sharon Yoder of Yoder & Co., CPA, initially hired Smile in 2006 to convert hard copy files to electronic files. Today, Smile provides service and support for Yoder & Co.’s server, desktop computers and software; phone and voice mail system; and copier and driver issues. Smile also provides backup and recovery services to easily restore the company’s system if it were to go down.




“Our tax and compliance services are subject to deadlines that can’t be extended, so our computers have to be available to meet those deadlines,” says Yoder. “Smile has provided an extraordinary percentage of up-time. Their staff is friendly and capable. We find them to be cost effective, and we don’t have to deal with turnover that would occur from in-house IT employees.” It’s important to Reeves that Smile goes above and beyond its commitment to its customers. Although the NOC adds the first line of defense for response, Smile’s highly-trained field technicians provide a two-hour service response time for onsite visits, resulting in a 91 percent “first time call completion,” meaning no additional service visits are needed. All Smile’s service technicians are factorytrained with an average industry tenure of 25 years, and most recently the service department was presented with the Sharp Platinum Level Service Dealer Award. “I would never have guessed even in 20 years we could receive the trifecta of awards from Sharp: Hyakuman Kai Elite, Dealer Excellence Award and Platinum Service Level Dealer Award,” says Reeves. Moving forward, Smile’s mission remains the same: to proactively simplify clients’ business technology experience through innovative customer service tools and responsive professional support, empowering them to focus on their core business. Smile invites you to visit one of our five showrooms to check out all the current office technology from top tier manufacturers, including Sharp, Lexmark, DocuWare, Fujitsu, Dell and more. If you can’t make it to Smile’s office, the staff is happy to bring a 40-foot mobile showroom to you!

916.481.7695 | www.smilebpi.com

Creating new life around Roseville’s Town Square.

City of Roseville

316 Vernon Street

This new civic office building for the City of Roseville is located next to the City’s Civic Center and Vernon Street Town Square. The 4-story, 83,000 sf building provides space for a number of City departments, as well as instructional and faculty office space for Sierra Joint Community College District. Additional ground floor retail and restaurant space activates this key downtown location.

First project ever to receive a Platinum level US Resiliency Council (USRC) rating.

True Community Makers

DigitalPro, Inc. helps businesses bring their ideas to life, with innovative technology and a team devoted to creating long-lasting client relationships. We are pleased to give them and all of our clients the sophisticated financing they need, the personal attention they deserve and the commitment to community they expect.

See how true community banking can help your business. Talk to one of our Sacramento area relationship managers today.

Let’s create tomorrow, together. bannerbank.com/business-solutions

Tri Counties Bank is branching out to 8th & K.

Service With Solutions is coming to downtown Sacramento this summer. Our unique brand of Service With Solutions provides a breadth of financial services, business knowledge and personalized problem solving. It’s a “come to you” style of full-service relationship banking built to last for years. With our newest branch opening this summer in the heart of the city, Service With Solutions will be closer than ever. Our local, knowledgeable bankers are dedicated to understanding you and your business, creating a custom portfolio of financial services to help your business grow and thrive.

Commercial and Industrial Lending Commercial Real Estate Lending Treasury Management Services Equipment Loans and Leases Small Business Lending including SBA Preferred Lending

Merchant Services Agricultural Financing Personal Banking Accounts and Services


801 K St.

Eight Sacramento area locations including our newest branch opening this summer at 801 K Street in downtown Sacramento. Member FDIC

1-800-982-2660 | TriCountiesBank.com

The 46th Annual College of Business Administration

Awards Banquet May 3, 2017

We are deeply grateful to our event supporters EVENT SPONSORS






Almonds provided by


MBA for Executives


American River Bank Barry & Lynda Keller Bickmore Biz Graduate Career Services Community Business Bank Comstock’s Magazine Damore Hamric & Schneider, Inc Deb and Mickey Sleigh EisnerAmper Corporate Associates Member


Fiddyment Farms Gilbert Associates InterWest Insurance Services Moss Adams Nehemiah Community Foundation Newmark Cornish & Carey Owen-Dunn Insurance Services Principal

Sacramento Kings Sacramento State Business Alumni Chapter SMUD The Institute of Internal Auditors Sacramento Chapter Travelers Tri Counties Bank University Advancement Zenith Insurance

Thank You!

Build dreams on good terms. Apply Now!

A focus on the fundamentals is smart, but it helps to have favorable conditions. The right SBA loan can help you launch, enhance






SBA 7A & 504 LOANS



or expand your small business. And that’s a big deal to us, because you’re not just an entrepreneur, you’re also a neighbor. When you succeed, our community succeeds too. Get business banking services—and credit union value —with a member-owned, not-for-profit institution that’s always here to help.

Compare Sacramento Credit Union to your bank today. sactocu.org | 916.444.6070

Growth without Limits! Why limit yourself? What could you accomplish if capital was no issue and you had good partners to help you grow? DCA is actively investing and partnering with local companies that meet the following criteria: • A growing market and defined competitive advantage • A talented and committed management team • Proven, profitable businesses with $10 - $150 million in revenues

Volume 29 Number 6 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER Winnie Comstock-Carlson, Ext. 101 winnie@comstocksmag.com EDITOR IN CHIEF Allison Joy, Ext. 106 MANAGING EDITOR Sena Christian, Ext. 110 ASSOCIATE EDITOR Robin Epley, Ext. 104 INTERIM ART DIRECTOR Kelly Barr, Ext. 115 EDITORIAL DESIGNER Sara Bogovich, Ext. 108 AD DESIGNER Jason Balangue, Ext. 105

DCA Capital Partners will invest in virtually all industry sectors with particular interest in: • Business services • IT Services • Software

• Technology-enabled services • Media and communications • Healthcare products and services

• Light manufacturing and distribution • Food and beverage • Agribusiness

Minority Investment Specialists: You get the capital | You keep the control If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about how DCA Capital Partners can add value (and capital) to your business, please call Steve Mills at 916-960-5352 or email him at smills@dcacapital.com.

VICE PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Clayton Blakley, Ext. 109 claytonb@comstocksmag.com REGIONAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Susan Cruz, Ext. 102 susan@comstocksmag.com For more information about advertising, send an email to ads@comstocksmag.com

BUSINESS MANAGER Sharon Brewer, Ext. 103 MARKETING MANAGER Kiara Reed, Ext. 112 MARKETING ASSISTANT Thomas Hanns, Ext. 111 CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT Tamara Duarte, Ext. 107 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alastair Bland, Rich Ehisen, Tania Fowler, Suzanne Lucas, Trish Moratto, Russell Nichols, Maria Ogrydziak, Karen Wilkinson, Steven Yoder, Allen Young

Open Your Home, Open a Heart! You have a partner in us. We support you, in providing care for foster youth, who desperately need safe, loving families to call their own.

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Joan Cusick, Chad Davies, Terence Duffy, Tia Gemmell, Ken James, Noel Neuburger, Kim Palaferri, Donald Satterlee CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR Andrew J. Nilsen PRINTING Commerce Printing Sacramento, Calif. commerceprinting.com Published by Comstock Publishing Inc. 2335 American River Dr., Suite 301 Sacramento, CA 95825 (916) 364-1000 Fax (916) 364-0350 comstocksmag.com Comstock’s magazine covers commerce and community in the counties of Amador, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba, known as California’s Capital Region. Comstock’s is published monthly by Comstock Publishing Inc, 2335 American River Dr., Ste. 301, Sacramento, CA. 95825. Comstock’s Volume 29, No. 6. A one year subscription to Comstock’s is $25 per year; a single copy is $4.95 plus postage, plus tax (if applicable). All rates are payable in U.S. funds. Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and artwork. ©2017 by Comstock Publishing Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.

Stanford Youth Solutions 8912 Volunteer Lane Sacramento, CA 95826 Tel: (916) 344-0199 14

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Contact Us Today! Carrie Johnson cjohnson@youthsolutions.org www.youthsolutions.org

Comstock’s is a member of the Western Publishing Association.

June 2017 CHAIRMAN RICHARD RAISLER President, trueHUE Enterprises Inc. MIKE AMMANN President and CEO, San Joaquin Partnership MEG ARNOLD Principal, GSD Consulting JAMES BECKWITH CEO, Five Star Bank STEPHEN BENDER CEO, Warren G. Bender Co. CHRISTI BLACK-DAVIS Executive Vice President, Edelman CAROL BURGER President, Burger Rehabilitation TIM CARMICHAEL Manager, Southern California Gas Co. MAC CLEMMENS CEO, Digital Deployment JOHN FINEGAN Founder, Beck Ag STEVE FLEMING President and CEO, River City Bank JIM HARTLEY Vice President, CH2M OLEG KAGANOVICH Founder and CEO, Wyndow TOM KANDRIS CEO, PackageOne DENTON KELLEY Managing Principal, LDK Capital LLC BRIAN KING Chancellor, Los Rios Community College District JEFF KOEWLER Partner, Delfino Madden O’Malley Coyle & Koewler LLP LEO M C FARLAND President and CEO, Greater Sacramento and Northern Nevada Volunteers of America BILL MUELLER CEO, Valley Vision Inc.


TIM MURPHY CEO, Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange MARIA OGRYDZIAK Owner, Maria Ogrydziak Architecture SANDY PERSON President, Solano EDC CURT ROCCA Managing Partner, DCA Partners VERNA SULPIZIO President/CEO, West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce DARRELL TEAT President, The Nehemiah Companies SANJAY VARSHNEY VP/Wealth Advisor, Wells Fargo The Private Bank JOSHUA WOOD CEO, Region Business Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the individual opinions of the members of the editorial board.


BUILT ON THE LEGACY www.lionakis.com

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


Better. By design. If your business is planning a new construction project or major retrofit, talk to us about Savings By Design. Partner with SMUD’s Savings By Design team on your next project and receive design assistance, financial incentives and more when you integrate energy-saving features. It’s not only better for the environment, it’s better for your bottom line.

Visit smud.org/SavingsByDesign to learn more.

©SMUD 0758-17 8.125 x 10.875


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Powering forward. Together.


June 2017


44 50


44 Gettin’ Figgy With It

A special group of rare fig farmers are preserving and protecting this sticky sweet crop for future generations. by Alastair Bland




JUNE ‘17 VOL. 29 | NO. 6

AlleY Cats

50 Digital Detectives

From texts to photos to emails, every modern law case involves some sort of e-discovery — so why are lawyers still failing to do it?

Restaurateurs and architects are invigorating Sacramento’s hidden spaces by Allen Young

by Steven Yoder


64 Daylight Savings

The future of solar power is inevitable — are you ready for it? by Russell Nichols


72 Tech Crunch

Nevada County companies are in need of tech workers, so one nonprofit has stepped in to fill the void.


Alley Cats

Some savvy businesses are brightening up the dark corners and hidden lanes of Sacramento’s alleyways. by Allen Young

by Trish Moratto

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



June 2017






THE USUAL EVIL HR LADY Can you suddenly become a boss?


letter from the publisher



by Suzanne Lucas


TEAMBUILDING How to recognize toxic patterns — and break them for good

DISCOURSE Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, talks about industry automation, GMOs, water use and more




worth noting




the breakdown

interview by Rich Ehisen


TASTE Charting the impact of the Golden 1 Center on downtown’s busy restaurants by Karen Wilkinson






Comstock’s features four local redesigned homes, and shares their designers’ stories. The seventh installment of our 22nd annual salute to nonprofits

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Tiny houses can offer a solution to housing the homeless by Maria Ogrydziak

by Tania Fowler


American River Parkway is a local treasure

California Music Theatre Broadway Gala/ JDRF One Party Gala/ Habitat for Humanity Hard Hats & High Heels/ Greater Sacramento Urban League Unity Ball 2017

Buzzword of the Month: Pivot / Readers weigh in on riverfront development

An Amgen Tour bike mechanic shows off the tricks of his trade

The multi-year drought plays havoc with the California agriculture industry

Introducing the New Essence Series® Swing French Patio Door. Our highly anticipated in-swing and out-swing French patio doors from Milgard® are now available in our growing Essence Series product line. Similar in design and construction to the Essence French sliding glass door, the swing door also combines the beauty of a natural wood interior with the durability of a fiberglass exterior. Classic beauty with the assurance of a Full Lifetime Warranty.

Call 1.800.Milgard or visit milgard.com

©2017 Milgard Manufacturing, Inc.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



live green, print green ®




Give us a call and one of our business consultants will be available to help you. 916.442.8100 • www.commerceprinting.com

May 2017 | comstocksmag.com





f you are anything like me, you need at least a few minutes each day to escape the hectic pace of life. We all need a space where we can clear those mental cobwebs, take a deep breath and get away from the distraction of ringing phones or the line of people standing outside our office door. For me, that place is the American River Parkway, Sacramento’s biggest park that stretches for 23 miles from downtown Sacramento to the Nimbus Dam at Hazel Avenue. Fortunately, the parkway is just a few walking-minutes from my home, and once there, I am transported to a peaceful forest in the middle of an urban hubbub. It’s a place where you can get lost in thought or in nature. We can be grateful for the vision of civic leaders who recognized the value of preserving land on both sides of the American River more than 50 years ago. In fact, the first bike path along the river, stretching from 31st and J streets in Sacramento to Folsom, was constructed in 1896. Eventually, it was reclaimed by nature. The first land to create the parkway was purchased in 1949. In 1961, Sacramento County adopted the Master Plan for the parkway as we know it now. Building out that plan took decades as it covers 4,800 acres with a modern bike trail, nine major parks, picnic areas and a nature center. I’m on the American River Parkway most mornings, walking, picking up miscellaneous trash and taking in the peaceful scene. In some places, I may be steps away from bicycle and jogging traffic, and yet I’m completely unaware of it. Instead, I’m engrossed in a world where I am a visitor to the natives who live there — herons, beavers, mallards, geese and river otters splashing on the water. I share space with deer, skunks, wild turkeys and the occasional coyote rustling through the brush. Above my head, about 100 bird species fly over the parkway. I am definitely not alone. More than 8 million people enjoy the American River Parkway each year. I’m told by the Parkway Foundation that’s over double the number of visitors to Yosemite (3.7 million)! There are hikers, bikers, kayakers, swimmers, runners, walkers and an occasional equestrian. Families enjoy picnics, weddings, reunions

and the like. Classes from 12 different Sacramento County schools learn about nature in the Campfire Outdoor Education Program at River Bend Park. The popularity of the parkway doesn’t surprise me. A recent poll by Valley Vision shows how much people in Sacramento love the outdoors: More than half of the people surveyed ranked parks as the most important community feature they value, outranking museums and artistic events. Maintaining the parkway is also a community-wide effort. More than 6,000 volunteers each year remove literally tons of trash, rebuild tables and benches, repaint signs, clean equestrian trails and remove non-native plants to keep the parkway as natural as possible. The Foundation shared with me that there are dozens of businesses, called “Mile Stewards,” who take on one mile each of riverfront and trail cleanup on a regular basis. Those boots on the ground save Sacramento County about $1.6 million a year in maintenance costs. It’s easy to appreciate the beauty and nature of the parkway. It’s just as easy to overlook its economic value. A decade ago, the economic impact of the American River Parkway was estimated at $364 million a year, including $160 million in direct recreational purchases and transient occupancy taxes from visitors. How much is the County saving on the 20,000-plus volunteer hours put in each year — salaries that don’t have to be paid? That’s meaningful, and good economic news for a rare, forested gem that provides priceless peace of mind.

