Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Real Estate: Last weekend to tour the St. Jude Dream Home

(Courtesy of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Rendering of the St. Jude Dream Home built by De Young Properties.)

The St. Jude Dream Home in Clovis will be open for viewing one last time this weekend before it is raffled off for charity.

Built by De Young Properties, the 3,300-square-foot,  four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the CountryCourt community, at Gettysburg and Armstrong avenues, will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The $100 tickets, for a chance to win the house, are available until all tickets are sold or up to Nov. 10 when the drawing will be held during a live television special on KMPH (Channel 26.1).

This is De Young’s seventh St. Jude Dream Home. The builder has raised more than $5.4 million for the children’s research hospital.

Real Estate: Granville Home of Hope winner to be announced Saturday

(Courtesy of Granville Homes. Rendering of the Mia model, this year’s Home of Hope.)

Granville Homes will announce the winner of its eighth Home of Hope giveaway on Saturday.

There’s still time to grab your $100 ticket for a chance to win a two-story, 2,216-square-foot home valued at more than $270,000. The three bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom, two-car garage is located in the Sunnyside Grove community near Fowler and Church avenues in southeast Fresno.

If you don’t win the house, don’t worry. There’s a bunch of other prizes available including a helicopter ride, a tennis membership, use of the Save Mart Center Skybox for 16 Fresno State men’s basketball games, a massage package, a television and gift cards to spend on gas or at local businesses.

Granville has built and given away a house every year to raise money for eight charities since 2006. The builder has raised more than $2.4 million.

The charities are: Community Food Bank, Poverello House, Hinds Hospice, Assistance League, Renaissance Scholars at Fresno State and the foundations for Clovis, Sanger, and Central Unified schools. To buy a ticket, call (559) 440-8388.

In November, builder De Young Properties will also hold its drawing for the seventh annual St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. The winner will be announced on Nov. 10 during a live television special on KMPH (Channel 26.1).

De Young has raised more than $5.4 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The St. Jude home is a 3,298-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the CountryCourt development at Gettysburg and Armstrong avenues in Clovis.

Banks working with furloughed federal employees to defer loan, mortgage payments

Bank of the West is giving furloughed federal employees a break on paying their loans and mortgages.

The bank, which has five offices in Fresno, is granting one month deferrals on consumer loan payments and one month forbearance on mortgage payments.

“We are committed to helping our customers succeed financially through the ups and downs of life,” said Paul Wible, head of the bank’s National Finance Group.

Bank customers with auto, recreational vehicle and boat loans, credit cards and home equity loans and lines of credit can call (800) 653-0362 to request help.

Other banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo are working with customers on a case-by-case basis.

“Federal government employees and other workers whose jobs are directly impacted by the government shutdown may be eligible for forbearance programs or other mortgage payment assistance depending on their individual circumstances,” a Wells Fargo spokeswoman said.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America customers, who are furloughed federal employees, are encouraged to contact their banks to work on a solution.

Real Estate: Assisted senior living center to be built in Clovis

(Submitted photo. Carmel Village of Clovis Assisted Living, 1650 Shaw Ave., between Stanford and Fowler avenues expected to open by fall 2014.)

A long vacant piece of property on busy Shaw Avenue in Clovis will soon have a whole new look by next fall.

An 85,000-square-foot assisted living community is planned for the lot between Stanford and Fowler avenues. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at noon Thursday.

The 107-unit, three-story building called Carmel Village of Clovis Assisted Living will be nestled between office buildings on the west and a Walgreens drug store and Yosemite Gardens, an existing senior housing complex, on the east.

The community “will emulate the beauty of a California coastal lodge which features spectacular amenities and provides the care giving services that its residents are seeking in order to remain as active and independent as possible,” said Brian Glover, a project partner and developer.

Frontier Senior Living will serve as the property management company. Frontier operates 50 communities nationwide including two others in northern California.

For more information, visit Frontier.

Real Estate: Lennar Homes building in northwest Fresno

(Submitted photo. Lennar’s next generation home, called the Camelot, at the homebuilder’s newest development, Elderberry on the Bluff Estates.)

Lennar Homes is continuing to grow in the Central Valley with the grand opening of a new development overlooking the San Joaquin River in northwest Fresno.

Elderberry on the Bluff Estates is a 139-home neighborhood at Herndon and Riverside avenues, next to the Riverside Golf Course.

The homes will range in size from 1,766 to 2,969 square feet with three to four bedrooms, two to three-and-a-half bathrooms and up to three bay garages. Eight floor plans are available.

The national builder will also introduce its new Next Generation home design, called the Camelot, at Elderberry, the company said.

The Next Gen two-story house includes a private suite on the ground floor with its own separate entrance, bedroom, kitchenette and full bathroom.

“As time passes, lifestyles can change and the Next Gen, the Home within a Home, floor plans make design history by offering a dual living layout that so many families want and need and are finally discovering courtesy of Lennar, said Susan Wilke, vice president of sales and marketing.

The grand opening will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Brown signs Patterson bill that speeds vocational nurse licensing

It’s not always easy being a Republican in a state government completely controlled by Democrats — from the state Legislature right up to Gov. Jerry Brown.

But this week, Brown signed a bill by Assembly Member Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, that fast-tracks licenses for vocational nurses by removing government red-tape.

Assembly Member Jim Patterson

Assembly Bill 1028 ensures that vocational nurses can begin working once they have finished school and have entered the Board of Vocational Nursing’s licensing process.

The bill speeds up the process by which they can apply for and receive an interim permit while they complete the board exams. Currently, many of these nurses have been forced to wait up to six months to receive their licenses.

