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“Hanford is experiencing a housing boom” says the city’s top building official - Tom Webb. “We keep track on a fiscal year basis, and we estimated that from July 2016 to July 2017 we would be around 250 new home permits. It turns out at the half year mark as of Jan. 1, we have already permitted 218 homes.”

Webb says some builders may have moved up their applications because user fees rose as of January but activity is brisk, nevertheless.

City figures show a rising construction tide as Hanford permitted 163 new homes in 2014/15 and 225 in 2015/16. This year could be over 300.

Kings County’s busiest builder is Lennar followed by Woodside Homes, San Joaquin Valley Homes and Wathen Castanos Hybrid Homes followed by Blue Mountain Construction.

In Lemoore a new player is joining the fray with the arrival of DR Horton - the nation’s top builder by some measures. This week the city planning commission is expected to approve a 90-unit subdivision in town on the southwest corner of Hanford-Armona Road and Opal Avenue. Floor plans will range from 1695 to 2819 square feet.

Pine Flat adds more water 

Storms over the next 10 days could add another 100,000 acre-feet of water to Pine Flat Dam on the Kings River says the river’s Watermaster, Steve Haugen. That would put storage at the key reservoir at 620,000 acre feet - close to the highest level reached all last year. The year 2015 - like several previous ones - was dry with the lake reaching only 275,000 acre feet.

“This is the best we have seen in years,” adds Haugen, saying that the most recent storms helped big time on the snowpack. “We already have 80 to 90 percent of average snowpack for the year and we are only half way through.”

The vigorous weather systems in the past few weeks added around 250,000 acre feet to the lake since the first of the new year - “pretty unusual,” he says.

“You never know if the weather could turn all of a sudden to a dry pattern like 1997” adds Haugen. “For now it looks good.” The most recent snow sensor reports say snowpack in the southern Sierra stands at 186 percent of average for this time of the year and 85 percent of April 1. For the Central Sierra - we stand at 153 percent of average for this date and 76 percent of April 1 average. On the upper Kaweah, snowpack has built up nicely at Farewell Gap now with 33.7 inches - 97 percent of the April 1 average. Skiers at China Peak are happy too, with as much as 178 inches of snow falling this season.

Hanford Support Valadao’s Bill To Add More Water Storage

The City of Hanford has approved a letter of support for Congressman David Valadao’s new bill on water storage. Valadao has introduced H.R. 23, the Guiding Responsibility on Water (GROW) Act to address what he calls the underlying policy failures that contribute to increasingly severe drought conditions in communities across the West. Key elements to the legislation include restoring water deliveries to the Central Valley communities by codifying the Bay-Delta Accord, expanding infrastructure to capture more water, and completing feasibility studies for water storage projects.

A letter of support signed by Hanford Mayor David Ayers this week says “To ensure water reliability in the future, the bill obligates the federal government to complete feasibility studies for multiple water storage projects in California and increases the scope of investigation for dam safety throughout the West, including expansion.”

Rail authority denies rail cost overruns

Many Kings County farmers don’t like high speed rail who continues to buy up right-of-way here. Now the LA Times reports that “California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But in a letter dated January 13 to state legislators the rail authority said the Times got it wrong.

“With regard to cost, the article ignores the fact the original grant funding was for basic civil construction and did not include stations, electrification, systems and other features necessary to achieve high-speed rail operations. Those additional features – which are not overruns but necessary additions – are being funded with available state funding, as detailed in the funding plan approved by the Authority’s Board of Directors in December 2016. That plan provides extensive details, estimating the cost at $7.8 billion, not $9.5 or $10 billion; further, the$7.8 billion includes over $900 million in contingencies to cover increases.”

In addition the Authority argues it is adjusting expenses noting that “the capital costs for the overall program have decreased, not increased, something not reported in the article. While overall capital costs have declined, we also reported to the legislature risks to schedule and costs associated with specific construction packages and we will continue to do so, with our next project update to be provided to the legislature in March 2017.”

S&W Seed moves corporate office to Hanford

S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq: SANW) this week announced that it has moved its corporate offices from Fresno to Hanford. Mark Grewal, chief executive officer of S&W Seed Company commented, "S&W has grown to become a global company over the last number of years.... but “our roots have always been in the heart of California's dairy center, and this move of our corporate offices to Hanford, California, allows us to maintain strong working relationships with the growers, processors and distributors that call the San Joaquin Valley home." The new address is 802 N. Douty Street, Hanford .

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at

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