Winnie Comstock-Carlson President & Publisher

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com





veryone can understand the magic of a space to call one’s own, even a tiny one. Last fall, SMUD held a Tiny House Competition for Northern California college students. Teams designed, constructed and operated solarpowered, zero-net energy houses, and 10 tiny houses were built and showcased at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. The excitement among the students was palpable, and the houses were a treat to experience. Public interest was overwhelming, with people willing to wait hours to go inside to see the display. There were examples of ingenuity and careful thought in every house. Each structure was designed for a real user, demonstrating that tiny houses have desirable applications for a variety of situations. Why not for people who are experiencing homelessness? Communities in the Capital Region are struggling with the increasing numbers of homeless in their streets and parks and have realized that the problem has to be addressed. Local programs help by providing meals and winter shelter. But the primary need is year-round, permanent supportive housing, because living in tents or on park benches is not a sustainable way of life. Years ago, single room occupancy, or SRO, housing — essentially bedrooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens — was a prevalent form of housing in cities and provided accommodations for the poor, especially those with mental illness or substance abuse problems. Much of this housing has been demolished in the past decades, making more people homeless. Now cities and towns across the U.S. are exploring new solutions to provide housing with dignity for homeless individuals in the form of non-institutional settings that still include the services they need. The SROs of the past are evolving into clusters of tiny house village communities. WHAT IS A TINY HOUSE AND HOW CAN IT BE BUILT? The California Department of Housing and Community Development describes a tiny house as structures that range from 80-400 square feet in size, which “may be built with a variety of standards or no construction standards; may or may not be constructed on a chassis (with or without axles or wheels); and usually are offered for use and placement in a variety of sites.”


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

A tiny house can be mobile or permanent. It can be built to comply with different standards: HUD-Code manufactured homes, California Residential Code or California Building Code; factory built housing, recreational vehicle, park trailer or camping cabin. The location of the house determines which code it must comply with. For example, a tiny house on a residential lot needs to comply with California Residential Code or California Building Code. Mobile home parks or special occupancy parks are the only zones that allow non-building-code standard tiny homes, offering maximum flexibility. Many cities and towns, including Sacramento, don’t yet have these zoning types in place. Zoning changes are now being considered to pave the way for tiny house villages. The building code for small dwelling units is currently being examined and re-written in some U.S. cities, including San Jose and Berkeley, to accommodate the surging interest in tiny houses. In the eagerness to build small, affordable houses, we must not forget the well-thought reasons for code requirements that address fire concerns, ventilation needs and accessibility. VIABLE MODELS FOR PERMANENT HOUSING Tiny house living units vary in size and concept: from spare sleeping cabins without plumbing or electricity to hotel rooms consisting of sleeping space, storage and bathroom to complete tiny houses with sleeping space, storage, bathroom, kitchen and living area. In tiny house communities, the individual living units are complemented by group amenities. Clusters of sleeping cabins have a community living room, kitchen, bathrooms and showers — similar to a campground. Hotel room tiny house groupings have a community living room and a common kitchen. Villages of self-sufficient dwellings are designed around a centrally-located community room. Many villages are gated communities, providing safety and security. According to a 2015 white paper by an organization called Community Frameworks, based in Washington: “Tiny house villages are a logical extension of the tent cities that have sprung up across the country, where resourcefulness and ingenuity have come together to create safe communities. The funding is available and land-use and building codes can be adapted. Homeless encampments, faith-based and other

this month's

CONTRIBUTORS KAREN Karen loves food and writing, esWILKINSON pecially blending the two. She "Events and Entrees" regularly writes about the busipg. 40

community organizations, nonprofit housing providers, and local jurisdictions can work together to provide a better option than tents and temporary structures.” Where land is available and affordable, tiny houses offer a tangible, realistic method of providing housing for homeless individuals. Volunteers can help build these homes — modeled, in a way, after Habitat for Humanity and involving a hands-on construction approach that creates community support through participation. In urban areas, where land is more expensive, standalone detached houses, even tiny ones, are difficult to justify. The preferred options are denser, multi-story developments — clusters of “tiny house-like” micro units. Priorities are safe places for individuals and their belongings, where they can sleep in peace behind a locked door and be part of a nurturing community. But we need to get everyone on board: politicians, business leaders, nonprofits, residents, volunteers, sponsors, building officials, planners, affordable housing experts, homeless housing advocates and the un-housed. We need to set aside land and resources, and work with architects and builders to create local tiny house villages, which will help so many. As an architect, I am excited about this effective and feasible design solution. My hope is that we as a region can be leaders in creating safe, nurturing communities. Because the houses may be tiny, but everyone needs the chance to live the largest life they can.

ness of food, and the Sacramento area’s thriving arts scene. “Talking with people about their passions, about what makes them light up, is what lights me up,” she says. “It’s an honor to share their stories with the community.” You can find her practicing handstands at Solfire Yoga, where she also teaches, or sipping coffee and chatting at any of Sacramento’s fine coffee shops. Read more at www.karenleeyogini. wordpress.com.

ALASTAIR Alastair is a freelance journalist BLAND who writes about the environment, "Gettin' Figgy With It" agriculture and beer, and his work pg. 44

has appeared at NPR.org, Yale E360 and Smithsonian.com. Alastair has traveled by bicycle through southern Europe, where he has closely observed the region's figs, a fruit that has held his interest for many years. In this issue, Alastair reports on growers in California who keep vast collections of fig types from around the world. When visiting one of these genetic libraries near Isleton, Alastair tasted new varieties, but some familiar figs he swears he has met before in Greece.

TRISH Trish is the principal of Impressions MORATTO Strategic Consulting. She special"Tech Crunch" izes in journalism, public relations, pg. 72 marketing, social media strategy

Maria Ogrydziak AIA is a MIT-educated architect based in the Central Valley. Her award-winning projects explore regional design concepts in architecture and planning. She founded what is now the American Institute of Architects Central Valley Chapter’s Experience Architecture Week, celebrating the region’s buildings and designs. Maria co-founded the nonprofit Davis Opportunity Village, which seeks to provide innovative living spaces for those living homeless, that complement current public and private rehousing programs. She also serves on the Comstock's editorial board.

and copywriting. Trish is the coleader of the Sacramento chapter of Freelancers Union SPARK. She is an outdoor enthusiast and avid traveler, which has taken her to more than 40 countries. She now lives with her family among the pine trees of Grass Valley. “I was thrilled to shine a spotlight on such a worthwhile organization in my own backyard of Nevada County,” she says of this month’s story. For more, visit trish-moratto.squarespace.com. JuneJune 20172017 | comstocksmag.com | comstocksmag.com 23



California Music Theatre celebrated its 65-year history of bringing Broadway musical theater to Sacramento at Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento. More than 400 business and community leaders enjoyed a reception and gourmet dinner on May 6, with performances from Jessica Grove, a nationally-recognized Broadway singer, and the CMT Gala Singers. The proceeds from this event support performing arts and education experiences for our community. Photography: Tia Gemmell


1 Jim Wiley, shareholder, Taylor and Wiley; and his wife, Laura Wiley. 2 Lori Fuller, regional assistant director, UC Davis; and Tara McCauley-Porter, business process support supervisor, SMUD. 3 William J. L. Recht, executive director, The Jewish Federation; and Peter Colussy, external affairs manager, California ISO. 4 Matt Donaldson, guest; Glenn Casale, artistic consultant, California Musical Theatre; and Steve Kyriakis, board of directors, California Musical Theatre. 5 Reed Baumgarten, executive director, Keaton Raphael Memorial; Josh Hart, region area manager, Wells Fargo; Lainie Josephson, travel blogger, Travel4Three; and Gregg Josephson, partner, Stewart Ward & Josephson.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

more images at comstocksmag.com

JUVENILE DIABETES RESEARCH FOUNDATION ONE PARTY GALA The annual One Party Gala presented by RV’s of Sacramento on April 22 raised funds and awareness for life-changing research to support those impacted by Type 1 diabetes. The event honored Greg Vaughn, four-time All Star and Major League Baseball player. The event raised $290,000 to help find a cure. Photography: Tia Gemmell

1 Karrin Engstrom, account executive, Sutter Health Plus; and Dr. Kelly Hunt, physician, Sutter Medical Foundation. 2 Draper Dayton, general manager, Great Clips; and Shannon Dayton, flight nurse, REACH Air Medical. 3 Mark Luhdorff, chief financial officer; and Drisha Leggitt, vice president of business development and marketing, both of Anpac Bio. 4 Maria Giorgi, guest; and Greg Vaughn, MLB player and event honoree. 5 Todd Smith, head golf professional, Valley Hi Country Club; Stephanie Smith, sales, Essential Oils; and Hunter McGillivray, national account manager, Kimo Sabe Mezcal.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HARD HATS & HIGH HEELS GALA The 4th annual Habitat for Humanity “Hard Hats & High Heels� fundraiser gala was held April 28 at the Sacramento Railyards. The evening included a collaborative project with local artists, VIP reception, gourmet feast, musical entertainment and high-end live auction led by David Sobon. Photography: Tia Gemmell

1 Matthew Lechowick, adjunct architecture professor, UC Davis; and Carissa Beecham, litigator, Stoel Rives. 2 Ryan VanZuylen, legislative aide, California State Assembly; Natalie Obeid, business development coordinator, Kershaw Cook & Talley; and Kelley Smithey, account supervisor and senior analyst; Edelman. 3 Aimee French, owner, Love Your Lashes; and Veronika Kuzyanov, accounting and tax assistant, Mann Urrutia Nelson CPAs. 4 Carol Van Bruggen, partner, Foord Van Bruggen & Pajak; Lorna Westrick, broker, Sac Metro Homes; Debby Lott, board member, Africa Hope Fund; and Michael Gordon, principal, 2G Homes. 5 Dan Fenocchio, president, Cunningham Engineering; Teri Greenfield, capital and space planning analyst, UC Davis; Steve Greenfield, vice president, Cunningham Engineering; Natasha Pavlovich, territory manager, Apria Healthcare; and Grant Taylor, project manager, Stonebridge Properties.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Presenting an entirely new, sophisticated living experience at Downtown Commons, The Residences at The Sawyer offers thoughtful, contemporar y design and unparalleled amenities within steps of Sacramento’s best arts, entertainment, sports, shopping and dining. Home awaits at T HE S AWYER R ESIDENCES.COM

9 1 6 . 2 2 6 . 3 1 76 | S A L E S G A L L E RY: 6 6 0 J S T R E E T, F O U R T H F LO O R | S AC R A M E N TO, C A L I F O R N I A 9 5 8 1 4 The developer reser ves the right to make modifications in materials, specifications, plans, pricing, various fees, designs, scheduling and deliver y of the homes without prior notice. All dimensions are approximate and subject to normal construction variances and tolerances. Plans and dimensions may contain minor variations from f loor to f loor. This is not an offer to sell or solicitation to buy to residents in jurisdictions in which registration requirements have not been fulfilled, but is intended for information only. Listing Broker : The Agency New Development CA RE 01973483. Obtain the property report or its equivalent by federal and state law and read it before signing anything. No federal or state agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. .

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



GREATER SACRAMENTO URBAN LEAGUE UNITY BALL 2017 Unity Ball 2017, held April 20 at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, featured a guest performance from singer Freddie Jackson. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sierra Health Foundation President Chet Hewitt and Greater Sacramento Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome were honorary chairs for an evening of celebration and partnerships. Photography: Tia Gemmell

1 John Tang, senior manager of public affairs and communications, Coca-Cola North America; and Michael Lynch, CEO and co-founder, Improve Your Tomorrow. 2 TJ Jennings, III, professor and head basketball coach, Reedley College; Sarah Thomas, assistant director, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency; and Bryson Palmer, hospital administrator, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. 3 Betty Williams, past president, NAACP Sacramento; and Robert Jones, senior pastor, Powerhouse Christian Ministries. 4 Cassandra Jennings, CEO, Greater Sacramento Urban League; Christine Shelby, honoree, Young Professional of the Year; and Sandra Davis Houston, vice president of human resources, Dignity Health. 5 Yen Marshall, area director, AT&T; Todd Trotter, executive director of employee relations, Kaiser Permanente; Zeny Agullana, vice president of government banking, JPMorgan Chase; and Stephanie Nguyen, executive director, Asian Resources.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

TAKE A WEEKLY WALK WITH A PHYSICIAN Visit our booth at 6th and Capitol every Thursday through September 28, 2017 at the Downtown Farmers Market for a physician-led, one-mile walk. Visit kpwalktothrive.org for weekly emails, fitness tips and to find other walks in your area.


June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




piv ot /pivət/, v.


Generally refers to a shift in entrepreneurial approach; describes the strategy most businesses employ to find the right customer, value proposition and positioning. BY Robin Epley ILLUSTRATION: Jason Balangue

or this month’s column, I thought I’d reach out to people who made multi-tasking an artform and get them to explain how they so easily “pivot” from one task to another on a daily basis. But I found out that’s only one definition of pivot, and so I pivoted this column to another, more business-oriented version. (See what I did there?) These days, “pivot” can mean making a change in just about any sense. A businessperson can pivot their goals to something more successful, a politician can pivot their viewpoints to avoid backlash, and anyone can “unpivot” at any time and go back to what they were doing before, though I’m pretty sure that last one is not really a word. I spoke to local entrepreneur Sonny Mayugba, chief marketing officer of the Waitr app — which grew out of an app he launched in 2013 called Requested — to learn what he thinks about businesses that pivot.

Turning Toward The River: Liz: It's important to keep open space and the river itself visible. The riverfront is the star — the main attraction, and too much development and man made activity detracts from the natural beauty that people crave. Jeff: That last image is the right direction — using unique large-scale contemporary structures that inspire people to gather. West Sac's Barn is a good example. And well-designed landscaping, not just trees and grass. Kid-friendly options, etc.

THE BUZZ “It’s certainly buzzy to say it,” Mayugba says. The only way to use the word incorrectly would be to say you’re going to make a pivot, he says, and then you don’t. “Or you’re like, ‘We changed our name!’ That’s not a pivot,” he says. Products can pivot, but so can people, places, ideas and visions, Mayugba says, “but a true pivot is a truly different direction.” Actually, he says, the word is already on its way out. “It used to be buzzy,” he says, “because it meant you were making [a change], but now it just means you have no traction.” Pivoting to you may mean an exciting new chance to take your business in a new direction, but to your investors and customers, it may seem like you never really knew what you were doing in the first place. The message is clear: When pivoting, be decisive to avoid looking like you’re grasping at any lucrative straw that’s left.

THE WORD When Mayugba began pitching his app, Requested, to customers in 2013, it was like “a Priceline for restaurants,” he says. “When we launched, we realized there was a lot of confusion in using the product.” But because so few users had a successful experience with the app, Mayugba says, Requested “pivoted from a name-your-own-price, to a list of restaurants that had different offers at different times. That was a small product pivot.” But Mayugba felt that pivot didn’t bring a fast enough change, so he and his team did a another pivot and sold to a media company in Louisiana, where it was acquired by the Waitr app. By doing a “business model pivot,” he says, Mayugba was able to save the company — and save himself a job. Now, Mayugba spends his time between Louisiana and Sacramento, where he’s also a co-owner of the Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar in Midtown. “Pivoting comes in a bunch of different forms,” he says. Anytime you change things up could be a pivot — just be careful about when and where you use the term, Mayugba says. You may be implying more about your business’ health than you mean to convey. Watch the video online! 30

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Freelance Life: Learning to Balance the Hustle Benny: Great advice here — have shared it on Twitter. Particularly like this: "Take a stab at a new service offering you’ve been playing around with in your mind." That's the kind of freedom people "working for the man" don't get, and branching out like this can remind us why we do what we do — despite its moments of "feast and famine!" Victoria: I perfectly understand all the hard work that is required when you become a freelancer. It is not just about your skills, you have to develop managerial, accounting, negotiation and many other ones. Sometimes it is worth it for freelancers to hire other freelancers to help out. You can nowadays find them easily on marketplaces such as Workhoppers.com, Upwork, Freelancer and others. Have something to say? Email us. editorial@comstocksmag.com.