Patterson introduced the legislation after being contacted by Clovis resident Danielle Mendoza, who had become frustrated with lengthy licensing process.

Heat, yes, but ozone needs sunlight, too

My story Sunday on cooling down Fresno to help lower ozone was directly at heat, but air temperature is not the only part of the equation.

On Sunday, nature demonstrated why heat isn’t the only factor. It was 102 degrees but just cloudy enough to slow down the chemical reaction that makes ozone.

There was no breach of either federal ozone standard on Sunday — in the middle of August with very light winds and 100-plus degrees.

Ozone needs oxides of nitrogen from combustion sources, such as your car’s engine, and reactive organic gases, such as fumes from gasoline or dairies. But without both warmth and sunlight, the gas doesn’t form as well.

Take a look at the numbers for Sunday. Fresno’s three monitors never got above 70 parts per billion for ozone. The federal eight-hour standard is 75 parts per billion, and it’s officially an exceedance when the average hits 76.

Monday looks like a similar cloudy start to the day. I saw lightning over the Sierra. If the weather stays dark and unsettled, there may be another August day in the Valley without an exceedance of the ozone standard.

Real Estate: McCaffrey Homes wins top honor at Gold Nugget Awards

(Photo courtesy of McCaffrey Homes. The home builder received a Gold Nugget Grand Award for architectural excellence on June 5 for this Tribeca Plan 4 design at its The Heights in Loma Vista neighborhood in Clovis.)

McCaffrey Homes won a top honor for architectural excellence at this year’s Gold Nugget awards competition in San Diego on June 5.

The Fresno and Clovis home builder won a Grand Award for its Tribeca Plan 4 design, one of four floorplans available at The Heights at Loma Vista neighborhood in Clovis.

The Tribeca plan, which has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, was honored for its high energy ratings, use of side and rear yard spaces, and its street appeal.

“The home is rich in finish materials and feels substantially larger than it is,” the judges said. “Inside, the home has great character and lives large with an open floor plan, multiple indoor/outdoor relationships and an upper floor with generous-sized bedrooms.”

The builder also received four merit awards for the designs of the following homes:

  • The Chelsea, Greenwich and Tribeca plans at The Heights on Ashlan and Locan avenues.
  • Carnelian plan at The Gallery in Loma Vista on Ashlan and DeWolf avenues.

Visit McCaffrey Homes for more information.

First March ozone violations since 2007

The ozone standard has been breached twice this week in the San Joaquin Valley — both in Maricopa at the southwest end of Kern County. They are the first March violations since 2007.

The late-winter warm spell gets the blame. At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the usual suspects — Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield and Sequoia National Park — are not spiking ozone problems.

The point is that it’s hard to escape ozone problems in the 25,000-square-mile San Joaquin Valley when nature switches on the heat.

The Valley’s run of five years without a March violation is memorable if only because such early season problems were pretty common a few years ago.

March violations happened in every year between 2001 and 2004. And there were nine violations in 2004.

Those were the bad old days of ozone here. The Valley averaged 155 violations over that span. From 2008 to 2012, the average was 105.

The goal in cleaning up the Valley’s air is zero violations. Last year, the Valley had 105 violations. But the first one didn’t happen until the third week in April.

Look for these stories in 2013

A year ago, the Sierra snowpack was an anemic 20% of normal. Now it’s a whopping 146%.

At this time last year, the San Joaquin Valley was gasping through a 44-day siege of federal air violations — dangerous soot and debris. This year, the Valley only had five violations in December.

California’s capricious weather makes all the difference.

At the same time, some things I cover in the Earth Log and in the news columns have not changed much. My beat has had a kidney stone of a year. Thankfully, it has passed. But 2013 might be more of the same.

— The complex San Joaquin River restoration continues to move forward. Experiments included trapping adult salmon and hauling them upstream near Fresno to spawn. The billion-dollar restoration still lags behind the initial and ambitious timetable. Many big projects, such as replacing Sack Dam, are expected to make progress this year.

— A dozen years after setting aside more than 300,000 acres for the Giant Sequoia National Monument, people are still arguing about how to manage it. The latest plan was released during 2012. The Sierra Club and others have appealed the plan.

— Yosemite National Park has an even longer-running discussion. A dozen years ago, I wrote a story about the park’s Merced River protection plan — which was already about a decade late. I lose track of how many times it has been rewritten by court order. By July 2013, the National Park Service is supposed to have another plan out. This might be the one that finally gets through.

— Dozens of cities are now lined up to sue Dow Chemical and Shell Oil, the manufacturers of a now-defunct farm fumigant. The fumigant contained a chemical called 1,2,3-trichloropropane or TCP, a powerful cancer-linked toxin. It’s in the drinking water across a wide swath of the Valley, including Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield and a host of other cities. It may take hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the public.

— Small towns throughout the Valley still wait for the California Department of Public Health for funding to clean up nitrates in their drinking water. Nitrates come from fertilizers, septic systems, animal waste and rotting vegetation. A University of California study says the problem threatens drinking water for 250,000 people.

— Kettleman City, the Latino town in western Kings County, has its own special water problem. It needs the financial help of Chemical Waste, the owner of the hazardous waste landfill near town. The landfill needs to expand so it can offer the financial help. But plenty of Kettleman residents would rather see that landfill close.

— The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approved a new plan to clear up tiny specks of pollution called PM-2.5. As they often do, environmentalists did not think the plan was tough enough. That’s often a prelude to a legal challenge — a very familiar scenario.