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Calif. snowpack just 17 percent of normal

ECHO SUMMIT, Calif. (AP) - California's last snow survey of the season is bad news for the millions of state residents who rely on the snowpack for their water.  

The state Department of Water Resources found the water content in the snowpack on Thursday was 17 percent of normal, an ominous situation for a state that depends on a steady stream of snowmelt to replenish reservoirs throughout the summer.  

In some places, there was no snow at all.  

State officials are projecting they will deliver just 35 percent of the water that has been requested from the 29 agencies that rely on the snowmelt, which supplies more than 25 million Californians.  

This year has been one of the driest rainy seasons on record in some parts of California.

Sacramento Kings should stay, recommends NBA panel

SACRAMENTO, CA - It's not the final decision but Monday, the NBA committee tasked with examining two competing bids for the Sacramento Kings recommended to the league's Board of Governors to deny the team's application to move to the Seattle.

The committee's vote was unanimous, 7-0 (some of the 12 members serve on both the relocation and finance committees which worked together on the reviewing the offers).

With the "all-in" vote, News10 Sports anchor Bryan May says that gives Sacramento at least 12 votes, more than the eight needed (to block a Seattle move) when the full vote by the Board of Governors (the 30 team owners or their representatives) is taken.

The owners have at least seven days to review the committee's recommendation before calling a meeting to vote. The NBA said Monday the owners would convene the week of May 13 to vote.

Pending US home sales reach 3-year high in March

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in March to the highest level in three years.

The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 1.5 percent to 105.7. That's the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit boosted sales. It's also above February's reading of 104.1.

Signed contracts are 7 percent higher than they were a year earlier. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. Still, sales are being held back by limited supply.

Sales of previously occupied homes dipped in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million, down from 4.95 million in February.

Small business growth stifled amid improving job market

SACRAMENTO - Recent statistics are showing a decline in the number of new, small businesses in the United States. 

Some economists believe one reason fewer small businesses are opening up shop comes down to the fact that potential entrepreneurs are capitalizing on an improving job market, choosing to join the general workforce rather than venturing out on their own.

According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, there were an estimated 514,000 new business owners per month in the U.S in 2012. That number is down from 543,000 per month in 2011, and 565,000 in 2010 which was the peak of the recession.

In regards to Sacramento specifically, the city recently made a list of the most unfriendly cities for small businesses, due in part to high tax rates.

Mosquito season begins in the greater Sacramento area

ELK GROVE, Calif. - This week marks the beginning of mosquito season in the greater Sacramento area and the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District is working to protect residents from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry like West Nile virus.

This week is also West Nile Virus Awareness Week and officials at the Vector Control District reminded residents in Sacramento and Yolo Counties they can call 1-800-429-1022 for information and help with mosquito-related problems.

VIDEO: Handy tips on keeping mosquitos at bay

Zillow: Sacramento, Vegas home prices top quarter-to-quarter gains

National home price gains slowed in the first quarter after a big push late last year but remained at a "boil" in some markets, according to real estate website Zillow.

Zillow's first-quarter home value index was up 0.5% from the fourth quarter of last year, it says.

That was compared with the 2.1% jump in the fourth quarter from the third, Zillow says, marking the smallest quarter-to-quarter gain since the home price recovery began.

The slower rate is "indicative of a market that is slowly finding its natural level," says Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist.

Home prices have rebounded more strongly in the past year than many expected, and the sometimes dramatic run-ups in value were never expected to be sustainable, he says.

A home value index kept by John Burns Real Estate Consulting shows national prices up 5.7% in the first quarter of 2013 over the first quarter of 2012.

Powerball jackpot grows, thanks to Calif.

SACRAMENTO - Is it time to get your Powerball tickets yet?  The current estimated jackpot stands at $116 million. 

Two weeks ago, when the state joined Powerball, California immediately set a record, selling more than $8 million worth of tickets in the first three days.

A week ago, the grand prize was $80 million and the last six times that happened, it rose by the minimal increment, going from 80 to 90, then to $100 million.  But this time, it went from 80 to 95, to $116 million.

California is just one of 43 Powerball states, but the state also accounts for about 12 percent of the population.  Long-term, the jackpots will grow faster.  But the odds of someone hitting the jackpot is now greater as well.