ON THE WEB ONLY get social


Read the full stories at comstocksmag.com

Startup of the Month: Free Form Factory

On this episode of Action Items, Crest Saechao and Rivkah Sass discuss how third spaces can help serve homeless community members.

@soupsales: Oh hell yeah! @comstocksmag has the perfect person in @TheLizArmy 2 profile in this yrs #womeninleadership #sacramento my punk sister.

by Russell Nichols

Jordan Darling, 24, is making waves as a young entrepreneur in Rancho Cordova — his company, Free Form Factory, has just announced the world’s first 100-percent recyclable and electric-powered personal watercraft.





@TheLizArmy: Thanks, Jay! It means a lot to be recognized.

Don’t Let Your Grad Get Duped by the Name Game by Cherise Henry

Spring is full of campus open houses and students determining which school is a good fit. Billy Downing, founder and CEO of ESM Prep, a college counseling and test preparation business based in Sacramento, can help high school seniors find their way.


@comstocksmag Putting in #Werk for our May Issue!

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




Abruptly made a manager



esterday, I was an individual contributor who did technical work. This morning, a group of my coworkers and I found out that we are now expected to manage about 10 non-exempt staff each. Overnight! There’s no title change, no increase in salary — just added work and stress. We are told we have no choice and have to take on that extra work because the company’s success or failure depends on us. Can they just make us managers without asking? Do we have the right to turn down these positions?

A 32

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

THE LEGAL ANSWER IS YES, THEY CAN DO THIS. There’s no law that prohibits a company from making changes to your job description without providing additional compensation. The exception to this would be if you had a con-

tract, such as being part of a union, but it doesn’t sound like that is the case. You can turn down the position, but they could consider that a resignation, and you’d be out of a job and ineligible for unemployment.

Have a burning HR question?


Email it to: evilhrlady@comstocksmag.com.

Now, the long answer: This is a big deal. Going from zero to 10 direct reports overnight is a big deal. Ten people is a lot for even an experienced manager, let alone a bunch of unwilling and untrained people. Here’s what I would do: ASK WHAT THEIR GOAL IS This move may make perfect business sense. Your knowledge and skills may well be the best in the company for training and managing these non-exempt employees. It may be a perfect fit and senior management is puzzled as to why they didn’t do this before. It may be that they need to go through a huge cost-cutting and decided to lay off all the management, and you guys were the only people available to take over those responsibilities. I have no idea what caused the company to do this, but finding out the answer will let you know the thinking behind it and may make it easier to understand why this is — presumably — a logical decision for the company. ASK FOR AN INCREASE IN PAY They didn’t offer an increase, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask. This will be especially effective if all of you band together to ask for the increase. Before you do, gather information about pay in your area. My bet is it will be very easy to show that the market rate for managers

is higher than the market rate for individual contributors. If they say no, ask if it will be considered at the next pay increase cycle. Many companies have specific times set apart for growth promotions — that is, giving people more responsibilities without moving them into a vacancy. This is precisely what happened to you. ASK FOR TRAINING Managing people is nothing like being an individual contributor. You need training on how to be a manager, like how to handle requests for FMLA, accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, when and how to approve vacation time, sexual harassment training and a myriad of other things that you really need to know. As a manager, the company can be held liable for your decisions and actions when it comes to how you treat your direct reports, so they really should provide these guidelines for you, as soon as possible. If your company doesn’t offer these things internally, look for training classes in your area and suggest them to your managers. Even if you’re located in the middle of nowhere, there are online classes available. ASK FOR A TITLE BUMP Title bumps are free for them but valuable to you. Why? Because when you

put this on your resume, it looks like a reward for your fantastic abilities and success. You don’t need to explain in a subsequent job interview that everyone you worked with received the same thing at the same time, and none of you wanted it. Even if they refuse, mark this as a change on your resume. Like this: • Senior Technical Analyst (10 Direct Reports), May 2017 - Present • Senior Technical Analyst, June 2015 May 2017 Why the worry about what to put on your resume? Because if your managers cannot give you a good explanation for the change, refuse to give you a salary increase, a title increase or proper training, it’s time to evaluate if you really want to stay at this company. You may; you may not. There’s no shame in wanting to be an individual contributor instead of managing people, and there’s no shame in leaving a company that plays rotten tricks on its employees. So, you may want to freshen up your resume — complete with your “promotion” — and find a company that treats you properly. n Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and doublechecked with the lawyers. On Twitter @RealEvilHRLady.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



BREAKING THE HABIT Toxic patterns abound in the workplace — but you can change them BY Tania Fowler



comstocksmag.com | June 2017

these colleagues: the procrastinator, know-it-all, helpless person, potstirrer, stealer, saboteur and everpresent downer. Caleb and I asked participants to describe a short scenario of a pattern they keep experiencing but aren’t sure how to handle. We pulled a few scenario cards and improvised short and hilarious sketches (thanks to Caleb). One scenario involved a knowit-all who corrects everyone else’s performance but their own. Another involved the helpless coworker who struggles with completing simple instructions. A third scenario focused on an employee who pawns off work to accommodating colleagues. Afterward, the participants told us what they observed and ways one could have handled the situation more effectively. Their answers were perceptive: We are usually smarter about how to handle someone else’s problem than our own. From over 100 scenario cards we collected, about one-third had to do with bosses or managers who gave little guidance or were unavailable to their employees. But the other twothirds had to do with interpersonal issues between employees. Of these, a predominant pattern emerged: A person had been pulled into a dispute between two other warring colleagues. As one participant wrote, “This person comes to me about the other, then the other comes to me about the first person. I feel stuck in the middle.” I often tell my clients that water finds the weakest point. If a person


s I write this, I am seated by the window on an airplane flying east. Taking off over Sacramento, acres and acres of green and brown agricultural fields come into view. Each block of squared-off land is juxtaposed against another, all cut into varying diagonals and straight lines, forming an intricate pattern of rich farmland. A highway carrying people to and fro snakes its way through this handsome landscape. Yet, from my car, I couldn’t possibly see these patterns surrounding me. I would be too close to the ground. It’s when we get up in the air that the patterns come into view. Human behavior is like this too. At the heart of every movie, play or novel is conflict shaped by patterns. From our seats, we can see solutions that the protagonist fails to see — we are up in the air, so to speak — while the protagonist remains on the ground, too close to his or her own problem. Recently, my son Caleb (who does stand-up and improv) and I facilitated three breakout sessions at a conference for young professionals in Sacramento. The session focused on identifying and interrupting patterns by asking more questions, instead of telling people what to do. By asking more questions, we can give ourselves enough distance from the situation to see the larger picture and identify patterns we need to break. In the workplace, we often need to interrupt patterns presented by

Once you consistently start asking questions of people who come to you for unreasonable help — like drawing you into personality conflicts or asking you to do their work — they begin to recognize your new pattern. routinely finds themselves negotiating other people’s disputes, then it’s that person who must identify this pattern before they can interrupt it. They must ask themselves: “What am I doing to invite this kind of conflict?” or, “What is it that others see in me that says, ‘He can take care of this for me?’” Indeed, what is it that our hapless negotiator does to become the “weak point” to which the bad behavior (or “water”) migrates? To interrupt this pattern, he must help the other parties see that a problem is theirs alone to solve. Instead of getting baited to give advice that the combatants likely won’t listen to anyway, the person should ask: “I assume you already discussed this with the other party, right?” or, “Who is the appropriate person for you to talk about this?” or. “What can you do to solve this problem yourself?” Finally, if he can’t shake the people with questions then a simple and clear, “I’m sorry, I just can’t help you with this. I hope you can find a solution,” should extricate him from the frustrating pattern. Building boundaries to interrupt the pattern is what he’s after with this approach. Keep the unwanted water out by building a dam; you accomplish that by doing something completely different than you did before. Once you consistently start asking questions of people who come to you for unreasonable help — like drawing you into personality conflicts or

asking you to do their work — they begin to recognize your new pattern. To change patterns, ask questions that make the other party think about their ownership of an issue. Some of my favorites are:

• What’s the problem we’re/you’re trying to solve? • What have you done to solve this problem? • How can you get what you’re looking for and still build trust? • What would you tell me to do if I were in your shoes? If situations keep repeating themselves, then investigate the pattern first. Interrupt that pattern by asking questions that push people in new directions. Do this consistently and notice if and when the frustration wanes. The pattern has likely been interrupted. n

Tania Fowler, owner and founder of Interplay Coaching, is a business-focused coach who works with executives and their teams to help drive stronger team engagement and performance.

Want to know more? Read more of Tania's columns at comstocksmag.com.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



California Growin’ California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross on automation, GMOs and water use INTERVIEW BY Rich Ehisen PHOTOGRAPH: Noel Neuburger


alifornia Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross is far more than just an administrator. Ross grew up on a farm in Nebraska, where she and her husband still own an 800-acre farm and ranch. We sat down with her to talk about the challenges and opportunities currently facing the Golden State’s agricultural industry.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

President Trump has promised to greatly restrict immigration, which has long been the source of farm labor in this state. How has this impacted California agriculture? Agriculture was the first economic sector to acknowledge we have documentation issues within our workforce. [UC Davis professor emeritus] Philip Martin has identified that at least 75 percent of the agricultural workforce may not have accurate documentation. It’s something that has to get addressed. Many are fulltime employees who stay long in their jobs. Employers are ver y concerned because they know these people very, very well. They’re part of the same community, so it’s very concerning from the human compassion point of view. From the business side, will there be enough hands to do the work for the crops in California? [This] matters to the rest of the nation, because California produces 50 percent of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, and 20 percent of the milk. It takes a lot of hands, and it’s not just anybody who wants to come out and do that kind of work. So, have we already seen the impact because there aren’t enough people to pick the crops? Yes, and it will continue to be that way.

How is technology, specifically automation, impacting agricultural workforce needs? We are going to see an acceleration of automation. We’ve already seen it inside packing houses. A citrus or a tree-fruit packing house used to have dozens of people on the sorting line, stacking boxes or fork lifts. But you can go to a packing house today and you’ll see robots doing the stacking and moving things around, with sensor and laser technolog y that’s actually doing the first and second sorts. I’ve been through similar dairy facilities. We haven’t seen it to that same level on farms, but it is happening there too. Mechanical har-

vesters have replaced a lot of the hand laborers, except in the highest end of wine grape harvest. But a lot of the labor costs are actually in the pruning, so a lot of research work now is being done in robotic pruning. What we’ve learned from all of this is it’s not enough to just focus on that technology. To make the end harvester work, we have to go all the way back to the beginning: plant genetics, raising the beds, designing the fields differently, changing what they are planted in. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible.

California produces 50 percent of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, and 20 percent of the milk. It takes a lot of hands, and it’s not just anybody who wants to come out and do that kind of work. So, have we already seen the impact because there aren’t enough people to pick the crops? Yes, and it will continue to be that way.”

Where are we in terms of farmers fully adopting the most efficient water-use technologies? We don’t have real specific data on how much drip irrigation is in use right now, but we know that over the last few decades we’ve lowered our overall water use on a statewide basis in agriculture by 8 percent. We’ve also increased productivity by 57 percent and economic activity by 96 percent, so that shows what’s possible. That’s w it h a pretty good baseline of about 60-65 percent of the acreage on drip irrigation … A lot of the new investment now is in soil sensor technolog y and being able to tie that system all together, because every farmer wants to be able to turn their irrigation system on at the

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



Accelerating Careers for Sacramento’s Youth Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg recently launched Thousand Strong, a workforce development program bringing together school districts, high schools and students with community organizations and businesses to provide year-round paid internships to local youth. The Sacramento Metro Chamber and the Metro Chamber Foundation are proud partners in this effort to ensure every young person can pave a pathway to success.

precise time with the precise amount of water in exactly the right place.

The effort is critically important as the numbers show our youth are currently struggling for employment opportunities. With 2.3 million people, Sacramento is the 22nd largest metropolitan region in the U.S., yet according to a recent Sacramento Business Journal article, the city also has a 24.8% youth unemployment rate – one of the highest in the nation and the second highest in the state. This does not set our workforce of tomorrow up for success.

It’s too early to know. Part of that is because the local governments also have a big say in what is happening in their county or in their city. Some counties have already said no to outdoor grows, so they’re really going to push [cultivation] into greenhouses, warehouses, even box cars. There is already concern about adequate buffers for different pesticide-use patterns with current crops and what that does to local land values, lease rates and availability. [Marijuana] is going to create even more competition for scarce resources. We [have] to bring all of this into the same high labor and environmental standards that we ask the rest of agriculture to do.

Learning in the workplace is not a new concept. Informal, on-the-job training is an integral part of all workforce development. We’re ready to take this a step further. In order for us to ensure a strong economy in the future, we must look to our youth. Students need to have the skills and motivation to thrive in tomorrow’s economy, and it is our responsibility - community organizations and businesses alike, to provide them with the opportunities to work and learn. At the time Thousand Strong launched, we shared 240 employment opportunities and 400 students signed on. Businesses like Arden Fair Mall, Sutter Health, PG&E, and Siemens are committed to the Mayor’s effort. But we could use your support. Make this a part of your business and investment strategy. The sustainability of our region’s future comes down to its youth, and we need to make a concerted effort to invest in them, just as we invest in our roads and bridges. Thousand Strong is designed to improve business recruitment, retention, and expansion. Hiring motivated youth and helping prepare them for the world of work isn’t just a noble cause; it makes a direct impact on your own business and the economic health of our entire community. Can we count you in? To learn more, please visit ThousandStrong.org.

Talia Kaufman

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation

Get Involved metrochamberfoundation.org 38


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Your agency is one of three tasked with regulating legal marijuana in California, specifically the licensing of weed cultivators. What impact will legal weed have on the agriculture industry?

What is California doing to prepare for the impacts of climate change on agriculture? Well, there is mitigation and there is adaptation, and there are many statewide policies to address both. For instance, we have to do a lot more work on plant breeding, which is starting to happen. But one of the things I’m most excited about is looking at the ability of farms, ranches and forests to store carbon, and how we incentivize those practices. That could be everything from more cover crops to adding windbreaks and buffer zones that will also improve pollinator habitat and wildlife habitat. In a state where we have so many trees and vine crops that are permanent, it’s being able to add compost or cover crops and encouraging even more minimal or no-till farming, so we’re enhancing organic matter in our soils, which also increases the ability to store water in those soils and help us be more resilient in future droughts. So it’s like a win-win-win win and that’s what I’m most excited about.

Where do GMOs fit into all of this? I think the relevant question is whether we as a society will be comfortable with the advances of science. That comes down to transparency. Is [the science] publicly available or is it developed by a few privately-owned corporations? When it comes to GMOs, we have to come to grips with that question because it is hugely important when it comes to the next chapter of how we accelerate plant breeding and the new technologies that are coming. What matters is that

people know about [the science used in the product], that we’re transparent about it, that [GMOs] are labeled and that we are about maintaining choice in the marketplace. But we have to be transparent.

table to leverage and optimize that investment. But I cannot underscore how critically important I think the investment in the public research has been to stimulating the innovation that we see now. n

President Trump’s proposed budget imposes really significant cuts on the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What would such cuts mean for California farmers?

Rich Ehisen is the managing editor of State Net Capitol Journal. His work has appeared in Sunset, San Francisco Magazine, California Journal, Sacramento Magazine and the Lexis Legal Network. On Twitter @WordsmithRich.

