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North Carolina’s Outer Banks Remain Off Limits Due to Major Mistake

Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Why Tampa is doomed; a problematic exotic animal farm in Oregon; and Connecticut’s municipalities are forced to make bad decisions.

INFRASTRUCTURE | Usually when North Carolina’s Outer Banks are under evacuation orders, it’s due to an approaching hurricane or tropical storm. But the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said this weekend that a construction crew building a new bridge over the Oregon Inlet, mistakenly damaged three underground transmission cables on Thursday morning, cutting power during the middle of the summer tourism season. The loss of electricity prompted the state to order all visitors to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. It’s unclear how long repairs could take, and CHEC is looking to bring in portable generators as an interim fix as it looks at options for a permanent solution. “Depending on which solution turns out to be the most practical, the timeline for a complete repair could vary from one to two weeks.” [CHEC / Facebook; WRAL-TV; The News & Observer]

STATE AND LOCAL RELATIONS | Municipal governments in Connecticut are feeling increasing budgetary pain thanks to the state’s ongoing budgetary stalemate. "It's nerve-wracking to say the least," said John Elsesser, the town manager in Coventry, located east of Hartford. "Because of partisan politics, the towns are having to make bad decisions." Currently, there’s no money in state revenue-sharing funds that cities and towns rely on because the state isn’t collecting taxes for the new fiscal year, which started July 1. Local road repair work is being delayed, and some school districts are delaying the school year due to cash-flow problems. [Hartford Courant; CT Mirror]

HOMELESSNESS | The Rio Grande District, an area of downtown Salt Lake City where homelessness is concentrated, has increasingly become a place of lawlessness, prostitution and drug addiction fueled by heroin and other opioids. The challenges are complex, though the drug trade isn’t necessarily being driven by the homeless population there, according to Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown: “They don't have the money.” Instead, people from across Utah, plus Idaho and Wyoming come to the district to score drugs. Last week, a violent incident outside one homeless shelter inured three and left one person dead. “...[C]ertainly we all understand the challenges, it’s not an easy issue, it’s not an easy fix but I can tell you we’re all committed,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said during a press conference. [The Salt Lake Tribune; Utah Public Radio]

LAND USE | Voters in Brisbane, California, a small Bay Area city just south of San Francisco, are likely to scuttle a developer’s plan to bring 4,400 new homes to an increasingly expensive region that desperately needs new housing. The new development would offer 15-minute commutes to and from downtown San Francisco via the adjacent CalTrain commuter railroad but it would also triple the population of the small city of 4,700 residents, something that rubs many locals the wrong way. Housing advocates and planners are dejected. “It is frustrating that as a state and as a constellation of local jurisdictions we are constantly making decisions that aren’t the best for alleviating poverty, housing affordability, furthering our state’s economy or meeting our climate change goals,” according to Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. [Los Angeles Times]


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (Shutterstock)

Austin, Texas: The Texas Department of Public Safety is backtracking from its plan to charge local law enforcement agencies fees for using state crime labs following an outcry from police officials and a request from Gov. Greg Abbott. The agency had planned to charge $550 per DNA analysis case starting in September. [Texas Tribune]  

Tampa, Florida: A Katrina-size hurricane could cause $175 billion in damage in the cities surrounding Tampa Bay should the low-lying area, home to Florida’s most densely populated county, take a direct hit. Downtown Tampa could be under 15 feet of water. What’s an even bigger problem? The area has “barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. [The Washington Post]

Littleton, Colorado: The 22-year-old son of Nashville Mayor Megan Berry died of a drug-overdose in the Denver area on Saturday. “Early this morning, we received news that no parents should ever have to hear,” Barry and her husband, Bruce, said in a statement. [The Denver Post; The Tennessean]

Washington County, Oregon: The roars of lions can be heard from a mile away from an 80-acre farm on the edge of Portland’s urban-growth boundary. A couple’s nonprofit, A Walk on the Wild Side, is home to more than twice the number of lions and tigers that are in the Oregon Zoo, raising regulatory questions of whether housing the cats is proper. There haven’t been any government inspections of the facilities since the cats moved in and the county has notified Cheryl Jones and Steve Higgs that the farm they rent isn’t zoned for exotic animal displays. [Willamette Week]

Monroeville, Alabama: A Canadian manufacturing company is breaking ground on a new 60,000 square foot building in this small city in southwestern Alabama about 90 miles from Mobile. The project from Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Sterling Packaging is expected to create up to 55 jobs. []