These cuts are being proposed at a time when we need that kind of innovation and investment and research development more than we ever have, partly because of climate change. We are as competitive as we are globally because of the investments we made 50 years ago. But the return on that has somewhat plateaued. Should all new investment come from the public sector? No, and it doesn’t. But if we want these innovations to be for the public benefit and not just the corporate bottom line, we must continue to invest in this type of research. And especially in this country where our research must also be extended to the end users. That’s where you get that continual innovation cycle. And we cannot afford to give that up. We also need to bring private dollars to the

GMOs remain a hot topic in California. What are your thoughts on eating GMO foods or on the importance of labeling? TWEET US @COMSTOCKSMAG.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



EVENTS AND ENTREES Golden 1 Center’s opening translates into a significant bump in business for nearby restaurants BY Karen Wilkinson



comstocksmag.com | June 2017


A chocolate martini is on Frank Fat’s reverse happy hour menu, offered during Golden 1 Center event nights.

wo weeks after the Golden 1 Center opened last September, Pizza Rock stopped taking group reservations. The K Street restaurant that blends its food appeal with a nightlife scene had been dealing with empty tables and lines spilling out the door, as parties failed to arrive. “The foot traffic has increased so much that reservations worked against me,” General Manager John Demma says. “As we were waiting for [the arena] to open, there was the anticipation of how much it would help. We had our fingers crossed that it would deliver what it promised, and it has.” His is one example of many small but significant changes downtown Sacramento restaurants have made as arena attendees — and their spending force — have descended on this part of the grid. Other pre-arena era restaurant leaders have cited tweaks to happy hour menus (and times), adjustments to operation hours, and leveraging the convenience of valet and parking garages to bring more customers through the door during prime events. And it seems to be working. “Whether it’s the Kings, concerts or tractor pulls, since the arena opened, we’ve noticed a significant increase in business,” says Jerry Fat of Fat’s Family of Restaurants, which has a downtown location and one in Old Sacramento. (While there hasn’t been an actual tractor pulling event at the arena, the Professional Bull Riders and Monster Jam organizations have brought out many cowboys and gals.) Golden 1 Center officials estimate 200 events will occur annually, including NBA games, concerts and private events. In the six months after its unveiling, the arena had 1 million guests and more than 100 events,

says Director of Public Relations John Jacobs, which included 40 Kings games, 26 family shows, 20 non-NBA sporting events, 18 concerts and other community events. For Il Fornaio, an Italian restaurant located in the Wells Fargo building on 4th and Capitol Mall, what used to be a destination restaurant crowd is now a mix of fans and loyal customers. “We had huge success with Paul McCartney, and Stevie Nicks was great,” Assistant General Manager Dan Raymond says. “And Eric Church was pretty big too, and that attracted a crowd we don’t normally get.” Proponents of the sports and entertainment facility that partially sits on the former Downtown Plaza mall promised unprecedented economic activity and revitalization that would extend beyond the downtown core. However, with criticism that the approval process lacked public input and transparency, and a funding plan that uses city parking fees, there was no shortage of public outcry. Despite the lengthy and contentious nature of the process — including Seattle investor Chris Hansen being fined $50,000 for breaking campaign finance laws for donating $100,000 to a petition drive that sought a public vote on subsidizing the arena — the Sacramento City Council approved the deal (with a share of $258 million of the $447 million price tag) in 2014, and it opened two years later. Within the first month of the arena’s opening, acts including Maroon 5 and Paul McCartney were drawing thousands to Sacramento. Restaurants such as Sauced and The Boiling Crab set up shop. The process to improve the overall experience along K Street from 5th Street to 15th Street continues, says Valerie Mamone, senior business development manager at the Sacramento Downtown Partnership, which means leasing properties and identifying best uses. There appears to be no end in sight as far as downtown development. Twentyfive restaurants have opened since 2014 — three since the arena opened — and 14 are in the development stages (not including those going into The Bank, a recentlyannounced culinary project a couple blocks from the arena), according to SDP.


While the influx of new restaurants could be cause for concern that pre-arena era restaurants would get overlooked by consumers, there seems to be enough to go around. “There was a point when it was unknown if there was going to be a saturation of new restaurants, but the volume of new people have supported new and other ones,” Mamone says.

Pizza Rock has seen a big uptick in business since the nearby arena opened.

“Whether it’s the Kings, concerts or tractor pulls, since the arena opened, we’ve noticed a significant increase in business.” - Jerry Fat, CEO, Fat’s Family of Restaurants That means adapting staff levels and related logistics to the arena schedule and anticipated crowds. “We certainly notice it on concert nights, and it’s obviously artistspecific,” says Josh Nelson, a partner at Ella Dining Room & Bar. “With basketball we certainly get pre-game business and see it in the bar and lounge, but with Paul McCartney or Blake Shelton, it fills the restaurant. There’s no question it has an impact on the entire restaurant.” Over at Frank Fat’s on L and 8th streets, event nights certainly bring in more business, but it’s generally an early evening rush, without much post-event fallout. In

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


n TASTE Do you eat at restaurants by the Golden 1 Center? TWEET US @COMSTOCKSMAG.

Concertgoers head to the Chance the Rapper show at the Golden 1 Center.

an effort to capitalize on that late-night crowd, a “reverse happy hour” experiment with food and drink specials has been launched on Friday and Saturday nights from 9-10:30 p.m. when there’s a Golden 1 Center event to “see how Sacramento reacts,” Fat says. While some restaurants have altogether eliminated their happy hour menus during arena events, Il Fornaio just altered its menu to make it easier on kitchen staff, Raymond says. It still offers its discounted time slot, but pizza is no longer part of the happy hour special. “We intend on keeping [happy hour],” he says. “It’s very important.” Another gem that some downtown restaurants bank on is their parking garages and valet service. As owners of Motor Inn Garage, Frank Fat’s offers diners a discounted $7 fee to park. But on event nights, if you want to dine and leave your vehicle in the garage during the event, the price increases to $15. If you simply want to park there, it’s $25, Fat says.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017


At Ella, which is a few blocks further out at 12th and K streets, the $5 valet service is a bargain and incentive for business, Nelson says. Another bargain is just a block and a half away at Il Fornaio, which offers complimentary parking in the same building. “The only caveat is you have to have dinner at the restaurant,” Raymond says. Demma of Pizza Rock notes that employees have been squeezed out of parking for such bargains, however. Whereas they used to receive a discounted rate (if they worked 30 or more hours weekly) to park in a nearby garage, that deal is off the table on event nights. “Those who drive either leave earlier, take an Uber or bite the bullet and pay the price,” he says. “The handoff is they’ll be making more money because of business.” As businesses and consumers alike adjust to the evolving downtown atmosphere, it seems to be a learning curve for all. Demma suggests customers get into downtown with enough cushion to allow for long

restaurant wait times. “You’re going to have a wait wherever you go,” he says. Fat, whose restaurant has been downtown for 78 years, says he’s seen much come and go through downtown. And the arena’s draw is much greater than its hosting of a professional NBA basketball team. “As a lifelong Sacramentan, it’s a good asset for us,” Fat says. “The only thing missing is the winning Sacramento Kings.” Customers seem to be pleased by the renewed activity that’s been spurred, as Il Fornaio’s Raymond relays a comment heard from a regular: “‘Downtown is finally downtown. The whole vibe of downtown, the whole energy has changed during these events.’” n Karen Wilkinson is a writer, communications consultant and yoga teacher in Sacramento. She’s a former daily journalist with newspaper experience along California’s North Coast. Read more at www. karenleeyogini.wordpress.com.

Local lending power. Don Delach

SVP/Capital Region Commercial Loan Team

Peter Fayé

SVP/Agribusiness Loan Team

Carol Landry

SVP/Yolo-Solano Region Commercial Loan Team

Steve McCurley

SVP/ Real Estate Industries Commercial Team

Recent Transaction Highlights


$3 Million



Solano County Construction Equipment March 2017

Yolo County Line of Credit January 2017

$4 Million




Sacramento County Commercial Real Estate February 2017

Solano County Equipment February 2017

Let the region’s #1 Small Business Lender help finance your next business opportunity.


Member FDIC

(916) 246-7650 • www.thatsmybank.com June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




figgy with it The peculiar world of fig traders and their trees BY Alastair Bland PHOTOGR APHY: Joan Cusick


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




or about a decade, a beautiful fig tree grew in the yard of Elverta resident Mike Nave. The large tree had sprouted there on its own. With such volunteer seedling trees, half will be males, which usually produce inedible fruit, and of the females, most will produce fruit of just mediocre or poor quality. As luck would have it, though, this seedling was a winner. It bore a heavy crop each summer of large purple figs with dense, exceptionally sweet and sticky flesh inside. Eventually, Nave had little choice but to cut down the tree. It had grown so big, so quickly, that it was basically a pest, making a colossal mess each year. Besides, it had sprouted too close to the house and now posed a threat to the building. Before doing so, though, Nave cut off several branches and trimmed these down into six-inch twigs. Figs are easily propagated via such cuttings. Placed in a plastic bag with a splash of water, the cuttings soon send out roots and green buds. Planted in potting soil, these will grow into new trees — clones of the original. Nave mailed these cuttings to several friends, including a farmer near Rio Vista, on the bank of the Sacramento River. Today, on this small farm, Nave’s tree still grows — a fivefoot-tall bush that the land’s owner, Harvey Correia, waters, fertilizes and prunes every year along with more than 300 other fig trees. Correia, a 59-year-old third-generation Delta resident, has one of the most diverse collections of the common fig, Ficus carica, in the world. His trees only cover one acre. However, they represent 348 distinct varieties, some of which have been cultivated and loved for thousands of years, others of which were born just recently — like Nave’s tree, which he named “Emalyn’s Purple” in honor of his wife. The variety has become a favorite among fig hobbyists, though it — like most fig varieties — is completely unknown in the commercial farming world, which is dominated by just several widely-planted varieties. Correia sells chestnuts and alfalfa from his 47-acre farm, but he does not sell his figs. In fact, much of the crop falls uneaten to the ground each year. Correia’s chief interest in the trees is twig-sized cuttings from their branches. He sells thousands of these every winter to hobbyist growers around the world. Some, like cuttings from the esteemed black Madeira fig, may go for more than $100 each. Other more common varieties, like the commercially dominant brown Turkey, Kadota and black mission, Correia sells for $5 per cutting. Correia has some competition in the fig cutting market, though not much. Jon Verdick, a collector in San Diego has more than 700 fig varieties at his nursery, Encanto Farms. Another grower, a Lebanese-American in Bethlehem, Pa., named Bassem Samaan, has about 150 varieties. On the island of Mallorca, Spain is another collection — perhaps the world’s


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

largest. There are about 2,000 fig trees there, representing perhaps half that many unique varieties. These collectors earn considerable incomes selling cuttings and small potted trees. More significantly, however, they are sustaining and distributing fig varieties that, lacking great commercial value, might otherwise vanish. “It’s not about ego, or having the biggest collection, or making money,” Correia says. “We’re preserving genetic diversity.” California fig farmers, who grow nearly all the figs produced in the U.S., harvested about 30,000 tons of fruit worth $22 million in 2015, according to the latest crop report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. But of all those figs, there were just a handful of genetically distinct varieties — mostly black mission, Kadota, Adriatic and brown Turkey. Meanwhile, almost uncountable heirloom varieties have fallen to the wayside or even disappeared. Potatoes, corn, apples, bananas and most other important crops have been similarly culled into vast monocultures of just a few varieties. Such homogenized farming systems can be more efficient for production and harvest. However, the risks of relying on only a few genetic variations of a food crop are well known: If every plant in a field, orchard or region is identical, it means a congenital weakness will make every single individual equally vulnerable to foul weather, pests or disease. The Irish potato blight, which led to mass famine, was in part the result of genetic homogenization of Ireland’s most critical food source. Farming systems built on numerous varieties are more resilient to climatic changes and pest threats. To support diversified farming, and to maintain genetic material that could someday be used to breed new varieties, many governments have established seed banks — like the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Colorado and the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, where seeds of virtually every food crop are stored in a freezing chamber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps frozen sperm and eggs of cows, pigs and other livestock animals, in addition to seeds. The USDA also maintains vast orchards of fruit-bearing trees and vines. Seed banks won’t do for preserving varieties of these crops. That’s because the seeds of most fruits do not produce genetic replicates of their parents. So, the only way to clone and maintain a given variety is to keep it alive in the ground in perpetuity. This is being done at a government site just south of Winters called Wolfskill Experimental Orchards. Here, researchers with the USDA and UC Davis jointly maintain a collection of about 7,000 varieties of grapevines, walnuts, peaches, almonds, mulberries and other tree fruit families. The orchard, part of the USDA’s National Clonal Germplasm Repository, is also home to almost 300 fig varieties. Many of them were collected as branch tip cuttings on fruit

hunting expeditions to the balmy nations of the Balkan peninsula and the lands between the Caspian and Black seas, especially Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to John Preece, a horticulturist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the orchard shares tree cuttings with members of the global research community and, occasionally, commercial growers. Preece says the USDA is working on expanding the collection. “But we don’t have unlimited room, so we need to be very strategic about what we plant,” he says. There are, for instance, a number of almost legendary fig varieties — including a purple striped fig rumored to be growing somewhere in California — that the USDA is hoping to locate and acquire. The value of collecting these varieties lies decades in the future, Preece says, when new insect pests and climate change may require breeders to search for genetic resistance and resilience in genetic banks like the Wolfskill collection. The colorful histories that come along with many cultivated tree varieties are almost as appealing as the fruit the trees produce, and collectors enjoy telling their favorite fig biographies. Correia leads a farm visitor to a six-foot-tall fig tree in the middle of the plot and proceeds to tell the story

of Dominick. It takes place in New Jersey, where a local man named James “Coop” Cooper saw an enormous fig tree in a front yard while driving along a quiet suburban street. He pulled over, parked and knocked on the door of the house, and he met the owner, a man named Dominick. Cooper and Dominick became friends and saw each other regularly for 20 years — often when James came by in the summer to pick figs. Several years ago, Dominick died. Shortly after, Dominick’s magnificent fig tree — which had been the size of a barn — was cut down to make way for a stately green lawn. By then, however, Cooper had taken numerous cuttings, and young copies of the tree now grow around the nation. “For Coop, Dominick lives on,” Correia says, the tree before him soaking up the September sun. “I don’t believe in reincarnation, but that’s kind of what this has become.” He also has a small Godfather fig in a pot in his nursery, a variety that originally came from Sicily as one of two shrub-sized trees delivered to and planted in Long Island before the filming of The Godfather — a subtle gesture aimed at bringing authenticity to the film set. Again, it was Cooper who located the tree in 2015 at the home of a retired man who once had worked in the film industry. The companion

Harvey Correia, of Correia Farms in Rio Vista, displays a box of figs from his orchard.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



tree had died, and Cooper collected cuttings from the survivor and has since distributed them among several growers, including Correia. It isn’t only hobbyists and researchers who grow rare figs — so do some small-scale commercial farmers. For example, Ed George, owner of the Peach Farm near Winters, grows 20 fig varieties on about two acres, though he has plans to expand his fig grove while homogenizing the planting toward black mission and a beautiful fig called the panache, with greenand-white striped skin and flesh like raspberry jam inside. Phil Rhodes also grows a varietal spectrum of figs at his farm in Visalia. He harvests figs of eight varieties each year and this spring put a dozen or more new ones in the ground. While demand for fresh figs has accelerated in the past decade among chefs and foodies, Correia says interest in branch cuttings is waning as he and others in the small industry sate the demand. After all, in the business of selling fig branch cuttings for the purpose of growing a tree, there will be few repeat customers. “I’m not sure how much longer the market will be here for,” Correia says. “In two or three years, I might have just a few dozen varieties that still sell.” A f lurry of interest in figs has recently come from Thailand, where a small circle of fruit growers in Southeast

Asia’s muggy tropical latitudes are taking a fresh interest in Europe’s most ubiquitous tree fruit. Some of these growers have emailed Correia and Samaan with offers of as much as several hundred dollars per cutting of black Madeira trees. That was a year ago, however, and already the interest from these Thai hobbyists is slacking off, Correia says, as they establish their own tree collections. Eventually, even figs that were rare just a few years ago may become common. Though this will mean diminished sales of branch cuttings for Correia, it is nonetheless what he says is his mission. “Some of the best figs are really rare, and I don’t think they should be,” Correia says. His many trees, some of them so coveted that Ebay scams have become a common nuisance for prospective buyers, literally drop tons of spoiling fruit to the ground. “They should be common,” Correia says. “People should have them and be able to eat them.” n Alastair Bland is a freelance journalist whose work appears regularly in NPR’s food blog The Salt, Smithsonian.com, Yale Environment 360 and Comstock’s.

EXOTIC PLANTS What’s your style?

carewestins.com | Based in Rocklin, CA

Our plants & service will help express it! Retail Store Interiorscape Design Full Plant Care Service Temporary Event Rental

Providing Workers Compensation Insurance for Safety Minded California Employers Since 1996 48

comstocksmag.com | June 2017


916.922.4769 exoticplantsltd.com

1833 Howe Ave Sacramento, CA

You create. We help cultivate. Advancing nutritious food for all.

As a global leader in agriculture, UC Davis delivers transformational solutions for a healthy, sustainable food supply. Our approach brings farmers, ranchers, business leaders and policymakers together with agronomists, animal scientists and nutritionists from our top-ranked programs. By promoting food safety, animal health and efficient use of natural resources, we’re cultivating a brighter — and well-nourished — future for us all. Learn more at 21stcentury.ucdavis.edu. June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




comstocksmag.com | June 2017


detective A State Bar opinion on electronic discovery underlines a new reality — lack of technology competence isn’t just a competitive risk, but an ethical one BY Steven Yoder ILLUSTR ATION: Andrew J. Nilsen

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




n August 2015, a lawsuit involving a trademark dispute took a last-minute turn that has since mutated into a second case, pitting the original case’s defendant against its own lawyers. The first plaintiff was HM Electronics, based outside San Diego, which makes the headsets fast-food workers use to take drive-through orders. The defendant, RF Technologies, repairs headsets like those and sells its own rival brand. Among other charges, HME accused RFT of creating a fake internal quality control document designed to look like it was written by HME. That document discussed nonexistent structural problems with the headsets, and HME said RFT distributed it to customers and competitors to boost market share for RFT’s products. Judges in the case ordered RFT to search its files for anything relevant to the case, including the bogus report. As the case progressed, one of RFT's lawyers, Los Angeles-based Thomas O’Leary, certified several times that RFT had obeyed the judges’ orders and done a thorough search. Their search didn’t produce the phony document. But it turned out that RFT had indeed created the document. O’Leary admitted under questioning that he hadn’t paid close attention to the search process. At one point, HME’s attorney repeatedly asked him whether his client had produced all the documents asked for. O’Leary stuck to his talking points:

“Everything has been produced,” he said. The HME lawyer asked him about the methodology RFT had used to search for the electronically stored information. “I didn’t conduct the ESI search, so I don’t know the methodology. They were told to look for documents on their computer,” O’Leary said. RFT produced the phony report only after the court ordered it to do further searches of its files. The defense also failed to produce 375,000 pages of other materials relevant to the case, a District Court judge ruled. The judge was none too pleased — he sanctioned RFT, ordering them to pay $1.3 million in legal fees that HME incurred trying to wring missing documents out of their opponent over almost two years. RFT appealed that sanction, and a second District Court judge ruled that the $1.3 million in fees was already reflected in a $9 million settlement the parties had reached the previous summer. Then last November, RFT sued members of its defense team, including O’Leary, for alleged legal malpractice, claiming in part that they’d failed to oversee the discovery process. That case is now in federal court.


That crabs-in-a-barrel outcome shows the perils of cases involving electronic discovery, the search for electronically

D E S I G N | I N N OVAT I O N | S O L U T I O N S



2015 H Street, Third Floor | Sacramento, CA 95811 | 916.346.4280 | www.presseyassociates.com 52

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

stored information for court cases. Stories like it are why the State Bar of California adopted a formal opinion in June 2015 that advises lawyers that “a basic understanding of, and facility with” e-discovery is part of their broader ethical duty of competence. If the opinion changes attorneys’ behavior, it should mean fewer cases in which clients are badly served by their lawyer during the discovery process. E-discovery is increasingly hard to ignore in law, say experts. “I’ve had attorneys in the last year still say, ‘Well I do litigation, but I haven’t had a case that involves e-discovery,’ and I think they’ve probably missed something,” says Don Vilfer of Califorensics in Sacramento, which contracts with law firms on e-discovery and digital forensics. Every case potentially requires e-discovery. Even a slip-and-fall case in a grocery store now involves electronic information like text messages, photos on phones and digital footage from security cameras, Vilfer says. But some data indicate that most lawyers don’t have the expertise they need. In a January 2017 survey, none of 22 federal judges agreed with the statement that the typical attorney has the knowledge needed to effectively counsel their clients on e-discovery. The Bar’s opinion provides an off-ramp to lawyers who don’t have e-discovery expertise — they can work with an-

other lawyer or with a technical consultant. But in that case, attorneys have to supervise the work of those they hire. The lawyer “remains the one primarily answerable to the court,” the Bar said in the opinion. Supervision doesn’t just help ensure that an attorney will meet judges’ demands for thoroughness. Good leadership on e-discovery also means less wasted effort and lower costs for the client, says Marcia Augsburger, a partner at King & Spalding in Sacramento who has lectured and published on legal topics including e-discovery. When she leads an e-discovery effort that involves outside attorneys she’s contracted, Augsburger typically does a three-day immersion training for the team at the outset, briefing them on the issues in the case, the industry and industry terms, what they’re looking for and which documents are privileged. After that, she checks in with the team through daily conference calls to discuss problems it might run up against. “Otherwise, people just keep making the same mistakes,” she says. “So often if you hire outside ... reviewers, you look at these documents and you think, ‘What were they doing?’”


E-discovery can go wrong in other ways. Judges look none too kindly on forgotten or misplaced data sources. In work-

Do you have the right team on your side? Successful litigation demands expert support. EisnerAmper’s team assists clients with complex financial analysis and expert testimony in dispute and investigation settings, including Commercial Disputes, Intellectual Property Disputes, Marital Disputes, Forensic Investigations, Bankruptcy and Restructuring, and Business Valuations. Our experienced professionals have the skills and expert witness experience to provide effective, quality services. For more information please visit EisnerAmper.com/FLVS

Let’s get down to business.®

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



ing with a new client and their attorney, Vilfer, who formerly headed Sacramento FBI’s white collar and computer crime unit, does a structured interview to ferret out forgotten data sources — a hard drive in a basement, documents in a warehouse in Chicago, text messages on employee cell phones. And review teams need specialized tools to preserve the integrity of data in a way that satisfies the court. That means just dragging and dropping files onto a hard drive isn’t going to work, in part because the date-stamp of the last time the file was accessed has to be preserved — which doesn’t happen when a file is dragged onto an external hard drive, Vilfer says. Another common mistake by defense lawyers is to convert files created with specialized programs, like Excel or AutoCAD, into image files (like pdf or tif). That erases the formulas that were the basis of the data and could result in sanctions, Vilfer says. On the flip side, plaintiffs’ lawyers sometimes don’t know enough about e-discovery to demand that the defense provide files in those native programs, says Ron Bodenmann, who ran an e-discovery consulting firm for more than 20 years and now is a founding partner at Sacramento-based CyberCorp Forensics. All of that is why Vilfer recommends that lawyers who hire help find a vendor who specializes in e-discovery, not simply an IT consultant.


E-discovery is just one area in which the State Bar has concluded that understanding tech is essential to responsibly serving clients. Another is cybersecurity, as law firms remain a tempting target for hackers. In April 2016, digital pirates carried out a simple operation, targeting the global law firm Mossack Fonesca, that turned into the largest data breach of all time — now known as the Panama Papers hack. A 2010 State Bar opinion warned attorneys that they must ensure their use of technology doesn’t put client information at undue risk of unauthorized disclosure, and the American Bar Association’s model rules of conduct include similar language. But if national statistics are a guide, it’s unclear what effect those guidelines are having on behavior. In a 2016 ABA survey of attorneys on technology, more than 1 in 5 respondents said their firm had no technology policy addressing cybersecurity. Only 1 in 4 reported using encryption to email confidential or privileged communication. And many law firms let their attorneys use their own laptops to avoid having to invest their own money, says Russell Jackman of Novato-based Calmputer Consulting Services, an IT consultant to law firms. Those machines are often pre-programmed for access to the firm’s network and don’t have strong enough


Roseville | Sacramento | El Dorado Hills


Vehicle wraps reach up to 70,000 people per day. Let us help build awareness for your brand. Small Format Printing & Copying | Posters & POP Displays | Window Graphics | Banners | Construction Documents 54

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

passwords, so when they’re lost or stolen the firm’s data is at risk, he says. Technological backwardness also affects productivity, which could have ethical implications too. The ABA model rules call for attorneys to be prohibited from collecting “unreasonable” fees, and the State Bar’s rules of professional conduct don’t allow attorneys to collect “unconscionable” fees. That makes being proficient in basic software like word processing and spreadsheet programs an ethical duty — because it cuts the time needed for tasks, argues Casey Flaherty, a Los Angeles lawyer who founded Procertas, a company that tests lawyers’ skills with those programs. But many law firms are costing their clients money by underusing tools like those, he says. Indeed, the 2016 ABA survey found that fewer than half of lawyers use document assembly software, which allows firms to generate templates that automate the creation of frequently used documents. And just over half use document management software, which makes materials easy to find and ensures version control, among other features. That discomfort with tech gives rise to odd situations like one Bodenmann encountered about four years ago. A law firm wanted his company to search a trove of emails for keywords as part of e-discovery. When he showed up to the office to discuss the job, the staff handed him 20 boxes of emails

their client had printed out. Instead of giving him a digital file to search, they wanted Bodenmann to scan the paper versions into digital form and then run the search. Bodenmann told them doing it their way, instead of going back to the client to get a digital file, would cost their client about $20,000, four times as much as it should. But they didn’t want to go back to the client. So Bodenmann did it their way, and his first step was to hire someone to manually go through the boxes to separate e-mails from each other. Firms that are behind on technology should get a consultation from an ethics lawyer on what’s considered the standard of care in technological competence and how they stack up, says Zachary Wechsler, president of the California Association of Discipline Defense Counsel, which represents attorneys and others in disciplinary proceedings. When it comes to technology, he says, “I don’t think the rules can ever be too strong.”n Steven Yoder writes about business, real estate and criminal justice. His work has appeared in The Fiscal Times, Salon, The American Prospect and elsewhere. On Twitter @syodertweet and at stevenyoder.net.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com










comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



f you imagine a humming city as a living body, the conventional alleyway might be the large intestine. It’s a lonely grey loading zone, a collection point for garbage, and a covert space for drug use and violence. When a toilet is not an option, people use the alley. Idioms about alleyways generally evoke depravity: potential failures are called blind alleys, scruffy felines are alley cats, back-alley surgery is the kind that doesn’t bill insurance and as for the kind of guy you don’t want to meet in a dark alley — who do you want to meet there? But as U.S. cities grow denser, urban passageways that were once ignored and crumbling are enjoying a renaissance. Alleyway activation is a designer buzzword for modernizing utilitarian corridors into well-lit public spaces. Helping the trend along, city planners in Chicago published a Green Alley Handbook a few years ago. San Francisco followed with a Living Alleys Tool Kit. The capital city joins the party with plenty of available real estate. City planners say Sacramento is home to 350 alleys or 37 total miles of back-street pavement. Old Soul Co. on Liestal Row in Midtown probably earns the city’s gold standard for alleyway activation, having received a public grant in 2009 that financed a “pedestrian first” corridor with potted plants and cobblestone paving. Following the commercial success of Old Soul, the Sacramento City Council spent over a year debating what it should name its alleys, and in 2011 approved a medley of titles celebrating everything from the region’s political heritage (Matsui Alley) to its Swiss sister city (Liestal Row) and its ragtime and swing legacy (Jazz Alley). The City of Sacramento is currently designing a guidebook for alleyway activation. Shopkeepers are increasingly using murals and landscaping to draw people to their alleys, while eliciting neighbors to consolidate trash collection and freight loading, says Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Association, a business improvement district. “It’s about having ownership of the area and being thoughtful of how we manage the space,” she says. The City is attempting to encourage downtown development by streamlining the rules around construction, a move that would affect alleyway upgrades, Michaels says. As officials design the new guidelines, the Midtown Association has asked officials to not over-regulate alleys by designating them as historic corridors, a classification that restricts certain kinds of development. It’s not difficult to spruce up an alley. A simple use of string lights, or mounted LED lights instantly make the space feel safer and create an inviting atmosphere, giving “a visual cue to pedestrians that this space will guide me somewhere,” says Kimberly Garza, landscape architect and director of the Sacramento-based Atlas Labs. The city’s near-constant sunshine allows for free-flowing indoor/outdoor layouts. But shady seclusion can be part of the charm, too, for businesses establishing themselves with a secret or exclusive location. Alleys also offer visual threads of culture leading to distinctly different walks of Sacramento life.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017



rt Aguilar and Max Archuleta did not initially plan to build their Mexican cantina in Jazz Alley. Landlord Thomas Roth convinced the two restaurateurs that the empty lot perpendicular to 24th Street between J and K would attract passers-by due to its radiant mural, a replica of the Presencia de América Latina, a colorful painting describing the history of Latin America through kaleidoscopic imagery. “We saw the alley spot and realized we could do something with it,” Aguilar says. “The more we brainstormed, the more we liked the idea.” Midtown’s Cantina Alley opened in mid-March. Aguilar, the son of Mexican migrant farmers, says that every design element of the business is created to give customers the impression that they are in a Mexican bar.

ABOVE: Cantina Alley features a replica of Presencia de América Latina, reflecting the history of Latin America and the unity of its peoples. LEFT: While the establishment appears enclosed from the entrance, it's actually an open-air courtyard that bustles with activity even on a Wednesday evening.

From the alleyway, the cantina appears to be a traditionally enclosed bar/ restaurant. But after walking through two stained cedar doors and potted agave plants, a cobblestone walkway actually leads to a small open-air courtyard. A ceramic dog perched on a ledge on the side wall patrols over guests. Dogs are commonly found standing and barking from roofs in Mexico, Aguilar says, because city properties are built so closely together. Adding to the Latin ambiance, posted signs on walls read “alerta vecino vigilante” and “salida de emergencia.” An orange wall is adorned with a large artisan mask of a ferocious big cat. Next to it, a white wall features painted logos from Sol, Tecate and Corona — identical to what a visitor would see in a Latin American tavern. “Everyone loves it,” Aguilar says. “Their eyes go ‘wow’ and it feels like they

are somewhere else, like a mini-vacation in Mexico.” To give the 2,600-square-foot indoor portion of the restaurant a roomier feel, Archuleta and Aguilar installed 13-foothigh ceilings and overarching tresses. Hanging off the walls are four black clay pots carved by a Oaxacan street vendor. The cedar wood bar was fabricated from a carpenter from Puerto Nuevo who made the drive to Sacramento from Baja to take measurements. It’s surface is covered in ceramic tiles, each one a painting or photograph celebrating daily life in Mexico, or the Day of the Dead holiday. It’s an explosive mosaic of skulls and indigenous Mexican artwork, which, despite the macabre overtones, Aguilar describes as evoking positive feelings of ancestry. “Day of the Dead is about remembering loved ones. It’s really a happy holiday,” he says.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



ABOVE: The Federalist blends both modern and traditional aesthetics, housed in shipping containers and featuring accents of Federalist style. LEFT: The narrow structure is perfect for long, communal tables that allow for guest interaction and a full view of the wood-fired pizza oven in the back right corner of the restaurant.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017



he most striking feature of Federalist Public House and Beer Garden, tucked away in Matsui Alley (between N and Capitol and 20th and 21st streets), is that the property is constructed from seven navy blue shipping containers — the kind typically stacked up in a seaport or sitting on the back end of a semi-truck. When the recycled vessels arrived in Sacramento, one still reeked of garlic, says Marvin Maldonado, an architect and owner of The Federalist. Maldonado swears he didn’t initially set out to use containers for his pizza parlor and beer hall, but the crates were the “fastest, easiest route” to build a restaurant for a budget under $300,000, and they also perfectly aligned with the lot size: both were 40 feet. Overall, the tone underscores “honesty,” Maldonado says. He doesn’t feel the need to dress up the outward-facing containers like something else. “It was just the right fit for the project at hand,” he says. “Let’s create a space with these big lego blocks.” The Federalist takes its name from the style of the neighboring home that faces N Street behind it, a 110-year old Victorian federalist with a farmhouse feel where Maldonado lives with his wife, Bridgette. Federalist style rose to prominence in the late 1700s as a symmetrical and luxurious design that appealed to upper-class Americans during the nation’s founding. The décor lends itself to gilded gold mirrors, flags and eagle insignias, all of which can be found inside Maldonado’s restaurant. Customers sit at long, communal tables and eat wood-fired pizza under a white and blue interior. The bar also features a set of real elk horns from a torn-down Elks Lodge in Los Banos in the Central Valley. In another corner, antique farming tools hang suspended on aged dog-ear redwood. The west wall of the bar features an indoor-outdoor bocce ball court, with string lights and grated steel fencing separating the restaurant from the parking lot. The restaurant’s entrance would be nearly invisible if not for two planter boxes in front that Maldonado says also slows down passing cars, which speed down the alley at up to 30 miles per hour. A single sign on 20th Street advertises The Federalist, but Maldonado is hesitant to add more signage due to theft. As a result, the staff regularly accept calls from would-be customers who are lost. Maldonado says he’s ambivalent about the secluded nature of his establishment.
“Our message isn’t being heard, but once you have been here you never forget,” he says. “That little bit of awkwardness or disorientation is a conversation starter. You feel like you know of the hidden spot.”

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



ABOVE: The opening of Oakhaus marks the completion of Oak Park's Broadway Triangle, offering a jolt of energy to Mule Alley. RIGHT: Outside, a corner of fire pits and potted plants bring a softer ambience to an otherwise more industrial alleyway (left) and inside, a wall of German clocks add a touch of authenticity to the establishment's quirky, bohemian vibe (right).


comstocksmag.com | June 2017



n May, after four-and-a-half years under development, Vrilakas Groen Architects unveiled the final piece of its mixed-use project known as the Broadway Triangle: Oakhaus is a Bavarian beerhall style restaurant at the end of a long driveway known as Mule Alley between 34th and 35th streets in Oak Park. The Broadway Triangle features 29 homes and 9,000 square feet of first-floor retail, and is considered the lynchpin of a 20-year effort to revitalize Oak Park. Vrilakas Groen, the developer and architect, repaved the alley with concrete in 2012. Previously, the site was a field of asphalt and dirt. The Sacramento City Council stamped final approval on the alleyway upgrades in April, closing a five-year saga of conflict resolution among developers, existing businesses, and utility and water providers. “It’s been a process,” says Mark Groen, principal of Vrilakas Groen. “Everybody had to be assured that things will be maintained and safe and work for all parties.” The entire Broadway Triangle features a modernindustrial look, with brick storefronts bordered by galvanized steel fencing that has rusted over the past two years. Even the alleyway dumpsters are enclosed in the smooth, rusted steel. The designers sought to honor the character of the neighborhood in their upgrades without “creating a false history or making it overly-stylized,” Groen says. “It’s more of a bohemian look,” he says, “not high style. A little more organic and funky.” The outdoor portion of the restaurant is surrounded by a three-foot high gate that creates a diamond-shaped outdoor seating area and opens at a single point at the opposite side of the alley. “We want to blur the lines between inside and outside, which is great in Sacramento,” Groen says. “You can hear the energy outside and inside you can see it.” Mule Alley will continue to operate as a working passageway for traffic. Under an agreement between neighboring residents and businesses, the gate will open

and Oakhaus furniture will be cleared from late evening to dawn each day. Outside of that timeframe, Oakhaus patrons will be able to socialize in a festive atmosphere. The co-owner of Oakhaus, Tom Schnetz, is a Sacramento native who owns multiple well-acclaimed bars and restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley. In May 2016, Schnetz and his brother David opened La Venadita, a family Mexican restaurant on the south end of the Triangle, at 35th and Broadway. Inside Oakhaus, a 2,500-square-foot interior will be a medley of colored wood, with greenish blue walls and a cherry pine bar top that Schnetz says will be “flamboyant, quirky, a little different.” “It’s jovial,” he says of the desired vibe. “People are just happy. In Germany, people break out in song. If that happened [here] I’d be shocked, but happy.” Schnetz filled the 2,000-square-foot triangular backyard with 8-foot-long beer garden tables with orange tops and green legs. The outdoor area also features plants, and a couple fire pits and a small raised deck for live music. “It’s creating a space that is intimate yet expansive,” he says. “You create an outside living room of sorts you want people to enjoy.” n Allen Young is a journalist living in Sacramento. On Twitter @allenmyoung.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



Employees of Citadel Roofing & Solar, a partner company of Solar Roof Dynamics, install solar panels on an existing roof assessed to last the lifetime of the system.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

daylight savings

As financial incentives get phased out, local utilities and industry experts grapple with the future of solar power BY Russell Nichols PHOTO: Ken James

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




he biggest issue with solar panels on roofs has noth- projects, but the state surpassed the wattage target in 2015 ing to do with electricity. (more than 5,000 megawatts installed as of March 2017), acThis revelation came to Aaron Nitzkin back in cording to California Distributed Generation Statistics. 2012, after he had been laid off from Dow Solar. He The impact was huge, creating 100,000 jobs, catalyzing had been in the industry for nearly 10 years at that California’s solar industry and expanding beyond homepoint, and it was hard for him to watch from the side- owners to businesses and schools (see sidebar, p. 68). Now, lines as early solar business models crumbled under bad with most incentive programs phased out, the next few roofing contracts. years will determine how the market sustains itself as local “I’ve seen so many problems with these solar compa- utilities try to solve cost inequities and answer questions nies,” Nitzkin says. “Some installed two or three systems in about solar energy storage. a day. Some were putting solar panels on a 15-year-old roof knowing that roof would need to be replaced in the next RAISING THE ROOF 5-10 years, costing customers thousands of dollars extra to In California, the push for solar power goes back decades. In remove the system and replace it. It was real sketchy stuff.” 1995, California passed the net-metering program, allowing It dawned on Nitzkin that the best time to install solar customers with a solar panel to send surplus energy back to panels would be when a new roof is first put on. This would the grid for credits. In 1998, the state passed a deregulation align the lifecycles of the roof and the solar system. With this bill, offering rebates to customers investing in rooftop solar. basic concept, Nitzkin created Solar Roof Dynamics in 2013, Still, in those days, the solar market was almost nonexistent putting solar in the hands of roofing contractors already and climate change wasn’t a mainstream topic. thriving in the trade, and providing comprehensive solar Then came the blackouts. training, products In the California electricity and services. Four crisis of 2000 and 2001, illegal years later, this small shutdowns of pipelines by EnDavis-based startup ron and market manipulations is going national. created a shortage of electricIn January, Solar ity in the state. Businesses were Roof Dynamics anhit hard by rolling blackouts nounced a strategic and, suddenly, the idea of cuspartnership with GAF, tomers generating their own the largest residenelectricity made much more tial and commercial sense, says Bernadette Del roofing manufacturer Chiaro, executive director of in North America. the California Solar Energy Nitzkin’s company Industries Association. - Bernadette Del Chiaro, is enhancing GAF’s But a solar panel wasn’t just executive director, California Solar Energy Industries Association residential Solar Elite something you could pick up at program, offering its Home Depot. With a price tag vast network of roofing contractors an array of solar servic- of $50,000 or more to install a system, this was a luxury that es, such as engineering and design, installation, sales and only a select few could afford. project management training. He believes this type of col“Only extremely wealthy tech lovers were going solar — laboration will be the model of the future. and more power to them, but that’s not going to solve any “Ten years from now, the majority of roofing contractors problems or create meaningful jobs,” Del Chiaro says. will offer solar,” Nitzkin says. “It will be no different than orWorking with former State Senator Kevin Murray, Del dering a burger and being asked if you want fries with that. ” Chiaro developed the Million Solar Roofs initiative. Former This year marks the deadline for California’s 10-year bet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won the recall and supported on solar roofs. In 2006, the state launched the “Million Solar the idea. The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed the Roofs” vision, pumping $3.2 billion into incentive programs. unprecedented law. By creating this demand and giving cerThe plan was to build one million solar roofs, or the equiv- tainty to the marketplace, California became ground zero alent thereof, generating 3,000 megawatts of renewable for innovative solar business models and has since become energy by 2017. California currently has almost 700,000 solar a global leader.

“We employ 100,000 people throughout the state of California. That’s twice the number of people that work for all the state’s electric utilities combined.”


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

“We employ 100,000 people throughout the state of California,” Del Chiaro says. “That’s twice the number of people that work for all the state’s electric utilities combined.” Ten years ago, the market was small, with only earlyadopters (the so-called “backwoods hippies” and “Malibu millionaires”) going solar. But when rebates were put in place with the new law, non-residential customers (businesses, schools, municipalities, etc.) took advantage and made it more mainstream. The industry was able to lower prices. The rebates stopped in 2015 when California reached its target. Federal tax credits for solar installations (which now cost around $15,000 to $17,500, before incentives) still exist, but those will also be phased out in the next five years. But Del Chiaro says the market has continued to grow despite the absence of incentives for the vast majority of the marketplace.


The system isn’t perfect. Low-income customers and those who rent generally do not have access to rooftop generation. These classes are among those most vulnerable to the net-energy metering cost shifts, says Mario De Bernardo, state government relations and external affairs manager of Northern California

Power Agency, an association based in Roseville that oversees regional utilities. In addition, customers without rooftop solar end up footing other users’ electric bills. For example, under net energy metering, homeowners with solar panels may earn subsidies from the utility and non-solar customers where they don’t have to pay for electricity at all. In brief, net energy metering is a billing arrangement where customers with solar panels receive financial credits for any extra electricity they generate and give back to the grid. But these homeowners still draw from the grid at night once the sun goes down. They’re benefiting from the distribution system without paying. Those costs, in theory, get passed onto other non-solar ratepayers, De Bernardo says. “Some customers can’t invest in rooftop solar,” he says, “but under the traditional netenergy metering system, they’re still paying into the program to support those who can.” This is why jurisdictions across the country are looking to reform their rooftop solar programs to allow solar to grow more sustainably, says Jonathan Changus, NCPA member services manager and regulatory affairs. Roseville Electric, recently ranked No. 9 by the Smart Electric Power Alliance in providing the most solar to customers, is a prime example. The utility is pursuing a plan to build a community solar pilot

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford Today’s SMACNA contractors, in partnership with Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 104, are innovators in heating and air conditioning technologies that save energy, reduce utility bills and maintain indoor air quality. Our contractors work with the pre-construction team to help develop green building practices from the inception of the project through completion. You can count on us for high value and high performance on every job.

www.smw104.org | www.smacnasac.org

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



project that allows customers to opt-in and get benefits from a large, centrally located solar farm in the city. The project is ideal for residents who cannot install solar because they live in an apartment, condominium or rent a home. Also, unlike rooftop solar, the benefits of the program move with the customer, as long as the person stays within the utility’s service territory. The utility hasn’t yet entered into a contract with a vendor, and the project is in the preliminary stage. “It makes more sense for municipal utilities because their local governing boards, which are usually city councils, like to see the renewable investments in their communities,” De Bernardo says. “These local officials are also looking at ways to help lower-income ratepayers in their communities.” The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has been a solar pioneer since the 1980s, building one of the world’s first utility-scale solar arrays at Rancho Seco in 1984. Its Solar Shares program allows customers to take advantage of owning solar without the hassle of buying and placing panels, and “helps businesses deliver on corporate renewable goals while saving on capital costs,” according to Brent Sloan, SMUD’s solar expert. On the business side, Sloan says companies started installing solar panels for many reasons, such as reducing emissions or boosting their competitive advantage by calling

themselves “green.” But in the past few years, many have actually begun integrating solar for the energy savings. It may be only cost-effective in a certain timeframe instead of year round, but even that time period could help deliver net savings, Sloan says. “I think you’re moving now to where businesses are seeing it as a way to affect their energy portfolio and lower time-of-use charges,” he says. “I do calculations to try and get them to look past that one time period and look at the larger picture of yearly energy usage and charges.”


California imports the vast majority of its fossil fuels. This means a percentage of every dollar derived from fossil fuels must be sent outside of the state for importation. By contrast, the sun is a free and inherently local energy resource, so a higher percentage of every dollar spent on solar energy goes to the person who did the installation, Del Chiaro says. The next big challenge is storage. Or, as Del Chiaro says, “putting a battery in everyone’s garage to make the sun shine all day long.” Customers would be able to draw from the battery at night instead of the grid. This would give them another tool to control energy usage and operate independently. Del Chiaro


nder California’s Proposition 39, school districts have access to $550 million a year for energy efficient projects. The Plumas Lake Elementary School District didn’t want to waste that golden opportunity. The K-12 school district in Yuba County partnered with SmartWatt, a New York-based solar firm with an office in Rocklin, to optimize its energy system, including the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. It wasn’t the first solar panel project for SmartWatt, but it is the company’s largest to date. Matt Delp, project development manager for SmartWatt, spearheaded the system’s design. To comply with


getting SCHOOLED requirements of California’s Division of the State Architect, Delp had to reinforce some of the school building’s tresses to lower roofs, made of standing seam metal. This required a lot of pre-testing. “The solar panels are mounted directly to the roof,” Delp says. “They wanted to make sure wind wasn’t going to rip the roof off.” The goal was to design a system that would eliminate as much of the energy bill as possible, with a savings estimate of about $180,000 a year. With energy rates in California escalating, Delp says, school districts can use the savings generated from these systems to offset utility costs. ~ Russell Nichols


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

notes that these customers would not go off the grid completely, but would be protected from price spikes. Still, solar batteries may be too expensive for some customers, with price estimates between $5,000 to $7,000. Currently, there are two bills aimed at transforming the energy storage market on the consumer side, and making the economic, environmental and grid support benefits more mainstream: • AB 1030 establishes state goals of creating a marketplace for energy services and achieving market transformation for the storage industry. The bill directs the California Public Utilities Commission to make a number of policy and programmatic changes to achieve those goals. • SB 700 would jump-start the energy storage market by reducing technology and installation costs through a tiered rebate program, similar to the California Solar Initiative program, but for storage. Del Chiaro insists the objective isn’t to make utilities obsolete, but to help the energy model evolve to meet future demand, including an influx of electric cars. “We have this 19th century grid and we’re adding 21st century technology,” she says. “The idea to build a huge power plant and transmission lines, and pipe them into a large city and sell them at full retail, that’s a thing of the past. We want the sun to shine at night. This will enable us to truly achieve a 100-percent, carbon-free energy economy.” n Russell Nichols is a freelance writer who focuses on science and technology, mental health and criminal justice. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing magazine and Government Technology. On Twitter @russellnichols.

Certificate Program Topics: Administration of Justice • Business and Management • Education

Learn More at csus.edu/cce

Thank You!

Double Eagle Sponsor

Eagle Sponsors

for sponsoring the 5th Annual “Golf for Kids’ Sake” Tournament on April 24, 2017 Dinner Sponsor

Lunch Sponsors

Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County would like to thank the generous donors, golfers and volunteers who helped to make this event a sellout and the most successful golf tournament in our history. We treasure you, and your commitment to helping our organization change the lives of at-risk children for the better, forever.

B Sippel ob & ecky

Game Sponsors

Media Sponsors

Vist our website www.bbbs-edc.org Like us on Facebook at Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



comstocksmag.com | June 2017

100 Years of Service in the Gold Country The American Red Cross Gold Country Region is celebrating its centennial anniversary, having played a critical role during and after disasters large and small, and preparing individuals, families and communities for those disasters, for 100 years. The Red Cross Gold Country Region serves 24 counties throughout northeastern California, a territory covering 48,000 square miles and 4.4 million people. A staff of 35 is backed by generous donors and approximately 2,300 volunteers, all sharing in the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. Volunteers from any walk of life are always welcome and range from kids in youth clubs to retired professionals. “People with a heart for helping people seek us out, ” says CEO Gary Strong. “We have many volunteer needs in good times and in times of disaster and can connect those needs to people’s interests, and offer training to develop their skills. ” The Red Cross is there for man-made and natural disasters from individual home fires to wildfires, earthquakes, and floods. Gold Country Region volunteers respond to a home fire on average every 10 hours, and will show up at any time of day or night, 365 days a year, giving hope and assistance to those who have lost everything. “Our work covers all parts of the disaster cycle — preparing for it, responding to it, and recovering from it, ” says Strong. The Red Cross is the nation’s single largest blood collector, provides health and safety classes, acts as




the emergency link between families and deployed military service members, and offers an array of preparedness programs, including the Pillowcase Project which teaches kids from 3rd through 5th grade how to be ready in case of disaster. “Sometimes kids’ passion can inspire entire families to prepare as they might not otherwise, ” notes Strong. For teens and adults, the Red Cross also offers a variety of phone apps filled with emergency preparedness information and quizzes. Another preparedness program, the Home Fire Campaign, is confirmed to have saved 215 lives nationwide already. Its goal is reducing loss of life in home fires by 25 percent nationwide over five years by getting smoke alarms into homes that don’t have them. Working with city governments and fire departments to identify neighborhoods in need, the Red Cross will install them free of charge and help develop personalized escape plans. “There are many ways we can work with businesses to best serve our region, and we welcome them as partners, especially those headquartered in our territory, ” says Strong. “The generosity of donors is critical to our mission. As the Red Cross is not a government agency, we rely on private contributions to provide services. We are proud of our efficiency — as shown by the independent rating agency Charity Navigator, more than 90 percent of donor funds are spent on programs and services. ”

916.993.2070 | www.redcross.org/goldcountry June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




crunch Nevada County companies are in desperate need of techies — here’s how they’re cultivating a new workforce BY Trish Moratto PHOTOGR APHY: Terence Duff y


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Jonathan Palmer (left), CTO of Autometrix in Grass Valley, with software developer Chris Campbell (right). Campbell was promoted after taking classes with the Connected Communities Academy.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com




onathan Palmer, chief technology officer at Autometrix, has recently filled a software developer position after searching for over a year. “I’m thrilled when I finally find an engineer or developer that has the right qualifications and experience,” Palmer says. The company, based in Grass Valley, employs software, mechanical and electrical engineers to manufacture automated cutting equipment for textile markets — and develops the computer software needed to control the equipment. But despite a robust job market, Palmer says they’ve seen jobs go unfilled for years in the past. Historically, the local talent pool hasn’t had enough skilled workers to fill technical positions and often talented youth leave the area for higher education. But in 2016, business and government leaders in Nevada County had an “ah-ha” moment: A report, commissioned by the Nevada County Economic Resource Council in coalition with the Northern Rural Training and Employment Council, showed stakeholders that the county’s local workforce needed easy access to tech-based skills.

ties Academy. A motivated task force of CEOs, engineering directors, human resource professionals and solopreneurs worked together to bring the idea of a one-stop technology skills training center to life. The academy, based in Nevada City, offers classes ranging from $60 to $300 that teach everything from basic training for entry-level digital skills to more specific topics such as virtual reality content development, coding language, digital arts, WordPress and user experience design. Autometrix filled the software development position recently by promoting from within. Chris Campbell, an employee from their purchasing and inventory department, transitioned into a software role after taking a coding class at the academy. “I now develop systems to analyze large amounts of data,” Campbell says. “Through my coursework I learned both a direct coding language and more broadly programing concepts applicable to other coding languages. I really appreciated the formal experience my instructor had in the field.”


The student body at the Connected Communities Academy varies in makeup: Some are high school students preparing for their first post-graduation job, while others are older, more experienced workers who want to switch careers or need more hands-on experience to advance in their current roles. The course instructors, called mentors, are professionals working in tech with extensive backgrounds in computer science. Shawna Hein, a Grass Valley native, teaches a user experience class at the academy. Hein spent several years in the Bay Area running a design consultancy and working Ryan Trauntvein (left) of GitHUB and Remington Maxwell (right) of Grass Valley (a with clients such as Google, Apple and the local manufacturer of broadcasting equipment) teach a monthly "Free Code Camp" as part United Nations. She says the mentors want to of the Connected Communities Academy. PHOTO COURTESY SHAVATI KARKI-PEARL help propel others into the high-growth, highwage tech industry. The report, known as the Digital Technology Workforce “There is a perception that getting a job in technology is exNeeds and Gaps Assessment, showed that many employ- tremely difficult,” Hein says. “I choose to mentor at the academy ers were in a similar position as Palmer. Interviews with 50 because I want people to know that tech careers are accessible companies (25 from Nevada County and 25 from the greater and can support a wonderful lifestyle in Nevada County.” Capital Region) found software development and network Hein has a computer science degree and says working management employees in high demand, while 50 percent in tech does not necessarily require a technical background of senior technology staff at larger organizations were on or experience as a computer programmer. “Regardless of track to retire within five to 10 years. whether you code, design, run research studies, write webThese findings prompted residents who work in the site copy or practice law, great jobs are out there with tech technology industry to create the Connected Communi- companies,” she says.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

The NCERC is also enthusiastic about developing a highly skilled workforce that may inevitably find jobs based outside of the region that allow them to work remotely. Many careers in the technology field allow the flexibility to work from home. According to the Intuit 2020 Report, conducted in partnership between the business software company and Emergent Research, experts predict that by 2020, more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelance. “The overarching goal is to have a high-wage tax base with families that shop, live and buy homes in Nevada County,” says Jon Gregory, executive director of the NCERC. “In both employment scenarios, local or remote, the county benefits from the increased incomes.” The region has key lifestyle advantages when compared to the Bay Area, a location flush with freelancers. Nevada County offers a reasonable cost of living, abundant outdoor activities and a thriving arts scene. The community could attract, or with the help of the academy, cultivate freelance workers to live within the county and work remotely for companies around the world.


The nonprofit academy is managed by the NCERC which, by 2020, hopes to draw national recognition for the county

as one of the most economically-competitive rural areas in the U.S. This may sound lofty, but the NCERC has a solid platform to build on: Its programs encourage existing business growth and promote activities to attract entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses to the area. “In order to reach our 2020 goal, we are building a workforce that meets the needs of our employers,” Gregory says. “Be it with someone who specializes in virtual reality or nuanced information systems, we can fill those positions in Nevada County.” The organization is strategic in its efforts to recruit both employees and companies to the region. Many larger economic development teams target international companies with thousands of employees. The NCERC focuses on building relationships with smaller tech employers that have the potential to thrive in Nevada County. They specifically target businesses working to develop products and services related to augmented and virtual reality. The organization has a task force, called the talent connection, that meets monthly to drive initiatives to recruit, develop and retain talent for local companies. “Our smaller size is actually a key benefit because it allows us to be nimble without getting stuck in the bureau-

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



cracy larger regions encounter,” Gregory says. “When the talent connection task force comes up with an idea, like starting the academy, it can be implemented quickly.” Another selling point the NCERC highlights is the region’s rare combination of assets, including a cluster of tech business, a slow pace of life and reasonably priced homes when compared to larger metropolitan areas. Regions like Silicon Valley, Seattle, San Francisco and Austin are well-branded as hubs for tech jobs while Nevada County has often flown under the radar. But it has an impressive lineup of technology offerings, especially considering its smaller size and population relative to major tech hubs, Gregory says. There is a legacy of video broadcast innovation in Nevada County. AJA Video Systems, Ensemble Designs, Grass Valley (a manufacturer of broadcasting equipment) and Telestream are major players in the video industry based in the region. In addition, there are businesses specializing in software, electronics, telecommunications and medical technology operating in the area. For brands that require employees to have technical skills, the academy is a boon. With companies like High Sierra Electronics, Clear Capital, Gyro-Stabilized Systems and Linear Technology — all technology companies based

in Nevada County — job seekers have a robust market ready to hire those with strong tech abilities. Traitware is a cyber-security software company based in Nevada City. CEO Bert Spencer sends employees to take classes at the academy to improve their capabilities as software developers. The courses helped his employee Carson Hawley advance from a home-schooled high school graduate to a fully qualified Android developer. “Attending classes at the academy gave me the strong, core knowledge I needed to pursue my goals,” says Hawley, now a junior software developer. “I reference the courses I took on cyber-security and UX [user experience] design in my daily programming.” Those learning basic digital skills for the first time aren’t the only ones that benefit from the academy’s training programs. As an engineer for more than 30 years, Alan Moore grew up and worked in Silicon Valley for most of his life before relocating to Nevada City. A software developer, he’s since founded his own foundation, Co-op Source. Moore enrolled in the virtual reality game development class offered at the academy because he wanted more experience working with a particular program

COMPREHENSIVE FINANCIAL PLANNING APPROACH “ Making sure your financial plan achieves personal, family, and community goals is important. Having an advisor that looks at all of the pieces, not just investments, is critical to improving your opportunities. That’s where we come in.”

STEPHEN WESTLAKE, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPC®, CFS® Private Wealth Advisor WESTLAKE, GRAHL, AND GLOVER A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.


9265 Sierra College Blvd. | Granite Bay, CA 95661 WGGAdvisorGroup.com | 916.677.1640

Stephen specializes in retirement planning, charitable giving, and wealth preservation strategies. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. 76

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

The Compass is a trademark of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. • Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. • © 2015 Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

called Unity, a game development engine also used to build virtual or augmented reality applications. “I’m convinced that virtual and augmented reality will change our relationship with computing, and getting in on the ground f loor with this somewhat new technology is very exciting,” he says. After the class, Moore started an augmented and virtual reality development meetup group. The academy allows the group to use its lab and equipment.


In addition to providing education, part of the academy’s mission is to create tech opportunities via collaboration with other local programs. They partner with the Placer School for Adults, Nevada Union Adult School and Sierra College to host specific classes, as well as receive funding from organizations including NoRTEC, Connecting Point and the Nevada County Information and General Services Agency. The academy benefits from subsidized rental space provided by the Green Screen Institute facility and the lab is accessible to students and alumni like Moore, who want to work on project development. The academy has also expanded to offer on-site courses in the offices of employers

across the county. Another partner, the Nevada County Tech Connection, is a new community initiative solely focused on raising awareness of all regional technology initiatives. The efforts of the Tech Connection ref lect the big picture goals of the academy. One program offered through the Tech Connection is a local directory of tech businesses, freelance talent and educational training providers. They also aggregate tech events, meetups, jobs and internships and post them to the Tech Connection website. The goal is to highlight these activities for potential employees or companies researching the region online. “We’re trying to boost the public perception of the area so people are aware of the opportunity that already exists here,” says Palmer, who in addition to employing a graduate of the academy at Autometrix is active with the Tech Connection. “If people understand that there are a variety of possible employment opportunities in the area, they may be more willing to relocate here.” n Trish Moratto is a communications consultant who specializes in public relations, social media strategy, copywriting and journalism. She is an outdoor enthusiast and avid traveler. She is based among the pine trees in Grass Valley.

Helping people achieve their DREAM

HOME for more than 40 years!

1508 Eureka Rd., Suite 150 | Roseville, CA 95661 | 916.782.3711 193 Fulweiler Ave. | Auburn, CA 95603 | 530.885.7722

www.PlacerTitle.com June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


H OM EOWN E R SHIP is more than a name on a deed.

Your journey to a new home is a long one. Years of saving, months of planning and weeks of paperwork culminate in one exciting day…the moment you receive the keys and this house transforms into your home. At First American Title, we have shared moments like this with homebuyers since 1889. Our goal is to make the closing process easy for everyone involved.

Make the simple choice on your next closing.

C H O O S E F I R S T A M E R I C A N T I T L E. 2016 ACCOLADES Fortune 500® Company 100 Best Companies to Work For™ Best Workplaces for Women 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity

First American Title Insurance Company, and the operating divisions thereof, make no express or implied warranty respecting the information presented and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. First American, the eagle logo, First American Title, and firstam.com are registered trademarks or trademarks of First American Financial Corporation and/or its affiliates. ©2017 First American Financial Corporation and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. | NYSE: FAF | 07132920417


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

DAV I S phone 530.758.2273 425 Second Street Davis, CA 95616

ROCKLIN 916.788.1700 915 Highland Pointe Drive, #140 Roseville, CA 95678

E L K G R OV E phone 916.691.6820 9381 E. Stockton Blvd., #122 Elk Grove, CA 95624

ROSEVILLE phone 916.677.8005 3400 Douglas Blvd., #100 Roseville, CA 95661

FOLSOM phone 916.983.3985 2230 E. Bidwell, #100 Folsom, CA 95630

S I E R R A OA K S phone 916.489.5800 2425 Fair Oaks Blvd., #6 Sacramento, CA 95825

N ATO M A S phone 916.576.1305 4080 Truxel Road, #290 Sacramento, CA 95834

WO O D L A N D phone 530.669.3643 1100 Main St., #140 Woodland, CA 95695

MIDTOWN SACR AMENTO 916.490.4510 3001 I Street, Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95816

CO M M E R C I A L S E R V I C E S phone 916.920.3100 1610 Arden Way, #101 Sacramento, CA 95815






FOCUS Out with the old and in with the new: These four local designers radically refurbished Capital Region residences into stylish, custom retreats June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


special housing focus



Arden Town Abode


Mike Trainor, Realtor for this home at 500 Crocker Road and one of the leaders behind the project, says the plan was always to find a forgotten lot inside a high-end neighborhood and “not just improve it, but create a home that blends in a transitional style.” Trainor, along with architect Joe Sanford of AK Developers, say the transitional style incorporates different colors and schemes with modern contemporary stylings, not unlike the popular residential designs found in places like Malibu and Seattle — but transplanted to Arden Town. “I am amazed at the response we have gotten,” Trainor says. “The idea was to create a home that even on an overcast day, was very bright and airy,” Trainor says. Sanford, the architect, says that another focal point of the home is the courtyard and the bubbling waterfall that cascades into the pool. From many places throughout the house, guests and residents can look out onto this feature. “It’s very private,” Sanford says — pointing to the sound wall they built along Fair Oaks Boulevard as proof of their construction commitment to seclusion amongst the bustle — but “once you’re inside, you can see all the way to the waterfall.” Additionally, the home is fit for a number of uses, Trainor says. The mother-in-law suite could be used as AirBnB quarters, an extra guest room or for multi-generational living. He says he imagines a lobbyist or corporate partner using the home to throw large parties. “It fits the neighborhood, and it’s lifestyle-oriented,” Trainor says.


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


special housing focus





This guest house and artist’s office was originally an open-concept guest home, but with a redesign from Paulette Trainor, it’s a colorful daydream with a much more focused feel. “[The client] really wanted to create a fun, warm, inviting entertainment space,” Trainor says. Because the client’s favorite color is pink — and Trainor admits she had been wanting to work in pink for some time — this design focused heavily on the color not just as an accent but also in main pieces. Other colors include black, white and the green of freshly-sprouted plants. “We really wanted to bring out the vibrant pink color and dimension,” Trainor says. “[The client] likes pink so I really ran with it!” The redesign took about a year, she says, during which time they also put up new walls to segregate some of the space. In the new living room, an alpaca fur rug, a full bar and entertainment center form the heart of the new space, while a bedroom down the hallway pops in bright pinks, whites and greens. A separate office space and studio was also walled off for more privacy for the homeowner. In a home so full of bright things that catch your attention, what’s Trainor’s favorite feature? “I love the oversized [pictures of] peonies on the wall,” she says of the entranceway. “And the library is in the foyer, which creates a warm, inviting area.”


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


special housing focus





Miche Monteiro, the lead designer on this home in the Mariemont neighborhood of Sacramento, wanted a modern design update for the 21st century — and also something that suited the clients’ young family. “They wanted something more livable, but still looked cool,” Monteiro says, calling the redesign a unique “challenge project.” The double staircase in the foyer originally had so many balusters that “it was all you could see,” Monteiro says. So to make the space more welcoming, Monteiro and her team at Benning Design replaced the old railings with glass, while keeping a strategic number of the old balusters to evoke a mixed style design. It’s really indicative of what the entire house is about, she says, “to merge two styles, while keeping some traditional style elements.” The clients were open to suggestions, Monteiro says, which made it easy to achieve a coherent-yet-mixed design. Natural lighting throughout the house adds visual interest, she says, especially in the kitchen where designers created a custom niche above a small peninsula, which separates the family’s great room from their kitchen. “We wanted to open up the whole space to the great room because they entertain a lot, and the kids hang out there,” she says. The result is an open, entertainment-suited home perfect for a busy family, but still has character, she says. “We added a lot of custom elements, but always kept in mind that they wanted something livable.”


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


special housing focus





Maggie Ferrari has a soft spot for a well-equipped kitchen. A frequent hostess and excellent chef herself, Ferrari says she knows that a home’s selling point can live or die by the kitchen. That’s why when she was redesigning her own home in Carmichael, she made sure her remodeled kitchen had only the best equipment. High-end Wolf appliances, including a steam oven, double ovens and a range are just a few of the chef’s toys she made sure to include. “I really wanted an entertaining kitchen and a demonstration kitchen,” Ferrari says. Other remodeling projects in the house included a patio off of the new kitchen area, and a special, metallic gray flooring throughout the house that could “float” on top of the home’s original oak floors. Ferrari says she didn’t want to tear out the original flooring, but with four active greyhounds, neither did she want to ruin the oak. “It was important to find a floor that was very durable,” she says with a laugh. Ferrari says all of her upgrades to the property are with the ultimate goal of raising the value of the property, which is why she focused so heavily on the kitchen — the only area she feels the original designers “short-circuited on.” “I felt anyone buying that property would want a high-end kitchen and entertainment area,” Ferrari says. “It’s a kitchen any chef or foodie would love to cook in.”


comstocksmag.com | June 2017

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


Locally owned. Locally produced. Nationally recognized.
























E AL |










Leader of th e Fl ock

A healthy diet isn’t just good for your body — it’s good for your mind Can by Jeff Wilser C

a e ne rg lifornia re ma y p oli in fe de ral a c y now a a leade r dmin by R istra t o dds wit with an u ss el tion? han l N ic ew h o ls

like a

BOSS te to l salu hip nnua rs Our a in leade en wom


www.comstocksmag.com 88

comstocksmag.com | June 2017




‘17 VO L.


29 | NO. 2



2017 PART 7


Capital Region cares

omstock’s magazine is proud to present the seventh installment of our 22nd annual Capital Region Cares salute to nonprofits. At Comstock’s, we seek to drive community engagement and the support of the business community by introducing our readers to the many charitable organizations making an impact in communities across Northern California. These charities — from food banks and animal shelters to museums and hospitals — are changing lives 365 days a year. You’ll read about some of them in this issue of Comstock’s and online at comstocksmag.com as we build content for what will become our flagship Capital Region Cares annual publication. In September, business leaders, philanthropists, volunteers and nonprofit organizers across the region will receive the final product, Capital Region Cares 2017, filled with moving stories, informative resources and contact information for over 500 local nonprofits that need your help.

March June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


• success story




comstocksmag.com | June 2017

BY Danna Sweidan PHOTOGRAPH BY Ken James


atie McCleary and 916 Ink cofounder Michael Spurgeon knew they wanted to start a creative nonprofit for children when they met at a writer’s conference in 2010. They believed Sacramento could support such a program because there was already a strong writing community here, nurtured by programs like the Sacramento Poetry Center, but there was a glaring, missing piece in Sacramento’s creative writing community — a youth program. Today, the nonprofit provides youth writing programs and field trips to their “Imaginarium” on 37th Avenue in Sacramento. Beside hosting classes at the Imaginarium, 916 Ink hosts creative writing classes in schools, community centers and youth detention centers throughout the Capital

Region, teaching students how to read, write and tell stories. The classes provide opportunities for expression and learning that might not otherwise be available, and the students are taught to treat all work as fiction, which provides some of the anonymity needed to share personal stories. McCleary says an important factor of their program is that every student has their work published in a book. These are distributed to the participants and sold locally. “I know the power of seeing your own name in print. It’s magical, it solidifies something in you, that you’ve arrived, that you matter.” Students and siblings Zachariah and Dominique Mejia found creative direction in the program after taking 916 Ink classes through their indepen-

dent study programs. Zachariah, 19, graduated from high school last year and now volunteers in the Imaginarium classes. “We weren’t big writers beforehand, no kids really are. We decided to try the new creative classes and it was some of the most fun we’ve had in a class,” Zachariah says. Dominique, 17, is still enrolled as a student in independent study classes at Visions in Education, and also hopes to volunteer with 916 Ink in the future. “They do so much for their students, they tell us about events and promote other things that have to do with writing and that’s been really helpful,” she says. With 18 different workshops running throughout Sacramento, the organization is on its way. McCleary estimates that the program will serve 2,000 students this year, and up to 3,000

next year. Since 2012, an estimated 3,300 area students have been published in 80 books. “I think it’s giving kids a sense of community and helping them find their tribe,” she says. “The kids who you know it sticks with, this program is in their bones, they’re writers. Now they have a writing community.” n

Livi and Domino, two 916 Ink students, attend an Imaginarium writing course in April.

Danna Sweidan is a freelancer who writes about travel, arts and culture. She graduated from Sacramento State with a government-journalism degree, and works as an independent travel consultant.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


Greater sacramento



ounded in 1968, the Greater Sacramento Urban League (GSUL) approaches 50 years of addressing disparity issues affecting youth and adults in the Capital Region. It remains authentic to its mission — providing the underserved with education, job training and placement opportunities to achieve economic selfreliance. GSUL programs address not only education and employment issues, but housing, health, and much more. In addition to its Job Center, GSUL programs include Adult High School, Housing Counseling, Youth Empowered for Success, Reduction of African American Child Death, Job Fairs, and Career Technical Education that includes courses in office technology, Certified Nursing Assistant, and custodial training. “Among a growing array of programs, our core services help people achieve their high school diplomas and train and prepare them for jobs,” says Cassandra Jennings, President and CEO. 92

comstocksmag.com | June 2017

“We also cultivate relationships with employers, both in the private and public sector, so they may provide internships or hire those coming through our programs.” In advocacy and outreach, the GSUL promotes policies for systemic change and improving communities with the philosophy that environment greatly affects individuals striving for success or new beginnings. GSUL is located in Del Paso Heights and recently opened a satellite office in Oak Park, a prime example of a revitalized community. Innovative and strategic partnerships are crucial to the GSUL’s work. “We actively seek private sector partners to support service delivery and diversify our budget which is largely made up of government grants,” says Jennings. “Foundation and Corporate funding allows us to better enact change in the communities we serve … generosity enables us to not turn anyone away.”



"We at U.S. Bank are fueled by a commitment to do the right thing. Every dollar we pledge, every hour we volunteer and every step we take toward building stronger financial futures is an opportunity to establish trust and lay a foundation that leads to sustained, positive change. Our partnership with the GSUL is a great example of our commitment to helping create stable jobs, home ownership opportunities and a community connected through culture, arts, recreation and play." — Pamela R Maxwell, Vice President, Community Development Manager, U.S. Bank



ollege Track, a comprehensive college completion program with nine sites nationwide, is on a mission to empower students from underserved communities to graduate from college. “We make a 10-year promise to every student – they start with us the summer after eighth grade and we see them through college graduation,” says Nikki Wardlaw, Director of Development and Partnerships. Launched in Sacramento in 2014, College Track welcomes 60 new students each year and now, in its third year, currently has high school freshmen through junior year students. “The 2017-18 school year will be monumental for us because we’ll have our first class of seniors,” says Wardlaw. “We will see our first cohort graduate from high school and go to college. They are paving the way as role models for our younger College Track students.”

College Track is open to students every day after school. It provides academic assistance and student life programming, which helps students identify their dreams and passions, and exposes them to career paths and college majors. This school year, to serve the 11th graders, College Track added new courses preparing students for the college application and selection process. Students are enrolled in a weekly ACT prep course, which has given them confidence and improved their scores, and a new Junior Advisory class where students research prospective colleges and scholarship options. College Track also recently hosted workshops on college affordability for students and their families, and field trips to college campuses. A newly hired College Completion Director oversees the college completion programming and helps students navigate their way to college.

“We ask the community to join us in supporting these students on their paths to and through college,” says Wardlaw. “Please contact us if you can provide internships, job shadowing, or scholarship opportunities.”



June 2017 | comstocksmag.com


• success story

f o y t n e l p fish inthe creek SPAWNING CHINOOK




comstocksmag.com | June 2017

BY Robin Epley PHOTOGRAPH: Joan Cusick


n order for spawning Chinook salmon to return to Deer Creek this autumn, they first had to swim against the stream from the San Joaquin River to the Mokelumne River, east of Rio Vista. Then, the determined fish had to make their way up to where the Mokelumne meets the Cosumnes River, and finally, migrate several miles more to get to the shady shores of Deer Creek. They found that respite thanks to a multi-year environmental restoration project from the Sacramento Valley Conservancy in coalition with Teichert Construction. The creek has been historically mined and thirsty ranchland placed nearby, says SVC Stewardship Director Lucie Adams. With the help of a Nation-

al Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant, “Our goal was to restore the habitat and landscape.” The project was for a small section of the conservancy’s 375-acre Deer Creek Hills North parcel, just east of Scott Road, along the El Dorado County line, Adams says. A mile of the creek runs directly through their preserve lands, and their goal has been to restore the area in general — the spawning salmon returning to the creek for the first time since 2009 was a big, big bonus, she says. “We planted over 300 trees and shrubs along the creek corridor to restore the shade and enhance these areas,” Adams says. Even though the project started right around the early years of the drought, she says, the team

was able to change what she calls their “planting palette” to accommodate the lowered water table of the surrounding area. Officially, the grant-funded planting and restoration project seeks to rehabilitate the “streamside and riparian vegetation,” according to the SVC’s quarterly newsletter, Horizons. Barry Baba, a habitat restoration and land manager at Teichert, says he was called upon nearly three years ago by the SVC to help with the restoration and monitoring of the creek area. Baba says they helped with “passive restoration efforts” like planting Oregon ash, willow, valley oak, blue oak and live oak trees, among other types of plants and shrubs, as well as more aggressive restoration efforts, such as installing

fences to help keep cattle out of the creek bed and improve the water quality for the native inhabitants, including salmon. Baba says his team will continue to work with SVC on the Deer Creek site for another two years, against encroaching invasive species. n Robin Epley is the associate editor for Comstock’s. She is also the founder of Millennials in Media, a Sacramento-based program for young journalists. On Twitter @robin_epley.

June 2017 | comstocksmag.com





comstocksmag.com | June 2017

more images at comstocksmag.com

FIX 'ER UP Andy Stone, head mechanic for Team Novo Nordisk, prepares a bike during training camp for the Amgen Tour of California’s Sacramento stage in May. As a race mechanic, Stone has traveled the world — mostly Europe — working 150-200 race days per year for the team, which is based in Atlanta and is the first all-diabetes professional cycling team (Novo Nordisk, headquartered in Denmark, produces drugs to

treat diabetes). “It’s a lifestyle you get used to,” says Stone, who estimates that in eight years on the job he has only had a handful of days sightseeing. His friends will ask him, “‘You’re close to Rome. Did you see the Colosseum?’ Well, no.” A Sacramento native, Stone attended Encina High School where he took a Regional Occupational Program bicycle mechanic class. He worked at bike shops for several years before getting

into race mechanics. “I’m fairly calm before the race starts, but the first 20-30 [kilometers], for me, I get nervous,” he says. “If something happens between the start and the first 20k, it’s most likely something I missed. If I get past that, then OK, I did my job.” His favorite task is preparing equipment for race day: “I have this saying: ‘When perfection meets opportunity that gives you the best chance to win.’” June 2017 | comstocksmag.com







Total U.S.: $380 billion Cash receipts: $47 billion

(down from $56.6 billion in 2014)

5. Minnesota: $17 billion 2. Iowa: $28 billion 4. Nebraska: $23 billion

Exports: $21 billion

Commodities produced: 400+ 1. California: $47 billion 3. Texas: $24 billion

Farms and ranches: 77,500


2015 (billions)

Dairy Almonds Grapes

Lettuce Berries Tomatoes Flowers Walnuts Hay

2014 $6.2

Cattle $2 $2.3 $2.4 $1.8 $1.74 $1.7 $1.1 $1.1 $1.9 $.977 $1.3 $.945


$3.7 $3.4

$5.3 $5.2 $4.9


2015 (millions) $131 $128

Wine Grapes


Milk Pears Poultry Aquaculture Cattle & Calves Nursery stock Rice Hay/Alfalfa Field corn


$40 $36 $39


$49 $50

$33 $33 $29 $24 $24

$16 $15 $17 $15 $19 $13


$349 (million)








$372 $350


comstocksmag.com | June 2017





801 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95817

106 N. Sunrise Ave., Suite C-4, Roseville, CA 95661

916-443-1322 | sac.cs@e-arc.com

916-782-8000 | rsv.branch@e-arc.com June 2017 | comstocksmag.com



comstocksmag.com | June 2017

Profile for Comstock's magazine

Comstock's 0617 - June 2017  

Comstock's 0617 - June 2017